How to Soundproof Your Basement Ceiling

A basement can serve more functions than just a storage space. You can turn it into your home office, a gym, a playing area for the kids, or a cozy library.

Despite its vast array of uses, only one problem occurs—the noise.

The sound may travel from within the house towards the basement or from the basement to the upper living area.

In both cases, it is a nuisance for the residents.

Types of Sounds

Ways to soundproof a basement ceiling cheaply

Before you begin exploring ways to dampen these sounds, let’s examine different types of sounds that exist around us:

Impact Noise

When sound travels through a solid structure, it creates impact noise.

It happens when the object strikes another structure. For example, if someone’s footsteps bang on the floor, it produces sound waves.

These waves travel through the design, and the impact noise is called the “structure-borne” noise.

The best way to determine if the noise you hear in a basement is impact noise is to place your hand on the surface.

If you feel vibration when the sound occurs, it is the impact noise.

Airborne Noise

These are the sounds we hear around us most commonly.

When a source generates sound, a medium picks it up. The waves travel through the air until they fall upon a solid subject.

The sound travels through that object and penetrates the space beyond it.

So, if you hear the sound of television upstairs while you are in your basement, it is the airborne noise.

Overview of Soundproof Basement Ceiling Options

Ways to stop noise from the basement

Soundproofing your basement ceiling relies on the point where you begin.  

The drywall ceiling makes it challenging to insulate the upper area without removing the entire segment.

On the other hand, a drop ceiling is removable, and soundproofing it isn’t difficult.

But, if your basement ceiling is unfinished, then soundproofing becomes relatively easy.

Following are some of the options you can resort to when trying to soundproof your basement ceiling:

Add Mass

  • Standard drywall integrated with the underside of the subfloor creates mass and cuts the sound transfer. Using Green Glue creates a second layer of drywall to improve sound blockage.
  • Adding soundproof drywall between joists will have a similar impact to the double layer of ordinary drywall.
  • Mineral wool panels are denser than fiberglass. They can add mass between the joists to reduce vibration noise transfer and improve sound absorption.
  • Fiberglass is fluffy but not sturdy enough to stay between the joists.

Decoupling

  • An acoustic adhesive like heavy vinyl membranes or Green Glue between the wooden furring strips is an easy solution to separate the ceiling floor and its layers and reduce noise transfer.
  • Sound isolation clips with hat channels are another incredible way to decouple the ceiling and the floor. It has a rubber flange to avoid sound vibration from traveling between the levels.

Miscellaneous Options

  • Green Glue, Acoustic Caulking, and Spray Foam are the other options to fill gaps and block sound from traveling within or through the basement.

How to soundproof your basement ceiling?

How to reduce impact noise from above the basement

Before you start looking about how to soundproof your basement ceiling, you should examine its condition.

Here are some ways to soundproof basement ceiling:

Seal any gaps

Regardless of the points you are willing to seal, it is essential to acknowledge that filling the gaps is a primary step.

Gaps are the biggest culprit that let sounds travel into a basement.

Filling these gaps isn’t a difficult task. You have to use the caulking seals and notice a considerable difference.

But if you begin the process without sealing cracks, no amount of soundproofing will entirely stop the sounds.

Stuff insulation in the ceiling joists

Empty wooden joists are visible when the basement ceiling is not finished.

You should try to fill these spaces before you begin further work.

Installing insulation is the first step. Batt insulation is the easiest to insert as it requires pushing, and joists hold it independently.

Put resilient channels across the joists

After you have insulation within the ceiling, you have to install resilient channels at a 90-degree angle on the joists.

The metal railings work as a buffer between the wooden beams. These make the bone of your home and the drywall.

Resilient channels must run parallel to the joists.

The first channel starts six inches from the wall. Then, each channel should be 16 inches away from the prior one.

If you desire additional insulation between the drywall and joists, you should use a hat instead of resilient channels.

Go for rugs and carpets

How to block footsteps and noises above the basement

The cheapest solution to soundproof your basement ceiling is to go fluffy in the above room.

Soft carpets can dampen the noise in the room and block noise from penetrating through it.

If you are unwilling to buy a new rug, you can also opt for padding.

These are the sheets you can place between the carpet and the floor to ensure that sound gets absorbed at a maximum capacity.

Or, you can go for mass-loaded vinyl padding between the carpet and the floor.

It adds density between the floorboards and ensures sound doesn’t pass through.

Install mass loaded vinyl

Using mass-loaded vinyl separately can also help with sound blockage.

It is a malleable material impregnated with tiny metal particles to increase its mass. This mass is vital because it deadens the sound waves.

MLV helps to reduce airborne and structure-borne noises. You can install it on the basement ceiling after you have measured its size.

Make sure that you cut the sheet according to the space requirements.

Once you have placed the sheet, you should secure it on the ceiling using nails or tacks.

Again, using Green Glue is also a viable option if you want to keep the MLV intact at its place.

Add another drywall with Green Glue smeared over it

One of the renowned techniques of soundproofing a wall is the Green Glue sandwich.

This is the method of integrating two layers of drywall with a Green Glue compound.

Essentially, Green Glue can turn soundwaves into heat when they strike upon it. But, this is functional when you stick the glue in the center of two surfaces.

This is why experts prefer spreading it between the layers of two drywalls.

Go for acoustic foam tiles

You can also use acoustic foam tiles to prevent sound waves from traveling outside your basement. These tiles are commonly found in cinemas and studios.

The purpose of these tiles is to minimize vibrations. This reduces echo, and the noise cannot escape the room.

Simultaneously, these tiles also improve the sound quality where they are installed.

If you plan to turn your basement into a theater room or a music studio, acoustic foam tiles should be your go-to method.

You have to apply the tiles to the ceiling. You can use Green glue beneath the tiles or on the existing surface before putting the foam tiles on it.

Use a soundproof paint

Soundproof or acoustic paint is an excellent solution to control the noise penetrating the basement.

It is a fast-drying and water-based viscoelastic compound that helps to block noises and vibrations. This paint is available in the form of non-hazardous MSDS sheets.

All it requires is spraying or troweling on the surfaces.

As it dries down, a protective film forms on the surface. It is water-resistant and exhibits a low combustion level.

Overall, the soundproofing paints are eco-friendly. They are easy to use and deal with sound in an effective way.

Most people prefer using acoustic paints for the basement ceiling because of its convenience.

It has fillers or ceramic microspheres that can dampen the sound and increase uniformity across the surface.

Rearrange furniture in the room above basement

Another easy solution to prevent sounds from traveling into the basement is to play with the furniture placed in the above room.

Consider placing heavy furniture like bookcases, couches, or closets above the basement.

Furniture adds density which can block the sound. Heavy objects will resist vibration, and the sound cannot travel around more.

Make sure that you place it on the spot that generates the most noise and transfer it below.

The more oversized furniture items are best as they provide more absorption area.

Hang baffles

Acoustic baffles are manufactured from high-density glass fiber pads.

An acoustic fiber wraps these pads, suspended from the ceiling.

If your basement is a large hall where you have work meetings or movie nights with friends, opting for baffles is your best bet.

They can reduce reverb in large spaces and create a better sound quality.

Baffles are also available in wipe-clean germ-resistant or strain-resistant coating.

This makes them an ultimate pick for people concerned about the environment and contamination within the underground spaces.

Work on the soundproof underlayment

Cheap and effective steps to soundproof basement

Floor underlayment is a way to provide a smooth and even surface for flooring installation.

The placement of the underlayment is on the top subfloor before installing its floor. You can use this method in the room above when you want to soundproof the basement.

Closed-cell foam underlayment is easily accessible in the home stores.

Nonetheless, you should scan the market and opt for the thinnest floor underlayment.

Although it will not make your basement 100% soundproof, it helps absorb sound greatly.

Felt underlayment

Another option in the underlayment domain is using felt.

It is an eco-friendly option that works effectively on blocking the sounds. It is an excellent option if you focus on reducing sound and can afford a costly solution.

Recycled felt underlayment is four times denser than the foam.

It is your best bet if the room above the basement has hardwood or laminate flooring.

Plywood underlayment

Plywood underlayment has brought incredible results when used to soundproof the basement.

It is used under thin and flexible flooring material, such as linoleum tiles or vinyl. It is an effective sound-blocker and brings optimal results when used to soundproof the basement.

To combat the squeaks, you can apply tar or red rosin paper atop the plywood underlayment.

Use Styrofoam tiles or panels

Styrofoam tiles or panels are also a viable alternative to fabric panels or acoustic ceiling tiles. It helps soften the reflective surface of a ceiling, creating more softer spaces in the room.

Styrofoam is a fantastic solution if you are willing to cover the mass-loaded vinyl.

Many companies produce Styrofoam panels upon which you can paint according to the aesthetics of your space.

FAQs

Is the underlay suitable for soundproofing?

Soundproofing underlay has proven to be a great way of increasing serenity in any room. It reduces the noise and also protects the flooring.

The underlay options like polyphenylene, acoustic, and felt underlayment can be used in the above room or the basement to deal with unwanted noises.

How can I soundproof my basement?

The most effective and cheap solution to soundproof your basement ceiling is installing insulation in the floor joists.

Typically, the R factor of 19 is installed in the basement ceiling drywall. It creates a barrier to absorb sound between the basement and the flooring above.

Does carpet help to soundproof a basement?

Yes, carpet is an excellent solution to soundproof any room on a budget.
It is easily applicable and requires little effort.

A carpeted floor can absorb the extra sounds and clarify the sound quality inside a space.

Using carpet on the basement floor will prevent the sounds from escaping outdoors.

How can you soundproof an existing floor without damaging its ceiling?

There are several methods to soundproof an existing floor. These include:

-Adding decorations in the space
-Hanging curtains from the ceiling
-Installing the drop ceiling
-Soundproofing the floor above

Final Thoughts

Soundproofing a basement is tricky as the options become limited when you move below the surface.

Carpets, fabric, furniture, and window curtains can help deal with the reverb.

However, they will not complete a sound-dampening job as effectively as other costly options, such as installing acoustic panels.

Figure out which method will work for your basement ceiling and work around the cost to fit it in your budget.