The famous stoic philosopher Viktor Frankl once said “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves” – in this case, your ceiling. If you are tired of hearing footsteps from above, then it’s time to take control and find how to reduce impact noise by soundproofing your ceiling.
Short on time? The best way to soundproof ceiling footsteps available on the market in 2022 is the highly rated TMS Sound Proofing Padding. It’s a premium quality MLV that is excellent at attenuating impact noise. The Green Glue soundproofing compound is a special noise absorbing material that is of great utility for ceiling soundproofing.
How To Soundproof Ceiling Footsteps & Reduce Impact Noise
1. Mass Loaded Vinyls
Mass Loaded Vinyl Sheets or MLVs are high density vinyl sheets which help in attenuating noise by reducing the vibration of the ceiling due to sound waves.
The reason you hear noises from the ceiling is that soundwaves from footsteps or any other impact hit the ceiling, which acting similar to the diaphragm of a speaker, transmits the sound waves into your room.
Mass Loaded Vinyl Sheets are made of visco-elastic material that provides an ‘impedance mismatch’ to these sound waves which basically means that it dampens the strength of the noise waves.
People generally like to stick the MLV sheets directly onto a wall or ceiling but that would lower the acoustic performance of the sheet since the MLV needs to act independently.
Our suggestion is stick the MLVs to a structure that is at least 0.5 inch lower than the ceiling. The structure can be made of any rigid material like wood or thick aluminum bars.
This small air gap will also help in dampening the sound waves which emanate from the ceiling.
The MLV sheets can either be screwed or glued to the structure. Do note that it is not recommended to use Green Glue soundproofing compound directly on MLVs as they are not chemically compatible.
MLVs are made only by a handful of manufacturers in the US but are sold by numerous marketers under different brand names. Since the chemical composition of the MLVs significantly affect acoustic performance, we suggest you go for a highly rated product.
The TMS Sound Proofing Mass Loaded Vinyl is a proven MLV product which does an effective job of absorbing unwanted noise at a very reasonable price. Read also: mass loaded vinyl MLV ceiling installation
2. Insulated Drywall
Installing a drywall ceiling is the right choice if you want to eliminate ceiling impact noise permanently.
A drywall is built using large blocks of paper reinforced Gypsum tiles. These blocks are screwed directly onto the ceiling joist thus giving the looks of a smooth ceiling.
Apart from aesthetics, installing a drywall ceiling can be more preferable since you can stuff noise insulating material like rockwool above the ceiling so that any noise from the floor above is well absorbed.
This setup can be built upon a resilient channel thus becoming a sound insulating barrier between the floor above and your ceiling.
One of the best ways to ensure good acoustic performance of drywalls is to spread the back side of the panel with plenty of acoustic glue like the Green Glue soundproofing compound.
The Green Glue soundproofing compound is a specially made product that can absorb noise waves very effectively.
It is a high quality product developed by Saint-Gobain and has a variety of utility for any soundproofing project.
The major downside to installing a drywall ceiling is that the installation process is really tedious and you have to be sure that your wiring and ducting will not need any reworking anytime soon.
Yes, doing maintenance work in a room with a drywall ceiling can be a real pain in the, well, arms at least.
Nevertheless, you might want to have drywall ceilings installed since they offer a more effective noise blocking solution from all kinds of ceiling noise and also take up less ceiling height when compared to dropped ceilings.
3. Dropped Ceiling
They are used vastly in office spaces for this very reason. With a dropped ceiling, you can work with wiring and plumbing in an easy manner and more so during repairs.
This is especially true with regards to mounting ceiling lights. Not only are the lighting fixtures easy to install, you can change the location of the lights anytime in the future.
The type of foam that is used as the ceiling tiles makes a difference in the level of sound absorbing.
There are specially made acoustic ceiling tiles available that do a way better job of absorbing ceiling noises than conventional tiles.
The DEKIRU Acoustic Panel is one of such tiles which will do a great job of attenuating ceiling noise.
Unless you’re a home DIY enthusiast, a dropped ceiling is best done with professional help.
The only reason you might not want to consider installing dropped ceilings to save you from ceiling noise is that you might not like the height drop which can be 6-12 inches.
In case you are already complaining of a low ceiling height, a dropped ceiling is definitely going to make the space feel more claustrophobic.
As long as you have enough ceiling height and are fine with giving an office-like look to your room, installing a dropped ceiling might be the best solution to solve your ceiling noise problem.
Besides, you can always choose the texture and colored ceiling tiles to make your space more vibrant and in tune with your furniture.
4. Floor Cushioning
The most obvious and cost effective way to eliminate impact noise from footsteps is to use a thick floor carpet or a floor rug on the floor above.
This might be the easiest solution if you own the floor above but otherwise you might need to use your social skills to accomplish this.
And if you are able to convince your neighbour upstairs to use a floor carpet or rug, it will prove to be a quick and effective solution to reduce ceiling footstep and impact noise at the source itself.
Having noise reducing floor rugs under the carpet will be even more effective than purchasing expensive thick carpets.
The Sonic Acoustics Non Slip Soundproof Rug Pad is a great product which can be used on wooden and tile floors as a cushion for reducing foot-fall and impact noise significantly.
5. Open Areas
You might be surprised how much noise reduction happens when you plug these openings with a suitable material.
You can choose a variety of materials from foam to plaster of paris to seal the gaps in the ceiling.
Our suggestion will be to use noise absorbing foam such as the highly rated Sonic acoustic foam that can be cut into the required shape and neatly stuffed into ceiling gaps.
After stuffing gaps with acoustic foam there might still be gaps or even small cracks which will be a source of noise leakage.
Hence it best to use a noise cancelling sealant like the Green Glue soundproofing sealant to fill remaining gaps for effective noise blocking.
The Green Glue soundproofing sealant is a special type of glue which has the ability to absorb any noise passing through it.
Final Thoughts About Soundproofing Ceiling Footsteps & Impact Noise Reduction
MLV sheets are one of the best performers when it comes to deadening impact noise. The TMS Sound Proofing Padding is a high quality noise attenuating MLV which in most cases will be sufficient in deadening impact noise from the ceiling.
Installing insulated drywall will be a permanent albeit expensive way to ensure your room is as protected as possible from ceiling noise.
One of the must-have products for such soundproofing projects in 2022 is the Green Glue soundproofing compound. It has proven to be very effective in curtailing noise leaks from gaps in the ceiling.
These methods not only reduce ceiling noise but also reduce the heat getting transferred from the ceiling which is a real boon during hot summers.
But with most problems, the best approach is to start with easy to fix methods like simply having a kind hearted talking with those living upstairs or asking them politely if you can offer to carpet their floor.
When that is not possible the least you can do is to start fixing gaps in the ceiling that allow noise to pass through unopposed.
Now that you have learned how to reduce ceiling footsteps and impact noise, we wish you well in your quest for a tranquil living space.
Dave Pearson is a Canadian musician, sound editor, and audiophile. He is also the founder and owner of the website SoundProofGeek. On SoundProofGeek, Pearson offers advice and resources on audio equipment, including how to assess and improve audio quality, how to troubleshoot and repair audio equipment, and how to improve the music listening experience.