Most ceiling tiles do very little to soundproof a ceiling, however they do change the acoustics of a room which can give the impression that they work for soundproofing.
What they are actually doing is absorbing sound, this reduces echo and reverberation but does nothing to stop noise leaving or entering via the ceiling.
Ceiling tiles which are effective for soundproofing create a noise barrier which prevents noise from travelling in or out.
It is no surprise that lightweight foam tiles, which are commonly used in drop ceilings, are ineffective at soundproofing.
In order for your typical drop ceiling to provide any sound resistance they must be made from different materials, polystyrene tiles simply won’t do the job.
Acoustic needs will vary depending on the type of room you are dealing with.
A cinema, recording studio, lecture theatre or busy office need good sound quality inside the rooms. Noise bouncing around the room will create unwanted echo which can ruin a good film and make a busy office sound even busier than it actually is.
In these circumstances you need to absorb sound to stop echo and thereby minimise sound disruption in the room.
If you live in a flat and you can hear what your upstairs neighbour is watching on TV or you live in a house and can hear your sons music through the ceiling then you need to block the sound using soundproofing.
Drop ceiling tiles that block rather than absorb sound are difficult to find because most ceiling tiles are made from polystyrene.
Dropped ceilings utilise a frame which creates a false ceiling by suspending the tiles about a foot from the actual ceiling. These frames are lightweight and are not designed to bear much load which is why polystyrene tiles are ideal.
Yet for soundproofing purposes they are useless.
If you are looking for soundproof drop ceiling tiles your best option is to look for something which both blocks and absorbs sound for optimal acoustic improvement.
Noise blocking ceiling pads can be paired with existing polystyrene tiles to block sound.
You can also buy acoustic ceiling tiles to replace existing tiles.
Acoustic tiles are typically quite a bit heavier than polystyrene tiles 2kg per square meter is typical, most drop ceiling should be able to accommodate this weight but if in doubt consult a professional.
Your soundproof ceiling tiles will be far more effective if paired with other soundproofing methods.
One of the most effective ways of reducing sound travelling through your ceiling is to insulate the ceiling cavity.
To do this you will need these:
It is possible to install ceiling cavity insulation without taking the suspended ceiling frame down however this will make it more difficult.
If you have a large ceiling to insulate then it is worth taking the drop ceiling frame down to make the job easier.
Rockwool is a great soundproofing product because it is dense yet full of air pockets which do a great job of trapping sound.
Rockwool is also flame resistant with a melting point over 1100°C so it is safe to install it in your ceiling cavity where electrical elements may heat up.
Rockwool is easy to bend and cut to allow for wires, when fitting it leave around 2cm of space between it and the boards above to create another air pocket to trap sound in.
Pairing ceiling insulation with soundproof ceiling tiles will make a big difference to the amount of sound travelling through your ceiling.