Noise travels very easily between floors. Most floors are built on wooden joists with panels or floorboards placed across them and plasterboard nailed to the underside to create the ceiling.
This means that vibrations can travel directly through the floorboards into the ceiling joists and through your ceiling.
This isn’t great if you have a noisy neighbour upstairs, a teenager who likes to play loud music or someone with very heavy feet living above you.
Fortunately there are plenty of things you can do to deaden sound waves before they travel all the way through your ceiling.
To properly soundproof a ceiling a lot of work is required, so if you aren’t confident working up a ladder and doing things like removing plasterboard then it is best to call in a professional, however if this doesn’t daunt you then read on!
We have divided the process up into three different sections, insulating the ceiling cavity, adding resilient channels and using soundproof ceiling panels. Any one of these steps will improve the sound resistance of your ceiling however we do recommend that for the best results you implement all three strategies.
If you can only commit to doing one of these then we recommend going with the first one which is insulating your ceiling cavity.
You will need the following soundproofing materials:
To improve the sound resistance of your ceiling start by removing the plasterboard or ceiling panels using the clawhammer (for nails) or screwdriver (for screws), you will also first need to remove any light fittings too. This will expose the joists and the gap between them.
Air is one of the best absorbers of sounds so a product such as Rockwool which is full of air pockets will do a great job of soundproofing your ceiling.
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When choosing any insulation to go in your ceiling you must make sure that it is flame resistant as electrical faults could very quickly send the entire building up in smoke if you use something which is flammable. Rockwool has a melting point of over 1100°C so is a wise choice.
Then measure your ceiling cavity spaces and use an insulation saw (or strong pair of scissors) to cut your insulation to a size which fits into the gap using the insulation saw.
It is a good idea to cut your insulation so that it is around 5-10 cm wider than the cavity space, this will allow it to be compressed into the space meaning it should hold there without any glue required, not all insulation foams are compression fit though so make sure you find out first before making a purchase.
Rockwool is a compression fit product which doesn’t require glueing or nailing in at all you can simply compress it into place between the ceiling joists.
Rockwool can be easily bent around wires and should be positioned with about one inch of air space between it and the floorboards above as this will help further reduce any sounds. If possible add a couple of layers of Rockwool throughout the entire ceiling cavity.
Having done this you can then simply put your ceiling panels back and call it a day, or there are more steps you could take to further improve the sound deadening ability of your ceiling...
You will need:
Next we advise that you add resilient channels.
These are metallic strips which you will fix your plasterboard too. They are designed to decouple your ceiling panels from the ceiling joists.
They do this by only having a small area of contact with the ceiling joists which is padded with rubber so that vibration transfer is minimal, they also have lots of small channels in them which disrupts the vibrations as they travel through the metal meaning that a lot of sound energy is lost so that by the time the sound waves get through your ceiling panels almost all energy has been turned into heat so very little sound gets through.
Screw these across your ceiling joists at regular intervals and then your plasterboard can be attached to the resilient channel.
If you have a suspended ceiling read our article on soundproof ceiling tiles.
You will need:
Adding more mass to your ceiling will always help improve its ability to block sound.
Soundproof ceiling panels are dense boards which are usually made with a dense rubber layer in the middle of them, which is great at deadening vibrations, sandwiched either side by plasterboard.
They are typically between 25mm to 40mm thick so be aware that they can reduce your ceiling space somewhat, particularly when paired with resilient channels.
Screw these into your resilient channels (they can also be used without resilient channels, though the overall result will not be as effective as minimising vibrations) taking care to ensure that the panels are exclusively fixed into the channels and do are not secured to the ceilings joists as this will compromise the effectiveness of the ceiling and will allow vibrations to travel through your ceiling very easily, rendering the resilient channels ineffective!
Once these have been screwed in plaster over the top (we recommend getting a specialist to do this unless you are an expert) and decorate, then you’re good to go and enjoy your freshly soundproofed ceiling!