Basement Soundproofing: How to Adjust the Ceiling Joists
There are actually two distinctly separate missions when faced with the task of basement soundproofing. The first would be to minimize the sound transfer from any room directly upstairs. Rudimentary physics tells us that sound travels through any form of matter. Now, since the ceiling of the project room is a shared surface, any sound emitted from the upstairs room would bleed and permeate into the downstairs room. The second task would be to maximization of the project room's acoustics. Ceiling and walls would be treated, layered and modified to stop or minimize any unwanted sound reflections emitted from the room.
The ceiling is only one of many surfaces that must be reworked in order to attain good soundproofing. However, it is perhaps the most important area and an excellent starting point for any undertaking.
Adding more height to the ceiling would enable one to have more space to place sound insulation tiles or materials. To do this, the ceiling joists must be carefully adjusted. Ceiling joints are the number of beams which are placed horizontally, running parallel, side by side from one wall to the one opposite it. From an architectural standpoint, it acts to bind the walls of the room to turn it into a (structurally sound) box configuration. For a sound engineer, the ceiling joists are a hindrance in effectively padding the ceiling with insulating materials. Raising and adjusting the ceiling joints a few inches would enable one to achieve a level of equilibrium between the architectural and acoustic integrity of the project room.
Tool and Materials Needed
- Acoustic foam
- Screw driver
- Nail gun
- Spacers (minimum of 6 inches)
- Extra joists
- Replacement ceiling material (if a new one is needed)
Step 1 - Clear the Room
Begin by clearing out the project room. If the ceiling is removable, one can carefully disassemble the parts and assemble again once the job is complete. If the ceiling on the project room is fixed, then the existing ceiling must be destroyed and taken down and replaced with a new ceiling material. The job is incredibly messy so one should remove any movable items and cover anything else which cannot be moved.
Step 2 - Remove Fixtures
Switch off the fuse box to ensure that you are working with electrical fixtures that are completely powered down. Carefully remove any electrical fixtures such as lights and fans mounted on the ceiling.
If working with removable ceiling tiles, carefully take those out and be mindful of where the electrical lines are. If working with a fixed ceiling carefully work around the electrical area to avoid damage to any wiring that may be present.
Step 3 - Check the Joists
Once the ceiling area has been cleared carefully check the structural integrity of the joists. If all the joists pass inspection, place your spacers under each plank. The height of your selected spacer should equal your additional ceiling height. Secure these spacers with your nail gun.
Step 4 – Install the Insulation
Next, carefully lay out your insulation foam. Pad the surface area in and around the joists. Do not press down on the foam too much since the insulation works best not in a compressed state but carefully layered one over the other with some air in between. Secure the foam layers with the nail gun.
Step 4 – Replace the Fixtures
After fully padding the space around the exposed joists, reconfigure the wiring to be able to reconnect it to the electrical fixtures. Gently replace the ceiling tiles (if the ceiling is detachable) or board up the ceiling with new ceiling materials. Paint over the new ceiling material to match the room color and return all electrical fixtures.
Step 5 – Test the Sound
After returning power to the room, test the acoustics by having a sound source coming from the room upstairs. The sound should be greatly reduced, muffled or almost inaudible. Next, test the sound from the room itself. Power up your sound source from inside the project room. Although at this point, the walls have not been treated yet, the sound should be fuller and sharper than it was prior to the project.
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