parallax background

Soundproof Ceilings

Studio Soundproofing
July 12, 2019
Meeting Room Soundproofing
July 15, 2019
 

Soundproof ceilings aim to control of noise bleeding in or out of a room through a ceiling system. This could be sound transmitting through a common floor/ceiling assembly, from upstairs to down, or downstairs to up, or it could be targeting the elimination of noise bleeding from room to room through an open plenum ceiling tile system. In any case, the goal is to produce more privacy within the room, and more protection against noise being heard in adjacent rooms. If you are wondering how to soundproof a ceiling, even soundproofing an existing ceiling, welcome to your sound solution!

How to Soundproof Ceilings

Find out how to soundproof ceilings to suit the most common noise problems in domestic properties. How to soundproof a ceiling to meet current Building Regulations Part E. If you live in a flat, or a property converted to accommodate multiple occupants ceiling soundproofing might be your only option when trying to reduce noise. Increase the the sound insulation between floors by soundproofing your ceilings. Listening to a teenager playing computer games in there bedroom is not very relaxing after a day at work. Various solutions to increase ceiling sound insulation are available depending on the type of noise. Airborne and impact noise are the most common noise problems.

View our complete range of ceiling soundproofing products.

parallax background
parallax background
 

Is it airborne or impact noise?

Airborne Sound – This occurs when a sound transfers directly from a source to the receiver. Small holes or openings in the construction, along ductwork, or through ceiling cavities. Airborne noises are conversation, TV noise, music, barking dogs. Impact Sound – Impact noise is structural vibration, transmitted from a point of impact through a structure. Experienced as radiated sound from a vibrating surface. Commonly caused by an item hitting the floor. From where the impact results in vibrations being transferred through the buildings structure. The most common path for the noise is generally to the ceiling of the lower property or room. Impact noises are footfall, dropping items on the floor, children running.

Soundproof a ceiling by insulating the existing ceiling cavity

Most properties are built with plasterboard ceilings fixed to wooden ceiling joists with floorboards or a chipboard floor laid over the joists, creating a void or cavity. If you are trying to stop airborne sounds transferring through a ceiling you should look at insulating the cavity between the ceiling and floor. Ensure new build and converted properties meet current Building Regulations with acoustic insulation between floor joists. If you are soundproofing an existing ceiling and only have access from below you will have to remove the ceiling to increase the sound insulation.

parallax background

Not sure which product you need?

If you are not sure which product/system is right for you, or for expert advice on any noise problem, please contact with us.

 

Commercial / Industrial:

Maxiboard can be used in commercial and industrial environments to soundproof ceilings. Global Acoustic also offer the Soundblocker range of products to reduce the transfer of sound through suspended ceilings. Raincheck is designed to help with the issue of rain drumming on metal profile ceilings and Soundseal, expanding acoustic gasket, is perfect for sealing any small apertures that are hard to reach.

SOUND PROOFING A CEILING HELP & ADVICE

Sound proofing a ceiling can be considered when noise through a ceiling becomes unbearable.  With the current popularity of removing carpets to expose floorboards or replace carpets with hardwood floors, a lot more noise is generated from the new floor as a result.

Impact noise is noise created by footsteps on the floor and chairs being dragged across the floor or children running around. 

If this impact noise is being generated in an older property that was constructed before the Part E regulations for noise control were introduced, the noise is being directly transmitted through the floor and ceiling into the room below.  In addition, when soft carpets are replaced with hard surfaced floors, more airborne noise is created because there is less sound absorption in the room.  This means that more reverberation (echo effect) is created with airborne noise bouncing off all of the hard surfaces within the room which amplifies the levels of sound being created making them more easily heard in other parts of the building.  So, in floors that have not been previously treated to reduce noise nuisance through them, anyone living beneath will also be aware of a greater degree of airborne noise when the floor above suddenly becomes a hard surface.  It does not matter what type of surface it is and can be tiles, laminate flooring, engineered wood flooring or simply the original floorboards being stripped and exposed.

All this is bad news for anyone living beneath and if they are unable to persuade the owners or tenants above to revert back to carpeted floors their only recourse is to consider upgrading the sound proofing of their own ceiling and what can be done will rely on the height they have available and the type of ceiling already fitted. 

But first it has to be  ascertained  what  type  of  ceiling  is already  in place.   If it is the original lathe and plaster ceiling, these often become unstable over time so the first thing to do is to screw up a layer of high density acoustic plasterboard to secure the ceiling.  It is always a mistake to remove lathe and plaster ceilings because they are acoustically more efficient than plasterboard ceilings so adding a layer of plasterboard will also be adding mass which also helps block more noise.

We will now go on to describe the various options that can be considered when upgrading the sound proofing of a ceiling with the most efficient solution first.

1.  First we need to consider what height is available because the more height that can be lost the more efficient any sound proofing upgrade of the ceiling will be.  Victorian properties often have a lot of height so if there is enough space above the windows then the best solution would be to install an independent suspended ceiling beneath the original.  (This solution will also save on heating bills because there will be less space in the room to heat).

Now what type of suspended ceiling can be installed?  If there is enough height, then sufficiently sized timber joists can be installed and supported on wall hangers with the tops of the joists at least 25mm down from the underside of the existing ceiling. With particularly long spans, the centre of the joists can be supported with wire hangers secured from the structural ceiling above but be sure to secure the fixing right through the ceiling to the structural joist.  Now all that remains is to insert 100mm of AMW type acoustic mineral wool between the new joists supported with wire netting then screw to the underside of the joists 30mm (2 x 15mm) of high density acoustic plasterboard.

2.  If there is insufficient height to install independent joists then another system is to install a thin metal suspended frame such as the Gyproc MF system.  This is a metal frame that is fixed directly to the structural ceiling above and has the advantage of being adjustable to suit any available height.  The thin metal horizontal sections will not allow the same degree of noise transmission through them and so are more efficient than simply adding sound proofing directly to the ceiling.

Once the frame has been installed, install 100mm of AMW100 across the inside of the frame and will be supported by the frame so easy to fit.  Then screw up the 30mm of high density plasterboard in the same way as described in section 1.

3.  When there is not enough height to even consider the metal frame system, the next best thing is to screw up 50mm battens to the underside of the ceiling at 450mm centres.  Next glue 50mm of AMW acoustic mineral wool to the ceiling between the battens.  Now as you should know, the best sound proofing results are achieved when the ceiling is decoupled from the floor above and so with this system, Resilient Bars have to be screwed across the battens at 400mm centres.  Resilient Bars are a 15mm deep thin metal decoupling system that supports the plasterboard ceiling beneath but as with the thin steel MF type frame already described, will significantly reduce the amount of structure borne sound from penetrating through from above.  Once the bars have been fitted simply screw to them another two layers of 15mm acoustic plasterboard but be sure not to fix the screws so they short circuit through to the supporting battens because this will reduce their efficiency.  All screws securing the plasterboard must be clear of the battens.  

4.  As long as the existing ceiling is just normal plasterboard and not lathe and plaster, another thinner system is to remove the plasterboard and fix Resilient Bars across the underside of the joists at 400mm centres.  100mm of AMW100 acoustic mineral wool can then be loosely fitted between the joists and sit on top of the bars.  To finish, 30mm of acoustic plasterboard should be screwed to the bars ensuring the screws do not short circuit through to the supporting joists.

5.  If removing the ceiling is not desired and there is not enough height to even consider the metal frame system, our QuietPanels originally designed as a thin sound proofing system for walls can also be screwed directly to the underside of ceilings.  These are 27.5mm thick and incorporate a sound barrier system similar to our QuietFloor Plus for sound proofing floors which decouples the new plasterboard ceiling from the existing.

6.  When this system isn’t possible or desired, another option is to glue our 1mm SoundBlocker Membrane to sheets of 15mm acoustic plasterboard then screw them as one to the ceiling.  However, it must be appreciated that because this is the thinnest solution available to reduce noise through the ceiling, it is also going to be the least efficient but still better than it would have been without it.

When upgrading the sound proofing of any ceiling, it is absolutely essential that holes are not cut into the ceiling to allow for inset ceiling lights because these will significantly reduce the sound proofing efficiency.  If inset ceiling lights are still required, acoustically rated ones can be used along with our acoustic hoods that help compensate for the hole.  Holes for wiring surface mounted lighting should be sealed with acoustic sealant.

A link to our installation instructions for all of the sound proofing materials that we supply can be found on the right hand side of each product page on our web site.

 

For more information, directly can contact with us.

Is it really possible to block sound through a common floor/ceiling assembly?

Of course! But only to a point. Remember that sound waves travel both structurally and air born. Any two rooms that share common contact will deliver sound waves back and forth regardless of your best attempts to block it from happening. The perimeter walls upstairs and downstairs are connection points that will bleed noise structurally around your treatment. Air born leakage points include light canister cutouts, fire detector cutouts, ventilation systems, plumbing fixtures inside your surfaces, anywhere that air can travel, the noise will come with it. Due to these mediums, there is no “cure” to soundproof a ceiling. But better control over it? Absolutely.

How much noise will be eliminated?

This depends on how much you minimize the leakage points. By adding dB-Bloc and a disconnection in your assembly, using RSIC Clips or other, you could elevate your rating to luxury grade STC Values of 55 or greater. You could block up to 90% of the bleeding noise, but if you have cutouts in your ceiling, or soffits carrying plumbing or HVAC, your sound values will begin to decay. Results will vary from treatment to treatment based on leakage. And that’s ok, as every soundproof ceiling treatment will have some form of leakage. The goal is to better “control” the bleed of noise, not “cure” it.

Do I need batting insulation in my ceiling?

For thermal purposes, yes! For acoustic purposes, not so much. Remember that the goal is to attack the joists connecting upstairs to downstairs, as that is where the energy path is bleeding your structure born noise. Stuffing anything between the joists is actually ignoring the true path the noise is taking. Batting insulation might offer a 5% drop in sound bleed, while the “disconnection + density” formula could deliver up to a 80-90% drop in noise bleed. Every single treatment will deliver varying results back depending on flanking paths and leakage. Old school contractors were taught to stuff insulation in the wall or ceiling, but the reality is the treatment is ignoring the problem and results are minimal.

Can I soundproof an existing ceiling?

Soundproofing an existing ceiling is most definitely possible. Simply layer dB-Bloc to the finished surface, add your RSIC Channels or another resilient channel option, and new drywall. The treatment might lower your ceiling height by 1-2″ is all. And minimize your light can cutouts. Use track lighting if you can.

What if I have light can cutouts in the ceiling?

Stuff batting insulation up above into the cavity space above the light cans. It will at least slow down the bleed of the noise. But any cutout in the ceiling will decay your values, and batting insulation can only do so much, but better to do it than not.

Should I install double drywall for soundproofing?

Once the dB-Bloc and your disconnecting channel system is in place, the final step is to layer up new drywall to finish off your soundproof ceiling treatment. At a minimum, use 5/8″ drywall at this point. For those who ask about doubling up on the finishing layer of drywall, we recommend doing just 1 layer and gauging the values back. You might be satisfied with the results at that point and forego the need for the second layer. At that time you can make the decision to add a second layer if you think you need it. But here, we recommend going with 1/2″ for your second layer.

[Total: 1    Average: 5/5]