Basements are essential to every house, and it offers the owner versatility and the option to convert the extra space into anything of use. It can be a storeroom for your home, or an office, or even the place where you keep all the noisy machinery such as the washing machine and the furnace.
It is easy to soundproof a basement than most other rooms in a house as one needs only to take care of the ceiling while soundproofing. There may or may not be a window in basements, which significantly reduces the leakage of sound. There are fewer spots, such as windows, and since they are not integral for a basement, one can cover it up and not have to think of it ever again.
But, basements are connected to the rooms through the ceiling. We can’t just leave a furnace in the basement and not expect to hear it without proper soundproofing. When we talk about soundproofing the basement, we will be focusing on how to block the outgoing sounds from the basement to the upper rooms. In this article, we will be seeing how to soundproof a basement ceiling and look at some of the best ways to do it. We prioritize cost-effectiveness and cost reduction while preparing the list.
9 Cheapest Ways to Soundproof Basement Ceiling
There are many methods one can opt to soundproof a basement. But, before we dive in and start buying stuff, we need to understand why we are trying to soundproof the basement ceiling. In effect, two types of noise can go to every room; airborne noise and impact noise.
Airborne noise means the noise that travels through the air and reaches the receiver. This noise can be any sound from children screaming to a vehicle’s horn. On the other hand, some noise has a physical component to it, and it can result in causing physical vibrations in the surface and can be felt as well as heard. For the first type, merely soundproofing can be effective, but in the second case, we have to deaden the vibrations and block the noise.
The basis of most soundproofing techniques is adding mass. When you thicken the surface you want to soundproof; the sound needs to travel more to pass through and gets attenuated and dissipated into heat energy. Moreover, thick surfaces are harder to vibrate and hinder the flow of sound.
One can also opt for mechanical isolation for soundproofing the basement ceiling. Mechanical isolation or decoupling introduces an air pocket between two surfaces, in this case, walls. This makes it nearly impossible for impact noise to get through to the other side.
Now that we have covered the basic concepts let us look at some of the best soundproofing methods to soundproof a basement ceiling.
Soundproof Noisy Appliances in The Basement
It is important to consider before thinking about soundproofing your basement ceiling because, in some cases, the problem might not be the basement. Maybe your appliance is making unusual noise and needs to be dealt with. One needs to remove all sources that can cause impact noise.
Anti-vibration pads are exceptional solution to reduce impact noise. These pads can be fixed on the leg of the appliance, and it will prevent the vibrations from ever reaching the floor. Anti-vibration pads are very easy to install and require little to no maintenance, and they can be installed without any special skills or professional expertise.
Another way to deaden the noise from noisy appliances is by placing heavy rugs or blankets. These are perfect for absorbing vibrations and acoustic noise. You can even cover the sides of the machine with a blanket to increase soundproofing efficiency. The success of heavy soundproofing appliances using rugs or blankets depends on the thickness and type of material used.
Seal The Gaps and Cracks
This is soundproofing 101. It can be generally applied to any room and will work effectively. The gaps and cracks present in any room expose themselves to the outer environment and act as one of the biggest problems. These gaps, including the windows and doors, are some of the weakest points of a room. It is necessary to close the gaps and minimize sound penetration through them before thinking about soundproofing the ceiling.
Sealing gaps and cracks on the ceiling are easy enough and require professional experience. One can use caulking seals to bridge the gap, and no one will even notice. Before applying caulk seals, first, rub the ceiling and clear all dust from the surface to find possible gaps. The seal can be bought online or from your nearest hardware store.
Make sure to use the equipment provided in the seal kit, including the spackle, putty knife, sanding pad, and primer. Once the seal dries, you can paint over the seal and conceal it.
Acoustic panels are specially designed panels meant to abosrb most of the sound reaching them. The good thing about such acoustic panels is that they are so popular and available in various sizes and designs, and this helps you match the acoustic panels with the room’s aesthetics. Nowadays, many acoustic panels come with an adhesive side, which can be stuck directly to the wall once the coating is peeled.
There are mainly two categories of acoustic panels: soundproofing foam panels and acoustic panels made of fiberglass. Both can be used to deaden the noise and reduce echo effectively. These are highly efficient soundproofing solutions and are even used in professional settings such as recording studios to keep the noise out and reduce the echo.
The price of acoustic panels differs based on the size, shape, design, and thickness of the material. These are cost-effective solutions and very effective against airborne noise. And however, they are poor in insulating impact noise.
An alternative to acoustic panels is fiberglass panels. It can reduce impact noise to an extent and can be installed and maintained easily without a professional set of hands. Keep in mind that sticking one or two soundproofing panels is not enough. You have to be thorough in covering as much area as possible, with the main focus on the sound source.
Mass Loaded Vinyls
If your noise problems are severe and in need of a versatile solution, you can go for mass-loaded vinyl. They are available in mat form and are universal, and it is made of thick, dense material and can absorb acoustically and impact noise.
MLVs are considered the holy grail of soundproofing materials. MLVs can also be used between construction materials like concrete and hence used to create a soundproof basement ceiling. Moreover, they can be painted over to match the aesthetics of your home.
One can fix Mass loaded vinyl mats onto the basement ceiling by nailing them or by using a pneumatic stapler to do the same. For better stability, it is advised to nail them at a distance of 10 inches.
It is advised to increase the mass and thickness of the barriers to improve the soundproof of the basement ceiling. This means adding layers of thickness and special materials to dissipate the incoming sound waves into heat energy effectively.
Drywall is a construction material that can be used as an alternative or complement existing walls. They are quick and easy to install, durable, and low maintenance. They are fire-resistant and can be used for soundproofing walls and ceilings.
Green Glue Compounds
One can use green glue compounds, strong adhesives to hold two or more layers of drywall in place, and it is an essential factor to hold the drywall in place. Green glue compound is also an excellent soundproofing material and adds the much-needed mass to block or dampen the incoming and outgoing noise.
It is also possible to sandwich MLVs and drywalls and their combinations using the green glue compounds. Adding layers increase the STC rating of the barrier. Sound Transmission Class (STC) is an important standard that determines the ability of a barrier to block sounds effectively.
However, it is to be noted that installing a drywall and the green glue compound requires special expertise and, in most cases, more than one person. A caulking gun can pump the green glue compound vertically to hold the drywall together.
Place Acoustic Foam Mats
Foam mats are excellent sound insulators and are cost-effective with a high STC rating. They are devoid of moistures and odors and hence are easier to handle and maintain than blankets. They have an adhesive side and can easily stick onto vertical and inverted surfaces, making them perfect for soundproofing basement ceilings.
They are also used for soundproofing music rooms and well-suited for basement walls. They can be excellent sound blockers and sound dampens at the same time. They are perfect for reducing bass noises and can effectively handle impact noises.
Lay Rugs On the Room Above
If you are thinking of redecorating and soundproofing simultaneously, you can lay rugs and fluffy mats on the floor above the basement. This will allow the sound from the basement to dampen and the impact noise of the walking above to not reach the basement.
If you have already carpeted your rooms, you can think of adding some paddings in the required area. MLVs are also a viable alternative to rugs.
Use Soundproofing Paint On the Basement Ceiling
Soundproof paints are special types of paint that contain latex as one of the key ingredients. This causes the paint to dry faster and is non-toxic, and most importantly, it provides the painted surface with soundproofing qualities. Once it is dried, they have visible textures and can add a lot of mass to the existing walls.
However, keep in mind that soundproofing paints are not standalone soundproofing solution, and they are mainly used in combination with other soundproofing solutions to compound the effect of soundproofing. Soundproofing paints can cost a bit more than regular paints and can be chunky, but it gets the job done.
A disadvantage of soundproofing paints is the limited number of options presented to the customer. Compared to the many colors available for regular paints, soundproofing paints are comparatively lesser in number. When used normally, soundproofing paints can block/absorb upto 30% of the normal conversation.
Soundproofing an inverted space is not easy, and it limits the number of options available to the regular customer. This article has discussed some of the best methods and techniques to soundproof a basement ceiling. It is to be noted that 100% soundproofing is impossible, and for better efficiency, it is recommended to combine or use multiple solutions mentioned above.
You can try different solutions and combinations of different solutions to soundproof your basement ceiling. The solutions you choose can depend on various factors, including the nature of the existing source of noise (airborne or structural), the level of noise reduction you desire, your budget, expertise in the topic, etc.
The techniques and methods mentioned here are easy to apply, and most of them are DIY. If none of the above work as well as you expected, it is recommended to consult a professional in the field to diagnose the problem and apply fixes.