Concrete is often presumed to be a great soundproofing material because of its strength, durability, and thickness. But that’s not the case with every concrete wall.
In fact, despite the density and thickness, concrete is a conductor of sound and is not a good soundproofing solution. The sheer mass freezes the air gaps instead of allowing them to trap noise inside them. Soundproofing a concrete wall or ceiling requires a mixture of high-density and high-mass products with insulators and dampeners for absorbing vibrations.
If you have to soundproof concrete ceilings and walls of your house, the first step should be to coat the walls and the ceiling with a noise-reducing material. This article entails simple ways on how you can soundproof concrete walls and ceilings.
How To Soundproof Concrete Walls?
How do you know if a wall is concrete or plaster? You knock!
If you don’t hear an echo or hollow sound, it’s a concrete wall. You can easily poke holes or impact drywall or plaster, but a considerable amount of force is required to impact or move a concrete one. One might wonder how soundproof is concrete actually? What is all the fuss about?
Is Concrete Soundproof?
Concrete is one of the most trusted standard building materials for years. It’s strong, hard, and sturdy to withstand all kinds of weather.
However, the principle of propagation of sound is not supported by the versatility and thickness of concrete. It’s the construction and composition of the product that causes soundproofing properties rather than the width of it.
Concrete walls are constructed without any cavities to hold air inside in most of the constructions. This is the main reason why concrete walls are not soundproof.
When you knock on a concrete wall or walk on a concrete floor, the sound you hear is created only because the floor or wall is highly rigid.
4 Ways To Soundproof Concrete Walls
All ways of soundproofing a concrete wall revolve around varying the density of the structure. The higher the density of an object, the better it is at sound absorption.
Here are four effective ways of soundproofing concrete walls:
The commonest way of soundproofing is to add a layer of drywall to the existing wall to increase the mass. It’s a cost-effective way of soundproofing a concrete wall without having to tear any part of it.
Drywall layer can be added with Green Glue compound as well which also has its own unique noise-blocking properties. It will work best if you leave a small air gap between the wall and the drywall.
Soundproof drywall will usually be sheetrock that is sandwiched as a rubber-like mid-layer between traditional ¼ inch drywall. This arrangement makes it very hard for soundwaves to pass through them to the other side.
Resonance is a serious issue with concrete walls. It is when sound locates the perfect frequency to vibrate all the components of the wall. And if the wall is not insulated well, it will vibrate with the high-frequency resonance.
You can either use a sound dampening, mass-loaded product on each side of the wall to hinder the transmission of sound. These products have plenty of air trapped inside them that will absorb the vibrations from the wall.
The other way is to use a soundproofing compound. You can control the resonating frequency of concrete walls with acoustic sealants and soundproofing compounds. Pad the wall with a drywall layer, add a noise-proofing compound such as green glue, and put the other drywall on.
It is a very effective way of blocking noise from a concrete building.
You have some options available for blanket insulation; exterior or interior sound-absorbing, combination insulation, or sound blocking. An effective blanket insulation product will be impregnated or coated with a layer of silicon that will also resist heat.
You can use it temporarily as well as permanently. You can hang it or install it and make it a part of your concrete wall.
Decoupling is creating an air gap that will break the transmission of sound through the same medium, i.e., concrete.
The best method to soundproof concrete walls is to build a wall with enough space in between to trap noise and vibrations. It will absorb vibrations and block them from reaching the other side.
You need to be careful if you’re also installing insulation between the walls. Too much insulation can make space stuffier and block air gaps.
How To Soundproof A Concrete Ceiling?
Concrete ceilings need a little less work than concrete walls. This is because ceilings are relatively heavier and more insulated than walls.
However, ceilings can transmit a lot of structure-borne noise into the room – from the floor above, from the elevators, or the water pipes passing by.
You will have to add mass and acoustic insulation to the ceiling to make it completely soundproof. All methods described above to soundproof concrete walls can also soundproof concrete ceilings. Here are some other methods:
Soundproofing The Floor Above
You can soundproof a concrete ceiling by adding an underlayment to the floor above you. This will reduce most of the impact noise entering your room through the ceiling.
This does not involve any tearing down of or damaging in any other way, your existing wall or ceiling. You can just install some sound-proofing materials that will deaden the vibrations. You can remove the existing flooring on the floor above and install underlayment before the subflooring.
You can use acoustic underlayment or acoustic mats for this purpose. Caulking the perimeter will also help greatly with blocking sound.
Mass-loaded vinyl, as the name suggests, is filled with mass that can trap noise from the air. It effectively takes in vibrations and can be used as a substitute for Green Glue. It dampens the noise from components like barium sulfate and vinyl.
You can also lay it under a carpet, the dense and non-toxic properties will work their magic to block airborne as well as impact noise from traveling through.
You can simply stick a layer on either the floor above or on your own concrete ceiling. You can also use it as a vinyl barrier between subflooring and drywall layers if you’re opting for decoupling ceilings.
Create A New Ceiling
Another approach is to build a new ceiling with drywall or plasterboard. You can start by hanging sound-resistant plasterboard with drywall screws to connect furring channels.
Add a drywall damping compound facing up so it comes between the new drywall layer and the plasterboard. You can keep on stacking up drywall layers before plastering on the final plasterboard layer.
You can then finish up the final plasterboard layer with soundproof paint as well for the best results.
Concrete will still be viewed as an ultimate building choice for ceilings as well as walls for many years to come. It’s better that you know how to soundproof concrete ceilings and walls in the best way possible.
Quieting down concrete ceilings and walls is not very difficult because they are already thick and strong. All you need is sound-absorbing material that will eliminate vibrations from the sound waves and mass to absorb waves from the air.