How to Soundproof a Ceiling In 6 Steps [GUIDE]

Last updated on January 17, 2019
by Jay Von K

Soundproofing CeilingLet us take you away from the concept of a music studio and into a customer service "boiler room."

Everyone is wearing earpieces with microphones.

These microphones function only to bring clarity to their voice.

In customer service, no other sound except the customer service agent's voice should be heard.

Isolating noise is imperative in these environments.

Footsteps in these boiler rooms are caught by thick noise-isolating carpets and decoupled ceilings with acoustic tiles for upper floors.

However, their treatment of office ceilings and floors is just sufficient to isolate the noise that the microphones could also reduce.

With audio recording, the use of noise reduction features from digital consoles is highly discouraged because it can muffle some frequencies and cause undesirable results instead.

So, to isolate a room, we start with the ceiling.

The 6 steps:

  1. Building a new Ceiling
  2. Sound absorption
  3. Close the Gaps
  4. More Drywall
  5. Further Reduction
  6. Final Touch-Ups

Decoupling Magic

soundproofing a ceiling the right way

Let us recap what sound is.

Sound is an energy transmitted through the vibration of air molecules, which also affect solid and liquid molecules.

This means sounds passes through closely packed molecules faster, the property of solids.

While the energy of sound also slows down faster than air in liquid and solid molecules because of their rigidness that prevents further vibration, sound energy still transfers into these molecules.

This is why a decoupled, suspended ceiling is imperative in a recording studio.

A decoupled ceiling is one where the joists attach only to the ceiling floor through sound isolation clips or whisper clips to prevent a more significant transfer of sound energy from a given room.

This limits the vibration of the part of the upper floor.

The decoupled ceiling would be empty except for air, which would still introduce vibrations.

More mass and unmoving or non-vibrating material would help dissipate sound energy further, which is why soundproofing insulation is still important to use in this one inch of space.

Suspended ceilings could either be attached to the current ceiling or could replace the entire existing ceiling with heavy drywall material.

This material conducts sound better before the suspended ceiling, which is made of the same material.


Building a New Ceiling

make your ceiling float

Installing A Decoupled, Suspended Ceiling

A decoupled ceiling is essentially building a new ceiling that attaches to the joists of the original ceiling suspended about a few inches from the actual ceiling.

Resilient channels can be used for both heavy drywall material ceilings that replace the existing ceiling or the second layer of the ceiling.

They would be attached to the ceiling joists in a perpendicular manner (where they form a letter "T").

Depending on your room measurements and the number of drywalls you would attach to the channels, resilient channel spaces could go between 20-24 inches to 13-16 inches.

The rule of thumb is the more drywalls, the less space between resilient channels.

Some space is important to trap sound between sound insulation.

Resilient channels closest to the walls must be not more than six (6) inches from the wall itself to let sound move and dissipate its energy efficiently.

Using sound isolating clips or whisper clips to attach the resilient channels allows the further reduction of sound energy.

Materials Used:

Resilient Channels

Resilient Channel: Spaces drywalls and a drywall against the original ceiling, a crucial decoupling material.

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Sound Isolation Clips

Sound Isolation Clips: Lessen the vibration of resilient channels and drywalls.

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whsiper clips

Whisper Clips: They can be used like sound isolation clips but they can also attach to metal hat/ furring channels to prevent further vibrations in the space.

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Sound Absorption

Use a Sound Absorber

If you can access the ceiling cavity given you already had ceiling tiles in your original room design, you could use more sound absorption to prevent vibration and resonance.

Using about two layers of acoustic batt can be useful for sound insulation. Dense polyester, which is cheaper material, can also be effective.

For maximum efficiency, leave a small air gap.

Materials Used:

acoustic batt

Acoustic Batt: an excellent sound absorption material that could be molded into shape, perfect for sound isolation.

(Compare Prices: Amazon)


Mind The Gap

Anyone with a successfully sound-isolated studio would tell you that gaps between drywalls and the ceiling would have more air transmitting sound energy everywhere.

Only small gaps and spaces are allowed; for everything else, acoustic caulk can seal any gap. Once they dry, the vibrations would be gone.

Materials Used:

green glue

Acoustic Caulk/Green Glue: Seals gaps between drywall sandwiches before attaching them to resilient channels.

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Further Reductions
damping with green glue

This is how green glue works

Before adding a new drywall for further room dampening/ removal of room vibrations, it would be wise to use good damping material such as Green Glue to attach several layers of drywall together.

You can create a "sandwich" before attaching them to their respective resilient channels, but you may need to wait a few days to allow the glue to dry.


More Drywall

a drywall with green glue attached

To ensure that sound energy would not transfer quicker to other material, different drywall thicknesses would be useful.

Thickness is an acoustic property where resonance has different characteristics. When layering drywalls with green glue, change thicknesses of your drywalls varyingly.


Final Touch-Ups

Aesthetically, drywalls don't look too good as suspended ceilings, which is why acoustic ceiling tiles are stylish ways to absorb airborne noises from your studio.

While you can still replace or paint over the new drywall ceiling or even glue a carpet on it (which contributes further to sound dampening), the final touch-up is something you could consider for yourself.

Materials Used:

acoustic ceiling tiles for the studio

Acoustic Tiles for the Ceiling: Absorb studio sound immediately before the energy hits the drywall layers to dampen the room.

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