TM Soundproofing Soundproof Existing Walls & Ceilings

Soundproof Existing Walls & Ceilings

Soundproofing Existing Walls and Ceilings

Whether you are in a condo, office building, hotel room or your own house and find that you do not have your own space for some relaxing peace and quiet, you are not alone. The amazing thing is that even in brand new multi-family projects or new homes you can still hear right through the walls and ceilings, sometimes even worse than in older construction. One reason for that is that the building membranes are tighter in a new construction project making for a stronger vibration of sound. For more information on understanding how sound travels see our Soundproofing Basics article.

If you are willing to rip your walls or ceiling off and start working from your studs then please read our article How to Soundproof. This article is intended for those who want to soundproof over their existing walls and ceilings.

First see if your wall or ceiling has any insulation in it. This can be done by drilling a quarter size hole in your wall and looking in. If there is no insulation you may want to consider pumping cellulose into your walls. You can usually rent the machine and DIY or have an insulation contractor do it. The process involves drilling holes in every bay and sticking a tube in and then pumping the bay full with either cellulose or fiberglass; there is no need to plug the holes as you will be covering the wall with another layer of drywall. If there is even a little bit of insulation in the walls then do not bother blowing in the cellulose as it will get caught up in the old insulation and not fill the wall properly.

The next and most important step is to install another layer of drywall over your existing wall and ceiling. Our first choice is always to use 5/8 inch thick drywall, if that is not possible than 1/2 inch will do just fine. Proceed to install Green Glue damping compound on the back of the new layer and then screw over existing wall or ceiling as you would any other drywall. Install 2 tubes of Green Glue on every 2 x 4 sheet, for more details see our Green Glue FAQ sheet. Now depending in the noise type and noise level you may either finish your wall or ceiling at this point as described in the next paragraph, or you can proceed to install another layer of drywall with another layer of Green Glue over the 2nd layer. One of our suggestions here at Trademark is to have you install one layer with Green Glue and then wait about 10 days; if you are satisfied with the results go ahead and finish off the wall. If not then proceed to install the 2nd layer.

Important: When using this technique to soundproof a wall keep in mind that if there is an open attic space above the 2 walls the sound will jump the wall and come in through the ceilings. Even in places where there is no open attic space, sound can go over the walls through the air space above the wall that is created by the ceiling joists. This is especially true if the ceiling joists run over the wall from room to room. The best solution for this is to install a 2nd layer of drywall with Green Glue on the ceiling of at least one of the rooms preferably the same room that had the wall treated) in addition to treating the wall.

Once you are done hanging your walls and/or ceilings caulk the perimeter (the outer edge on all 4 sides) with a quality acoustical caulk. Be sure to fill the gaps fully and that the seal is complete with no air spaces. You can then spackle, tape and paint the wall as you would finish a standard new wall. Seal all outlets in the wall with a specialty outlet seal.

The above described sound control technique has been used successfully by thousands of our clients including hotels, office buildings and private home owners. You can do it yourself or hire a reputable drywall contractor in your area. There is no need for your contractor to have any prior experience in installing green glue. We will be happy to send you any materials you need and discuss any installation issues with you or your contractor. 

Keep in mind that this sound control technique is very good at controlling airborne sounds and some impact sound. However if your main concern is heavy footsteps or dragging of furniture than you will really need to remove your ceiling and use the whisper clip to create a floating ceiling. Additionally you should install drywall and green glue onto the underside of the sub flooring in between the ceiling joists to convert as much of the impact as possible before it enters the joists. Continue with installing insulation, hat channel, two layers of drywall with green glue as described in our How To Soundproof Article. After doing all of this you will have tremendous upgrade in your peace and quiet but keep in mind that you will still be hearing the impact noise as it is nearly impossible to totally eliminate it unless we work on it during construction of the floor above.

We ship nationwide via FedEx to insure that you receive your material in a timely manner. Additionally most of our soundproofing products (on orders over $75.00) ship absolutely free.

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