We Can't Afford Therapy for All 3 Kids.
December 24, 2011 5:03 PM   Subscribe

We need to finish the ceiling in our basement bedroom as cheaply as possible, and with as much soundproofing as possible, and have no idea how to do it.

Our master bedroom is in the basement of our house, directly underneath the carpeted living room and hardwood floored dining room. When we moved into the house, the ceiling in the bedroom was drywalled (which made things adequately soundproof) but the previous owners hadn't grounded the electrical work when they finished the room - requiring us to remove 95% of the drywall to fix the problem.

Now that we're no longer in danger of burning the house down, or frying all of our electronics during the first thunderstorm, we really need to fix the ceiling. Currently, it's all exposed beams (the support for the living room floor) and wiring/duct work - and whoah, there is NO sound proofing!

No one goes into the bedroom other than us, so aesthetics aren't really important - but since our bedroom is right underneath where our kids spend a lot of time (doing homework, playing xbox, reading books..) we'd like to finish the ceiling in a way that would allow us to have conversations (and, uh, marital relations) without being overheard. To give you an idea of the current sound transmission: my husband was wrapping gifts a few days ago and I, upstairs in the living room, could hear the sound of him cutting the paper very clearly. Eeek!

A few notes - there is no longer any lighting in the ceiling (we have a floor lamp that's operated by a wireless switch), so we don't need to worry about that when considering how to finish things. The remaining drywall is surrounding some support beams - the unfinished ceiling space is about 15' x 20'. A drop-ceiling, while cheaper than most options, would suck for my tall husband who already has to be careful walking around in the room lest he bump his head. The ability to access the wiring in the future, if needed, would be nice - taking down all that drywall was awful and messy. And, finally, we're both reasonably skilled in the DIY sense, but would prefer easy and quick over fiddly and time consuming.

Any ideas? Are we being unreasonable to hope we can avoid the drop-ceiling or drywall options?
posted by VioletU to Home & Garden (5 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: A bunch of data about drywall sound damping techniques.

Best bang for the buck will be to drywall the ceiling. Put some insulation in there while you're at it. Drywall isn't that expensive, especially compared to any other type of material that is heavy, stiff and sealed.
posted by Diddly at 5:17 PM on December 24, 2011

Best answer: A friend finished his basement for a home theater, and he put batts of Roxul "Safe & Sound" insulation between the joists, ( 2 layers deep ). Then he used drywall isolation clips, like these, but a different brand. Then he fastened drywall to that substructure. For the doorway he used a triple glazed french door.

Needless to say, it is quite quiet down there. Some noise can faintly be heard from upstairs, often it's coming through the heating ducts.
posted by toddje at 5:30 PM on December 24, 2011

Best answer: Fiberglass insulation will block a lot of sound. If you feel you really need to be able to take the ceiling down easily you could put up 4x8 panels of OSB or wafer board or plywood. Screw it up and you can always unscrew it to take it down. I just helped a friend put OSB up on ceiling (and walls) of a workshop, we primed it and painted it, it looks fine. And we did end up having to take some of them down when we realized we'd forgotten some wiring, it was easy.
posted by mareli at 5:49 PM on December 24, 2011

Best answer: Gyproc/drywall is going to be best and you can even use mareli's technique with it if you wanted. Your best results for reasonable cost would be Fiberglas bats in the joist spaces covered with a plastic vapour barrier sealed at the edges and overlaps with acoustical sealant (full sealing is important to attenuate high frequencies). Then strap the ceiling with 1x2 or resilient channel and apply a layer of drywall. A second layer ran the opposite direction will further reduce noise transmission if the first layer doesn't provide sufficient reduction.

The CMHC has a decent write up on sound transmission abatement strategies
To get a feel for how various options work here are some STC ratings for various wall and floor assemblies.
posted by Mitheral at 11:41 PM on December 24, 2011

Just drywall it and put some insulation up there. If you do need to access the wiring, it's really not a horribly big deal to patch drywall.
posted by desuetude at 12:34 AM on December 27, 2011

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