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How to Soundproof a Floor & Ceiling

The second part of our guide to soundproofing at home covers floors and ceilings. Discover how you can get rid of those annoying noises from upstairs or downstairs.

how to make a soundproof-floor-and-ceiling

Soundproofing a floor or ceiling doesn’t have to be as hard as you think, and it can make a huge difference to the quality of your life. In today’s post we give the details on how you can do it for yourself.

How to Soundproof a Floor

The main reason for installing a soundproof floor would be to reduce the noise of footsteps travelling through the floorboards. By soundproofing a floor you can also reduce the noise transfer caused by televisions, music, talking, furniture being dragged, and things being dropped.

Our solution involves removing the floor boards, but not the floor joists. We will then add some extra layers to the floor to make it soundproof. This is a job that can be done by yourself and without paying for a professional. We will talk you through the steps, and also tell you everything you need and where to get it.

To make a soundproof floor you have to be prepared to lose some height in your room. You will be making the floor between one and two inches thicker.

Our soundproof floor combines some of the techniques we discussed earlier in part one of our guide to making a soundproof room. In fact, our new floor will be very similar to the “floating” wall described in part one of our guide..

This isn’t a complicated job and it just takes a bit of muscle to remove the floorboards in the beginning.

soundproof-floor

Our soundproof floor set-up

Step 1: Add an effective sound absorber

The floor cavity (the empty space between the floor and ceiling) is one of the main culprits for transferring sound between levels of a building. As it is, it is probably mostly empty or air filled, and this is a problem.

The first step is to remove the floor boards, and fill some of this empty cavity space with an effective absorber. The whole cavity does not need to be filled, but a decent layer must be formed between the joists. The more absorber you can lay, the better. We don’t want to compress the material though. We must also not fill the air cavity to the top. Leaving a small air gap is preferable.

We can use material like a dense polyester to do this, or a custom built acoustic treatment like acoustic batt or Green Glue (see below).

applegate-acoustic-battAcoustic Batt

Acoustic Batt has excellent sound absorption properties. It is not rigid and can be bent into shape for awkward spaces. It is ideal for sound insulation.

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green-glue-noiseproofingGreen Glue

This versatile material can add an extra layer of sound insulation. It can be used in awkward places, and is a popular tool with builders seeking soundproof rooms.

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Step 2: Decouple (or float) the floor (optional)

A further step to improve the soundproofing ability of your floor would be to add floor floaters between the joists and floorboards. These floor floaters should be placed every 12 inches. These floaters reduce the amount of energy that can transfer between the boards and joists. This means less sound vibration will be transmitted, which means less noise. This stage gives the “floating” floor effect which many recording studios use to good effect. A further upgrade would be to replace your existing floor boards with OSB.

auralex-u-boat-floor-floaterFloor Floaters

Floor floaters are used to decouple floors. They reduce the contact points between surfaces, and therefore reduce sound transmission. They are inexpensive and a effective way of reducing sound transmitted through a floor. Lay them on top of floor joists at regular intervals.

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Step 3: Identify and fix squeaky areas of floor

Squeaky floors are usually caused by timber that is not held in place tightly enough. Once the floorboards have been replaced, make sure you take the time to walk around and put pressure on the boards in every location of the room. If you find a noisy area then simply use a few more nails or staples to fix it down more tightly. This problem must be identified and fixed at this stage, before the floor boards are covered.

More ways to fix a squeaky floor

Step 4: Absorb footsteps/add damping

footsteps-noise

Footsteps are one of the main causes of noise coming through a floor and ceiling, so it’s important that we nullify them effectively. To do this we need to lay a layer of material which is soft enough to absorb the impact. It’s important that this material is not too dense, as this would aid the sound/energy transfer between rooms. Therefore, the acoustic properties of this material are not as important. A reasonably dense polyester/urethane material of around an inch in thickness would do the job. This layer acts as damping to reduce vibrations between upstairs and downstairs.We can glue this onto the floorboards.

air-lite-high-density-urethane-foamUrethane Foam

This material is reasonably dense, but still is soft enough to reduce any impact vibrations. It can be used to add damping between surfaces in our soundproof floor.

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Step 5: Absorb voices/TV noise etc.

airborne-noise

We need to add one final layer to our new floor. This time the acoustic properties of the material are really important. We want something really dense and heavy which will absorb as much sound as possible. The ideal choices for this are SheetBlok and acoustic vinyl. They are super dense and designed to reduce sound transmission as effectively as possible.

It’s really important that we don’t leave any gaps in this layer. To seal the gaps we can use noiseproofing tape, or acoustic caulk (See step 6).

tms-acoustic-barrierMass Loaded Vinyl

Mass loaded vinyl is perfect soundproofing material. It is heavy, dense and doesn’t take up much space.

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auralex-sheetblokAuralex SheetBlok

SheetBlok is designed to be as dense and heavy as possible, but still be flexible and thin. It is an ideal acoustic barrier to use when soundproofing. It is a quality mass loaded vinyl produced by Auralex.

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st-gobain-ggtape-1-7Noiseproofing Tape

Great for sealing any air gaps, or offering an extra layer of sound insulation.

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Step 6: Add a solid surface

Right now the floor is still very soft. We need to add a solid layer so that you can lay your flooring of choice on top. We need to choose a material that can be used without using any screws or nails. If we use nails or screw we will give the sound an easy route to travel through the floor. Something that uses a tongue and groove system would be perfect. Plywood or OSB would be good choices. We can seal the gaps at the walls with some acoustic caulk.

Green Glue Acoustic SealantAcoustic Caulk

Acoustic caulk is liquid in form and can be used to seal any shape of gap. It is effective at sealing air gaps and plugging holes that sound would otherwise transfer very easily through.

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Any kind of flooring can be attached to the last plywood layer. We can use nails to attach to the plywood, but we must not go any further.

Adding further layers would increase the worth of our acoustic floor even more. Just remember our acoustics basics, and don’t couple the surfaces.

Using one of these stages would have a small benefit, but by using them together you will notice big results.



How to Soundproof a Ceiling

how-to-soundproof-a-ceiling

The ceiling can be the source of a lot of undesirable sound. Loud music, footsteps, talking, and loud TVs have all been a source of frustration for us at some point right? Luckily, there are ways we can stop this noise from being so annoying.

Impact noise (like footsteps) and airborne noise (TVs, music, talking etc.) both enter a room in the same way. Sound vibrations pass through the floor and ceiling and are then heard by our ears. By stopping a ceiling’s ability to vibrate, we can can reduce the amount of sound energy that is transferred through it.

The best way to do this is by installing a suspended (or floating) ceiling.

What’s a Suspended/Floating Ceiling?

A suspended ceiling involves suspending a layer of drywall from sound vibration isolation clips. The drywall layer is only connected to the current ceiling through vibration isolators, which dampen the vibrations. This stops sound energy from being transmitted as efficiently through surfaces.

We can also use soundproofing insulation between ceiling joists, and acoustic vinyl, to absorb more airborne sound. A final touch might be to add acoustic tiles, but this decision would affect the aesthetics of the room.

A suspended ceiling can be installed in two ways:

  1. It is attached to the current ceiling for a loss of a couple of inches in ceiling height.
  2. The current ceiling is removed and replaced with a heavier, more sound absorbing material like drywall. Then the suspended ceiling is attached.

How to Install a Floating Ceiling

floating-ceiling

Here’s how to make a floating ceiling for your home. We’ve got all the instructions plus exactly what you’ll need.

Step 1: Use a sound absorber

absorption

This step is only for those who have removed the ceiling tiles/panels or have access to the ceiling cavity.

Currently, the ceiling cavity is mostly empty or air. This is bad because it causes resonance between the ceiling and upstairs floor. Resonance is vibration and hence also noise. To stop this we want to add a layer or two of acoustic batt, or dense polyester. Don’t fill the cavity completely as a small air gap is still desirable.

applegate-acoustic-battAcoustic Batt

Acoustic Batt has excellent sound absorption properties. It is not rigid and can be bent into shape for awkward spaces. It is ideal for sound insulation.

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Step 2: Decouple the ceiling

Decoupling the ceiling means stopping sound vibrations from easily travelling between floor and ceiling. We need to reduce the contact points between the levels, and reduce the amount of vibrations between them. To do this we need to use resilient channels. If you removed the ceiling then you will attach the resilient channels to the floor joists. If not, the resilient channels are attached to the current ceiling.

  • The resilient channels should be attached perpendicular to the joists.
  • They should be attached at intervals of no more than 24 inches.
  • If you are attaching 3 or more layers of drywall to the channels (recommended to increase soundproofing) then you can decrease the intervals to about 16 inches.
  • The channels closest to wall ends should be no more than 6 inches from the wall.

A further step to increase how effectively your new ceiling reduces sound, would be to attach sound isolation clips (or whisper clips) to the resilient channel. These give some damping (like suspension) to reduce the transfer of energy between upstairs and downstairs.

auralex-rc8-resilient-channelResilient Channel

The resilient channel reduces the level of contact between surfaces. It is great for room acoustics and helps decouple layers.

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resilient-sound-isolation-clip-rsic-1Sound Isolation Clips

These provide acoustic damping when attached to resilient channels. They increase the effectiveness of the resilient channel, kind of like an upgrade.

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green-glue-whsiper-clipWhisper Clips

These are similar to sound isolation clips. They attach to metal hat/furring channels instead of resilient channels. If choosing furring/metal hat channels instead of resilient channels, choose the 087F125-18 (25 gauge) version, which is better for soundproofing.

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Step 3: Attach the drywall

We need to screw the drywall to the resilient channels (or clips). We have chosen drywall because it is reasonably dense and heavy. Remember mass is our friend in our fight against noise.

Step 4: Fill in gaps

acoustic-caulk-green-glue

We need to seal any air gaps that we have left when attaching the drywall. We can use acoustic caulk for this job. It can be applied to seal any gaps and left to dry.

Step 5: Add more damping

green-glue-damper

We can add a layer of damping between our layers of drywall to reduce the strength of sound vibrations that will travel through. A good damping material for this is Green Glue.

Green Glue can take a few days to dry and become fully effective. Your new ceiling won’t reach its soundproof potential until the Green Glue has dried properly.

Step 6: Add more drywall

floating-wall-green-glue-drywall

In steps 3-5 we have created a drywall and Green Glue sandwich. It would be easiest to create the “sandwich” first and then attach it as one piece to the resilient channels. But, we can also add them to the ceiling one layer at a time. This layer should also be attached to the resilient channels.

Make sure that the two layers of drywall are different thicknesses. This is because different thicknesses of a material will resonate at different frequencies.  This will help to reduce more sound transmission through the levels. If the 1st layer was 5/8 then make the second 1/2 and so on.

We can repeat these layers of Green Glue and drywall to further strengthen the sound isolating properties of our wall. If you wish to add further layers of heavy drywall you must remember to add resilient channels at more frequent intervals of 16 inches.

Step 8: Add the finishing touches

You can now add whatever final layer you wish to the ceiling. Acoustic ceiling tiles could be an option if you are worried about noise being heard upstairs.

acoustic-ceiling-tilesAcoustic Ceiling Tiles

Acoustic ceiling tiles add will help to absorb airborne noise such as talking, music, and the television. This will help to stop these noises from being heard upstairs.

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That concludes part two of our ‘How to Soundproof a Room’ guide. You now know how to soundproof a ceiling, and how to soundproof a floor. Check out the other parts of our four part guide to soundproof your home even more.

Part One: Soundproofing Basics & How to Soundproof a Room

Part Three: Soundproofing Windows

Part Four: Soundproofing Doors

As ever, if you have any questions then please get in contact, and we will do our best to help out.


Sources

WikiHow

Your Home

Paroc

Green Glue

 

Summary
How to Soundproof a Floor and Ceiling
Article Name
How to Soundproof a Floor and Ceiling
Description
Learn how to soundproof a floor and ceiling at home. We take you through the process step by step in our guide to soundproofing.
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Home Recording Pro
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