How to Soundproof an Unfinished Basement Ceiling

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When you think about unwanted noise in your home, you probably do not consider the amount that occurs in your basement. In a lot of cases, most people do not actually spend a lot of time in the basement of their home.

Unless your basement has been converted into a living space, or a basement apartment, then they can often give off scary horror movie vibes, so you might avoid spending too much time down there. It is for this reason that you might not have noticed just how noisy a basement can be. 

You might expect your basement to be the picture of peace and serenity, almost like an attic conversion can be. But, unfortunately, this isn’t the case.

In fact, in most cases, your basement might be the noisiest room in the house, and this is because it will absorb a lot of the noise from the house above. This is only made worse if your basement ceiling is unfinished.

How to Soundproof an Unfinished Basement Ceiling

Unfinished basement ceilings are a lot more common than you might expect. A lot of homes have unfinished basement ceilings, and this is mainly because the basement space wasn’t originally designed for living in.

As people renovate their homes and convert their basements into rooms, in a lot of cases they will have to add insulation and boarding to their basement ceilings to make them soundproof. But, a lot of people cannot afford this when they first set out on this renovation project. 

So, can you make an unfinished basement ceiling quieter? Is it even possible to soundproof a ceiling that isn’t finished? Yes, it is! In this handy guide, we’ll be taking a look at how to soundproof an unfinished basement ceiling. So, with no further ado, let’s get started. 

Why do You Need to Soundproof an Unfinished Basement Ceiling?

You might be wondering why you need to soundproof an unfinished basement ceiling. Of course, there is one obvious reason for this, and that is the noise. It is difficult to appreciate just how much noise pours into a basement until you spend a significant amount of time down there.

Depending on whatever you are planning on doing with your basement, the amount of noise that you hear will be more/less important. If your basement is simply a storage space, then soundproofing might not be important.

But, if your basement is being repurposed into a family room, cinema space, or even a bedroom, then the amount of unwanted noise that you can hear will be very important. 

The best way to reduce the amount of noise that you hear in your basement is to soundproof the ceiling. If you have laminated or wood flooring above your basement, then this will cause noise, and if the insulation between floors isn’t great, this might also cause conversational noise to travel down into your basement. 

If you want to be able to spend time in your basement, then soundproofing is incredibly important.

Should you not do this to your unfinished basement ceiling, you might find yourself unable to sleep in your basement bedroom, or watch television in your family room, simply because it is so noisy.

This is why it is very important to soundproof your basement ceiling if you plan on using it as a living space. 

What Causes Excess Noise in the Basement?

As we have said, the primary cause of noise in your basement comes from the house above it. If you have a multi-story house, then sit on the first floor and listen while your family moves around upstairs.

In new houses, you are less likely to hear movement, but in older houses, it can be incredibly difficult to ignore. This is known as flanking noise, and it is something that is very difficult to avoid because it passes through the joists, floorboards, and walls of your home. But, this isn’t the only noise that you may hear in your basement. 

Another type of noise that you may hear in your basement is airborne noise. Similar to airborne smells and diseases, airborne noise can be heard in your basement because it travels through the air. As you know, air is everywhere, and because of this, it is very easy for airborne noise to move around your home all the way down to your basement.

There are lots of places where airborne noise can originate from, including vehicles, the television, road noise from outside, conversations, and animals barking/meowing. But, this isn’t the end of the types of noise you may hear in your basement. 

Finally, you may hear mechanically transmitted sounds in your basement. These noises can permeate through walls, floors, and the ground because their soundwaves are incredibly strong. Due to this, they will convert into vibrations when they come into hard surfaces, making it difficult to avoid this type of noise.

Mechanically transmitted noise can be caused by lots of different things, including something being dropped on the ground, air conditioning units, and plumbing. So, this is just another type of noise that you need to watch out for in your basement. 

What You Need to Know about Soundproofing Your Basement

Before you get started, there are some things that you need to know about soundproofing your basement. These are essentially the fundamentals for soundproofing almost any place, so here are the 4 things that you should bear in mind when soundproofing. 

1. Decoupling 

One of the most popular ways to soundproof any space is to decouple. This involves creating a gap between ceiling layers, using joists and studs to separate solid surfaces.

The separation of these layers of ground will break up the sound barrier, preventing these soundwaves from being able to travel freely. This alone will help soundproof your home. 

2. Damping

Another popular method used to soundproof homes is damping. This method works by reducing sound vibration in walls and joists using viscoelastic compounds to decrease the transfer of vibrations.

This will also have the effect of reducing the amount of noise that you hear in your home, and it can also be used to soundproof your basement. 

3. Adding Mass

This is an alternative method of soundproofing, and it works on the principle that soundwaves struggle to pass through dense material. In order to create denseness, this method involves adding thickness to your walls to limit the amount of noise that can pass through there.

To achieve this method of soundproofing, most people simply add another layer of drywall to their homes. 

4. Absorbing

Finally, you may choose to soundproof your home by using a method known as absorbing. This method works on the principle that dense material will cause soundwaves to struggle to pass through walls, windows, and joists. In most cases, drywall, MDF, or heavy vinyl membrane will be used to do this job. 

But, these are just the basic principles of soundproofing your home, and it might differ when it comes to soundproofing an unfinished basement ceiling. However, with these principles in mind, let’s take a look at how to soundproof an unfinished basement ceiling.  

How to Soundproof an Unfinished Basement Ceiling

When we mentioned an unfinished basement ceiling earlier, you might have expected this to be a bad thing.

After all, you would probably expect noise to move freely through a ceiling that is unfinished and expect this to cause it to be noisier than other types of basement ceiling, and therefore more difficult. But, this isn’t the case.

In fact, an unfinished basement ceiling is actually the easiest to soundproof. 

Before we go any further, it is important that you realize that just because it is the ‘easiest’ to soundproof, this doesn’t mean that it is an easy task. Soundproofing any space definitely isn’t easy, and basements, in particular, can be very tricky because they are often very tight spaces. 

The main source of noise in your basement will come from the house above it. But, you might want to spend some time in your basement to figure out if noise is coming from anywhere else, too.

If you have windows in your basement, then this could be a source of noise, in which case you may also want to soundproof these as well as your basement ceiling. 

Start With Dry Wall

In our opinion, the best way to soundproof an unfinished basement ceiling is to start with drywall. Drywall will act as a ceiling for your basement, and this alone will block quite a lot of the noise that is entering your ceiling.

So, you should begin by installing a ⅝ drywall strip beneath the floor of your home’s first floor (on the ceiling of your basement). If you have a spare pair of hands, then choose larger panels, but if you are doing the job alone, choose a smaller panel. 

Seal With Caulk or Green Glue

When you have covered the ceiling with drywall boards, you can then begin sealing them in place. We recommend using either caulk or green glue to do this as it can fill the gaps and further help soundproof the room.

Once the drywall boards are done, you can then move onto the next step. 

Instal Fiberglass or Mineral Wool

You can then install either fiberglass insulation or mineral wool. You should do this between the drywall and the battens/joists of the floor above.

Both of these styles of insulation are excellent for containing heat and are also excellent for soundproofing, so you will be getting two jobs done for the price of one.

Be careful when handling this material as it can be bad for your skin, so always wear gloves, and use a sharp knife to cut off any excess material. This is the second step for soundproofing your home.

Add Isolation Clips 

The third layer of insulation for your unfinished basement ceiling comes from the installation of soundproof clips. These are usually known as isolation clips, and they can be attached to the joists to block vibrations and reduce noise.

The most important thing to remember in this step is spacing the clips evenly. These clips should be placed on the flooring joists with either 32 or 48 inches between them. 

Install Another Layer of Dry Wall

Next, you want to install another layer of drywall to the ceiling of your basement. Again, we would recommend using ⅝ drywall boards, as these are excellent at soundproofing areas.

Secure these boards in place using drywall screws to ensure a tight fit to your ceiling. When you have covered the ceiling with drywall boards, you can then seal the seams using green glue.

This glue will do the same job as it did earlier, and will further help soundproof the ceiling against noise. 

Consider Adding Another Layer of Dry Wall

Finally, if you want to soundproof your ceiling even further, you should consider adding another layer of drywall.

Whether this is a good idea, or not, will depend on the height of your basement, so bear this in mind before you choose to do this.

If you think that this is a good idea for you, simply secure another layer of drywall using the same steps that we mentioned earlier. Once this is done, your ceiling will be fully soundproofed.  

Summary

In short, this has been a complete guide to how to soundproof an unfinished basement ceiling. You might expect this to be a difficult task to undertake, and while it is far from simple, it is the easiest type of basement ceiling to soundproof. So, if you want to learn how to do this, follow the guide above.