When you use the basement in your home to work on your projects, you might easily realize how much noise they receive, especially through the ceiling. This is why today we’ll be explaining how to soundproof basement ceilings.
Creating a soundproof basement ceiling is one of the best ways to turn your basement into a space for work, play, and relaxation.
A basement is one of the best spots in your house to turn into something else entirely, be it a workshop, a home studio, or a home theater.
This is why blocking it against noise is so important.
To help you create a very special place in your home, we’ve brought you the cheapest way to soundproof a basement ceiling, so stick around to discover how to do it.
Noise to soundproof basement ceilings against
When you want to soundproof any place in your home, the first thing you have to know is the kind of noises you will be blocking.
Different places in your house require different methods of soundproofing. The walls of your main bedroom are not the same as the ceiling of your basement and thus require different approaches.
Luckily, there’s plenty of information out there that can make the science of sound – and soundproofing – easy enough for anyone to understand.
First, let’s take a look at the type of noises we deal with in our home daily:
Airborne noise refers to all of those sounds that are carried through the air, bouncing off surfaces or traveling through them and reaching our ears.
Examples of airborne noises can be the voices of your neighbors, loud music from other rooms, TVs playing in the background, and any other noise that you can hear from a distance.
The main way in which airborne noise can get into a room is through openings that let air – and sound – into space.
This is why the best way to reduce airborne sounds is by sealing any creaks and openings that might let sound through.
Of course, doors and windows are the main pathways for airborne noise, so make sure that these don’t leave any openings for exterior sounds.
However, walls and ceilings can have openings by which the noise comes in, so make sure to be very thorough in your search for those gaps.
The main pathways for airborne sound in basements tend to be doors, windows, and gaps in the paneling of walls and ceilings.
Ventilation ducts are also a common opening that lets sound into your basement from different rooms in your house.
For these to not interfere with your soundproofing efforts, you have to seal them with the appropriate materials, so you can have a perfectly insulated basement.
Impact noises, on the other hand, are all those hits, thuds, and bouncing sounds you can hear against your walls and ceilings.
We perceive these noises when they travel through solid surfaces through impact, as the name suggests.
This way, the bouncing of a ball in the upper floors of a house can be heard and felt in the basement by traveling through the inner workings of walls and ceilings until it reaches the lower stages.
For people who live in apartments, this is why your neighbors hammering a nail into a wall can be heard and felt so clearly from your own home, even if you live several stages down.
A clear example of these is the sounds of steps against your ceiling from your upstairs neighbors, stomping up and downstairs, or your kids’ soccer balls against your walls.
When it comes to soundproofing basement ceilings, the best way to go is to know what type of sound is affecting your basement the most.
A common mistake is to only consider airborne sounds as the source of all noises to block.
In reality, impact noises are one of the most intrusive and bothersome sounds you can get in a room, and especially if that room is the basement.
Basement ceilings are recipients of most of the sounds in the house, so if you want to properly soundproof your basement ceiling, you’ll have to protect it against both airborne and impact noises.
The cheapest way to soundproof a basement ceiling
When it comes to how to soundproof basement ceilings, several cheap and convenient ways don’t include renovating the whole space.
These methods help you deal with both airborne and impact noises and make a difference in the amount of sound that reaches your basement.
However, before we head into the cheapest way to soundproof a basement ceiling, let’s take a look at all the most effective ways to keep noise at bay.
Insulation consists of stuffing up your walls with insulation material to prepare for the colder months and keep the cold outside.
Even though insulation is mainly used as a healing method, it is also commonly used for its sound dampening qualities.
When you insulate your walls, all you do is add insulation batts that are cut specifically to fill the gaps that go behind your walls.
Batt insulation is a material made out of mineral wool or fiberglass, and comes in rolls or precut into standard pieces for an easier appliance.
This adds mass and an extra layer the cold – and the noise – have to go through before reaching the interior of the room.
By applying basement ceiling sound insulation, you protect your walls from any neighboring noises, which in turn helps reduce the amount of noise that comes through the ceiling.
Decoupling is one of the most common practices when it comes to soundproofing a basement ceiling.
What this entails is separating or decoupling the ceiling layer to increase the space between layers, providing more obstacles for the sounds to have to go through.
The more obstacles sound encounters before reaching your ears, the better the soundproofing.
Decoupling is often paired with insulation and absorption to make considerably decrease the amount of noise reaching your basement, since adding extra mass is the best way to dampen any type of sound.
As the name implies, absorption as a soundproofing method implies the use of materials that soak up the sound vibrations, diminishing them to reduce the amount of noise reaching down towards your basement.
The main difference between insulation soundproofing and adding absorption to your walls and ceiling is that the insulation usually requires a more complicated installation process.
Absorption, on the other hand, can be easily applied without the help of any experts or overly expensive materials.
The best absorption materials are those that add mass but not too much density since dense surfaces are good for carrying impact noise.
For this reason, the best sound absorbing methods for ceilings include adding rugs and carpets to the upper floors or using acoustic paneling that dampens and softens the noise reaching down to the room.
These are all great ways to soundproof a basement ceiling. However, the are cheaper alternatives to reducing the amount of noise reaching your basement.
Reducing these noises is a very important step to take in making your basement the ideal space for a recording studio at home or a home office, so if you’re planning on creating a space like these, continue reading.
These are some of the cheapest ways to soundproof your basement ceiling:
Seal up any openings with caulking
As we mentioned before, gaps and openings are sure pathways for noise to go through to your basement.
For this reason, sealing them up is the best way to make sure no unwanted sounds are leaking into your basement, which could be a problem if you’re looking to use it for recording.
For sealing up any gaps in your basement, you can use caulking or sound sealant.
With the help of a caulking gun, you can use this substance to fill in any cracks and small gaps that let sound through.
Caulk is a flexible, pliable material that will not cause any damage to walls as they expand or the gaps get any bigger.
This way, you make sure the gaps remained sealed. Also, caulking is very easy to paint on top of, so don’t worry about adding an unesthetic look to your basement.
Use Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound
When it comes to investing how to soundproof basement ceilings, you’ll see Green Glue come up more than once in your results.
This is because Green Glue is one of the cheapest and most effective solutions to soundproof any space in your home.
Green Glue is a compound that is applied to the back of any type of paneling you apply to your ceiling or walls, be it drywall, acoustic foam, or even carpeting.
The reason it works so well is that its formula remains pliable and flexible, even after it dries. When it is applied as glue to any form of paneling, it adds an extra layer between the wall or ceiling and the panel.
This extra layer poses an extra obstacle between the sound wave and the room and turns it into energy at a microscopic level.
Green Glue compound can be found in both tubes and buckets. Which one is best for you depends completely on your needs and budget.
Install Acoustic Paneling
Acoustic panels may be inaccurately known as soundproofing foam. In reality, these panels don’t block sound, so they aren’t actually soundproof.
However, they do drastically improve the acoustics in a room, absorbing echo and diminishes the bouncing of sound off all the surfaces in the room.
Acoustic panels are made out of polyurethane foam, which is a soft yet firm material that is great for absorbing sound.
You can install them on your ceiling on the places where you know the most noise is coming from, thus adding an extra layer of mass that also improves the sound inside the basement.
To make them extra effective, stick them to your ceiling using Green Glue Compound.
If you go through the process of decoupling and insulating your basement ceiling, acoustic panels will give it the final touch.
Apply acoustic paint
While it is known that acoustic paint does not make a huge difference when it comes to dampening noise, it can make a significant impact when combined with other methods.
You can apply several coats of acoustic paint to your ceiling to add an extra layer of thickness before installing acoustic panels.
This way, you go an extra step in lowering the impact noise on your basement ceiling.
Acoustic paint is a very thick, open-celled type of paint that makes your walls thicker.
Naturally, this extra mass and the paint’s sound dampening composition help reduce the amount of noise that comes through the ceiling and walls.
Add mass loaded vinyl to your basement ceiling
Mass loaded vinyl is a very effective sound barrier that is used for walls, ceilings, pipes, ducts, and any other spot that needs acoustic protection.
The density of this material is what keeps the noise at bay, and since it’s made out of vinyl, it is very nimble, flexible, and easy to install on most surfaces.
To install it to your ceiling, all you have to do is roll out the MLV, cut it according to the size of your ceiling, and then nail, tape, or staple it to your basement ceiling.
You might find that cutting the MLV into pieces makes it easier to install than one huge portion of the material at once.
To truly dampen and diminish both impact and airborne noise, apply your MLV on a previously decoupled ceiling that already has two to three layers of acoustic paint.
Although not necessary, this goes that extra mile in dampening all the noise that comes through your basement ceiling.
Creating peace and quiet for your basement is totally possible, and can even be quite easy and cheap.
Now that you know how to soundproof a basement, it’s up to you to choose the best option for you, be it basement ceiling sound insulation, decoupling, paneling, or painting.
So pick what’s best for you – and your basement – and create a quiet and peaceful space in your home.