It’s not often that somebody asks what is the cheapest way to soundproof a basement ceiling. After all, the basement is probably the most inconspicuous of spaces in any household, more known for being the home of childhood nightmares.
Safe to say, people don’t think much of paying any more extra attention to the basement. However, you should not sleep on that piece of real estate as there are a fair number of ways that it can be of benefit to you.
Shall I rattle them off? You can turn it into a home office, a man cave, a laundry room, an office, a study room, a wine cellar, a workshop, a gym, an entertainment room, a play room for your children, a recording studio, a storage space, a spare bedroom, a bathroom or even a library.
But whatever you do decide to use your basement for, one thing you have to do is make it as soundproof as any room you have inside your house.
Are you asking why? Let’s say you decide to use your basement as a rehearsal area for your son’s rock band. Your son’s band mates arrive in the evening to practice for an upcoming gig at a local music hub and start belting out one song after another. And it just so happens you have a crucial presentation to give to clients from Japan, that could possibly make or break your career. You think you’ll get to focus on your preparation? Uh-uh.
Or you might be an avid gamer, one who likes to immerse himself so much in a game that speakers are on full blast until the late hours of the night. Do you think your wife would appreciate the blaring ruckus coming from your game at two in the morning? Again, uh-uh!
Our point is this: regardless of what you plan to do with your basement, you need to soundproof your basement to keep noise from seeping out and disturbing other residents of the house or worse, the next-doo-neighbor.
Fortunately, soundproofing your basement does not have to cost you arm and a leg. With a few dollars and a bit of good ‘ol elbow grease, you can turn your basement into a quiet and peaceful haven. And we’re here to help you out.
Table of Contents
This is for standard paragraphs that appear after the first image. This can be used anywhere throughout the rest of the document.
- Why are Your Basement Ceilings Important in this Project?
- Cheap Ways to Soundproof a Basement Ceiling
- The Bottom Line
Why are Your Basement Ceilings Important in this Project?
This fact may surprise you but soundproofing the basement is a lot easier than achieving the same feat in other areas of the house. When it comes to dealing with your basement, you actually have just one surface to oversee, which is the ceiling. Most of the time, a basement will have just one window as well. Other times, it doesn’t. And the best part is that it can easily be concealed, if it’s identified as leaking noise outwards or inwards.
If you compare this basement project with that of an average lounge room, you will see just how fuss-free taking care of the basement is. With a lounge room, you can have at least four or five surfaces to take care of. And, if it’s a bedroom or an empty guest room on the second floor, you also have to worry about the floor as well. In all, that’s six surfaces you have to deal with if you want to effectively soundproof a room on the second floor.
If you’re working with a tight budget, soundproofing a basement ceiling won’t leave you counting dimes and quarters, and the energy and resources needed aren’t burdensome. As mentioned, we are here to lend you a hand. But before we get to the actual project, let’s first see what kind of noises is penetrating the basement.
What Type of Noise is Penetrating the Basement?
There are only two kinds of noise: airborne and impact noise.
Airborne noise moves through the air, while impact noise goes through walls, floors, the ground and other agents. A discussion, sounds from the radio or your son’s raging guitar riffs are examples of airborne noise. On the other hand, footsteps from the hall, a nail being hammered in or a plate breaking are samples of impact noise.
The methods we will be presenting should effectively diminish or even stop both types of noise. However, they’re not all geared toward stopping noise from seeping out. Any musician worth his salt will readily agree that outside noise can just as easily put a dampen on an evening’s plans as your neighbors try to knock your door down to put a stop to all your music-playing.
Cheap Ways to Soundproof a Basement Ceiling
The list that we would be presenting covers both outwards and inwards noise leakages, and airborne and impact noise. All that said, here are a few cheap and more or less hassle-free ways to soundproof a basement ceiling. Without further ado, let’s go!
1. Close Any Gap You Come Across
This is a fundamental rule that bears very little explanation. Regardless of what kind of space you are trying to soundproof, you should always try to close any gaps first. You should do the same with the basement ceiling.
Gaps will be the biggest culprit of letting sound in to your basement. Unfortunately, a lot of basement ceilings have a few of gaps and cracks.
Sealing them however, would not take much. Simply make use of caulking seals and the ensuing peace and quiet will tell you that it has worked. If you forego this step, then regardless of what kind of soundproofing endeavor you will undertake, it will not block out the sound completely.
2. They’re So Fluffy I Could Die!
Pardon the quote from the movie “Despicable Me” above. But it’s apt for this next step. You should seriously consider purchasing some rugs, especially the fluffy kind, for the rooms above your basement.
Fluffy rugs will do the trick when it comes to dampening the effect of footsteps or noise from the kids. But if you have already had some carpeting work done and do not want to pick up brand new rugs, then the next best thing to do would be to add some more padding. These, you can place between the carpet and the floor to ensure that more sound is absorbed.
You can also use a rubber floor mat in combination with carpets. Floor mats, like this one from Rubber-Cal are thicker and denser than your average carpet, which means they absorb noise better. I’ve used that Rubber-Cal mat myself, and it works really well.
It’s a cost-effective option, and as a bonus, floor mats are soft and nice to walk on. Not only will a rubber floor mat keep annoying noise out of your basement, but it will make walking on tiles and hardwood floors more comfortable for you and your loved ones.
But all is not peachy; there are a few drawbacks you should be made aware of. The most obvious one is that carpets and mats won’t do much for the noise that’s leaking outwards. While a layer of thick carpets can slightly reduce the noise coming from your basement, it won’t be as effective as a layer of soundproof mat, for example.
Meanwhile, you can also make use of some mass loaded vinyl between the carpet and the floorboards. They work just as effectively as the padding. It bolsters the density between the floorboards and makes it a lot more difficult for sound to penetrate and pass through.
Another option that you have at your disposal is to place a piece of furniture such a couch or a bookshelf straight above the basement. You can use the pieces in your house so that you won’t have to incur any expense picking up new furniture if you really don’t want to or have the resources for that particular kind of thing.
3. Rearrange the Furniture Above Your Basement
This one might be a surprise, but it is effective. Rearranging your furniture can have a positive impact on the acoustics of your house, so it’s not improbable to believe that it can also be utilized to diminish noise leaking in your basement.
Preferably, you would like to place heavy furniture such as closets, shelves, and couches straight above the basement. Look for the area where it’s the noisiest when you use your basement and move the furniture to that area. Of course, if doing so doesn’t work when it comes to either aesthetics or function, then don’t. Keeping on moving around a heavy closet will only damage your floor. If it can’t stay there permanently, then there is no point in moving it there.
It’s an awkward solution but at the same time, it’s cost-free, and you can try it without too much hassle. If it helps you, then there you go.
4. Use Acoustic Foams
The experts I have spoken never batted an eyelash in saying that acoustic foams are not the best when it comes to soundproofing a ceiling. And for good reason! Acoustic foam panels work their magic best when used on walls. However, most of them fail as good sound absorbers when placed on ceilings.
However, the ATS Acoustic Panels are not your ordinary acoustic foam panel. The difference is evident when you take a look at them. They are covered with a microsuede that augments their visual appeal not to mention their performance.
If you want to install these panels, it’s a virtual guarantee that they will be able to block out all noises upstairs, whether they are impact or airborne. Setting them up is also a breeze as they come with hooks that you can handily attach the panels. Using glue would also work.
The best part? Acoustic foam panels are relatively cheap. If you are looking for a inexpensive way to conduct your basement soundproofing project, then you should really seriously consider using acoustic foam.
5. Give Acoustic Insulation a Try
If yours is an open ceiling without a drywall, you should really ponder insulating the joist cavities. Regular ceiling insulation work just alright, especially if budget is an issue during this soundproofing project. But, it is highly recommended that getting acoustic insulation will be a difference, that you will be grateful for down the line.
In particular, the Roxul Mineral Wool Insulation is awesome as an acoustic insulation. It does not need any fasteners and for you to benefit from it, you will have to trim the panels to a seamless fit for the joist cavities.
When fitting the acoustic insulation, just make sure to leave an inch or two to create an air pocket. Also check and see to it that the insulation is not blocked. It should be light.
6. Give MuteX Soundproof Material a Shot
If you thought the acoustic foam panels were a cinch to use, then wait until you get a load out of the MuteX soundproof material.
It is, essentially, a kind of mat that you can use to soundproof the basement. It comes as a thick roll of black material whose lightness will definitely take you by surprise.
Mutex soundproof material is composed of two primary elements. The vinyl deems it a lot more flexible while a high mass element gives the material enough density to function as an effective sound barrier.
What I especially admire about the MuteX material is its incredible versatility. So you can go right ahead and stock up on the stuff as you can use it on your car, in your office, or just about anywhere else you need it.
While it works just fine on its own, its best when you pair it with a drywall. You can either staple or glue it to a drywall and then install it up on the ceiling.
Using mass loaded vinyl instead of the MuteX soundproof material would also work just fine.
7. Soundproof Drywall and Resilient Channels
Resilient channels can also function as a solid alternative to the MuteX soundproof material that was just mentioned above.
The sound is able to transfer through solid materials. Putting up a drywall straight onto the basement ceiling will still provide a medium of transfer for any unwelcome sounds.
The objective when fitting a drywall should be to leave some gap that will function as a sound barrier. This can be easily done with the use of resilient channels.
Why is this so? Resilient channels deliver a gap between the drywall and the ceiling that blocks the transmission of sound. The channel bar is often suspended so that the drywall is hanging from it.
Any sound from the rooms right above is distributed through the resilient channels and as it goes through that, it loses most of its energy before it gets to the drywall. The end result? Little or no sound gets through to the drywall. In the event that any of it does, the drywall takes care of the rest guaranteeing that the basement is tranquil and quiet.
8. Use Green Glue
If you need more soundproofing, then look no further than green glue, which is a great and proven option to use on your project. It is a sound dampening product that is cheap and very good at what it is intended for.
Green glue functions by virtually making a dampening system. When sound energy gets to the glue, it is quickly altered to heat energy which then disperses. You can even use green glue as a sealant and apply it on cracks and gaps in the ceiling.
Identical to the Mutex soundproof material, the green glue is also versatile and can be used on different soundproofing projects in and around your house.
Since soundproofing is all about adding mass, you can use the green glue alongside the drywall. Apply the green glue in between two drywalls and then use these two to soundproof the ceiling.
9. Soundproofing Mats For Ceilings
When it comes to DIY soundproofing projects, the go-to sound blocking material for most (including myself!) is Mass Loaded Vinyl or MLV.
What makes it such a widespread choice are the myriad of ways to use it and the fact that it actually works.
To be an effective sound blocker with a Sound Transmission Class of 27, MLV is made up of two focal elements. The vinyl part offers flexibility, and a high mass element (usually small metal particles) functions as a sound barrier by giving the material enough density.
The installation process for MLV is pretty forthright but it needs two people to properly do it. Ask a friend or even your spouse to help you out and hold the mats in place while you are pinning them to the ceiling. Begin at any corner but make sure the sheets are straight along the ceiling. Here are a few more tips to help you with this:
1) Regarding fasteners, any kind can work (for example roofing nails or a pneumatic stapler). Place them every 10 inches or less, but not more.
2) Also, try to end all seams on joists. Where the seams fall on the joist, you can add a strip of Vinyl tape and butt pieces together.
The Bottom line
Soundproofing your basement is not as tough it sounds. If you follow the recommendations that we mentioned above, the basement ceiling will ultimately become soundproof without your wife nagging you about spending so much.
If you follow the advice we’ve laid out, you’ll eventually end up with a tranquil and quiet space that you can really enjoy, no matter what purpose you’ve made out for your basement.