Dear PoP – Soundproofing Options

Photo from PoPville flickr user hellomarkers!

“Dear PoP,

We’ve got noise issues between our English basement apartment and our unit on the first floor of our rowhouse, and we’re looking at blowing in insulation and building a new ceiling in the basement unit with QuietRock, a special sound-resistant sheet rock. (Fortunately our basement ceiling is 8 feet-plus.)

Can anyone tell us about their adventures in soundproofing and who has done a good job on that kind of work?”

We’ve been having lots of success with these types of questions this week. Does anyone have any suggestions?

On a related topic we spoke about loud neighbors here.

21 Comment

  • I have the same situation with the rental in my basement. We’ve also considered blowing insulation and sound-proof drywall. Much of our noise, however, passes through the a/c ducts in our floor/tenant’s ceiling. Anyone know anything about sound dampeners for ducts or a/c registers? Some internet searching led me to believe there’s a useful product out there, but I couldn’t nail it down.

  • The contractor I use has done this before for some friends of mine and done a great job. Sal Funes (301) 219-9051. Tell him Ross gave you his contact info.

    I stand by his work (if you need examples just reply).

  • Just start cooking the most FOUL SMELLING FOOD POSSIBLE –
    Since hot air rises the fumes will happily vent up to those people so they will be loud but their clothes will smell like a combination of garlic and karp.

  • I considered Quietrock when refinishing my basement but at $40 sheet ($1200 total for the 30 sheets I would have needed) I thought I should look as some other options.

    The one I settled on was using mineral wool insulation ( ). It is a thermal and acoustic insulator, as well as a tremendous fire barrier, that comes in various thicknesses. You put it between the joists very easily and with no expertise (the a mask and long sleeve shirt is recommend). Then cover the joists and mineral wool with standard drywall, plaster, sand and paint. (I spent about $160 total on the mineral wool plus the cost of the drywall that I eventually used – $240)

    If I learned nothing else from my soundproofing experience, I found a lot of the other items commonly used by homeowners aren’t effective noise barriers. So whatever you do, do not use corn-based, foam or fiberglass insulation. The key is density of the material. Both Quietrock and mineral wool are very dense and therefor effective and these other insulators are mostly only good for thermal purposes.

    I went to Capitol Building Supply (several locations in the area including S. Capitol St., which sells both products and they’ll give you pricing over the phone.

    Let me know if you have any questions.


    • Nate, doesn’t wool insulation attract carpet beetles?

      • No. You are thinking of the wool that comes from sheep. Mineral wool is a man-made product composed of minerals, rocks, ceramics, etc. It can have a wool-like texture, hence the name.

    • blester01

      Make sure the drywall is attached to the floor joists with resilient channels. They help dampen the vibrations traveling through the floor joists.

  • The acoustic wool insulation is probably the best idea. normal insulation does not have enough mass to be an effective noise barrier. Another thing is to ensure that they use 5/8 or thicker drywall on the ceiling. They do make “acoustic” drywall. I honestly dont know how much better it is, its probably just made from a denser material
    Also, because sound propagates through any 2 surfaces that are in contact, you should use floating isolation rails for the drywall. This elimiates the connections between the drywall and the studs which conduct sound.

    In addition, ANY holes or noise paths between the floors will dramatically reduce the effectiveness of the noise barrier. So seal up any piping, electrical lines of HVAC VERY well.

  • Eric,

    It’s my understanding that using a product like Quietrock obviates the need to use floating isolation rails (aka resilient channel) in the installation.

  • Try homasote. It’s available in 4×8 sheets from Lowes.

  • In my own project last fall, using two layers of 5/8″ QuietRock (along with a layer of QuietGlue in between) did not help in the slightest to contain impact noise from my upstairs neighbor which travels through a concrete floor. In my wish to retain ceiling height I decided not to use resilient sound isolation clips and now I’m paying the price. At this point, my only option is to tear it down, add the clips along with Roxul Safe’n’Sound and hope for the best.

  • I thought that the spray foam insulation (also available as a soy-based natural product) was supposed to do a very good job at sound deadening. It expands to fill all nooks and crannies. While this is the same stuff you buy for $4.99 a can, a profession install gives a much better result.

  • do a search for ‘soundproof paint’. we bought some and it does wonders. the more coats the better, and it’s cheap – and insulates, so the more coats the better. does it work? yeah. you still have to paint your color of choice on top of it. you can even paint and then install board on top of it to completely obliterate the neighbs…

  • We took out the existing ceiling.
    1. We make sure there was insulation everywhere between the joists.
    2. Resilient channel were attached perpendicular to the joists.
    3. Rubber barriers were installed on top of that
    4. 3/4 tick fire resistance drywall was put on

    We sacrificed ceiling height, but it fixed our problem.

  • i think the paint i bought was from here:

  • What about installing a drop ceiling from the existing ceiling and filling that space with insulation? Would that do the trick?

  • As a follow-up to my earlier post, you might contact They’re in San Francisco but they work nationally.

  • Supress performs equivalently to QuietRock but is easier to cut and weighs less, which makes it easier and less expensive to install.

    Supress staff would always recommend that you hand Supress on a ceiling using resilient channel, hat channel or sound isolation clips to further mitigate footfall noise from above.

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