Noise through the ceiling is a common problem when you live in an uncompleted basement. Often, the effect of the disturbing sound from upstairs in the basement is overlooked, like when you want to work in your basement, but the sound from the room upstairs is hitting your head.
Learn to soundproof your basement ceiling and avoid trouble. If you have the right tools and materials and also have the know-how, you can effectively reduce the noise. The process for soundproofing your basement is actually straightforward if you do it before the completion of the basement, but don’t worry if your basement is already finished. You only need to do a little more work of removing the drywall because that is the only way soundproofing can work.
What To Know About Soundproofing a Basement Ceiling
Since they are underground, technically, basement walls are already soundproof, but if you want your basement to be truly quiet, you need to soundproof the ceiling. Soundproofing the ceiling mitigates the sounds coming from upstairs. Also, it prevents the sound from the basement from disturbing those in the upstairs.
Why Soundproof a Ceiling?
Soundproofing the basement ceiling can be beneficial for many reasons; for example, when you want to have a nice time or relax in the basement with a movie or music, soundproofing will make the experience more enjoyable because you will be able to hear every detail of the movie or music. It is also the same when you want to study or meditate.
The basement is usually located close to the car garage and laundry room and has the HVAC duct pipes running through the ceiling; these and more make the basement prone to noise. Therefore, you must not have a specific reason for soundproofing your basement. The idea of creating a more quiet and peaceful basement is enough reason.
Materials You Need
Fire code drywall
When you combine drywall, tape, and drywall compound, you will have an unbroken and crack-free surface. Drywall is an excellent material for soundproofing your basement, and it is much better to use the 5/8 inch thick fire code drywall commercial quality than the regular 1/2 inch thickness. From my experience of soundproofing basement ceilings, you will need more than just a single layer of drywall to give you the expected result; you need four layers.
Green glue soundproofing compound
The best thing I know for sealing cracks between sheets in your basement ceiling and making the soundproofing better is Green Glue. The rubbery compound comes in caulking tubes and absorbs sound while sealing the cracks in the basement ceiling that transmit noise.
Get the Green Glue and apply it on the cracks between the drywall and subfloor sheets.
Fiberglass or mineral wool insulation
Fiberglass or mineral wool insulation is a good and important sound-absorbing material for basement ceiling noise.
There is commonly no temperature-related reason to insulate the joist cavities in the basement ceilings; therefore, they are typically empty.
Even so, if your goal is soundproofing the basement, then it is important to get enough fluffy insulation to fill all the cavities.
When soundproofing your basement ceiling, you need to hold the insulation in place, and that is where wooden cheats come in. I usually cut 1-1/2 by 1-1/2 inch strips of wood and use 2-1/2 inch deck screws to screw them to the faces of each basement ceiling joist.
Remember to buy enough 2*8 lumber to create all the strips you need, and use a table saw to rip it to 1-1/2 by 1-1/2 inch.
Metal hat channel and sound isolation clips
There is usually lots of noise and vibration through the subfloor and the drywall of the basement ceiling because they are mainly fastened directly to the floor/ceiling joists. That causes the passage of lots of disturbing sounds and vibrations from one story to another; therefore, uncoupling strips and clips are used to solve that. The hat channel strips and sound isolation clips create space between the ceiling and the joists, and that makes it harder for noise and vibration to pass through.
You should buy enough hat channels that will cover the entire width of the basement ceiling perpendicular to the joists and spaced 16 inches on the center and purchase enough clips that will support the channel strips where they intersect the joists.
- 1-5/8-inch drywall screws
- 3/4-inch drywall screws
- 2-1/2-inch deck screws
Tools You Need
- Chop saw with metal cutting blade
- Caulking gun
- Long-level or other straightedge
- Utility knife
- Impact driver
- Eye and hearing protection
- Tape measure
How To Soundproof Your Basement Ceiling
Once the tools are available and you are ready to start soundproofing your basement ceiling, then follow these steps:
Seal all cracks in the subfloor
Use the ladder, calking gun, and Green Glue to seal the cracks between the sheets of the subfloor of the upstairs rooms.
Install the first two layers of drywall
- Use the tape measure, straightedge, and utility knife to measure and cut sheets of drywall into strips.
- Make sure the widths are correct so they can fit perfectly in all the joist cavities.
- Use the impact driver to fasten the strips in place, then use more Green Glue to seal all the cracks and seams.
- Use tape and a saw to measure and cut strips of fiberglass or mineral wool insulation that will perfectly fit into the joists’ cavities.
- Hold the strips in place by placing the 1-1/2 by 1-1/2 inch wool strips to the inside face of the joists and flush with the end of the joists.
Install hat channel clips
- Use the metal cutting chop saw to custom-cut the hat channel strips to fit your ceiling space.
- Remember eye and hearing protection when cutting.
- Fit the edges of the strips into the clips you have fixed to the joists.
Install the final two layers of drywall
- At this point, you should cover the ceiling joists with a layer of 5/8 inch fire code drywall with 3/4 inch drywall screws screwed through the drywall into the hat channel and avoid the underlying joists.
- When you are done, use more Green Glue to seal the cracks and seams between sheets.
- Install a second (fourth) layer of drywall using 1-5/8 inch drywall screws screwed through the two layers into the hat channel strips.
- To prevent the seams from overlapping with the seams of the first layer of drywall, offset the sheets.
- Roundup using drywall tape and compound on the cracks and seams, and then apply paint.
If you are wondering if you will use the height of your basement when you use for layers of drywall, don’t worry; you only lose 5/8 inch because the first two layers of drywall are inside the ceiling joists cavities and the last two layers are mounted on the surface, leaving two sheets in their regular positions.
How to Make Your Soundproofing Basement Ceiling Process Better
- Make sure to keep your belongings safe to avoid damages
- Cover the air vents or other openings to contain the noise in the basement
- Make sure that all the materials and tools you will need are available before starting.
Can you soundproof a basement ceiling? Yes, you can soundproof your basement ceiling. If you follow the steps tips and use the materials and tools listed or recommended in this article, you will successfully soundproof your basement ceiling and without overthinking the process. Wait no more, get to work.