How often you hear noise from the floor above you? Regardless of whether you live in an apartment building or a multi-floor house, you can probably hear the people above you in some way.
Anytime there’s someone on the floor above you; you’ll hear footsteps and voices. Though complaining to the people causing the noise is an option, it’s better if you did something a bit more effective like soundproofing the ceiling.
Have you ever thought about soundproofing a ceiling before? Although it might sound like awful a lot of work, the process of soundproofing the actual ceiling doesn’t always have to be complicated. There are different methods some of which you can do yourself since they don’t require lots of work.
So whether you want to know how to soundproof apartment ceiling effectively or the ceiling in your house, keep reading.
Where is the noise coming from?
Before we get into all the different ways in which you can soundproof your ceiling, it’s essential to identify how sound actually travels and how it can be blocked. This matter in terms of realizing which method will give you the best results in protecting you from ever hearing it again. The two types are airborne and impact noises.
AIRBOURNE NOISE is the one that travels through the air. This is when your kids are listening to loud music in the room above, or the noisy neighbors in your building are arguing. Anything similar to that is also airborne noise that bounces off the ceiling or floor and travels through. This is things like voices, the humming of their fridge, speakers etc.
IMPACT NOISE is when someone drops an item on the floor above you, or their washing machine is bouncing above your room. The most common impact noise is the sound of footsteps on the floor.
Still, it’s not always easy to figure out what’s making these sounds especially if you don’t know the people above your apartment. Luckily, most of the methods can be done to soften both types of noises; it’s just that some are slightly bit more effective than others.
Are you building your house?
There’s a difference between how to soundproof a ceiling that’s already built and the one you’re making right now. Some things you can do to one you can’t do to another, so it’s important to clarify that right away.
If you’re in the process of building your house from SCRATCH (less likely), you have a chance of doing some pretty heavy-duty soundproofing to the floors and ceilings. This allows you to add different soundproofing materials to the construction of your ceiling to dampen the noises that might go through.
However, this isn’t really an option if you’re renting an apartment or a house like most of us. In this case, you can still apply some methods that wouldn’t damage any walls or the ceiling itself. This isn’t as effective as if you were to build from scratch, but it still does a fair job.
How to soundproof your ceilings
As we said, there are different methods of softening different noises, and we offer you the ultimate guide on how to do that. It’s up to you to read carefully and consider each method before you proceed with any work.
1. Check for holes in the ceiling
Before you buy any panels, you should check if there are some holes in your ceiling. People tend to overlook this, but how often do you look up at it? There might as well be a hole that you haven’t noticed, especially if you aren’t the first owner.
Luckily, this is easily fixable with a dense type of glue that you can find cheaply online. There are many different brands and types on the market so you can freely choose any of them. However, pay particular attention to the COLOR of the glue you choose. Certain types of glue turn another color once dried and you might need to paint over them later to match the rest of the ceiling.
One of the easiest and most affordable solutions are plastic foam panels. They are quite effective, come at a low price and are easy to install.
There are different types of these panels on the market. Some work best for walls and studios, while others work great for ceilings. Most of them are affordable with slight differences in price, so you have a choice there, too.
Because they come at different prices, it’s best to invest in a combo of quality and price. Most of the cheapest versions don’t do any good at all. Also, panels come in several colors allowing you to choose the one that either matches your walls or your décor.
Most come with a glue of some sort, but that might not always be the case. If you have to buy it separately, try to find a spray adhesive. These are some of the strongest and will keep your panels in place for a long time. Also, spray adhesive is more than just that as it does some soundproofing of its own. Plus, it works with many other things, too.
We’ve all witnessed that craze when people glued egg cartons to their walls. Not only that had little to none effect, but it also looked hideous and was highly flammable. Still, some manufacturers were inspired, and came up with actual soundproofing panels that look similar.
Why do these work when egg cartons didn’t? Actual egg cartons had a good shape to them, but the material just wasn’t safe to use, and it didn’t have any soundproofing qualities. So, now we have foam panels shaped like egg cartons to get the best of that surface texture but with better materials.
These are thick and probably much better than the basic, flat type kind of panels. The best thing is that they work both ways, so no sound can get in or get out which is why people often use them to soundproof studios. Again, they might not look very appealing but are highly effective, and there are several different colors to pick from.
As we said, foam panels are great, but they aren’t to everybody’s taste. If you want to keep your interior a bit more stylish, you should try vinyl mats. These are thick which makes them a great additional layer between the two floors.
Mats are for more than just ceilings as you can stick them to walls, floors, office cubicles, and pretty much any other area you want to soundproof.
A vinyl mat protects you from low and high-frequency noises while decreasing bass and vibrations. It also has great absorption abilities. Luckily, the mats are super-easy to install, and you won’t need any professional help to do it.
Simply measure the ceiling you want to soundproof and cut the mat with a knife. One thing you have to keep in mind is that this isn’t the most affordable option. However, quality mats are durable and will last you for years to come, so it’s a fair investment.
Acoustic tiles aren’t a common choice even though they can look nice and are highly effective. In many cases, you cannot even tell that what’s on the ceiling are acoustic tiles.
They are sold in panels held by a metal grid. The tiles are made of fiberglass, and some models even have sound-interrupting foil or a layer of MLV. The tiles are relatively easy to install and will last you a long time.
Adding a rug to the room above is one of the best and easiest ways to soften impact noise. The fluffier the rug, the less noise will go through.
However, this isn’t very effective in terms of protecting from airborne noise such as voices. Even if it does soften them a bit, it’s highly unlikely you’d even notice. A fluffy rug will soften impact noise such as footsteps.
If you already have some carpeting and don’t want to ruin it, simply add some vinyl between the floor and the rug. This would add some more mass making it difficult for the noise to pass. Also, this is only possible if you have your own house, and you can decide what ti put in the room above you!
Another effective strategy is applying drywall. It’s a popular material often used to soundproof different areas, so it’s definitely something you should try.
The installation requires a bit more work than if you were to simply apply foam panels, but it’s worth it. Drywall panels come in different sizes so it’s up to you to choose the one that would suit you the best. Plus, add more than just one layer is a great option if you’re dealing with more aggressive noise.
The only thing you have to remember is to fill all the holes in between the panels, so the sound doesn’t go through them.
8. Specially made drywall
If you think basic drywall might not be enough for the level of noise you’re dealing with, you should consider the sound-engineered one like QuietRock.
This one is specially made for these purposes and as such is more effective. It has different layers of alternative substances that prevent the sound from going through. The installation is easy and done much like in the case of common drywall.
Layering it is also an option, but because it’s more efficient, it’s highly unlikely you’d need more than just one layer. It mostly depends on the type of sound.
And if you’re considering redoing/adding drywall, you should also consider adding soundproofing spray foam for added sound deadening.
9. MuteX soundproof material
MuteX is a great alternative to acoustic foam panels. It’s a mat that’s pretty lightweight and comes in a roll. You can choose between high mass and vinyl MuteX, but we’d recommend the high mass element as a sound barrier.
Another thing that’s worth noting is that is one of the most versatile materials to use for soundproofing. This is great because it allows you to use the leftovers anywhere in your house, office or car.
For ultimate results, you should pair it with drywall. The best way is to glue or staple them together and then put them up on the ceiling. It’s quite similar to mass load vinyl.
10. Green Glue
We’ve mentioned how certain types of glue can also work as an additional soundproofing layer between your panels and the ceiling. Green glue is probably the best solution if you don’t actually want to glue any panels as it can work on its own.
It dampens the sound by turning it into heat energy which later dissipates. The way you use it is up to you as you can just apply some in holes and gaps, or layer it all across your ceiling.
It’s quite versatile, and there are countless ways to use it. Still, make sure to pick the matching color or at least the one you can paint over.
FAQ about soundproofing a ceiling
Is it worth the money?
Soundproofing your ceilings is important if you’re dealing with any kind of noise that’s disturbing your peace like noisy neighbours. Sadly, these projects most likely won’t boost the value of your home. So, if you come to the point of selling it, you probably won’t be able to get much more for it just because your ceilings are soundproof.
Are sound curtains effective?
Soundproof curtains are a good way to soundproof some parts of your home. Still, most people use them when there’s really nothing else to be done. Also, because they are curtains, they are mostly used to soundproof doors and windows.
These curtains aren’t the most effective sound barriers and definitely not a good choice for a ceiling not because of their efficiency but for aesthetic reasons. Imagine a curtain hanging across your ceiling, and you’d understand why it’s not a good choice.
How to soundproof a basement ceiling?
All of the methods above can be applied to any part of your home, including basement. However, there are even more things to do for your basement if aesthetics aren’t so important for you. While there are plenty of materials to add across the ceiling, there’s also something you can do in the room above.
As we mentioned, adding a thick carpet would be a good idea more so if you add some vinyl between the rug and the floor. Another thing is to rearrange the furniture in a smart way. A bookshelf or a couch right above your basement can make a significant change, and it costs no money if you already have the pieces.
Other useful posts
There are some other things you might want to read about. If you’re trying to soundproof a ceiling, the chances are a lot of sound is coming from the doors and windows, both of which can be easily soundproofed. You should also check out our list of soundproof materials, we’ve put a lot of time into ranking and reviewing the BEST soundproof materials ever.