Sound transmission and acoustics are one of the most overlooked aspects of building design and construction. And while there are certain standards that public and multi-family building types must adhere to, single family homes are left woefully unsupported, which can lead to undesirable acoustic conditions for homes with more than a single story.
However, there are things you can do to your home that will keep lower floors free from the heavy stomping feet of inconsiderate visitors or family members. And for those who have overactive children, taking a few acoustic measures could mean preserving what little sanity you might have left.
Here are 3 ways to soundproof your ceiling and reduce the transmission of sound.
1. Coffered Ceilings
Coffered ceilings are probably your most aesthetically pleasing form of soundproofing. Jason Tilton of Fanatic Finish shows what every homeowner should know about coffered ceilings on this infographic below.
Coffered ceilings offer a number of different styles and designs, and can have the added effect of transforming your space into a warm, inviting, classical expression of architectural detail. Not only do coffered ceilings provide an apt barrier of sound transmission, they help improve the acoustic quality of the space they are installed in by promoting dispersion and reducing echo.
To install coffered ceilings, you’ll likely need the help of a skilled professional. That investment is worth every penny, as you’ll be left with an attractive new look and an interior free of noise pollution.
2. Batt Insulation
It’s likely the floor cavities between conditioned spaces in your home are completely hollow (save from a few ducts, wires, and light fixtures). All that dead space is filled with air, which acts as a perfect conduit for transmitting sound. If you fill those cavities with batt insulation, you get a much more robust acoustic barrier, and reduce much of the noise that would otherwise cut right through it.
If you’re looking to retrofit an existing home, you’ll either have to rip out the ceiling drywall in order to install the batt insulation, or hire someone to perform a minimally invasive blow-in technique that requires only a drywall patch and a bit of paint. Either way, it’s an inexpensive solution to your acoustic problems.
3. A Second Layer of Drywall
This is perhaps the least invasive, most cost-effective solution on this list. The easiest way to soundproof an existing ceiling is to simply add a second layer of drywall. Of course, you’ll have to work around light fixtures and other ceiling penetrations, but you’ll get a lot of value out of simply covering up what’s already there. You get the added bonus of concealing any blemishes or cracks in your old ceiling, and it can go a long way to making an interior space feel brand new.
If you’ve got a bit of construction experience, this is very much something you can do yourself. You’ll save money on labor, and show your family you are good for something after all! As an extra layer of acoustic protection, we’d recommend installing resilient channels between the existing and new layers of drywall. These are shallow metal channels that give a much more sturdy acoustic barrier.
Whether you’re looking to simply prevent sound transmission, or coupling it with an aesthetic renovation, there are plenty of options at your disposal. If you have the money to invest fully in the acoustic well-being of your home, you might consider hiring an acoustic consultant to lay out your options and how much it would cost to implement each one. This will convey the best vision of your options, and allow you to go down a road that matches up with your budget as long as your wish list.