Far too often the basement is a cold, damp wasted space.
This is such a pity as it could be a wonderful spacious room for whatever purpose you desire. One reason the basement is often neglected is that it is a noisy place.
Often there is no ceiling and you just have bare rafters. Not only does this look unpleasant but it will allow sound and noise to travel in and out very easily.
This makes the room unpleasant to use.
Fortunately, this can be changed. It is a fairly easy and fun DIY project.
What is even better is that you could complete it in a weekend and it does not have to cost a fortune.
This will give you loads of extra space and add to the value of your home.
We will look at the different options that are available to you to soundproof your basement and take you through the DIY process step by step.
You do not need to be a master builder to do this project. If you can drive in a nail and operate a drill you will be fine.
Before you get started, you need to understand your end goal. What do you want to use the basement for?
Reasons For Soundproofing Your Basement
If you want to make the basement into a quiet reading area, a man cave, a guest bedroom, a recreational room, an office or a workshop, you will want to make it as quiet as possible.
You do not want noise from above to come down and you don’t want any noises made in the basement to come upstairs.
This will require a fairly basic soundproofing, mostly in the roof.
Remember that the roof is the floor of the room above the basement.
Without soundproofing, most noise and sound will move between floors.
If you want to use the basement as a recording studio, home theater or band practice room, you will want to do more rigorous soundproofing.
This will take a bit more effort but will eliminate almost all sound from entering or leaving the basement.
Once you have decided on the degree of soundproofing required, you can proceed to the steps in the DIY process. Of course, you can get someone in to do it for you but it will be an exciting challenge that will leave you satisfied and save you a fair amount of money.
Also, doing it yourself ensures that it is done right and exactly according to your requirements. Let’s go.
Tools and Materials Needed
Before you get started, you want to make sure you have everything you will need. There is nothing more frustrating than having to stop and run to the store.
- Caulk – Acoustic noise proofing sealant such as Green Glue or SC-175
- Caulking gun
- Drywall tape
- Drywall mud
- Door/window seal (self-adhesive rubber)
- Acoustic tiles
For a good quality soundproofing for your basement, these are the steps you want to following:
1. Identify and plan
As with any project, before you start working you want to have a clear plan in mind. Access the area keeping the intended use in mind. If you are going to use it for recording or studio work, decide where all equipment will be. This will help you plan the electrics amongst other things.
You will also need to inspect all floors, walls, doors and the roof to determine what needs to be done. Measurements should be taken for the areas to be worked on.
Look at the lighting, cabling and HVAC system to see if any changes or improvements are required. LED lights are the best option as they consume minimal power, do not give off heat and are silent.
2. Area preparation
You need to remove everything not bolted down or at least, as much as possible. This will give you more space to work and ensure no problems are hidden. Anything that is in the room or on the walls should be stripped and removed.
Tend to any plumbing issues as this is often neglected in basements.
Address all cabling and wiring issues. If you are going to be using the area for a recording studio, home office or home theatre, run all new cables that are necessary.
Ensure they are neatly secured or in conduit. You want to minimize the number of times the cables have to pass between the walls and the ceiling.
Replace or add LED lighting where necessary. Keep your original layout and plan for the room in mind when doing this.
3. Seal it up
Ok, this is where the real DIY begins.
This step can be a bit messy but is essential to the quality of your soundproofing.
You can create double drywalls with the acoustic caulk between them. This sandwich structure with acoustic caulk in the middle will eliminate vibrations and dissipate sounds in both directions.
You want to seal the following with your acoustic noise proofing caulk:
- All holes where wires/cables or pipes travel between walls or floors
- Any other gaps or cracks
- Joist openings can be soundproofed with a caulked double drywall
- The same applies to ducting
The aim is to make the room as airtight as possible. There should be no gaps or holes.
- Create a Frame within the Basement Room
You want to frame the room in such a way that it only touches the floor and no other surface in the basement. Essentially, you are creating a room within a room. Use a 16-inch stud spacing.
- Install insulation
Install the insulation into the framework you have created. Depending on the type used, either ensure a snug fit or staple into place.
- Install Drywall
Use ½ inch drywall. For existing concrete walls, a single drywall is fine. For other walls and the ceiling, use a double drywall.This is the process:
- Hang ceiling drywall. Make allowance for wires and cables.
- Hang vertical drywalls fitting the first layer to support ceiling drywall.
- Use acoustic sealant to seal all edges.
- Apply acoustic sealant generously to the first layer of the ceiling in a random pattern and hang second drywall.
- You want to change direction so there is no overlap of seams.
- Do the same for vertical walls where necessary as well as the dead vent.
- Tape, mud, and sand.
Once the drywalls are in place, tape all seams and apply mud before sanding and painting.
- Seal the Doors
This is a critical aspect and if you want a correctly soundproofed room, do not ignore this stage. Remember the soundproofing relies on the sum of all the parts and any weak spot will significantly reduce the effects of your other efforts. First off, it is best to have a solid door. Ideally, you want to have double doors so that one can be closed before the other is opened. Use a self-adhesive rubber seal on the entire perimeter of the door. If there is a gap, you can put the same tape on the frame as well.
Have a read of our article on how to soundproof a door for more ideas.
A Quick And Inexpensive Fix
The above is great if you have a bit of time, a fair budget and want a recording studio quality soundproofing. Here is a quick day job that can be done for next to nothing.
This DIY project will create a decent sound barrier but assumes there are no gaping holes in the roof. IF there are, at the very least, fill the gaps with acoustic sealant.
For this project, you will need:
- Wooden Pallets
- Carpet Offcuts
- Large door hinges (optional)
- Large sharp shears
- Wood screws
- Caster (strong enough to handle the weight of 2 pallets)
If you ask around, both the pallets and carpet offcuts can be picked up for free or at worst, very little outlay.
Screw two pallets together and attach to ceiling joists. The idea is to build a barrier wall of pallets. Create pilot holes and screw everything firmly together and in place.
Once the wall is complete, use the carpet off cuts to cover both sides of the pallets. Work on one pallet at a time so that if the structure has to be moved or repositioned, this can be done easily.
Cut the carpet pieces to size with the shears and screw into place. You might end up with a patchwork look but that is OK. Consider it art.
This structure with carpets on either side and a pillow of air in the center will provide excellent acoustic insulation. High-pitched frequencies and echoes are also effectively absorbed by the pallet wall.
As previously stated, the roof ceiling could be your weak spot so pay some attention to that.
To make the room even more soundproof, you could add a swing door to the pallet wall.
Connect two pallets together vertically and add a caster at the bottom. Secure to the wall with hinges. The carpet covering can extend past the pallet to the floor for maximum sound absorption.
An alternative to double drywalls is acoustic panels.
There is a wide range of options available and they are extremely effective as well as professional looking. The other major benefit is that they are excellent value for money.
They perform very well on walls but are not recommended for ceilings. There are a number of brands available that vary in race and effectiveness.
Do a bit of research to find the best quality in your given budget.
Follow the process above to seal and soundproof the ceiling. Then you can follow this process for the walls.
Acoustic Panel Installation
Fortunately, installation is a fairly simple DIY project. There are a range of mounting methods depending on the product you purchase or your personal preference.
Start with a plan
Decide on which walls you wish to use the sound panels and to what height. Measure the total area and order the acoustic tiles you have chosen.
Remember you want to go for function while keeping the cosmetics in mind at the same time.
There are a number of mounting options. The panels will generally come with instructions so be sure to look at them.
These are the most common mounting options:
This popular mounting method is quick and easy to do. It uses no glue and the panels can be moved if necessary. It is perfect for use on wooden surfaces as well as drywall.
The Rotofast clips can be arranged on the back of the panel in a random fashion. By pushing the acoustic panel against the surface, you can mark where the other side of the clip needs to be positioned.
If you are mounting the acoustic panels on a brick or concrete wall, Zclips are a better way to go. This process also requires no gluing and is a simple and fast job.
In this instance, you order the panels with the mechanical clips already attached to the panels. They will come with the corresponding wall bars. You will need to anchor the wall bars to the wall and then snap the panels on.
A more permanent but really easy way to install acoustic tiles is to use impaling clips. It is a solution for drywall or wooden surfaces. To secure the panels, apply a good adhesive to the rear of the panel and anchor to the wall. The teeth on the clips will bite into the wall as the adhesive dries.
This option allows you to float the panels off the ceiling hence the term, “cloud”. Eye bolts are connected to the rear of the acoustic panels before shipping. To install, wire is threaded through the eye bolts and secured t the ceiling. The size of the gap between the ceiling and the panels is irrelevant.
Making Your Own Acoustic Panels
While you can buy ready to hang acoustic panels, if you really want to take your DIY to the next level, you can make the panels yourself. Not only will this save you some money it will also allow you to customize them to the size and shape you require.
Tools and materials needed:
- Drill-driver and bits
- Staple gun
- Tape measure
- Stanley knife
- Absorbent material (Owens Corning, ATS Acoustic and Roxul all have good products)
- Wood and board for frames
- Spray adhesive
- Wood glue
- Corner brackets
- Fabric to cover panels (breathable)
This is the process:
- Create the frames
Measure the board and cut the frames to size. Fit acoustic insulation and tuck into corner brackets marking where screw holes need to be. Using the drill-driver, create pilot holes, apply wood glue and screw the pieces together.Use the spray adhesive on the external edges of each panel and fit the insulation. Leave for 24 hours.
- Add the fabric
Cut the fabric to size, lay it flat and face down. Use spray adhesive on the insulation and firm the fabric onto it. Secure with staples 4 inches apart. Repeat this on the other side, stretching the fabric. You want to ensure it is tight and has no creases or wrinkles. Glue, fold and staple the corners and ends. Hang the panels as per previous instructions.
Soundproof paper or mats
Yet another option is soundproof paper or mats. These are extremely versatile and easy to install. They can be used on any surface including walls, ceiling, and doors.
There are a number of brands to choose from so shop around and read a few reviews to find a quality option. MuteX is a popular choice. This product is super easy to work with and application is really quick. It comes in large rolls of think material, usually paper-based. Despite the thicknesses, it is a lightweight product.
Most of these mats consist of two components that work together to create soundproofing. They have both a carbon weave as well as a Polymute Resin.
They are best used in combination with a drywall and can simply be glued or stapled to the wall.
Carpeting the floor above
Another partial fix to the soundproofing issue is to, where practical, carpet the floor immediately above the basement. Where this can be done it is an extremely effective and low-cost way to soundproof a floor which will reduce a large amount of the vibrations and sound traveling into or from your basement.
The thicker the carpet, the more sound it will absorb. Heavy furniture will also help in this regard. Obviously, sealing off any gaps in the roof below will help as well.
Final Thoughts On Basement Soundproofing
Soundproofing your basement can be as basic or as comprehensive as you wish. We have given you a number of alternatives depending on your budget and requirements.
Think about the degree of soundproofing you need and select the option or combination of solutions that will best suit your requirements.
Don’t forget to enjoy the silence!