How to Soundproof Apartment Ceiling without Construction

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Tired of the noise of the constant footsteps from your neighbors? Or is it an abnormally loud conversation from your neighbors above?

I know exactly how it feels.

A few years ago when I used to live in my old apartment, I was sick of the impact noise coming from the ceiling.

I knew I had to fix it, but there was a problem:

We were tenants, and thus we needed to make non-invasive fixes for soundproofing our apartment ceiling.

Thankfully, we researched and found a few quick and easy soundproofing solutions.

I want to be completely honest with you though:

While these fixes aren’t as effective as construction measures, they can still help considerably reduce noise.

Ready for some DIY ceiling soundproofing? Let’s go!

Things You Will Need: At A Glance

Green Glue

Helps seal holes in the ceiling and provides an additional soundproofing layer

Mass Loaded Vinyl

A heavy vinyl sheet that provides the most effective noise reduction for your ceiling

Acoustic Panels

Great at absorbing sound

Spray Adhesive

Used to effortlessly install the acoustic panels

1. Check for Holes in the Apartment Ceiling and Cover Them

This is the foremost step I’d recommend you do.

Holes and crevices in the ceiling transmit noise easily from one apartment to the other.

It might not be as common for new apartments, but I certainly recommend you keep a keen eye and look out for holes closely.

If you find any, you can use this Green Glue soundproofing damping compound. It helps reduce both—airborne noises and impact noises.

2. Apply Mass Loaded Vinyl

Using Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is hands-down the most effective way of soundproofing your apartment ceiling in a non-invasive way.

For the uninitiated, MLV is a heavy, vinyl sheeting material that you can use on your ceiling for effective soundproofing.

They can be applied not only to the ceilings but to other corners of the room as well such as other cubicles, walls, floors, condo ceilings, and many more.

I recommend this MLV barrier from Soundsulate. It’s thick, durable, and comes with an STC rating of 27.

While you don’t need to be a professional, you should consider getting some help from a family member since its heavy.

All you need to do is take accurate measurements of the sides of the ceiling and cut pieces of the mat, on the basis of the measurement taken, with the help of a sharp knife.

Remember the golden rule: Measure twice, cut once!

3. Put Acoustic Foam Panels

Acoustic foam panels come with excellent noise-absorbing capabilities.

From my experience, they are less effective at soundproofing than Mass Loaded Vinyl, but can still considerably quieten noise.

There are different foam panels with varying thicknesses, shapes, and styles. The cost of these panels is nominal and can be purchased by anyone. Installation is also very simple.

This 12-pack acoustic panel studio foam is budget-friendly and effective at reducing noise.

They are also given a rating called NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient). The more the thickness and NRC rating, the more effective it is in absorbing noise and reducing echo.

They are built out of excellent sound-deadening materials like polyurethane or melamine. The materials also reduce the amplitude of the sound waves by dissipating the energy as heat in the surrounding.

4. Apply an Adhesive Spray to Install the Panels

How to install Acoustic Foam Panels on your Ceiling
How to Use Adhesive Spray to Install the Panels

Installing acoustic foam panels is pretty simple.

All you need to do is stick is properly in the concerned region with good quality glue.

Adhesive sprays are one of the best ways to stick panels on the ceiling, as they dry quickly and prevent the panels from getting loose and sliding down with time.

Besides this, the adhesive itself acts as a sound-absorbing layer.

This 3M spray adhesive provides excellent coverage and provides a secure bond in under 15 minutes.

If you are left with adhesive after installing the panels, you can also use it for sticking other stuff like plastics, cardboards and many more.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How to Soundproof an Existing Ceiling?

Soundproofing an existing ceiling can be carried out pretty easily without damaging it. The simplest method of all is to install good quality drywall of about 5 to 8 inches so that it can effectively cut off the noise.

In between the ceiling and the drywall, you can insert sound deadening compounds like the Green Glue for even better results.

Another easy method is to install vinyl mats or foam panels. They are sufficiently thick to absorb all the disturbances and vibrations to retain the tranquillity of your residence.

Besides these techniques, you can also go about installing sound-engineered drywalls which are ideal for those who suffer from lots of noise from the outside. It has got multiple layers with different sound dampening material embedded in them to provide perfect insulation from noise.

2. How Much Does It Cost to Soundproof a Ceiling?

The cost of soundproofing a ceiling depends on the dimensions of it. The larger the area, the more is the material needed. Hence, the cost will vary accordingly.

Roughly, if the dimension of your room happens to be 10X10 feet, you will require about 10 drywalls which will cost you approximately $50 to $70.

3. Does Ceiling Insulation Reduce Noise?

Yes, insulation does reduce noise to a great extent. Noise can be of two types. Firstly, air-borne noise is due to external noises like traffic, airplane, etc. The other type of noise is impact noise which is due to others’ footsteps or slamming of a door.

When you install sound dampening materials like acoustic panels and vinyl mats, the vibrations are prohibited from reverberating which maintains the silence.

Also, these materials maintain the temperature of the room as they convert the sound energy striking them into heat energy which gets dissipated inside the room.

Soundproofing becomes even more important in the apartments which have a thin ceiling. An excellent barrier will help noise from going out and entering such houses.

4. What Materials Can Block Sound?

In order to block sound, the best materials happen to be cellulose, fiberglass and foam panels.

You can effectively cut off noise by installing materials like a vinyl mat, foam panels, green glues, common drywalls, soundproof drywalls or soundproof curtains and blankets.

All these can absorb vibrations to retain the silence.

Foaming panels and vinyl mats can be applied to different regions like walls, ceilings and other corners of the room to soundproof the entire space.

Green glues are used to seal gaps and cervices to prevent noise from emanating from them.

Soundproof drywalls contain different layers that contain different compounds with sounding dampening attributes.

Soundproof curtains and blankets are extremely dense to provide excellent sound insulation.

5. Does Styrofoam Deaden Sound?

Noise reduction happens mainly due to four phenomena which are decoupling, absorbing, adding mass and sound dampening. Out of these four phenomena, Styrofoam is good at absorbing sound waves and decoupling.

This is so since it is made out of fiberglass and stone wool which are good thermal insulators but are light in weight.

Hence it is effective at blocking mid and high-frequency sound waves but cannot curb the low-frequency sound due to lack of optimum weight.

6. How to Reduce Noise From Upstairs Neighbors?

The best way to curb noise from the upstairs from pervading your apartment is to make your ceiling thick. This can be done easily by installing a drywall and soundproof drywall.

Green glue is effective at sealing the holes and crevices which can also allow outer noise from entering your private space.

You can also go about creating a drop ceiling. Here, an area is left between the drop ceiling and the ceiling which is filled with air at a much higher pressure. This air acts like a sound-insulating layer.

If possible you may also request the people staying upstairs to spread floor carpet which can minimize noise to a huge extent.

The Bottom Line

Your focus and attention can be disturbed with noise due to others in your immediate surroundings. Why suffer from such situations when there are multiple options and DIY techniques to curb it, right?

So, which method did you apply to maintain the harmony of your surrounding?

In case you still have a doubt about soundproofing your ceiling, let me know in the comments section below.

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