Soundproofing a Basement: Beginners Guide


soundproofing a basement

Soundproofing a basement is essential if you want to turn it into a garage, home gym, home theater, and so on. Not everyone can hire experts to do it and sometimes you don’t really need it. All you should do is just to follow this guide and learn to do it by yourself.

Although many people use their basements for storing things, it could be so much more than that. In fact, there are many great ideas about turning your basement into a place where you could have a lot of fun.

You could turn your basement into a home gym, a theater room, a gaming room, and even a home office. However, before placing all those fun objects in your basement you should keep in mind that you should first take care of things like soundproofing, for example.

Wondering why you would want to soundproof your basement? Well in case you turn your basement in a room where you will make parties, hit the gym, a theater, etc. you wouldn’t like your family on the floor above constantly complaining about the noise, right? On the other hand, if you turn your basement into a home office, you would definitely not like your family members affecting your concentration with their nose, right?

For instance, in my big family villa, we have a central vacuum system. The main machine was installed in the basement which is why it was constantly noisy there. To solve that, my family and I decided to soundproof the basement and the issue was instantly solved.

If you have already realized why soundproofing the basement is a great idea, keep reading this guide where you will find everything you need to know about soundproofing a basement.

Two different types of sounds you should eliminate

First things first, there are two different types of sound and if you want to effectively soundproof your basement you need to determine which sound you are trying to eliminate. 

Impact noise (structure-borne noise)

This type of noise is when the medium by which sound moves is a solid structure with instead of air.

When something strikes another structure like someone walking on the floor, it produces sound waves that pass through the structure directly.

That’s the kind of noise you hear when you hear the sound of someone bouncing a ball into the ceiling or the footsteps from people walking on the floor above.

To determine which kind of noise you hear from your basement, put a hand on the surface from which you hear the sound. When the sound occurs, you might feel a vibration and that’s how you know that it is an impact noise or also known as structure-borne noise. In case you don’t feel the vibration then it’s the airborne noise.

Airborne noise

Airborne noise is the sound of music, TV, people talking, etc. When anyone or something makes some noise, it produces sound waves and the medium picks up these sound waves.

 For airborne noise, the medium is actually the air. The sound waves travel through the air through a fixed point, such as a floor, a ceiling, or a floor.  They then pass through and into the space beyond the solid point.

It is airborne noise when you hear the sound of people speaking from another room.

How to soundproof the basement walls and ceiling? 5 simple ways

Here are 5 ways to soundproof your basement walls and ceiling easily and effectively:

  1. Decoupling as a way to soundproof the basement walls and ceiling
  2. Install drywall to soundproof the basement ceilings and walls
  3. Seal the cracks of a concrete ceiling for soundproofing basement better
  4. Use acoustic isolation to seal the cavity joints of the wooden ceiling
  5. Use soundproofing paint on the ceiling and the walls

Soundproofing basement ceiling

The most important thing in soundproofing a basement is definitely soundproofing the ceiling (check this article out for more detailed guide). All the noise can come and leave through the ceiling therefore you should definitely put some effort into it.

Decoupling as a way to soundproof the basement walls and ceiling

Decoupling is one of the best soundproofing methods. When using to soundproof a wall, decoupling refers to mechanically separating the two sides of a structure in the order they to vibrate independently from each other. 

The reason why people choose to use this technique is that most of the walls are single stud construction. It is a construction in which both sides of the wall are connected to the same stud. Therefore, at the moment when sound waves hit one side of the wall, the vibrations pass through the stud and vibrate the other side of the wall.

There are three ways to do the decoupling:

1. Double stud wall for soundproofing a basement 

Double stud wall structure
Photo credit: greenbuildingadvisor.com

In this method, you should build two separate stud walls, but leave a small space between them. In fact, this is the way to build what “room inside a room”. Basically, all of the interiors of the basement should be isolated from the room in the basement. The bad thing about this method is that it takes much more space than other soundproofing methods.

2. Staggered stud wall for soundproofing a basement 

Staggered stud wall
Photo credit: strucalc.com

Staggered stud wall has some similarities with double stud wall, but is not that effective. It can be constructed by using a wider sill plate and installing the studs in a staggered alignment. You should rotate the studs from one side of the wall to the other and no stud should touch both of the sides. The bad thing is that just as a double stud wall, it could also be space-consuming.

3. Resilient clips and hat channel for soundproofing a basement

Resilient clip for soundproofing basement ceiling
Photo credit: acousticalsolutions.com

Unlike the previous method, this one does not take as much space and is much simpler to install. What you should do is to add the resilient clips and hat channel to one side of the wall as they are designed o flex and absorb most of the vibrations hitting the wall. If you want to learn more about this method, check out this article. If you want to purchase them then take a look at these ones.

Install drywall to soundproof the basement ceilings and walls

Drywall is an important method for soundproofing. It generates more mass able to reduce some of the sound transmitted through the ceiling or walls. For the best performance, I recommend the use of sound-deadening drywall and Green Glue like this one. Make sure to apply it on the back of the drywall before it is installed.

Keep in mind that for the best soundproofing performance, the drywall should be as denser as possible.

If you want to see how the entire process looks like, take a look at this video:

Seal the cracks of a concrete ceiling for soundproofing basement better

Crack on a wall

There is one thing people often tend to forget when soundproofing their basement ceiling and that is to seal the cracks. What’s more, they often overlook it and consider it to be something unimportant. Sealing the cracks is important when soundproofing the basement because if there are cracks or gaps the air could easily pass from the basement to the first floor and vice versa, but so does noise can.

 To fix this I would suggest you to first inspect the ceiling by rubbing the surface and then seal them with patch seal. I would suggest you take a look at this patch seal which is super easy to use and it is also highly durable. What’s the best about it is that it comes with a putty knife, sanding pad, primer, and spackle – all the necessary tools for sealing the cracks.

Use acoustic isolation to seal the cavity joints of the wooden ceiling

Using the previously mentioned method will definitely not help you with sealing the cracks of your ceiling if it’s wooden.  Unlike concrete ceilings, this type of ceilings allows the noise to pass way easier and if someone is walking on the floor above there is no chance you won’t hear that. 

What’s even worse is that the sound produced in the basement could easily be heard by the rooms above. In order to soundproof this type of ceiling effectively, you should definitely seal the cavity joints. Remember that what increases the sound from the basement is that hollow ceiling cavities reverberate and create echoes when the sound hits them.

To fix this issue you should just add a soft porous material between the woods. In addition, you can also install acoustic insulation pads which are very effective for this purpose. This acoustic barrier is specifically made for soundproofing ceilings and is also suitable for walls and floors as well.

Use soundproofing paint on the ceiling and the walls

The most important thing about this method is that it should not be used as the main one when soundproofing the ceiling and the walls.  In fact, it should be used to complement other methods and enhance the results.

Soundproof paint is great because it can eliminate about 30 percent of sound waves entering the basement from the ceiling. In order to serve this purpose, the paint features thick substances such as latex. In addition, remember that the main role of this paint is to return the noise back to its source.

I have used the Acousti-Coat by Hy-Tech and it has worked perfectly for me. Click here to buy on Amazon.

Also, I’ve written an extensive article on soundproof paints. Give it a read to learn more about how they work! Here is the link.

How to soundproof the basement floor? 3 simple ways

You may think that soundproofing a basement floor is just a waste of time or money because after all there are no rooms under the basement, but you are wrong. If you want your basement to be completely soundproofed then you also better do something about the floor. Unlike the ceiling in which you should use high-quality materials and most effective methods, soundproofing the floor could be very cost-effective

Here are some of the best methods you can use for this purpose:

  1. Carpet the floor 
  2. Install rubber floor mats
  3. Install Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)

Let’s just go through these methods in detail.

Carpet the floor for soundproofing a basement better

Yes, you might have considered doing it anyway because it looks better and feels better, but it could also be a great soundproofing solution. Nevertheless, to make this better make sure to buy denser carpets and roll them on the floor of your basement.  

Here is one thing you can do as well: lay dense carpets on the floor above the basement as well! It will definitely help you boost noise reduction. If you need some help in choosing a nice and dense carpet, here is my best suggestion.

Install rubber floor mats

Sometimes soundproofing the carpet is not that effective soundproofing method. In fact, it is best if you try to combine it with another soundproofing method.

All you should do is get some dense rubber floor mats and place them under the carpet. Make sure they are dense enough though. What’s more, a rubber floor mat could also be used instead of carpeting, the best thing about them is that they are not only soundproofing, but they are also shock-absorbing. This means that you will not have to worry about slipping. This is especially useful if you are planning to turn your basement into a home gym.

If this is your option then I would recommend you this rubber floor mat that you can find on Amazon.

Install Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)

The previous two solutions are fairly easy ones, but if you want to reduce the noise even more then you should try out some more professional options. Installing Mass Loaded Vinyl will help you achieve a better soundproofing experience. What’s more, you can use it with a combination with the first or second options for even better results.

MLV is a high-density and high-mass material that serves to create a better sound barrier. In fact, density and mass are the two most important components of soundproofing materials and MLV has it both.

Installing MLV is not a hard task either although is a little bit more complicated compared to just putting a carpet. All you need to do is just to nail and screw it to the floor.

The main advantage of MLV is that it has the ability to cover all the small gaps which are essential for an effective floor soundproofing. It also feels much better walking on soft surfaces compared to a hard floor. Of course, just as anything else it is not perfect either, it does have some disadvantages as well.  The main one is that it might be a little bit costly compared to just carpeting the floor. If you want to learn more about installing MLV, take a look at this great article that covers all the details one should know about it.

How to soundproof the basement doors? 4 simple ways

Here are 4 simple ways to do that:

  1. Apply Weatherstripping Tape to the door
  2. Try a door sweep
  3. Use soundproofing blankets 
  4. Sealing the cracks and gaps of the door
Soundproofing basement door
Photo credit: allnoisecontrol.com

Once you soundproofed the basement ceiling, walls, and floor then it’s time to think about soundproofing the doors.  Many people use interior doors in their basement and it’s a fact that these types of doors are very thin and there is much more space between the door and the floor in comparison to exterior doors.

Even if your basement has exterior doors, it still is a good idea to soundproof those doors. Here are some great and easy ways to soundproof the basement doors:

Apply Weatherstripping Tape to the door

Weatherstripping tape

Weatherstripping is a tape made from sound-absorbing materials such as fiberglass. The weatherstripping tape is self-adhesive and could be easily applied in no time. However, before you do that you should clean the dust and dirt from the sides of the door and then apply it with enough compression. The compression serves to ensure that an airtight seal is formed between the door and the tape. The airtight seal is essential as that is what blocks the noise out.

You can try this high-quality weatherstripping tape.

Try a door sweep

The gap between the door and the floor is one of the most critical ways in which the sound from the door gets into the room. Door sweeps consist from materials that absorb sound and can cover the gap between the door and the floor when you close the door.  This is a durable and sturdy solution. However, if you want to use a door sweep, you should note that door sweeps are not as easy to apply compared to weatherstripping tapes

If you want a more visible guide about installing a door sweep, check out this video:

Use soundproofing blankets to soundproof the basement door

If you want to take the soundproofing of the door to a whole new level then, of course, you should try a more advanced option. Soundproofing blankets is a great and cost-efficient option that you should perhaps give it a shot.

The important thing that you should know about soundproofing blankets is that they consist of fiberglass, which is a material that is highly sound-absorbing. Remember, heavier soundproofing blankets ensure better soundproofing performance. The best thing about these soundproofing blankets is that they are super easy to attach. Basically, all you should is just hang them on the doors just as you do with any curtain.

What’s even best is that when you don’t need them you can easily remove them. On the other hand, they are not the most aesthetic thing you will see. In fact, they indeed are not visually appealing at all, but they can still do a great job and that’s what counts, right?

Here are some soundproofing blankets which have great ratings and are trusted by many people all around the world.

Sealing the cracks and gaps of the door

Just as you should seal the cracks and gaps on the ceiling and the walls, you should also do that on the door. Of course, sealing these types of cracks and gaps might differ from sealing cracks on the ceiling and that’s why I decided to also list some great methods of how you can take care of it as well.

First things first, in order to seal them you should notice them, right? Well, that’s easy. Whenever I want to spot seals and gaps on my door I just turn off the light during night time while having the light on from the other side of the door and there they are.

The next step is to seal them. What you should do is is to get an insulating foam sealant like this one and just seal them. The good thing is that you can paint them over later and it won’t be visible.  However, if the gaps are smaller than an inch, I would highly suggest you to use this red foam sealant that has been proven to be great for small gaps and is super durable.

Extra tips for soundproofing a basement even more

The methods I mentioned before were about soundproofing a basement from the inside. However, to make it more efficient, I decided to come up with some tips on how you can soundproof the basement from the floor above without spending additional money.

Rearrange the furniture

Your furniture can actually serve you as another soundproofing material. All you have to do is just to notice from which spots on the floor the noise comes from the most and then rearrange the furniture. The goal is to cover those spots and prevent the noise from passing from one side to another. Remember, it is best if you place heavy furniture on those spots so it can block the noise more effectively.

Carpet the floor of your rooms

Living room

I just previously mentioned this option, but I referred to covering the floor of the basement. Here I want to focus more on carpeting the floor of your rooms above the basement. This will help you to enhance the soundproofing performance even more.

Take note that just placing carpets or mats on the floor of the room and expect them to serve as only soundproofing options for your ceiling of the basement is non-sense. You should only use this tip and the one before with a combination of other soundproofing methods which are more professional and, of course, more effective.

Final Thoughts

People tend to overlook the basement space without being aware that they can use it for much more. If you are not one of them and want to turn it into a fun space for you and your family make sure to soundproof it. Hopefully, this guide will help you to get the best out of it and do that task without spending too much time, effort, and money.

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