Armchair Builder

Soundproofing Your New Basement Ceiling

One of my friends recently asked if I had any recommendations for soundproofing a new basement office project.  He has a dog that likes to run and play with the kids.  The resulting noise has a tendency to echo through the house which is not so good for phone conversations with potential clients.  So what are your options for soundproofing a new basement office?

If you ask three builders what they recommend for soundproofing a room, you will get three different answers.  I will first tell you that I am no soundproofing expert.  However, I do like to look at my projects from an efficiency standpoint.  So, for my friend’s basement office, I wouldn’t recommend any of the high cost, high level sound reducing techniques.  Trust me, there are all kinds of expensive ways to reduce noise…just ask the guys that build recording studios.  In many cases, they build a room within a room which provides the ultimate situation for soundproofing.  Here, we will focus on the  items with the biggest bang for your buck.  Because the biggest noise nuisance is coming from the ceiling in my friend’s case, we will focus our soundproofing efforts there for this discussion.

Acoustical Insulation:  First, you should place an acoustical insulation between the ceiling joists.  Check with your local insulation supplier or home improvement center to see what is available.  There are so many great products out there as this is an integral part of any soundproofing project.  Check out our insulation quality check video for more help with your basement project.

Wrap Ducts, Pipes and Outlet Boxes:   You will use a soundproofing putty around all ceiling electrical boxes (think Silly Puddy but not quite as much fun).  You will also use a pipe and duct wrap to help dampen any vibrations from flushing toilets or air flowing through ductwork.

You have basically two options for the drywall board:

Soundproof drywall (Option 1):  This type of drywall is typically about the same weight as standard drywall and finishes the same way.  You will use screws without glue (follow manufacturer recommendations) to fasten the product to the joists above.  You will use the same good soundproofing techniques as you would with any other drywall method… Leave a small gap between the wall and the edges of the ceiling.  All seams and edges of the soundproof drywall are to be sealed with an acoustical sealant.  Since this is a ceiling application, you should use a 5/8″ thick drywall to maximize soundproofing and to prevent sagging.  One example of a high quality soundproof drywall is QuietRock.  The company claims that one sheet has the same sound characteristics as eight sheets of regular drywall sandwiched together.

Standard Drywall Layers with Soundproofing Compound Between (Option 2):  Some builders swear by the idea of hanging two layers of drywall attached directly to the joists with a layer of noise reducing compound between the sheets (an example of a noise reducing compound is Green Glue).  With this application, you stagger the joints and do all of the things I mentioned above (i.e. soundproofing putty is installed around electrical boxes, pipe and duct wrap, soundproofing sealant at edges and openings…).  This option does work…but the additional labor to hang the second layer can add significantly to your cost if you’re subcontracting out the work.

Soundproofing Clips:  The best option for soundproofing to reduce impact noises from above is to install soundproofing clips and metal furring hat channel to the bottom of the joists (see video below).  This is a very effective way to reduce noise transmission as you are decoupling the drywall from the framing.  In this soundproofing application, you screw clips to the ceiling joists…then clip the metal channel into the sound clips…then secure your chosen drywall to the metal channel (again, no screws should hit the joists as this negates everything you’ve done).  An acoustical sealant is then applied to the edges and around any openings.

Cost Comparison (for 12′ x 12′ Ceiling, Material Only):  QuietRock 525 (STC 51…hear what this represents at QuietRock.com):  $270, Double Standard Drywall Layers with Green Glue Between:  $220, Sound Isolation Clips plus Metal Furring Hat Channel with Two Layers of Drywall and Green Glue sandwiched between:  $380.

Soundproofing Recommendation:  I personally like the soundproof drywall and particularly the QuietRock product for anyone on a budget that wants to seriously reduce sound transmission.  If cost is not an issue and optimal performance is…go with the soundproofing clips/metal furring hat channel and a soundproof drywall.  Keep in mind, your labor cost will be significantly more for the second application.  If you’re doing it yourself, just plan on dedicating more weekend hours to completing your project.  Either way, if you plan on tackling your soundproofing project yourself, make sure you take your time to do each phase properly to maximize your results.  And as always, follow the manufacturer recommendations carefully to ensure a safe and effective installation.  If you want to finish your basement, check out our detailed video series on our main site.

For a better understanding of what is involved when installing soundproofing clips and metal hat channel to your new basement finishing project, check out the video below from the makers of Green Glue.  It shows a wall application…which should be pretty similar to the ceiling installation with the exception of the location of the clips.  Have you ever thought about building your own home?  Be sure to stop by the Armchair Builder How to Build Your Own Home resource page.


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