Introduction

 

In this guide, we will give you guidance on how to soundproof a ceiling. We want to make sure you feel comfortable with the terminology we use, the best course of action to take with intrusive noise issues which can be applicable to all sorts of building types and a navigation around our website which will take you to further reading on particular areas regarding soundproofing - this is highly effective in giving you the knowledge to start your path into soundproofing.

We have a handy FAQ section which we have collected from our customers, questions we are asked on a daily basis that may help you. If you feel like something can be added that you would like to see here, please do get in contact with us - we want to make sure all of our customers are happy with the informative we provide.

All of our headings in our content are clickable, and will take you to that part of the document. If you want to return to the contents, we have a red button in the bottom left corner that will take you back to the top.

 

Contents

Creating Quieter Spaces Together, our Ethos

A brief explanation of sound

How soundproofing works

A Noise Checklist

Flanking Transmission

FAQs

Helping to budget for your project

What soundproofing options you have available

What we do for you

Where to now?

 

 

Creating Quieter Spaces Together

Our mission statement is simple, to bring everyone together to create quieter spaces – whether you are a home-owner, an architect, a start-up business or builder, we can help.

We want to work alongside you to bring back peace and quiet to your life.

Call iKoustic today to see how we can help – 01937 588 226

 

A brief explanation of sound

Sound is made up of a broad spectrum of frequencies which are created by vibrations; when you tap your foot, when you close the door, when you hum a tune – all of these create vibrations that result in the sound you hear and process.

Depending on the frequency of sound the lower the sound is in pitch, the more energy it contains and the more likely it is to travel in all directions and through a range of materials (this could be brick or block work for example)

We have provided a more in-depth description of sound in our 'A Guide to Sound'

If we take a 3-way speaker box for example (3 speakers, one above another), we can relate this to how we listen to music. We will help to put it into context with everyday sounds and instruments we may find in these areas and how problematic they can be acoustically

You can find some audio examples under each heading below, just press play.

 

 

Tweeter (High Frequency)

 

 

This small domed speaker at the top reproduces high frequency waves, high pitched in sound and is often at the top as most designers will aim to have it closer to head height. The reasons for this is that the high frequency noise is very directional (less likely to travel equally in all directions) because of the energy it contains, it doesn’t travel very far. If you put your speakers on and move into the next room, you will most likely hear that the higher pitched noises are experienced far less than the lower frequencies.

This means that the energy we spoke about, will find it harder to move through dense materials, a brick wall or a plasterboard for example.

  • 4khz – 20khz (Kilohertz)
  • Examples of high frequency;
    • Voice (especially in sibilance which consists of the wooshing and hissing sounds of speech, say the line She Sells Sea Shells by the Sea Shore, lots of sibilance in this example)
    • Drum cymbals, high end of guitar
    • A micro-wave completion tone (the beeps once it has completed)
    • Whistling

Mid-Range (Mid-range Frequency)

 

 

This middle-sized speaker, also in the middle of the speaker reproduces the broadest range of frequencies, therefore contains the body of most sounds we hear. The lower we come down in direction of Mid-range, the more omnidirectional (sound travelling in all directions) it becomes. It contains more energy than higher frequency noises and on the lower spectrum, can still be readily heard through a range of materials – with some being dimmed the higher we go.

  • 250hz (Hertz) to 4khz (Kilohertz)
  • Examples of middle frequency;
    • Voice can start off at around 250hz
    • Brass instruments
    • Hand percussion
    • Television

 

Bass (Low Frequency)

 

 

This speaker you will notice as larger of the three, this is because it needs to move an incredible amount of air, which produces large wave-forms, and this results in an increased amount of sound energy which is omnidirectional, meaning that this sound will travel through a vast array of surfaces and materials, it can sound like it is coming from everywhere, which in most cases – it is.

An example of this would be hearing a party happening in the distance, you will always hear the thudding of a kick drum or a bass line.

  • 20hz -250hz (Hertz)
  • Examples of Low Frequency
    • Kick drum
    • Voice (this can be both male and female) creating muffled experience through a wall
    • Impact noise (footsteps, doors closing)
    • Cooker or microwave humming
    • Washing machine or other appliances in operation

You will want to look at the next section as a way of surveying the noise and the path to tackling certain noise issues

 

How soundproofing works

Soundproofing works through the physical properties of mass, spring/suspension and absorption, which means that the best acoustic system would have;

 

A heavy weight to reflect the sound (Mass)

An element of elasticity, spring or (Separation)

 Absorption quality in all adjacent cavities (Absorption)

 

When reviewing soundproofing, it is important to note that noise issues are never completely blocked, the best reduction is when the noise issues reach a background noise level, this is as sound travels in multiple directions and through different parts of your building (see flanking below). You can find a more in-depth discussion on our Science of Soundproofing page, there is also a very handy dB graph here of different noise levels.

When looking at your soundproofing options, you will often see acoustic results which should always be displayed with an acoustic system in place. An acoustic system would always include the partition, this being a chipboard flooring or other, concrete flooring and potentially acoustic flooring systems in place above and the ceiling soundproofing materials in place - you would not have testing results on an individual product.

One example we come across is direct board options in the region of 45-50dB, please note that this will include the partition - where a concrete floor for example may be 50-60dB of airborne reduction, and the board potentially 5-10dB airborne reduction. Impact noise may be reduced at floor level also, it is worth checking to see if these are in place. We display wherever possible our breakdown of partitions in our performance data.

Another important note is that soundproofing materials and systems are relative to the logarithmic scale, which means adding the same system twice, measuring 10dB - would not result in 20dB overall.

 

A noise checklist

We want to make sure you have everything you need to progress on to the next stage, whether this is deciding to go ahead with the project, to ask iKoustic for a quotation or to place an order – we will help each step of the way.
 

  1. Listen to what noises you hear, is it conversation, TV, doors slamming or footsteps for example. Or a combination of noises?
  2. Are noise issues one of the options below?
    1. Inaudible or background level, so when you are in your room, typical noises mask this noise issue.
    2. Muffled, you can make out there is certainly a noise – but you wouldn’t be able to tell what it is, or what words they are saying.
    3. Clear, you can tell what the noise is and hear words for example, clearly.
  3. Are some noises more problematic than others?
  4. Is there any Flanking noise? (See next section for a brief description or click on the word Flanking noise)
  5. Feel the surfaces, can you feel any vibration coming through?
  6. Take notes from anything you notice above, it will help visualise the issue
     

As sound is subjective, what may affect you more than others could be perhaps the slamming of a door, or a washing machine that seems to shake the whole house – but a conversation may not bother you.

 

Flanking Transmission

Another term you will regularly come across is Flanking (Sound, Transmission, Path) and what this essentially means is that in a ceiling construction there will usually be multiple paths that the sound may travel through, below are some examples that could be in your home or workplace.

You can view this under our ‘A Guide to Flanking Transmission’.

We would recommend carrying out a small home test using an open end of a glass to every surface in the room and the base pressed against your ear whilst a sound is being conducted

 

 

FAQs

This section contains Frequently Asked Questions by our customers, and how to tackle them.

 

Q: Do I need to remove my existing ceiling?

A: It is best to remove the existing ceiling to help investigate the joist depth and to start fresh with an effective soundproofing system – if this is not feasible, a cavity may still be left to resonate beyond your new suspended ceiling or fixing direct to joists (please do discuss the feasibility with a professional on fixing through an existing ceiling).

 

Q: Do I need to remove my coving?

A: You would need to remove coving, this is because not only will it result in very little to no performance, it would also create an odd aesthetic around the perimeter of the room.

 

Q: Do I need to use Acoustic Mineral Wool between the joists?

A: It is always best to treat cavities between the joists, this is because the noise will still resonate in the cavity and appear louder – not gaining the best soundproofing the system can achieve.

 

Q: Do I need to soundproof the floor above?

A: This all depends on the noise issue that you are suffering from, impact noise such as footsteps are always best treated from the floor above, the reason for this is that once the impact noise has been conducted, it can travel through joists and into adjacent walls as well as through any floorboards butted against the wall. The MuteClip® System would offer the best protection against impact noise if access to the above room is not possible. If airborne noise is the primary issue, the MuteClip® System will offer the best reduction against a range of noises.

 

Q: Do I need to soundproof my entire ceiling?

A: We always recommend covering an entire area for both impact and airborne noise issues, any weak point in the system means that the sound issue can continue coming through this path, this also includes any RSJ (Rolled Steel Joist) / I Beam, which would appear to look like a capitalised I.

 

Q: Can I replace my coving or add new coving?

A: If you are looking to replace coving or add a new coving, remember this can affect performance due to it reducing the slight movement the ceiling requires, as well as bridging the sound back into the ceiling or wall. If you need to, you would want to speak to a coving specialist on creating if possible, a suitable expansion gap above this to allow the ceiling movement.

 

It is also important to note that covings very rarely come down in one piece, so your existing coving would almost very likely need to be replaced. Do discuss this with a specialist as they may have techniques in providing this service for you.

 

Q: Can I add spotlights or other lighting into the ceiling area?

A: You want to minimize the cuts into the soundproofing as much as possible, if you are wanting the best system – perhaps aim for wall lights? If not, a single pendant light would be much better than a range of spotlights. We have seen some ceilings with up to 10 lights in a single room – this could mean around 10% of a room is untreated, where a 1% gap could be problematic, allowing the sound to come through with ease.

 

Q: Are your products suitable for Part E Building Regulations?

A: All our products are suitable for Part E Building Regulations, if the right systems are put in place. We can provide guidance on what to use in certain situations and estimated figures you can expect. We can only provide a guided figure but not an absolute as there are multiple variances that can affect results – if somebody is offering you a guarantee, do take caution. Speak to iKoustic for Part E Building Regulations.

 

Q: Can I install the products myself?

A: Ceiling installation can be tricky for those attempting for a first time, we would always recommend two people with some experience in Dryline/Plasterboard fitting or joinery. We provide a list of installation guides listed here. If not, we offer an experienced Acoustic Installation team to cover the UK.

 

Helping to budget for your project

By budget, we are weighing up three variables that all directly have an impact on the efficiency of the soundproofing;

 

The performance

The cost

The thickness

 

As these all go hand in hand, our best performing ceiling soundproofing system is our MuteClip® Plank Double Plus for timber structures and MuteClip® Stud Plank Double Plus for concrete. You can click on either option for more advice on the range.

You may want to take some time to talk with us about your options, having a budget in mind helps us point you in the right direction with coming up with the most effective solution.

 

What soundproofing options do I have available?

We supply a full range of floor soundproofing options to help tailor to most budgets, we will break our options down below and give you a brief description.

About our Performance, Cost and Thickness below, it is marked on a scale of 1-10, 1 being the lowest, 10 being the highest. You can play around with the different options to see what works for you, all details such as; estimated reduction (with the best used environments) acoustic test results and space lost.

 

 

MuteBoard™ 2 System

Performance: 3

Cost: 3

Thickness: 2 (up to 19mm space lost)

 

Performance Description

iKoustic’s MuteBoard™ 2 system for ceilings is a brilliant option for those with a real premium for space. At only 19mm, this provides and upgrade to standard and acoustic plasterboard with an additional dampening layer added to the back with helps provide a little separation from the joists.

  • Reducing background level of conversation
  • Reducing background level of TV audio (this would exclude any soundbar or subwoofer due to the bass heavy sounds produced.)

For more information and systems these products are incorporated into, please see our guides below.

 

Data Sheets

Installation Information

A Guide to Understanding Acoustic Test Results

 

 

 

MuteClip® Timber Systems

Performance: 5-9

Cost: 5-8

Thickness: 4-8 (up to 80mm)

 

Performance Description

iKoustic’s MuteClip® System for timber constructions vary in all Performance, Cost and Thickness. For those looking for a slimmer ceiling height but the same highly effective performance, our MuteClip® LP can be used. For those with unlevel joists and want to reduce having to level these out, our MuteClip® XP can be used. For those without those requirements our Standard MuteClip® can be used.

  • All single board systems are suitable for reducing lower levels of airborne noise and impact noise
    • Reducing low levels of conversation
    • Reducing low levels of TV and light music use (not including any soundbars or subwoofers)
    • Reducing lower levels of impact noise such as footsteps
       
  • All double board systems are more tailored towards the best reduction with those with the space to lose, suitable for reducing raised noise levels.
    • Reducing raised conversation
    • Reducing raised tv noise levels and music levels
    • Reducing intrusive impact noise issues such as footsteps or moving furniture

For more information and systems these products are incorporated into, please see our guides below.

 

Data Sheets

Installation Information

A Guide to Understanding Acoustic Test Results

 

 

 

MuteClip® Concrete Systems

Performance: 7-9

Cost: 7-8

Thickness: 5-8 (up to 180mm thickness with a 100mm framework)

 

Performance Description

iKoustic’s MuteClip® System in a concrete construction is a highly effective way of reducing impact, airborne and vibration related noise issues. Improving the soundproofing properties of concrete is a little more difficult and usually requires a form of separation, so basically suspending mass away from the concrete slab, like using MuteClip® for example and a form of a stud frame, a stud frame especially if the noise issues are excessive.

  • All single board systems are suitable for reducing lower levels of airborne noise and impact noise
    • Reducing low levels of conversation
    • Reducing low levels of TV and light music use (not including any soundbars or subwoofers)
    • Reducing lower levels of impact noise such as footsteps
       
  • All double board systems are more tailored towards the best reduction with those with the space to lose, suitable for reducing raised noise levels.
    • Reducing raised conversation
    • Reducing raised tv noise levels and music levels
    • Reducing intrusive impact noise issues such as footsteps or moving furniture

 

For more information and systems these products are incorporated into, please see our guides below.

 

Data Sheets

Installation Information

A Guide to Understanding Acoustic Test Results

 

 

 

What we do for you

Free and friendly over the phone advice on your project

Free material design and product guidance on what best to use

Free quotation and quote alterations

Price match guarantee on all comparable products

Free installation guidance

Site Visits (this will be chargeable and will reflect your location and project)

Acoustic Design

Experienced Acoustic Installation Team (this will be chargeable and reflect your location and project)

 

Where to now?

You have made it this far, do get in contact with us we would love to hear from you and how we can help.

To help us, you will want to gather;

  • Any plans you may have had of the build
  • Dimensions of the Ceiling
    • Can include chimney breast, we would need each individual measurement
    • Any small alcoves
  • Any images, this can help us detect any more potential issues
     

If you have any questions about our website, you can chat online with us be clicking on the box on the bottom right, if we are not in – leave us a message and we will get back to you!