Soundproofing a Ceiling: A Complete Guide


Soundproofing a ceiling is no longer a big deal! You can do it effectively on a very small budget. All you need is just have the right resources and the necessary knowledge for that. In this article, you will learn how to soundproof a ceiling without spending too much effort and money.

ceiling

For soundproofing a ceiling, you need to know the types of noise that have to be treated, the basic elements of soundproofing, and how can you easily soundproof a ceiling with the help of various tips and techniques.

All the guidance with be provided to you in this article (that you will find nowhere else, for sure). So without any delay, let’s just dive in and get started!

Types of noise that need to target for soundproofing a ceiling

To be ready to undertake the project of soundproofing a ceiling, you have to look into the type of noise that is causing the disturbance. Generally, there are two major types of noise that need to be treated for soundproofing a ceiling. These are:

  • Airborne noise 
  • Impact Noise

 

Airborne noise explained
Photo credit: residential-acoustics.com

Airborne noise:

Airborne noise, as the name indicates, is the one that travels through the air in the form of sound waves. For example, if someone is talking, crying, or playing music, you may hear that noise as airborne noise.

The sound waves of such a noise travel through the air and collide with solid particles, like your ceiling. The collision of these sound waves distributes vibration through the ceiling into your area creating noise.

Impact noise:

When someone walks or drops something on the floor above your ceiling, the sound produced due to hitting something with a solid surface is referred to as impact noise. The vibration travels through the structure of the surface and reaches your area creating a disturbance as an impact noise or structure noise.

Four basic elements for soundproofing a ceiling

Now that you know about the types of noise that create disturbances, let’s have a look at the things that target this noise and helps in soundproofing the ceiling.

These concepts are:

  1. Absorption
  2. Decoupling
  3. Mass
  4. Damping

Absorption

 

Wall construction for soundproofing a ceiling
Photo credit: soundproofingcompany.com

As the name indicates, this effect indicates the soaking in of sound resulting in the reduction of noise. In other words, it generates more sound when you hit a hard floor compared to a soft pillow. There are various materials available in the market that can absorb the sound vibrations. These include open-cell foam, fiberglass, cellulose, etc.

The basic concept behind this is to use a low-density material that is specifically quite useful in the reduction of the airborne noise.

Decoupling

decoupling explained
Photo credit: soundproofingcompany.com

 

We all know what decoupling means, right? It means to separate one thing from another. In this case, we all know that sound travels in the form of vibrations that requires a solid pathway to flow. The decoupling concept targets this phenomenon. By separating the framing in the ceiling, you can break the sound pathway, resulting in the reduction of noise.

Mass

 

mass wall explained
Photo credit: soundproofingcompany.com

This is a very easy-to-understand concept. If you make a heavy wall, the airborne noise will not be able to go through it. Examples include drywall, a cement board, or mass loaded vinyl. Although a commonly used principle for blocking sound, this concept is generally only used for the airborne noise as the impact noise can even transmit through the structure.

Damping:

 

Dampening soundproofing explained
Photo credit: soundproofing.com

In this concept, the damping compounds are used to convert sound into heat energy. Therefore, you can easily soundproof your ceiling with the help of the damping compounds.

Here is an article about the best damping compounds for soundproofing. You can give it a read to know some really interesting stuff!

Types of ceiling

Now we come to the third factor that we have to consider. It’s about the type of ceiling. So let’s have a look at this.

The type of ceiling is very important as it determines the method of soundproofing you should opt for. Generally, there are two basic types of ceilings:

  1. Drywall Ceiling
  2. Suspended or Drop Ceiling

Drywall ceiling

drywall ceiling
Photo credit: snoringsource.com

A drywall ceiling is composed of a panel made up of gypsum, enclosed within the paper. It is easily removable and has a sound-isolating property. Also, you can fix them, change them, or install them at a very affordable cost.

Suspended or drop ceiling

suspended ceiling
Photo credit: snoringsource.com

A suspended ceiling suspends or hangs from the main ceiling and usually offers a built-in coupling. You can easily remove, repair, or reinstall it. However, the mechanical structure of the ceiling allows sound to pass through it, therefore soundproofing is usually not very effective.

Soundproofing a Ceiling: Full Guide with 10 Easy steps

Soundproofing a ceiling is not as difficult as it sounds. With the help of some simple techniques, you can soundproof your ceiling efficiently. Just remember that we will share all the good options with you. So let’s have a look at these great options.

Soundproofing a drywall

A single layer of drywall has a light panel due to which noise can easily vibrate through it, and transmitted through the studs to the air cavity of the ceiling. If you soundproof the drywall, you can reduce a lot of noise. Although this is quite useful, it has a disadvantage. The cost of soundproof drywall is lightly expensive. Due to the high cost, it is not quite easy to use soundproof drywall for insulating the entire house.

To reduce noise through an ordinary ceiling wall, you can fill the space with any suitable sound-absorbent material.

Mineral wool and Rockwool or fiberglass are some good examples.

drywall
Photo credit: soundproofguide.com

Fiberglass is known for absorbing both the airborne noise, as well the impact noise. Also, it also provides extra insulation by minimizing the loss of warm or cold air, which is considered as an added benefit of fiberglass. The fiberglass insulation is relatively easy to install option at an affordable rate. However, this can only be useful in the case of the fiberglass ceiling and does not work for dropped ceilings.

You can also install a good insulating material like open-cell cellulose for reducing noise. This might require you to consult a professional for application.

The method is super effective for airborne noise but does not reduce much of the impact noise.

Double layering of Drywall

You can soundproof your ceiling effectively by using double drywall with a layer of Green Glue between them.

Now you might be wondering what Green Glue is?

A Green Glue is a dampening compound that can be applied in between the double drywall of the ceiling to soundproof it against the exterior noise.

Green Glue
Photo credit: soundproofguide.com

For this, you just have to apply the Green Glue as per the manufacturer’s instructions given on the label. You can buy the glue here on Amazon. After this, you can simply install the second layer of drywall over the first and fix it with the ceiling.

If you are still not satisfied with the result, you can even apply a third layering of drywall for better effects. Simply apply the green glue damping again between the walls, and add the third layer to the ceiling. This will add up to the total mass of the ceiling, and hence, more sound reduction.

The Soundproofing Company can help you choose the right solution for your ceiling. If you want to know the details, visit here.

Soundproofing a Ceiling with Decoupling 

For decoupling the ceiling, you have to insulate the ceiling first with a double layer of drywall, along with a layer of Green Glue Damping. Then decoupling is done with the help of hat channels resilient sound isolation clips that you can order here from Amazon. Not to worry here, we will explain it all to you!

decoupling walls
Photo credit: soundproofguide.com

For this, first, you have to remove the drywall from the ceiling. With the help of the soundproofing clips, put the hat channels apart from joists and the drywall. Fix them with the screws and make sure they are at least 10 inches apart.

Now, you can measure the joints so that you can count how many hat channels you would require to cover the ceiling. Next, you have to divide all the pieces with the help of a strong cutter.

After all the pieces are cut, place the hat channels into the joists with the smaller flange pointing upwards. The large flange has to point towards the floor, i.e in the downward position.

After this, you have to attach the hat channels with the help of the clips so that the vibration is not transferred through the screws.

Starting the process from one end, you can end the whole ceiling like that. Where there is a light fixture, you can lift the hat channel to place over it.

After it is all done, install the double-layer drywall you have already prepared with a dampening compound i.e. the Green Glue.

This method is a very effective one to soundproof the noise coming from the ceiling. This is because it involves all four elements of soundproofing. Although a bit complex, once you are done with this, you will feel some great difference!

Soundproofing the floor above the ceiling

In this method, you have to use the same process to soundproof the floor above the ceiling.

For this, first, you have to remove the drywall and the subflooring that covers the ceiling. Then, apply the damping compound (for example Green Glue) on the installed drywall.

applying green glue
Photo credit: acousticalsurfaces.com

You can improve the soundproofing by applying a second layer of Green Glue between the walls. After this is done, you can replace the subflooring.

Just like that, you can decouple the whole thing with the help of hat channels.

This is one of the most effective methods that can ensure complete soundproofing of the ceiling with almost zero noise.

Use of floating Ceiling Joints for decoupling

You can use the floating ceiling joints to decouple the drywall ceiling for noise reduction.

The procedure involves the installation of a new joist in between the already existing joists. You can fix the new joists at above 2 inches below the existing joists. Next, you can install an insulation material between the joists. Also, please make sure that you don’t pack or compress the insulating material. For that, follow the instructions given by the manufacturer and install accordingly.

This method is the best one for both impact and airborne noise, so you can definitely go for this for a good soundproofing result.

Installing an Underlayment on the floor above the ceiling

We know that tearing out the ceiling and setting up a totally new ceiling can be difficult at times, so here is an easy method for you!

Mats for soundproofing ceiling
Photo credit: acousticalsurfaces.com

You can simply remove the floor above your ceiling and install any good underlayment to reduce the noise. Then, you can replace the existing floor and you are good to go! This method is quite economical compared to the previous techniques, so you can definitely go for this one if you are looking for a cheap option.

Here is an article on the best underlayment for soundproofing a floor. Please give it a read.

Using a good Soundproofing Material like Mass Loaded Vinyl

Mass Loaded Vinyl is a material that is known for its soundproofing qualities. It is a mixture of vinyl and barium sulfate and can be used as a soundproofing and damping material.

mlv for soundproofing ceiling
Photo credit: isostore.com

Mass Loaded Vinyl is a non-toxic, high-density material that makes it a good choice for soundproofing. Moreover, you can also use MLV as a carpet underlayment or place it between the drywalls or subflooring for insulation. It has the capacity to block almost all sorts of airborne noise. For this, Soundsulate Mass Loaded Vinyl on Amazon is a good option.

Although MLV is quite effective in soundproofing, it is more expensive. Green Glue, on the other hand, is much cheaper in price and equally effective. Here is a comparison for you. You can watch this video and choose the right option for yourself.

Installing the Acoustic Tiles

This can be a good remedy for both drywall and dropped ceilings. The Acoustic tiles are basically composed of fiberglass and the high-end tiles are composed of a layer of MLV or a soundproofing foil.

acoustic tiles
Photo credit: indiamart.com

If you have a suspended ceiling, you can get the tiles placed along with the metal grid. In the case of a drywall ceiling, you can use the special clips that you should install in the drywall panels to keep the tiles in place. You can also fix the acoustic tiles on a drywall ceiling with the help of a construction adhesive. By applying this adhesive at the back of each tile, you can affix it to the ceiling. You can use screws to secure it tightly in place, once it is completely attached to the ceiling.

ATS Acoustic Panel on Amazon is a good choice in this regard. Click here if you want to purchase one for your ceiling.

Installing an Acoustic Foam

acoustic foam

Acoustic foam works similar to the acoustic tiles and is more economical and easier to install. However, it may not look that good on your ceiling due to its egg-crate like look! For that, you can arrange it in patterns like alternating between the horizontal and vertical positioning to make it look more pleasing. Also, you must know that these foams come in the form of panels with variable sized. Installing them to your ceiling is quite simple. You just have to apply a constructive adhesive at the back of these panels and affix them to the ceiling.

A better option is to use an adhesive in the form of a spray like this you can find on Amazon. This kind of adhesive will help to fix the panel easily with the ceiling. Moreover, it will provide an additional layer of soundproofing. Once you affix the acoustic foam with the help of these adhesives, you do not have to worry about it falling off randomly.

We would recommend you to buy this Foamily Acoustic Panels Studio Foam on Amazon if you are looking for a good option for your ceiling.

Installing the dense rugs on the floor above the ceiling

Although not too effective, the dense rugs serve as a cheaper option for sounding if applied on the floor above the ceiling. The advantage of these rugs is that they do not require too much of the construction, and provide a good solution at an affordable cost.

For this, you have to choose a really dense rug that is tightly woven. The thicker it is, the more sound it will absorb. If you want some really good results, you can even place soundproof padding under the rugs for further sound reduction.

Want to learn more about some DIY and cheap ways to soundproof your ceiling, watch this video!

Some helpful tips for soundproofing your ceiling

Now that you have learned all the good methods for soundproofing your ceiling, let us tell you some key factors that you must keep in mind while choosing any of these methods.

  • Before choosing any of these methods, ask yourself: Is it really worth the money? You have to choose the right method depending on your budget. If you are living on rent or having a temporary residence, look for some cheap and removable option, rather than a permanent solution.
  • Check the ductwork. Ductwork can transfer a lot of noise, especially in the case of drop ceilings. If you have a rigid duct, you can get that replaced with a flexible duct or a duct liner to reduce the sound.
  • Before you take up any project, get a piece of advice from a professional. They might tell you a lot of new things.
  • Choose the method that is most suitable for you. If you do not want to tear off your ceiling, that is totally fine. You can make the necessary changes even without tearing it off. Just make sure you choose the right method for a good result.
  • The ductworks, vents, and other light fixtures can serve as a pathway to transfer noise. Especially if the place is old, there might be a lot of holes in the ceiling that can be a source of the noise. You can coat the ductwork with good sound-dampening paint and the duct holes with the acoustical baffles. We recommend you to buy good soundproofing and dampening compound for the purpose. Green Glue will definitely help in noise reduction within your area.

Some great benefits of soundproofing your ceilings

You might be thinking that the only benefit of soundproofing your ceiling is to reduce the extra noise. In reality, it is a lot more than that.

Soundproofing your ceiling has got some really cool additional benefits that you might not know. Here is a list of those hidden benefits:

  1. Soundproofing the ceiling hides all sorts of duct holes, pipes, and wires that are otherwise visible on your ceiling. It gives a really organized look to your room which is great!
  2. Also, you can enjoy your favorite loud music, without disturbing your neighbors. Just plan to host a party at your home, and enjoy the all-night fun without any worries!
  3. Soundproof ceilings give a very beautiful look to your ceiling, which you can easily replace or repair according to your choice.
  4. With no noise coming from your neighbors, you can have a grudge-free relation with them. No disturbance at all, right?
  5. Furthermore, the soundproof ceiling helps to maintain the temperature of the room, as most of the soundproofing materials are also heat insulators.

The Final Words

Soundproofing your ceiling is super important! In fact, you can easily make your place an ambiance of peace by soundproofing your walls and ceilings. This can even be done at an affordable rate, that’s why before you start I would suggest you have a look at this article I wrote that covers how much it will cost to soundproof an entire room including a ceiling. However, it is important to take out some time to think well and choose the right method to carry it out. Once it’s done, you will realize that it is all worth the effort and expense. So what are you waiting for? Get started already! Best of luck!

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