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The most feasible solution to a noisy upstairs neighbor is often soundproofing your ceiling. But while this comes with its fair share of challenges, estimating the cost of soundproofing a ceiling or any other area is perhaps the biggest hurdle.
The US national average cost of soundproofing a ceiling less than 50 sq. ft is about $825. However, this number may exceed $2000 depending on the type of soundproofing materials you choose, the size of your ceiling, and the cost of labor in your area.
Check out my guide on soundproofing ceilings.
In the rest of this post, we’ll discuss how you can estimate how much you’d pay to soundproof a ceiling based on the cost of materials, labor, and the size of your room. Let’s get right to it, shall we?
Choosing Soundproofing Materials for Your Ceiling
A variety of materials may be used to soundproof a ceiling, and the total cost of your project will largely depend on the type you choose.
To help you choose the best options and estimate how much it will cost to soundproof your ceiling, let’s take a look at some of the best materials to use.
Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is a thin layer of flexible vinyl impregnated with small bits of metal. Such a construction gives it excellent acoustic insulation properties, making it a staple for a variety of outdoor and indoor soundproofing projects.
When MLV is used on a ceiling, it increases the overall mass of the structure. In doing so, it improves your ceiling’s ability to block noise because heavy and dense surfaces typically reflect sound.
It also helps prevent the ceiling from vibrating, making MLV an excellent material for soundproofing against low-frequency sounds such as bass from a powerful sound system or even footsteps from an upstairs neighbor.
Acoustic panels have a pretty simple but essential soundproofing mechanism. Made of specially formulated foam, these panels work by absorbing sound waves to prevent echoing and reverberation within a room.
This helps clarify speech and minimize general noise, making acoustic panels a must-have for your ceiling soundproofing project.
Of course, there’s a lot of physics involved in the sound absorption process, but we won’t burden you with the details. For the sake of keeping things simple, think of these panels as acoustic black holes that sound goes in and never comes out again.
When soundproofing a ceiling, one of the main goals is to minimize sound-caused vibration by getting rid of gaps within its structure. If your ceiling can’t vibrate, it won’t transmit sound, and the result will be a quieter home.
To get rid of gaps, you’ll need to remove your ceiling and fill the space between the joists with layers of drywall (also known as gypsum board).
According to Ghonsla’s technical specification sheet (which you can also use to check the technical specs of other insulation materials, by the way), drywall has a high density of about 530 Kg/m3.
Such a high density makes drywall great at blocking sound by preventing vibration, and adding it to your ceiling can enhance its ability to keep overhead noise at bay.
This type of water-based paint comes formulated with a mixture of ceramic microspheres and fillers that trap sound. In other words, acoustic paint absorbs sound to prevent echoing and reverberation within a room.
If you choose to use acoustic paint in your ceiling soundproofing project, be sure to apply several coats for maximum sound absorption.
Resilient channels refer to an affordable decoupling method used to minimize sound transmission through wood or steel-framed walls and ceilings.
You can use resilient channels in your soundproofing project to decouple (AKA separate) drywall from your ceiling and subsequently prevent sound transmission.
Estimating the Cost of Soundproofing Materials for a Ceiling
Having reviewed some of the materials you’ll likely need, let’s take a look at the price of each to help you estimate how much you’ll spend to make your ceiling soundproof.
Keep in mind that while all these materials can be used to soundproof a ceiling, you don’t necessarily have to use all of them. You can use just one soundproofing material or a combination of a few, depending on how much acoustic insulation you’re looking to achieve.
To simplify everything, below is a table that captures the cost of each soundproofing material. We’ve also included a “features” section that highlights the key traits of each material to make it easier to decide which ones to use.
|Mass Loaded Vinyl||● Made of high-density organic sands, salts, and tiny metal particles.|
● Blocks sound by adding mass to floors, walls, ceilings, and other structural features.
|$190 per 1lb ⅛” thick, 4′ x 25′ (100 sq.ft.) roll.|
|Acoustic Panels||● Absorbs sound waves to prevent echo and reverberation.|
● Easy to cut into the desired shape without affecting performance
|$18 per 2” 2″ X 12″ X 12″ panels.|
|Acoustic Paint||● Can be applied to any surface in place of standard paint.|
● Works great for mid-level sound frequencies.
● Typically it consists of a “resilient” base coat and a mass-building “finish” coat.
|$35 per gallon. One gallon covers 150sq.ft. (single coat)|
|Soundproof DryWall (not available on Amazon, check your local store)||● Great for use in rooms and offices.|
● Ideal in situations where additional structural soundproofing techniques are not possible.
|$0.40 to $0.65 per sq.ft. depending on location|
|Resilient Channels||● Helps minimize sound transmission through walls and ceilings through decoupling.||$150 per Box of 32 8′ Lengths (25 Gauge)|
Once you figure that out, calculate the cost of each material by multiplying the quantity you’ll need to cover your ceiling by the unit cost. For instance, if your ceiling measures 100sq.ft. and you’re using drywall, the total cost would be between $40 (i.e $0.4 x 100) and $65 (i.e $0.65 x 100).
The one problem you might have with the above method of estimating the cost of soundproofing materials is when you’re dealing with resilient channels. That’s because it can be tricky to determine how much of these you’ll need, and you might need to consult a contractor.
Estimating the Cost of Labor
If you’re taking the DIY route to soundproof a ceiling, the total cost of your project will simply be the sum of the price of the chosen materials. But if you’re hiring a handyman, the project cost will include the cost of labor, which can be tricky to estimate because it varies by location.
Nevertheless, it’s possible to get an idea of the bottom line by looking at some employment statistics.
According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, the national mean hourly rate for general repair and maintenance workers is about $20.17. Given that most contractors (especially pros) charge above the national average, you can expect to pay anything from 20$ to $60 per hour, depending on where you live and the specifics of your project.
If you’d like to minimize the labor cost, consider doing the easy stuff like applying acoustic paint yourself. It might also be helpful to prioritize independent contractors over those who are part of larger businesses because the hourly rate for the latter is usually higher.
That does it for this discussion. Hopefully, you’ll be able to use what we’ve discussed in this post to estimate the total cost of your ceiling soundproofing project and plan accordingly. All the best!