How To Soundproof A Ceiling And Wall

By Robert Robillard on Home Repairs And Remodeling, How To

Installing Resilient Sound Isolation Wall and Ceiling Clips

It sure is a noisy world out there.  When folks think about residential noise control or soundproofing, They typically are looking to absorb sound or dealing with echo & reverberation problems.  This article will show you how to soundproof a ceiling and wall using KINETICS™  Wood-Frame Ceiling Hanger Model ICW and Resilient Sound Isolation Clips on the walls.

What is Noise Control?

Noise control is an active or passive means of reducing sound emissions, most people want to achieve this for personal enjoyment whether its to reduce internal noise from a home band room, child’s tv room or a home theatre or its to reduce external environmental noise such as adjacent neighbors, manufacturing, train or airplane noises.

The first step in How To Soundproof A Ceiling And Wall is accurately diagnosing the source of the noise you want to reduce.  Many times the best course of noise control is to reduce the noise as close to the source as possible. This is often the case when you’re dealing with loud air conditioning compressors, fans, or other HVAC mechanical equipment.

When thinking about reducing noise inside a home you need to consider reverberation reduction.  Reverberation is the echo that sound creates as it bounces off of surfaces in a room rather than being absorbed.

This often means installing double or triple pane windows designed for noise reduction, acoustical wall and ceiling board, acoustical ceiling and wall tiles, cover hardwood floors with carpets, increase insulation, commercially available coverings designed for noise control, framing double walls or using commercially available vibration isolation systems.

There are four basic principles of noise control:

When thinking about how to soundproof a ceiling and wall consider these four principles in your plan.

Sound insulation:

Adding sound insulation helps absorb the transmission of noise by providing a mass barrier to soak up and disrupt the noise.  Add standard fiberglass, “acoustic”, or recycled cotton insulation.  Use  R13 in the walls, R19 in the ceiling.

Materials such as brick, thick glass, concrete, metal all have high-density disrupting properties.  Adding mass, such as double layers of drywall, to a wall or ceiling can help.

Sound absorption:

Sound absorption “suck-ups” the noise like a sponge  Common sound absorption materials include decoupled lead-based tiles, open-cell foams and fiberglass.

Vibration Dampening:

Vibration dampening refers to vibrating surfaces. The damping mechanism works by extracting the vibration energy from the thin sheet and dissipating it as heat.

A common material is sound deadened steel or mass loaded vinyl which works great for as a sound transmission blocker on plumbing pipes in ceilings and walls.

Mass Loaded Vinyl is a dense PVC sheet, loaded with Barium Sulfate or Calcium Silicate to add weight. Its a heavy product and weighs one pound per square foot which is effective at reducing airborne noise.

Vibration Isolation:

Vibration isolation prevents transmission of vibration energy from a source to a receiver by introducing a flexible element or a physical break. Common vibration isolators are springs, rubber mounts, cork, etc. We see these items on AC units and other types of HVAC mounted to rafters in residential buildings. 

We see vibration isolation used in many types of household items and may not even think about why they are there.  Vibration isolators used for pumps, motors, HVAC systems, or washing machines and high-end audio equipment.

Framing Walls For Noise Control:

Is space permits, one “old school” method of soundproofing is to build a staggered “floating floor” system, staggered stud wall or two walls separated from each other by an inch and to insulate the walls with high-performance soundproofing insulation with thermal qualities.

Alternatively, if space is limited you can use a soundproofing isolation system works which is used to separate the drywall from the studs which help eliminate vibrational noise and further reduce the sound transmitted through the walls.

 Vibration Isolation Systems:

On a recent project, we employed a commercially available noise control system called Kinetics wood-framed ceiling hangers [Model ICW] and IsoMax resilient sound isolation clips.

Ceiling System:

The Kinetics  ICW wood-frame ceiling hanger secures to wood-frame construction (e.g., joists, trusses), has a one-inch deflection spring in series with a neoprene cup to resiliently support one or more layers of gypsum board. The design of the Model ICW bracket allows the isolator to be installed on the joists to optimize ceiling height.

A channel clip and threaded leveling rod assembly is designed to carry a single piece of 1-1/2″ x 1/2″ 16-gage steel carrying channel.  Drywall furring channels are then attached to the carrying channel 16 inches on center to take the place of ceiling board strapping.

The end result is a ceiling that is isolated from the house framing and therefore providing vibration isolation. when installed with the floor joists you can maximize your ceiling height.  On this installation, several factors necessitated us to install the brackets and run our carrying channel perpendicular to the joists.  Either way works with this system.


According to the manufacturer, the ICW ceiling with two layers of gypsum board with 3-1/2” fiberglass batt in airspace allows a maximum natural frequency of 4.4 Hz under lightest typical load conditions.  The reason for the 3-1/2 inch insulation is to create an air cavity.  The air cavity helps increase sound isolation.

The ICW hangers can be installed 48 inches apart and no more than 16 inches from the perimeters of the room.

The IsoMax ceiling joists, wall studs, or masonry, simply and easily secures drywall furring channel. One or more layers of gypsum board are hung to the furring channel using common construction practices. Offering higher STC values than drywall attached to the resilient channel, Model IsoMax ensures that installers will not inadvertently screw through the “resilient” leg of the channel into the joist or stud. This feature cannot be underestimated given the frequent, unknown occurrences where the resilient channel is accidentally rendered ineffective because it is hard-attached.

Wall System:

when looking to soundproof a ceiling and wall don’t overlook using IsoMax clips. These clips are designed to carry a drywall furring channel, commonly referred to as “Hat Track” with one or more layers of gypsum wallboard attached.

The installation of the IsoMax Sound Isolation Clips is easy and requires two screws.    They can be spaced a maximum of 48 inches and the furring channels spaced 24″ apart.  The top row should be a maximum of 6 inches to the center of the channel from the ceiling and the bottom row maximum 3 inches to the center of the channel from the floor.

When using this system on walls, make sure that the first layer of gypsum wallboard seams aligns between sheets on the centerline of the horizontal furring channels.

All potential sound leaks; gaps around outlets, window, or door frames; pipe penetrations and the like should be sealed with a non-hardening acoustical sealant or resilient putty.

Doors and Vents:

Doors, lights, and HVAC vents are other ways sound will find its way in or out of your room and should be considered part of your plan.  There are commercially available products for treating all three, such as insulated ducts, dead vents, weather-stripped and insulated doors, airlock double doors, and recessed light backer boxes.


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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor

Rob Robillard is “The Concord Carpenter” Rob is a builder, general contractor, carpenter, woodworker, and editor of Concord Carpenter and ToolBoxBuzz As a General Contractor and carpenter, Rob owns and operates Concord Carpenter LLC. A full-service remodeling and construction company. Rob is a recognized leader in home building best practices and a source for how-to information for building professionals. On this website, Rob covers all aspects of home construction, building science, home improvement, woodworking, remodeling, and some of the best product and tool reviews. Rob is in charge of our Tool and Product Review series - Concord Carpenter Videos where we post all of our tool reviews and video tutorials. Rob approaches remodeling and building construction with a pragmatic and problem-solving approach. He enjoys using his knowledge and experience to help and educate building professionals as well as DIYers on best practices in the construction and remodeling industry. He's a strong advocate for "raising the bar" in the construction trades and promoting the trades to youth. #BeAMentor #Green2Great Craftsmanship, quality, and pride guide his journey on this channel The Concord Carpenter's motto: "Well done is better than well said!" : Read more about Rob

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