Soundproofing Ceilings – How to Soundproof Ceilings

Soundproofing Ceilings – how to Soundproof Ceilings

Imagine a footstep hitting the floor above. This large amount of vibration will race through the flooring above and start entering your ceiling framing. The framing is VERY conductive, so vibration passes through very easily. Your ceiling drywall is rigidly attached to this vibrating framing, so a millisecond after the footstep slams the floor, the vibration enters your ceiling drywall and then hits you.

Sound Traveling Through your floor

Another problem with vibration entering the ceiling framing is that your walls downstairs are holding up his framing. So his sound is also entering your room through your walls. This is known as flanking noise. Not as much sound will come through the walls, yet perhaps 30% as much as the ceiling, and you are hearing it in stereo.

Ceiling Soundproofing Solutions

We would prefer to treat the floor above to immediately destroy the vibration before it gets into your ceiling framing. With a hard finished floor above, this is generally not possible, and they probably do not want to help you anyway. So really all you can do is treat the ceiling on your side.

Solution 1: Add Drywall and Green Glue to Your Ceiling

Make the ceiling as heavy as possible with standard $8 drywall. Install a medium coverage of Green Glue between the layers. This will reduce a great deal of the vibration, but certainly not all, since the vibration is racing through the framing above the new drywall layer.

SPC Ceiling Solution 1
Soundproofing Ceiling - Double Green Glue - 5/8" Gypsum

Solution 2:  IB-1 Clips + Green Glue

Remove your existing ceiling drywall and treat that floor from the underside. Add drywall and Green Glue to the underside of the flooring and secure with screws.

This will quite effectively arrest a good deal of that vibration before too much gets into the framing. Then add standard R19 fiberglass (nothing thicker or expensive). Decouple the ceiling with the less expensive resilient clips and channel, so your new drywall isn’t directly attached to the old framing.

Then double drywall and Green Glue. This solution utilizes all 4 Elements of Soundproofing.

SPC Ceiling Solution 2


What won’t work in soundproofing your ceiling.

Installing Mass Loaded Vinyl.

Although MLV will help to some degree it is not suitable for this application. It is simply not heavy enough and will not damp the vibration in the drywall itself, which is key. MLV is also too expensive for this application.

Installing resilient clips directly to your existing ceiling drywall.

This will make the ceiling heavier, but the drywall will still be very resonant and conduct vibration allowing it to continue to ring like a bell and not really improve things much. In fact, the small air cavity created when installing clips over the existing drywall will likely amplify some frequencies, making things even worse.

AVS Forum Member Experience

“…so they went with RSIC-1 Retro clips over the existing ceiling. They also ran the furring channel parallel to the joists due to spacing which I don’t understand as both 24″ OC and 16″ OC can add up to 48″ OC required by clips. Sure enough, it didn’t sound like anything improved in that unit at all. I’m sure as hell not going to let them do our unit that way. If anything, I think I’d rather they put 2 layers of 5/8 with GG up if retro clips are the only option.”
– RNATALL
Senior Member of AVS Forum

Ceiling Soundproofing Expectations:

In any soundproofing project, we would prefer to install the treatment on the sound producing side of the wall or ceiling, though this is generally not possible. Because sound is entering your room from various points, it isn’t realistic or possible to remove all incoming noise. While you will never have complete silence, it is certainly possible to achieve dramatic noise reduction.