While soundproofing your home is possible, most people find that soundproofing between existing floors can be difficult.
Those who live in apartment buildings have to deal with either upstairs or downstairs neighbors who can be very loud at times.
This can include the neighbor playing their music too loud, having the TV volume on high or constantly having people over.
Either of these can be a noise nuisance and prevent you from relaxing in your home or having a good night’s sleep.
Sometimes confronting the neighbors can lead to awkward conversations and meetings from then on.
If you’ve tried talking to your neighbors and still having the issue, you can try to soundproof your apartment.
Ceilings on floorings are the common areas from where sounds get reflected.
In this article, you will learn how to apply soundproofing between floors to create a quiet sanctuary in your apartment.
- 1. Identify the source and type of noise
- 2. Figuring out your floor type
- 3. How to soundproof timber joist flooring
- 4. How to soundproof concrete floors
- 1.Use acoustic sealant
- 2. Add a layer of drywall to the ceiling
- 3. Cover the top layer of drywall with mass loaded vinyl
- 4. Use acoustic foam panels
Soundproofing between floors
If you would like to know how to soundproof between existing floors, keep reading!
1. Identify the source and type of noise
The first step in soundproofing between floors is to identify the exact source of the noise and the type of noise you are dealing with.
Identifying the source and type of noise will help you to successfully soundproof your home against the type of noise that is mainly causing the disturbance.
There are mainly two types of noise that may bother you.
Airborne or aerial noises are the type of noise that you are most familiar with.
This common type of noise includes sounds you hear from people talking, a TV or radio playing or music.
As the name suggests airborne noise is transmitted by air and is carried until the sound wave hits something solid.
Most times that something solid is the floor or ceiling which then causes the noise to go up or filter down to you.
Impact noise or structure-borne noise
Impact or structure-borne noises are harder to soundproof against because these songs are generated when one object collides with another.
This can be from footfalls against the floor, the fall of any object on the floor, or any object crashing into something.
Objects coming into contact with others will create vibrations that result in impact noises.
2. Figuring out your floor type
Floorings are one of the hardest surfaces in the home and tend to cause more reflection of the noise which amplifies it and creates more issues.
They are also the root cause for noise transmission if you live below an excessively noisy neighbor.
If you want to soundproof your floors so that you aren’t a nuisance to your downstairs neighbor or you want to reduce the reflection of sounds in your apartment, you can follow these tips.
Similar to identifying the source and type of noise for your soundproofing project to be a success, you will need to identify your floor type as well.
There are two major types of flooring
Timber joist flooring
This type of flooring carries both airborne noises as well as impact noises.
This can be very problematic when soundproofing and that is why it is always a bit of extra work to soundproof these types of floors.
However, do not despair as we will discuss ways to tackle and soundproof timber joist flooring to ensure you have a quiet home.
A floor made from concrete is denser than other materials used for flooring.
Concrete flooring is solid so it can block out most of the airborne noises by itself.
However, concrete flooring will need some help to block out impact noises since this type of noise can carry to the next floor.
We will also be discussing the various ways you can soundproof concrete floors as well.
3. How to soundproof timber joist flooring
We will first discuss the various ways that you can soundproof timber joists flooring since it allows both airborne and impact noises to pass through.
do keep in mind that the main key to make any flooring soundproof is to increase its mass or density, the more mass it has the less noise it transmits.
You can use underlayment just below the subflooring or below the top floor covering as insulation between floors to reduce noise.
Underlayment increases the density of the flooring if the floor is made up of plywood planks or timber.
To fully reap the benefits of underlayment you need to make sure that it is thick enough so that it can absorb impact noises.
Underlayment not only provides noise absorption but can also be very resistant to moisture and help to even out uneven floors.
If you have laminated flooring then underlayment is a must.
Roberts First Step Underlayment
- 3 mm thick
- Provide superior sound suppression between floors
- Inhibits mold growth
- First Step Premium 3-in-1 Underlayment, 100 sq. ft.Roll is designed for use under floating laminate…
- This product is meant for use on concrete slabs and wood subfloors that are on or above grade
- It is effective for sound reduction, comfort and even helps level minor sub-floor corrections
Use thick carpets or rubber mats.
Carpets can increase the thickness or density of existing floors in a similar way to the use of underlayment.
However, carpets may be a cheaper alternative to underlayment and are easier to install.
This is because carpets will be used just above the surface of the flooring to create an extra barrier between you and the source of the noise.
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On the other hand, opting for a sound deadening rubber mat made from sound-dampening material will greatly increase the flooring’s ability to absorb sounds better.
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If you want to reduce the sound even more you can choose to use drywall between the carpet and the floor.
Drywall is dense enough and works as a strong barrier to block noise.
4. How to soundproof concrete floors
Soundproofing concrete floors may be a little easier than soundproofing timber joist floors because you only have to soundproof against airborne noise.
These soundproofing solutions for the concrete floors are much easier and cheaper since there are no major fixes or maintenance to the existing floor itself.
Lay down acoustic mat or carpet
The purpose of the mat or carpet you use is to increase the sound-absorbing abilities of the flooring.
Concrete flooring poses an issue with sound absorption since it is a completely hard surface.
The acoustic mat or carpet will work as that sound-absorbing barrier.
Drywall has many uses and can be used to soundproof both timber joists and concrete flooring.
It is a cheap and effective material that helps when soundproofing floors, ceiling walls, etc.
If you do choose to place drywall over your flooring make sure they have a space of at least one inch.
Doing so will not only reduce noise transmission but can also help you keep room temperatures low in the summer.
Remember to use acoustic drywall and not conventional drywall for the best results.
For more on soundproofing floors read how to soundproof a floor and our soundproof flooring articles.
Soundproofing between floors ceiling
Your upstairs neighbor footfalls can bother you a lot and in this instance, you may want to look into soundproofing your ceiling.
Soundproofing between floors ceiling can be tricky but it can be done in a few simple steps.
To successfully soundproof the ceiling you will have to focus on some major areas since ceilings are a source of both airborne and impact noises.
If you want to know how to reduce noise from upstairs floors, you can try soundproofing your ceiling by following either or a combination of the methods mentioned below.
1.Use acoustic sealant
Before installing anything to the ceiling you first need to check if your ceiling needs any immediate attention.
Check to see if loose wires are coming out the sides or if there are holes left at the joists of the ceiling.
Sounds are very much like air in that they can pass through even the tiniest of holes.
Examine your ceiling carefully and ensure that there are no large gaps, holes or cracks.
If you do find holes, gaps and cracks, then you will need to use an acoustic sealant that is flexible in nature to seal them.
Unlike regular sealants, acoustic sealants will not shrink, harden or break after a few days, weeks or months.
If the gaps and cracks are big, you can use insulating foam to fill those.
Auralex Acoustics STOPGAP Acoustical Sealant
- Water-based sealant
- STC rate of 53
- meets ASTM C-834 standards for flame
- Stopgap Acoustical Sealant is a highly elastic, water-based sealant used for reducing sound…
- Stopgap is paintable and nonstinging
- meets ASTM C-834 standards for flame
Loctite TITE FOAM Insulating Foam Sealant
- Strong adhesion
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2. Add a layer of drywall to the ceiling
Ceilings are usually made of timber joists which allow impact noise as well as airborne noises to filter down to you from floors above.
These noises include footsteps or objects falling onto the surface of the floor above or noises from the TV or musical instruments.
That is why it is important to add an additional layer to absorb the sounds so the level of noise that filters down to you is low.
You can try to add a layer of drywall to the ceiling to help block out sounds.
The dense nature of drywall is why it is one of the most recommended solutions when trying to soundproof ceilings, floorings, or walls.
Similar to installing drywall above floors, when installing drywall to the ceiling, you should leave a gap of at least one inch.
To achieve this. you can use the resilient channel which creates an air pocket of at least half of an inch.
The air pocket will act as a trap to capture the noise coming from the floor above and the sound waves will be weakened as it tries to pass through the drywall layer.
You may require some help when installing the drywall layer to the ceiling.
Ensure the drywall layer is properly secured because you don’t want it falling on you or anyone at any point.
3. Cover the top layer of drywall with mass loaded vinyl
Once you have successfully added the layer of drywall to the ceiling, you can cover up the drywall.
Drywall isn’t exactly aesthetically pleasing so using another sound-absorbing material on the drywall can make it look better and stop the noise more effectively.
To further block sounds you can choose to cover the top layer of drywall with mass-loaded vinyl.
Mass-loaded vinyl is a great soundproofing material and can also be used in conjunction with underlayment for sound insulation between floors.
MLV can also be used between wall layers to act as a sound barrier.
When used alone, mass-loaded vinyl can have a pretty high STC rating and when combined with other materials, the STC rating goes way up.
However, in this case, you will be using it to cover the drywall layer to create an extra-strong barrier to stop noise from coming into your apartment from above.
soundsulate 1 lb Mass Loaded Vinyl
- STC rating of 27
- ⅛ inches thick
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- STC rating 27, 1/8″ thick
4. Use acoustic foam panels
If the drywall and the MLV technique seem a bit too much for you then you can simply install some acoustic foam panels to the ceiling.
These acoustic foam panels are made from different materials and come in various shapes, designs colors and sizes.
This gives you the freedom to have fun and create various patterns to decorate your ceiling and at the same time, reduce the transmission of sounds coming through from floors above.
JBER 12 Pack Acoustic Foam Panels
- 1 inch thick
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Bonus tips for soundproofing between floors
Now that you know how to soundproof your floor and ceiling to block the noise coming from neighbors below and above, there are a few other tips to implement for a quieter apartment.
Soundproofing the floor and ceiling will not cause a 100% reduction in all the noise but it can greatly reduce the amount that you hear.
When that small amount of noise does enter your apartment it can reflect off of other hard surfaces which then amplifies that noise.
You can try a few other things in your apartment to stop this from happening.
1. Add some additional soft materials throughout the apartment
You can reduce the reflection of sounds by adding soft materials including furniture, curtains, and books to absorb the noise.
These soft materials thereby will eliminate all hard surfaces and prevent sound waves from reflecting and bouncing around.
Hard surfaces in your home include the floor, the ceiling and walls.
You can cover the floor with soft carpet and also use anti-vibration mats below your washing machine to avoid those sounds traveling through your home.
Acoustic foam on the ceiling or walls acts as a sound-absorbing barrier as well to kill the noise.
Most people may not think about it but soundproof your doors and windows can greatly reduce the amount of noise coming into the apartment.
In some cases, your door may have a hollow core which makes it easier for sound waves to get to you.
Additionally, the gap under your door will also allow sounds to filter into your apartment.
To soundproof your door you can use a door sweep to block the gap under the door and use acoustic foam or a soundproofing blanket against the door to add bulk.
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When dealing with windows you can opt to look for soundproofing curtains that have acoustic properties to absorb most of the noise.
Not only do these curtains absorb noise but they can also create a blackout effect if you’re trying to sleep during the day.
They can also help with energy efficiency by maintaining room temperatures.
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- Wise Budget: Protect your furniture and floor exposed to the sun, while still helping you save money…