how to soundproof between existing floors without removing ceiling

How to Soundproof Between Existing Floors Without Removing Ceiling – A Guide

After a long day at work, chances are, you want to come home to some quiet. But that is often tougher than it ought to be.

If there aren’t cars honking outside, it’s your upstairs or downstairs neighbors. Your neighbor’s kids could be stomping the floor upstairs while your downstairs neighbor plays rock music. This can feel like the worst luck.

Yet, it’s almost impossible to go around demanding everyone to be quiet. This is where soundproofing comes in. Soundproofing can give you the quiet you need and improve your overall level of comfort at home. But if your apartment is rented, the last thing you want to do is make complex changes like remove the ceiling to add soundproofing sealant.

In this article, we will explain how to soundproof between existing floors without removing ceiling in any manner.

What Are the Best Soundproofing Options?

Construction Worker Building Drywalls

Soundproofing comes with pretty flexible options. Any material that can reduce the transmission of sound waves from the other floors, or reduce the background noise level in your home, will work for soundproofing. Some of the most common methods are:

  • Installing soundproof floor underlayment
  • Using drywalls
  • Nailing plywood to the ceiling
  • Using interlocking floor mats
  • Using cork tiles
  • Using carpet/ thick rug padding
  • Adding soundproofing compound
  • Using floor joist insulators
  • Installing a floating floor
  • Installing a drop ceiling
  • Hanging curtains from the ceiling

There are several more methods. The most important thing is to find which works better for you based on budget, noise source, noise level, and house policy. So, any method that absorbs the noise effectively in your home will do.

Airborne Noise vs. Impact Noise

There are mainly two types of noise that affect a home. If your apartment is in between floors, you will be exposed to both types of noise.

Airborne Noise

This noise type is harder to control because it moves with the air. It is transmitted through the air by soundwaves and through windows, doors, vents, and openings in walls, ceilings, and floors.

Airborne noise usually comes from loud conversations, laughter, car honks, television, ringing phones, crying, and music. You can generally block them out with soundproofing foams, etc.

Impact Noise/ Structure-borne Noise

Impact or structure-borne noise is a type of noise that uses the vibrational element of sound. It occurs when something or someone directly comes into contact with a surface. Sound is then transmitted through a vibration pathway of the floor structure, then transferred to your home through the ceiling structure.

Impact noise is when someone stomps their feet on the floor or runs across the room, drops books or dishes, is hammering, etc. The thinner the floor, the easier it is to hear these noises.

What Are the Elements of Soundproofing?

Before starting a soundproofing project, you must be aware of the critical elements of soundproofing and how they work together to restrict or reduce sound.

These elements include the following:

Decoupling

Since sound is a vibration of waves, they usually follow a pathway or conductor to enter a separate space. The ceiling studs or joists are usually where upstairs noise comes in through.

Decoupling refers to the process of separating one element from another. This means separating the framing in the ceiling to interfere with the sound pathway. This will help to reduce the noise level.

Absorption

Absorption helps to reduce airborne noise by keeping the density low. It means soaking in the sound the air carries with insulating materials to reduce noise.

Absorption means filling the space between one surface and another, using materials such as cellulose, plywood, fiberglass, mineral wool, recycled cotton, open-cell foam, etc.

Damping

Damping means converting sound energy to heat energy. This is complex, and there are specific materials or damping compounds to aid this process.

This process removes noise to a maximum level. Additionally, it removes the vibrations of walls and ceilings and prevents the transfer of sound energy.

Mass

Remember how we mentioned that thin walls or floors could cause loud noises? The concept of mass is to create thicker surfaces in your home.

Mass in terms of soundproofing refers to making the wall as heavy as possible. This makes it more difficult for airborne noises to penetrate and reach you. By the time the noise travels through those materials, it would likely have minimal impact.

However, this is more useful for airborne noise than impact noise, which uses structural transmission. The most effective high-mass materials are drywall, plywood, cement board, loaded vinyl, and OSB.

The most effective soundproofing jobs are those that combine these four elements. You’ll usually find them all integrated into a studio or theater to provide the thickest padding against noise.

However, soundproofing your apartment can be a different ballgame. There may be structural complexities and restrictions, such as a ceiling you can’t remove or budget limitations. It’s often best to consider your needs and prioritize the most critical elements.

How to Soundproof Between Existing Floors Without Removing Ceiling

soundproofing floor

The first step is to find the cause and where the noise is coming from. As you live in your apartment, you probably already have a fair idea. You also need to understand whether the noise is airborne or structure-borne, the type of flooring, etc. These will impact the way you approach soundproofing.

Soundproofing Flooring

If you are concerned about keeping the structural integrity of your apartment’s ceiling, then the best option is to opt for floor soundproofing. There are two main types of floors, and they should be treated differently.

Concrete Floors

Concrete floors are naturally great at insulating against airborne noises. They are thick and dense. So they do not convey sounds easily. However, they still transmit impact noise. The best way to soundproof them is to add an absorbent layer to the floor to reduce the effect of vibrational noises.

Timber Joist Floors

Sounds travel easily through timber joist floors thanks to the cavities they have under them. This allows sound to reverberate quickly. In this case, it’s best to install acoustic-grade underlays or floating floors to absorb the noise.

Here are a number of great ways to soundproof between floors:

Install Soundproof Floor Underlayment

Installing a soundproof floor underlayment is an excellent option if you have a naked floorboard. They provide great protection against both airborne and impact noises. You can easily use a sound-insulating material to make a subfloor to absorb the noise. Acoustic underlayments absorb sounds before they enter the home’s main floor structure.

However, if you already have a subsequent floor, such as tiles, linoleum, or carpets, you can remove them to install the acoustic underlayments.

Here’s how to install acoustics into your floor:

  • Inspect the floor for holes or cracks.
  • Fix and fill up gaps before installing acoustic underlayments.
  • Add acoustic mats for an extra soundproof effect.
  • Remove any dirt.

You can choose any underlying mat texture of your choice. If you are unsure which one is best for you, you should seek professional help.

Install Interlocking Floor Mats

Interlocking floor mats are one of the most effective ways to reduce your noise level. They are also convenient to install and add great aesthetic appeal to your home.

They work like padded floor tiles; the mats are thick and dense, protecting against impact and airborne noises. Also, they are highly durable, come in different colors and designs, and have antibacterial properties.

While they will not deaden your home completely, they ensure the noise level in your apartment stays comfortable. They also absorb the noise. The most important thing is to measure the size of your flooring from room to room to ensure you buy enough interlocking floor mats to cover the floor expanse.

Use Cork Tiles

Cork Tiles are great because they can go beneath or above the floorboards and on walls. Although they are not the most common option, they are thick and effective. They reduce noise by trapping sound waves and vibrations in their cell structure. They also reduce the heavy impact of running and foot noise.

If you install them on your walls, they also reduce the transmission of noise through the walls. Plus, cork is also great for absorbing heat and preventing heated floors.

However, they are not entirely waterproof. Still, they have a good deal of water resistance, but they must be adequately managed to prevent damage.

Lay Carpet/ Thick Rug Padding

Carpeting is an expensive but effective option. Rubber carpets greatly absorb impact noise to a great degree. They are available in different sizes, shapes, and colors.

In addition, you can buy any thickness of your choice and protect your feet and keep them warm. You can even install a layer of drywall between the carpet and your floor. Also, remember to place your carpet padding under the carpet.

It’s best to consider foot traffic when buying. A large family will require a thicker mat than a couple.

On the flip side, you can opt for a thick rug. This is an excellent option if you are on a tight budget or your landlord is strictly against making any changes.

For example, you can buy a thick rug for your bedroom if your concern is getting some sleep at night. Remember to place the rug padding beneath it.

Using Floor Joist Insulators

Remember how important decoupling is in soundproofing? Floor joists are rubber pads that separate the main floor joists from the subfloors. Rubber is great at absorbing both airborne and impact noise.

So, floor joist insulators are thicker rubbers used to create space that slows down the speed of noise as they try to pass through the main floor to reach the subfloor.

Also, they can prevent the subfloor and main floor from rubbing against each other and squeaking as you walk across the room.

Install a Floating Floor

 a floating floor device

A floating floor is installed on top of the subfloor without necessarily attaching them to each other. It sits between the subfloor and top floor, with just enough space for sound waves to move and be absorbed quickly. They are usually held in place by absorption pads.

Usually, floating floors will raise the height of your floors. So, you must check if you have enough space to install them. Also, you can double the soundproofing effects by installing an acoustic underlayment. This will massively decrease the noise level in your home.

Soundproof a Ceiling Without Removing It

While you may not want to touch the ceiling at all, it’s still the best way to reduce noise coming from upstairs. Here are a few options you can consider:

  • Install a drop ceiling on top of the existing one. You must attach hat channels to the ceiling and incorporate soundproofing insulation as a different ceiling.
  • Install an extra layer of drywall. You can use a double wall of drywall and keep a gap of one inch by creating air pockets. This will create space for sounds to move freely and be absorbed before it reaches your home.
  • Hang thick curtains from above. You can also use blankets, mattress pads, or carpets. This will create a soft and irregular surface that will absorb noise better.
  • Install acoustic foam panels. They are suitable for controlling reverberant sounds; they absorb echoes and background noises. Acoustic panels come in different shapes, sizes, and colors and are great for decorating the ceiling.

Final Thoughts

It’s hard to eliminate sounds completely. Still, if you are wondering how to soundproof between existing floors without removing ceiling, the above methods offer great solutions for doing so seamlessly. You can try two methods for the best results. For example, you can install acoustic foam panels and floating floors for maximum effect.

However, there are several other options beyond those listed above. For example, consider adding a Green Glue noiseproofing compound or a soundproof ceiling. The possibilities are limitless, so you can speak to a professional to know what’s best for you.

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