How to stop noise from upstairs unit.

17 Replies

I own a duplex that we have turned into a triplex. We live in the basement unit.  We built this unit from scratch, it was a large finished empty basement.  We insulated the ceiling to help with noise but it hasn't done much at all.  We are in the process of updating the upstairs unit. My husband has gutted it.  I'm planning on floating vinyl plank throughout the entire unit, with the exception of tile in the bathroom.  What underlayment should I use to reduce noise. Right now with an empty unit and no flooring I can hear every step and the sound of talking.  I've researched but I can't find much good info. Please help. thanks - Jessica

Use an open-cell spray foam. When I had my own basement done with it, the insulation is so good that I can't hear the furnace come on anymore, and it wasn't very loud to begin with. I have to go outside and listen for the gas exhaust fan. 

Noise that is not transmitted through vibration is just sound waves traveling through empty air. Block the movement of the air and you'll block the movement of the sound. 

Aside from that, use a floating floor upstairs with an underlayment beneath it. It will absorb a lot of the vibration noise from walking/banging on the floor. 

The biggest thing I would suggest is to check that the sub flooring is secured to the floor joists. It's not fun in the wee-hours of the morning to wake up to creaking as someone is walking through their unit. My wife and I are in the process of securing the sub floor to the joists in our home so as to not wake up the baby when we lay him down for a nap.

@Jessica Shinneman

Sound travels thru vibration.  The higher the STC rating the better.  The higher the NRC number the better.  Here are a few links to check out.

Similar topic:

Product resource:  Look at page 67 (figure 156) or so with floor assemblies.

Product resource:

As for the foam @JD Martin mention, know the different between "open-cell" vs "closed-cell" foams.  Both are good products when used correctly.  Not sure exactly he used it the foam but I know he knows his stuff.

Hi Jessica,

Is the insulation just between the joists? Or does it overlap continuously over it? If you have it just between joists, the sound will transfer through the joists into the downstairs unit.

it's just in between the joists, I can't afford to make it better now.  The sound wasn't that bad so I thought it would be fine but it got worse with time.  I need to stop the noise upstairs somehow that's why I'm hoping there is an underlayment that can help me

I used to work on Hotels and what we would do between rooms for the most sound proof wall assembly was have two layers of gypsum (mostly for fire protection) on each side and then stager 2" metal studs (4" thick wall total) with insulation wrapped between. The idea was breaking the solid elements between walls to limit acoustical transfer. I'm thinking for your ceiling if you don't mind losing some height, figure out of way to attach a loose foam material to the existing ceiling and put another layer of gypsum bd on top. Here's link with some graphics

@Jessica Shinneman try using a product called DynaPad.  It is made by a company called Dynamat.  They originally made material used for sound deadening cars for aftermarket audio enthusiast.  It is a sound deadening adhesive sheet that would be stuck to the interior of door skins, flooring etc. DynaPad is basically the same concept but for the home.  I have used Dynamat on cars, but I have never used it on a home.  But if it works in a "giant tin box" it should work in your home.  If you do use it, please report back to us on the effectiveness.

Nothing you do to the upstairs apartment will diminish the sound effectively. The only way to do it is with the proper treatment of the basement ceiling area. Better insulation and a double layer of 5/8 drywall.

At this point in time your only real option is another layer of 5/8 drywall on the ceiling. If you do this make sure you use the metal strips (resilient channel) designed to float the ceiling otherwise it will not accomplish anything. Sound is transferred through solid surface contact so the drywall must be separated from the floor joists or the existing dry wall in your case.

@Jessica Shinneman I've used homasote board over the top of existing wood floor then 3/4 plywood followed by 3/4 oak. Some sound will always get through but it help a lot. The sound goes through the screws/nails into the joists then down to you. How about carpet?

That and sound machines at night will help alleviate it. Just keep in mind your suffering now to be more secure in the future!

Do you have recessed lighting in your apt? If the sound is bad recessed lighting will make it worse.

I don't want to do carpet bc it really grosses me out.  I think I'll try an extra layer of plywood, acoustic calking and then a layer of recycled tire underlayment with vinyl plank on top.  We do have 2 recessed lights but luckly its below a closet.  

I guess my question is which underlayment is the best on the market

Free eBook from BiggerPockets!

Ultimate Beginner's Guide Book Cover

Join BiggerPockets and get The Ultimate Beginner's Guide to Real Estate Investing for FREE - read by more than 100,000 people - AND get exclusive real estate investing tips, tricks and techniques delivered straight to your inbox twice weekly!

  • Actionable advice for getting started,
  • Discover the 10 Most Lucrative Real Estate Niches,
  • Learn how to get started with or without money,
  • Explore Real-Life Strategies for Building Wealth,
  • And a LOT more.

We hate spam just as much as you