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Soundproofing Basement Ceiling: The Only Guide You Need

A friend asked me if I had any recommendations for soundproofing their basement office ceiling. The noise of the kids and family dog makes it difficult to concentrate on work or have a conversation with clients.

So what are the options for soundproofing a basement ceiling? To soundproof a basement ceiling, you need to:

  • Decouple the ceiling from the joists
  • Adding mass between the upper floor and ceiling
  • Absorb the sound
  • Dampen the sound
  • Reduce HVAC noise transfer
  • Select sound reducing material

I’ll explain these 6 factors and include additional information for soundproofing your ceiling.

Soundproofing Basement Ceiling

Why Do You Need to Soundproof Basement Ceiling?

A basement may be a storage area or added living space that improves your family’s quality of life. Repurposing your unused space into a home theater, playroom, additional bedrooms, an office or even a workshop (or all of these) can allow your family to grow and enjoy your home more.

People are walking or dropped items cause impact noise that can echo throughout the basement. Conversations and TV noises are barely muted between floor levels, creating background noise that interferes with conversations and TV elsewhere in the house. Reducing noise transfer between floors is an important step when turning your basement into usable space.

Soundproofing the basement ceiling is the best way to reduce noise transfer from the basement to the rooms above and noise from above into the basement.

Sound can be airborne or impact noise. An unfinished ceiling with exposed joists does little to reduce sound transfer. However, it does make it much easier to do a proper soundproofing job than a prefinished ceiling.

How are Noises Transmitted to and from the Basement?

When looking at soundproofing, it is essential to familiarize yourself with the three main ways household noise travels. You can then better determine how best to prevent noise from traveling into or out of your basement.

Airborne Noise

Sound waves travel through the airwaves, so airborne noise is any of the thousands of noises we commonly hear. It travels through doorways, open windows, stairwells, hallways, and other open spaces within a building. Airborne noise could originate from: conversations, radio or TV, vehicle noises, dogs barking or planes flying through the air, to name a few.

Mechanically Transmitted Sound

Mechanically transmitted sound is noise that travels through walls, ceilings, floors, the roof, and even the ground. When an airborne sound wave hits a solid structure, the wave becomes a vibration and is transmitted through barriers.

The technical term is Impact Isolation Class Transmission or IIC sound transmission. Mechanically transmitted sound can originate from: something dropping on the floor, an air-conditioner mounted to an exterior wall, a ball bouncing off the driveway or a wall, the furnace, the plumbing, or other sources.

Flanking Noise

Flanking noise is sound that travels indirect paths from room to room or floor level to floor level. It can travel laterally through joists to other rooms, resonate through ductwork within a building, or vibrate through concrete floors. It can even reverberate around corners and through closed doors.

Proper soundproofing must address all three ways sound can travel through a building.

What are the Fundamental Basics of Ceiling Soundproofing?

The fundamental basics for soundproofing a ceiling need to interrupt the paths sound can travel. If you only interrupt one path sound travels, then you may reduce some but not all sound transfer between floor levels.

How exactly should we soundproof ceiling?

To soundproof a ceiling, you need to block or absorb the airborne sound waves using added mass. Then you need to interrupt the paths mechanical sound vibrations can travel through joists and supports by decoupling the levels.

The most difficult paths are those flanking noise can travel since they are indirect. Plan out interior basement walls, HVAC, and plumbing and use soundproofing materials that dampen or absorb sound, so you interrupt the paths sound can travel.

Here are the four main elements of soundproofing:

  1. Decoupling: When you decouple you separate levels by creating a gap between the joists or studs and ceiling layers or other solid surfaces. The separation breaks the path sound wave vibration travels and is the best solution for noise transfer.
  1. Adding Mass: Sound waves are vibrations. If you increase the mass you make it difficult for noise to vibrate through. Unfortunately, it takes a lot of mass to make a difference. Adding a second layer of 5/8” drywall will only reduce the sound transfer by about 3dB; not much help if your teenager is strumming out “Bat out of Hell” at 100+dB!
  1. Absorbing: Although a fluffy pillow may seem to absorb the sound of thunder, it doesn’t mean that fluffy fiberglass insulation will. When you compress that foam or feather pillow around your ears, you’re making it denser. The denser the material, the better it absorbs sound; heavy vinyl membrane, MDF (medium density fiberboard), or even drywall have better ratings than regular fiberglass. However, insulation behind a heavier barrier will improve sound absorption.
  1. Damping: Damping is a way of preventing or reducing sound vibration in ceiling joists and wall studs. New viscoelastic compounds have been developed that decrease sound vibration transfer. Acoustic drywall, for example, uses viscoelastic compounds to absorb and dampen sound waves and vibration and is much more effective than regular gypsum drywall.

Sound travels on airwaves, so the more airtight, the better; if air can get through, then sound can too. Acoustic caulking and foams are good for those hard to reach or cover spaces.

Quick Review of Soundproofing Basement Ceiling Options

Soundproofing your basement ceiling depends on what you begin with. A drywall ceiling makes it difficult to insulate above without removing all or part of it. A drop ceiling can be removed and soundproofing the ceiling isn’t too difficult. If your basement ceiling is unfinished, as in the joists, ductwork, and plumbing are exposed, then soundproofing is even easier.

Options for Adding Mass

  • Standard drywall: Standard drywall attached to the underside of the subfloor adds mass and will reduce some sound transfer. Using Green Glue and adding a second layer of drywall will greatly improve the sound blocking, but is more expensive.
  • Soundproof drywall: Attaching soundproofing drywall between the joists will have a similar effect to a double layer of standard drywall.
  • Foam Board: Polystyrene panels can be used similarly to the drywall layers between the joists. With an IIC (Impact Isolation Class) rating of 70, it can reduce mechanically transmitted sound and also help to decouple the floor levels.
  • Mineral Wool: Mineral wool panels or battens are denser than most fiberglass products, won’t slump like fiberglass, and will stay between the joists much better. It can be used to add mass between the joists to improve sound absorption and reduce impact vibration noise transfer. Acoustic mineral panels and battens are available.
  • Fiberglass: Fiberglass battens are soft and fluffy, but not rigid enough to stay between the joists on their own, nor do they have the mass to be effective. They will slump and reduce their soundproofing effectiveness, allowing more noise through. Rigid fiberglass panels are better than the battens and perform similarly to the mineral panels. Acoustic fiberglass battens and rigid panels are available.

Options for Decoupling

  • Viscoelastic Damping Materials: Using acoustic adhesives like Green Glue or heavy vinyl membranes between the bottom of the joists and wooden furring strips is one option for separating the floor and ceiling layers to prevent mechanical noise transfer.
  • Sound Isolation Clips with Metal Furring or Hat Channels: Sound isolation clips with metal furring or hat channels are presently the best way to decouple the ceiling from the floor above. The isolation clips attach to the joists and have a rubber flange to prevent sound vibration from traveling from one-floor level to another. The metal furring attaches to the clip, and the drywall or other ceiling material attaches to it. It may be the best way, but it is also pricy.

Other Options

  • Green Glue: A noise damping compound that helps reduce airborne and mechanical sound vibration.
  • Acoustic Caulking: Can be used between layers or to fill cracks or spaces to prevent air movement.
  • Spray Foam – Stuff it: Similar to the caulking, it will fill larger gaps or hard to reach spaces with dense air proof foam.

How To Soundproof Basement Ceiling – Step by Step Guides

Seal Gaps and Cracks Between Floors

Before you begin soundproofing and finishing the ceiling, you want to seal anywhere light peaks through to the basement from the floor above. If light can penetrate, then so can sound.

When it’s dark outside, light up the floor above, then go to the darkened basement and look for any light leaking through from above. Remember to check around the door frame and under stairs depending on how your house is set up.

Some products that you may want to have on hand for this are:

For patching nail or screw holes in drywall, is all in one product has an applicator, putty knife, and sanding pad. The applicator contains a Spakle compound with a primer to make finishing quicker and easier.

Use the to seal cracks, seams, wire holes, and other gaps that will channel noise from one floor to another, and room to room. The product remains pliable, so it won’t shrink or crack and allow noise through. It is also paintable.

To apply the soundproofing sealant tubes you need a . Some feature tip cutters and a punching tool to puncture the internal seal. Dripless models are also available that automatically back off after being squeezed. Some are available with padded grips or battery power.

1. Not Finished Basement Ceiling – Best of the Best

An unfinished basement ceiling is the easiest to soundproof, but that doesn’t mean it’s easy to do. There are also additional steps that you may want to add before completing all the steps in soundproofing the ceiling. Also, are you doing the whole ceiling or just a section of the ceiling?

I’ll explain each step in detail, but here’s a quick list of the different steps or layers for getting the best soundproofing results:

  • 5/8 gypsum drywall strips
  • Green Glue
  • 5/8 gypsum drywall strips
  • Air gap
  • R19 fiberglass insulation or Mineral Wool insulation
  • Air gap
  • Resilient Sound Isolation Clip
  • Resilient Channel
  • 5/8 gypsum drywall
  • Green Glue
  • 5/8 gypsum drywall

The reason I believe this is the best option is that it addresses the 4 elements of soundproofing. The airspace, insulation, and layers of drywall all work together to add mass and absorb sound.

The green glue is a viscoelastic compound for damping sound. Using the resilient clips and channel decouple the floor from the ceiling, prevent mechanically transmitted from moving between the floors.

Pro Note: If you’re adding partition walls to make rooms in your basement, plan ahead. You will need wiring for receptacles, switches, and lighting that come through the floor joists and ceiling. You may also need to address HVAC issues too. Most of these can be done after the two layers of 5/8” drywall strips, and green glue have been installed but should be done before the rest is completed.


  • Ceiling decoupled from floor joists.
  • Two gypsum layers on the underside of subfloor deaden echo in the upper floor and absorb sound going to the basement.
  • Great for reducing footfall transfer noise.


  • Time-consuming and repetitive
  • Expensive

Soundproofing levels:

A ceiling finished with these materials will have an STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating of 76 and an IIC (Impact Isolation Class) rating of 64.


There are a lot of variables here, including your location relative to supplies. The square footage affects the costs. Buying a 5-gallon bucket of Green Glue is less expensive than a couple of dozen tubes of Green Glue caulk.

Four times the square footage of drywall will add up, and your choice of R19 (or better) fiberglass or mineral wool will flex the cost. Additionally, resilient clips and channel are not cheap. Floor joists at 16-inch centers vs. 24” centers also have an impact on the material costs and time.

If you’re doing the job yourself, the drywall, noiseproofing compound, and R19 fiberglass work out to approximately $3.27/sqft. The number of resilient clips and channels also depends on the ceiling square footage, and also the number of partition walls.

It will cost about $500 for every 400 square feet. Knowing this, a 1600 square foot basement well cost about $7200.00 to soundproof in this manner.

Installation Process

The ease of installation will depend on how the joists are laid out, the type of joists, and how services and utilities are run through and between joists. Every basement ceiling is unique. Use your shop vac to clean dust, bugs and cobwebs from the subfloor and joists.

Step 1: Install 5/8 drywall strip under the floor

Measure the spacing between the joists – it should be the same but experience tells me it isn’t. If you can fit and handle 8-foot strips of drywall, then do. The fewer seams, the better, and the tighter the fit, the better too.

Cut the first layer of drywall. You can try dry fitting, but it may be quicker and easier not to. Spread a layer of damping compound evenly over the face that goes against the subfloor. Angle it up into place, you may want to use a length of 2×4 and a hammer to ensure it is flush to the subfloor. Screw the drywall to the subfloor.

Note: Green Glue is NOT a glue, so you need to crew the drywall to the subfloor! It is a viscoelastic compound that improves sound damping.

Step 2: Install second drywall strip

When installing the second layer of drywall, make sure the joint seams don’t line up with those of the first layer. Measure and cut, then evenly coat one face with green glue. Angle it into place, use the 2×4 and hammer if necessary. Screw it into place using a pattern that doesn’t line up with the screws in the first layer.

Step 3: Apply green glue to the 5/8” drywall strips

If you are using the green glue in caulking tubes, apply with an “S” pattern and use a drywall putty knife to spread it evenly. If you have the 5-gallon bucket, drop blobs and evenly spread it over the surface.

Step 4: Install Rockwool Acoustic Mineral Wool or R19 Fiberglass Insulation

The spacing for your floor joists dictates the size of battens you use. You want to leave a gap between the drywall strips and the battens to help trap sound. There should also be a gap below the battens and above the finished ceiling for the same reason.

Cut with a utility or long bladed knife-saw and push into place. There should be no end gaps.

Note: Before installing the insulation, make sure you have all the wires, utilities, HVAC, and lighting in place.

Use R19 rated fiberglass insulation or equivalent mineral wool insulation. Both are 6-1/4” thick and work well to deaden and absorb sound.

Fiberglass insulation may be less expensive, can reduce the STC (Sound Transmission Class) from 35 to 42, and has an NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) of 1.05. However, it will slump and compact over time, reducing its soundproofing qualities. You will also need to support the fiberglass, so it doesn’t fall out. It cuts with a utility knife

Mineral wool insulation is slightly more expensive than fiberglass, but will compression fit between the joists (if 12” to 16” centers need support if 24” centers), and save time and frustration. Roxul Safe’n’Sound is R22, has an STC of 45, an NRC rating of 1.05 and an SAA (Sound Absorbing Average) of 95%. It is much denser than fiberglass, has a higher IIC rating/inch thickness than fiberglass, and also a higher fire resistance rating.

An alternative to the batten insulation is Rockwool Acoustic Insulation 80. It is a rigid 2’x4’x2” panel that can be cut with a knife or saw. The 80 has a density of 8 lb/ft³, STC of 52, NRC of 1.0, and will significantly reduce impact noise.

Safety Recommendations: when opening, handling, cutting, and installing fiberglass or mineral wool insulation always wear safety glasses, a mask or respirator, and gloves. Both types of insulation have particles that become airborne as soon as you open the packaging.

Step 5: Install Resilient Sound Isolation Clips

attach to the joist and act to block noise vibration and impact noise between floors. The clips have a rubber shank washer or bushing that prevents structural and vibration noise transmission.

Space the isolation clips at every other joist 32” to 48” apart, or follow the manufacturer’s instructions. They should be aligned for the hat or resilient channel and spaced to support the edges and middle of the gypsum sheet.

Step 6: Install Resilient Channels

Hat or are thin metal furring strips that have a hat like profile. When combined with the isolation clips, they significantly reduce noise and impact vibration between floors. The flange adds 1/2″ to the ceiling depth, and is wide enough to attach the edges of 2 drywall sheets.

When installing the channel on the ceiling ensure that it doesn’t touch a wall since that will allow sound to transfer between floors.

Step 7: Install First Layer of 5/8 gypsum drywall

The type of drywall you select for your project makes a significant difference in the costs and soundproofing of your ceiling. The best option is a soundproof/acoustic drywall or QuietRock, but at $45.00 for a 5/8”x4’x8’ sheet, it’s more than triple the cost ($11.97 US) of Firecode core sheetrock.

Install the first 4’x8’ layer of drywall using 1-1/4” drywall screws into the furring strips. Make sure to leave a 1/4″+/- gap between the drywall and the building walls.

Step 8: Seal the Seams with Green Glue

Use a to seal all seams between the sheets of the first layer. This will improve the sound barrier by preventing noise waves from finding a gap.

Step 9: Apply Green Glue on Second Layer of Drywall

Apply an even layer of acoustical caulking to the side of the gypsum sheet that will attach to the layer you just installed. The thin viscoelastic coating can improve impact isolation by 5dB to 10dB. Remember, this isn’t a glue or adhesive, so you do need to use screws.

Step 10: Install Second Layer of Drywall

Install the second layer similar to the first, but off-set end and side seams to maximize the noise transfer barrier. Start with a 2’x4’ piece of drywall so the seams don’t match up. Make sure no ceiling drywall touches the basement walls too!

Step 11: Seal the Perimeter with Noiseproofing Compound

Use a paintable soundproofing caulking to seal the gap between the ceiling and the walls. The noise proofing sealant stays pliable, so prevents noise and vibration from flanking all the soundproofing work.

2. Unfinished Ceiling – Best Value

If you’re interested in reducing sound and impact noise transmission, but don’t want to remortgage the house, the following may be your best option. It reduces most of the noise transfer between floors but doesn’t diminish the rebound noise or echo in the upper floor from impact sounds generated on that floor.

Here’s a quick list of the steps or layers for getting the best value for your soundproofing dollar:

  • Main floor
  • 6-inch air space
  • 6-inch R-19 fiberglass or Roxul insulation
  • Thin or no air gap
  • Furring strips – wooden or metal
  • 5/8 gypsum drywall
  • Green Glue
  • 5/8 gypsum drywall

Adding insulation to the joist cavities helps to absorb the movement of sound. Using wooden or metal furring strips provides a more level surface than attaching the drywall directly to the joists.

Applying acoustic tape or caulking to the joists where the furring strips will attach, helps to isolate noise from above. The two layers of 5/8” sheetrock help to deaden echo in the basement and absorb sound. The layer of acoustical caulking adds a viscoelastic layer to reduce or prevent vibrational noise transmission.


  • Reduce the sound traveling between floor levels.
  • Absorbs sound and deadens echo in the basement.
  • Helps isolate vibrational noise between floor levels.


  • Time-consuming.
  • It doesn’t improve sound quality on the main floor.

Soundproofing Levels:

Finishing a ceiling in this manner and with these materials will give you an STC rating of 66 and an IIC rating of 56. The unfinished ceiling began with an STC rating between 32 and 35, so a definite improvement.


If this is a DIY project, then your labor isn’t included. Drywall, soundproof caulking, and R19 fiberglass insulation work out to around $1.90/sqft. A 1600 sqft basement using this option would cost about $3032.00.

Wooden furring strips would add $200 while metal furring strips add $440.00 to the cost of the option, making it about half the cost of the Best of the Best.

3. How to Soundproof a Finished Basement Ceiling – Cheapest Option

It is more difficult to soundproof a basement ceiling if it is already finished with drywall. The removal and resulting mess of tearing the sheetrock down and starting over, to say nothing of the expense, are a big deterrent.

If the original drywall ceiling was attached directly to the joists, it would provide minimal low-frequency isolation and sound transfer. Hopefully, the ceiling was strapped first, which adds to the IIC value.

Adding a new layer of 5/8” gypsum sheets to the existing ceiling is the cheapest option. It will add mass to the ceiling and help reduce sound transfer between floors and some echo within the basement.


  • Added mass to the ceiling will reduce sound transfer
  • Absorbs more sound than one layer
  • Inexpensive soundproofing solution


  • No decoupling between floors, so sound wave vibration travels between floors
  • Minimal sound absorbing or damping

Soundproofing level:

There will be some improvement in sound quality in the basement and reduction of sound transmission between floors. It may be all you want or need. The added layer of drywall will improve the STC value to around 38. The IIC rating improves marginally to about 30 but also depends on the type of flooring above.


The cost of adding a layer of 5/8” sheetrock to your basement ceiling is about 37-cents a square foot for the DIYer. For a 1600 sqft ceiling that works rounds out to $750.00 including screws, mud and tape.

4. Finished Ceiling – Better Soundproofing

To better soundproof your finished basement ceiling, add a layer of acoustical sealant and then another layer of 5/8” drywall. The sealant is viscoelastic material and will create a sound vibrational barrier and help with damping sound through the ceiling from the floor above.


  • Green glue layer helps damp transfer noise through the ceiling
  • Will add some mass to reduce sound movement
  • Absorbs more sound vibration and noise


  • Does not decouple the ceiling from the floor above
  • Not enough mass to decrease much noise transfer between floors

Soundproofing level:

The use of soundproofing caulking will improve the sound quality in the basement and reduce noise between the floors. The added layer of drywall, plus the noise proofing sealant will improve the STC rating to between 41 and 45, depending on the flooring used on the above floor. The impact rating also improves to 34.


The DIY cost for this ceiling depends on how you purchase the soundproofing sealant. 5-gallon pails are much less expensive than buying 5-dozen 10-ounce tubes of caulking. The 5/8” drywall, plus screws, mud and tape work out to about $0.47 a square foot.

The green glue in the 5-gallon pails is around $1.25/sqft. The approximate cost to do a 1600 sqft basement ceiling would be $1,750.00.

5. Finished Ceiling – Good Soundproofing but More Expensive

To get the best soundproofing without tearing out the existing sheetrock ceiling add sound isolation clips and metal furring or hat channels to the existing ceiling. Then add two layers of drywall with green glue spread between them. This process decouples the ceiling from the floor above, adds mass and damping which improves the sound absorbing quality of the ceiling.


  • Decouples the ceiling from the floor above reducing sound vibration transfer
  • Added mass absorbs more sound
  • Viscoelastic layer reduces echo and improves sound quality in the basement


  • Doesn’t reduce flanking noise
  • Expensive

Soundproofing level:

Decoupling the ceiling from the floor above is the best way to prevent sound movement between floors. Combining the decoupling with the two layers of gypsum sheathing and the noise sealant significantly improves the sound quality in the basement. The STC rating jumps to 55 and the IIC to around 50.


The jump in the STC rating doesn’t come cheap; the cost of soundproofing also jumps. The double layer of drywall is about $0.94/sqft, the green glue around $1.25 per square foot, and the sound isolation clips and hat channels for about $500.00 to do 400 sqft. For a 1600 square foot ceiling, the cost works out close to $5,500.00.

How to Soundproof a Drop Ceiling in Basement

Soundproofing the basement ceiling should improve the sound quality in the basement and in the rooms above. A drop ceiling has some acoustic properties that reduce the movement between floor levels. It is also easier to add mass and sound absorbing material to improve its noise reduction ability than soundproofing a finished drywall ceiling.

Acoustical Ratings for Ceilings

Ceiling tiles are often rated for soundproofing in two ways. The NRC identifies the amount of sound a tile material reflects or absorbs. The Ceiling Attenuation Class (CAC) rates products on how well they block sound transmission. A rating of 35 or higher identifies a high-performance sound-blocking tile.


Most drop ceilings are made up of tiles sitting in a frame suspended below the joists of the floor above. The suspended frame essentially decouples the ceiling from the floor above, preventing sound vibrations from traveling from one floor level to another.

Adding Mass

Adding mass to your ceiling will absorb noise and vibration, improving the quality of sound in the basement and the floor above. Replacing the ceiling tiles with a denser tile material or inserting dense plates above your existing tiles will add mass.

Absorbing Sound

The tiles may absorb or reflect some sound, but the empty space above the tiles and below the subfloor, between the joists, becomes a resonating box for noise. The vibration will travel from one floor to the other.

The easiest way to prevent this is to fill the space between the joists with 6-inches of fiberglass or mineral wool. It will absorb the noise vibration and prevent it from moving from floor to floor.

Fixtures and Mechanical Systems

No matter how well you soundproof the ceiling, vents, ductwork, lighting fixtures, and other electrical and mechanical systems can negate everything. Sound and sound vibration will travel through all of these.

There are sound-blocking covers for electrical boxes and fixtures, acoustic baffles for ducts and vents, sound-damping paints and wraps for inside and outside ducts, and even insulated flexible ducts to reduce sound transmission and flanking noise.


Additional Steps for Better Soundproofing

There are other ways that you can improve the soundproofing and sound quality of your basement and the rooms above. Here are some suggestions:

Lay Down Carpets, Rugs or Mats on the First Floor

Carpet and underlay are good ways to absorb sound. If used in the upper floor they will reduce impact noise and vibration that would disturb the rooms below.

Note: For more on soundproofing the floors above rooms in the basement, please see our article Best Soundproof Underlayment.

Used on any floor, carpet and underlay also reduce the echo within rooms and absorb sound improving listening quality within those rooms. and underlay are also available.

They are designed to help isolate noise vibration in high traffic areas such as kitchens, hallways, and stairs.


No matter how soundproof your walls and ceiling, the weakest link is the one that leaks. A doorway is a 20 sqft hole. Filling it with a hollow core door is useless; a wool blanket would be better! The denser the door, the better it works.

Solid core MDF doors are less expensive than solid core steel or wood doors and work just as well. Smooth flat doors are better than recessed colonial style doors too.

Adding foam tape around the door jamb will also reduce vibration noise and transfer, helping to prevent sound going in or out of a room. To reduce flanking noise under a door, use a . If it stops the wind, it will stop the noise.

Note: An airtight room may prevent sound movement, but it can also make you sick or suffocate you.

Heating- Air conditioning

Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning (HVAC) are difficult to isolate and insulate against noise transfer and are excellent sound conduits. The HVAC systems supply heat, cooling, and exchange stale air with fresh air. So, they’re rather important and shouldn’t be blocked or torn out.

Note: For more information on HVAC soundproofing, please see our articles How to Quiet a Noisy Air Return and How to Quiet a Noisy Furnace Blower.

Make sure the room the furnace unit is in has been soundproofed but has an outside air intake. Build MDF or drywall bulkheads around exposed metal or plastic ducts. Wrap the ducts in foam or line the bulkhead with it. This will limit sound travelling to or from the basement from the rest of the house.

If you can replace metal ventilation ducts or pipes with , then do so. Sound travels in straight lines, so try to install the flex pipe with curves or bends in it.

Unfortunately, most heating ducts are straight so hot air travels easier, which makes them perfect noise channels. If you can, wrap these ducts in acoustic material or paint the inside with sound reducing paint.

If you’re installing ventilation pipe or ducts in the basement ceiling, consider vent placement. The farther away from the main duct trunk the vent is the less sound movement. If the room will be loud, like a media or games room, consider installing a dead vent system for the air intake and returns. It will help buffer the sound and reduce noise movement.

Electrical – Plumbing

Electrical and plumbing should be completed before the ceiling is soundproofed. Make sure any plumbing noise are fixed and insulated, and fix any leaks or condensation drips. Once the ceiling is noise proofed, you don’t want to open it up again.

Surface or wall mounted lights don’t make holes in the noise barrier. Any holes in the ceiling will leak sound. Electrical boxes for ceiling lights and fans should be mounted to the joists with a dense vinyl between the wood and electrical box.

Wrap the box with damping material, and use soundproofing caulk to fill the gap around the box and ceiling drywall. Caulk any holes that go through the ceiling to limit noise movement.

Other Ways to Soundproof Your Basement

Soundproof Acoustic Panels

are a proven durable solution. With a density of 200 kg/square meter, they have the mass to reduce noise and absorb sound traveling in or out of the basement. Reducing echo, reverberations, flutter and feedback, the noise-proofing tiles also have a high NRC rating.

The dense acoustical tiles can be attached to walls or ceilings using acoustic tape or blue-tack. Use in home theatres, game rooms, offices or anywhere you need a noise isolation shield. Only use tiles where you need to improve the sound quality where you want. The tiles are also fire safe, so will help protect your family and home.

Acoustic Wood/Fabric Panels

are 2”x24”x48” and can be placed to absorb noise, reverberation, and reduce echo where needed. The dense wood panels are covered with an acoustic fabric and have an NCR of 1.0.

They can be used on the walls of offices, entertainment rooms, and other living spaces.  Placed opposite the sound system, they will reduce feedback and give truer sound, and will reduce echo in hallways and stairwells.

The fabric can be customized for any décor too.

Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)

To control sound in walls and ceilings, mass loaded vinyl (MLV) is a flexible material for wrapping ducts, vents, and around outlets to minimize noise transfer. The 1/8” vinyl has an STC rating of 27 and can be combined with other sound absorbing products to maximize noise control.

can be used to baffle sound through walls, doors, and even from floor to floor. Lay it on top of drop ceiling tiles to improve density and decrease noise movement between floors. Add it to the back of acoustic panels to improve sound vibration and improve sound quality even more.

MuteX Soundproof Material

is a 1/4” thick soundproof material that comes in a roll, it isn’t a mass loaded vinyl. It has an STC rating of 32 and can be used to isolate HVAC pipes, in ceilings walls, doors and floors to reduce echo, reverberation and improve sound quality.

It can be used to wrap ductwork and even the dishwasher to mute vibrational and impact noise. Use under hardwood flooring to help dampen noise, or on thin walls to do the same. It can even be used for curtains to deaden street noise.

 Acoustic Sound Foam

are tiles made of wedge-shaped fire-resistant high-density foam. They are self-adhesive and can be stuck to walls and ceilings wherever needed. Often used in alternating patterns to maximize sound diffusion, and reduce echo, feedback, and reverberation, and absorb mid and high frequency sounds. They work well in media rooms, home studios and other living areas. They help to improve sound inside a room, and prevent sound transfer to other rooms.


When soundproofing basement ceiling the 6 factors are important to remember. They will help you improve the sound quality in your basement and the floor above.

They will also make the basement a more enjoyable living space. If you found the article of use, share it with others. Our feedback is always appreciated too!

Eugene Sokol

Hi, I’m Eugene. I work with noise all day, so I enjoy any peace and quiet I can find. I began looking at ways to improve the sound quality of my home and to make a soundproof office for myself. As a DIY enthusiast, I looked for solutions I could do. I created this blog to share what I learned and to make it easier for you to improve your quiet space too.

14 thoughts on “Soundproofing Basement Ceiling: The Only Guide You Need”

  1. Hi Eugene, great blog… Thanks for sharing all the great sound proofing info. I am currently converting a basement apartment in a duplex here in Minneapolis. The ceilings are standard 8’ high to the joist. the exposed joist add another 6” of to the upper unit subfloor. I’d love to be able to leave that exposed joist look, create a higher ceiling feel, without having to dry wall over them, however I am not sure how I would abate for sound without acoustically sealing and layering with dry wall.

    Any technique input or products you have on how I can soundproof in between the joists so I can forgo having to drywall the ceiling? Thanks. Dave.

  2. Hi, I found your article to be very informative. We have a finished basement, but have chosen to leave the ceiling exposed and painted black. While it looks nice, there is a ton of sound transfer between floors. Some conversations sound like you’re “right there”. Is it worth it to install black soundproofing insulation between floors without drywalling the ceiling?

  3. Hi Eugene,
    Is there any product out there that can be sprayed onto a finished ceiling, in this case a furnace room ceiling, to provide sound proofing?

  4. What is. Your opinion of sonopan sound proofing material—doing my basement now new home 20x 12 foot room for music old country and bluegrass.

    • Hi Gil,

      I have no experience with Sonopan, but a quick search of their website and a couple of forums leaves me a little skeptical. Personally, I would stick with Green Glue and soundproofing drywall like QuietRock or Certainteed.

      Hope that helps a little bit,


  5. We are looking tackle a basement ceiling soundproof project right now and we’ve settled on a cheaper solution of wool insulation between the joists, resilient channels and with either 5/8 drywall or 2x sandwiched 1/2 drywall.

    Ceiling height is a consideration as there is only 92″ of height existing, we are already taking 1 – 1.5″ of space with the resilient channel and thicker drywall.

    My question is are there any “cheap-ish” additions to this solution that would improve things? Would lining the space between the joists with MLV be helpful? Or would nailing some drywall in the space between the joists be more effective? Neither are especially cheap and quite heavy on labour.

    On the floor above I plan to add a sheet of MLV under the area rug to help mitigate some of the sound transfer but I’m not sure there’s much I can do.

  6. I’m bothered by steps from two adults walking about upstairs ; items being dropped ; a child running ; some thuds. As it’s a council flat, they may not let me put in a false ceiling ; so I was wondering what other options – though maybe less effective – were available ?

  7. Hi Eugene,
    Thank you for the great article!
    What’s the best way to Soundproof a basement ceiling with the most minimal heat insulation?
    I’m asking as we installed in-floor heating in the basement floor and I don’t want the heat generated by it, that travels up to the house, to be blocked!

    Thank you!

    • Hi Mike,

      Even just drywall on the ceiling will block heat transfer to some extent. Mass Loaded Vinyl and single 5/8″ drywall is probably your best balance between soundproofing and heating. For a better balance you could install a couple of vents in the corners of the room upstairs with furniture over it and a 3 -4 inch gap to allow heat into the room. You might also consider a fan to move the warm air around.

      Realistically, I think you are between a rock and a hard place. Either you make it quiet or you make it warm. I am not sure there is a good marriage of the two desires.


  8. Hi Eugene,

    Thanks for this great and insightful article. I have a finished basement with tenants leaving on the top and bottom unit. But the noise from the first floor is very loud when walking and when talking. I added a rug and pad on the first unit but still not much difference. I will appreciate it if you have any recommendations or referrals. Based on the article, the decoupling option seems more appealing. The goal will be to reduce the noise to zero or near zero.



    • Hi Martins,

      I am not sure what type of underlayment you used, but you need something thick and heavy like 1/2″ RugPadUSA. Some underlayment is good for rug softness, but not for soundproofing. You can find more information from our article Best Soundproof Underlayment.

      If better underlayment does not do the job, then decoupling should. Or you can use the two together.


  9. Hi, Great information. I have a secondary suite (basement) I am trying to legalize in Canada. The basement was completely finished including the ceiling without the installation of insulation. At the moment, the composition of the ceiling is as follows from bottom up… 5/8″ gypsum drywall, 14″ TJI joists, 2 layers of OSB/plywood subfloor and finished with a Twelve Oaks LVP. To meet code, I need a ASTC rating of 47 or STC rating of 50. Is there a way to calculate my current STC rating or supplement the current assembly with something less expensive?

    • Hi Nadim,

      Check the Catalog of STC and IIC Ratings to find out what you have.

      You have lots of room in the assembly. Give some thought to cutting a small hole in the drywall of each cavity, and blowing dry cellulose into it. You can rent the machine and buy the material from somewhere like Home Depot. Turn the air down, get the hose to the far end, and blow it slowly. Patch the hole in the drywall. Or you can hire an insulation company to do the job. Cellulose can get you an STC rating as high as 70. Check out this cellulose link.


  10. Great article. I am wondering what the best and most cost effective way to insulate sound from the basement (sump pump, furnace noises) so I don’t hear them as much on the main floor? My basement ceiling is unfinished, so I think it might be fairly easy, but I am concerned about insulating the basement from heat in the winter and pipes freezing etc. Can I just add a low R factor insulation to the ceiling between the joists?
    Thank you for your help!


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