Sound issues with recent basement reno

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Posted by: from Vancouver
6/1/2012 at 2:01:47 PM

We recently had a basement suite built and hired a fairly well reviewed contractor. Not knowing enough before hand, I think we let a few things slip and now have issues.

We can hear a fair amount of sound coming up into our area upstairs, the sound transfer is not nearly as bad in the other direction. I'm thinking this is due to our forced air pipes which only service the upstairs portion of the house, I'm 99% sure they were not wrapped. I also know that no rubber membrane, resilient channels or quite rock were used. I believe the only thing that was done was "safe and sound insulation" and 5/8 drywall.

Clearly we dropped the ball on not looking into proper insulation techniques and insuring they were followed, and now we need to deal with it. The idea of ripping out the whole ceiling makes me very scared, and would obviously cost us our current tenant. I'm hoping that possibly there is another solution? Is there anything we can do to soundproof the vent and pipes from within or is that just a pipe dream?

I need to contact our contractor but since it's clear the company didn't have a plan to do it right the first time I'm hoping to have plan of action in place to make sure it gets done right now.


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Date/Time6/1/2012 at 3:14:50 PM

Unfortenatly the only way to do it right is to take parts of the ceiling down. Not all the ceiling, just where there are pipes...sorry you had to go through that.

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Date/Time6/1/2012 at 3:26:00 PM

As not resilient channels were used, the sound transfer is most likely through the solid surfaces applied directly to your floor joists.

Wrapping the ductwork will not provide much in the way of sound transfer, The interior of the duct is still the route of sound travel, and all the pipes are connected to the main duct.

Installing a drop ceiling, T-bar, with an acoustic tile, will alleviate your sound transfer issues. The acoustic tile will reduce the amount of sound and if you leave a minimum air space of 2-3 inches, this will also reduce the sound transfer tremendously.


Kaayla Vedder

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Date/Time6/1/2012 at 3:40:46 PM

There are a few things you need to know in sound proofing a floor/ceiling. Usually you have to design the space for a min. STC 65 (min STC 55 - but because of construction imperfection and holes you have to bump it up. This is on the code as a recommendation and are being practiced commercually to have proper sound proofing on assembly.

From what you just said the entire ceiling assembly is not to spec and you have to seal and secure every mech. Ducts and water connection on the cavity space and leave appropriate space between your sound proofing material and your GWB as a buffer. It is something that is not easy to do even to a experienced contractor as strict supervision and control has to be in place to make that separation to it's job.

Usually on houses sound proofing is something that falls short and becuase of tight spaces and clearances it will be hard to actually remove any unwanted sound.

One thing I am curious is do you not hear your furnace before the reno? Did you relocate any duct works? If you never touched the ducts at all then the sound is not coming from your forced air duct but to the noise generated by the occupants on the suite.

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Date/Time6/1/2012 at 3:48:14 PM

All I can say is rez bar.

rez bar should have been applied to the joists after your insulation a vapour barrier was installed then the dry wall to be applied on to the rez bar that would have take care of your noise issue.

Sorry to hear it was not done rite I hope the rest of the job was done correctly.

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Trevor from Arbutus Contracting in Mission
Date/Time6/1/2012 at 5:55:53 PM

You might want to look at a product called Green Glue. This is designed to be used in a 2 layer drywall application. Your screw your first layer of drywall on, then apply a second layer using lots of Green Glue. The sound dampening abilities of this stuff is amazing. It would save you having to pull anything down, as you could just add another layer of drywall.

Check it out at

Noise from upstairs to downstairs is not air born noise. It is usually impact noise that transfers from feet etc through the floor, through the joists and finally through the drywall. It is basically a drum effect.

My two cents, Good luck.

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Eagle Crest in Surrey
Date/Time6/1/2012 at 10:29:15 PM

I have heard this one a few times. Kaayla has it right. The sound in most cases is transfer sound and if the house is older the joist timbers are dry and transfer sound easily. For fix you, or a handy person, could do yourself is to buy some 1 1/2" to 2" foam insulation boards (2' x 8' typically) and glue them onto the ceiling with spray aheisive. Try 3M super 76. Cut to fit of course you can make it wall to wall and paint it with a primer and then an acrylic paint. This will reduce the sound moderately, not look 100% like a normal ceiling but it is the most cost effective with out making a big mess!

As Kaayla had suggested a drop ceiling, this foam can work as well.

for a room 16' x 16' at Box store prices

1 1/2' foam 2'x8', you need 16 pieces at $8 - $11

Spray adheisive, you need 4 cans. $18 average

Primer for foam/plastic, you need 1 gal at $42

Deep base Acrylic paint, you need 1 gal at $35- $40 don't ever buy cheap paint, buy brand name.

Total cost should be around $310 +taxes. Could be done in 1 Sat or 2 evenings.

This beats the price point of suspended ceiling or drywall hands down.

Best of luck.

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Date/Time6/2/2012 at 8:41:00 AM

You should have told him what you wanted before he did the work. Or if you did not expecting to run into this problem, it might of be better to hire a better cotractor, that would have given you the options of upgrading the floor joist so that it would have be done better.

Alway better to spend a little more money , while the project is on the go, then running into a situation like this, where the repair will cost thousands or 10's of thousands more because the right choice wasn't made the first time around.

Now to do it properly, you need to distroy the work that has been done , along with the other things that will get damaged along the way.

This case cheaper wasn't better. Will cost more that the best contractor.

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Audio Authority in Vaughan
Date/Time6/5/2012 at 9:36:19 AM

Hello and thanks for the question. Unfortunately, there is no magic wand in this situation. The HVAC ducts cannot be sound proofed from within and any sort of remedy would require some type of mess. Adding resilient channel to the existing drywall and then another layer of 1/2" drywall would definitely help but this would require replastering and sanding and painting.

I wonder if the Roxul was installed correctly? Sound can travel in between very small fissures and thus render a very expensive reno, useless. Acoustical sealant is also a good product and wonder if any was used. I wonder what type of sound is coming through? Is it all frequencies or manly the lower base sounds? Either way, at this point not a simple fix.

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Date/Time6/13/2012 at 11:09:51 PM

I am sorry to hear that the contractor that you hired for the job did not take into consideration that you would require sound barrier between the floors. We have a similar job and it was one of our first suggestions was to make sure that the ceiling was well insulated not so much for the temperature transfer but to keep the sound from traveling from the basement suite to the main floor of the house that is currently another rental unit.

For a basement you are usually only at an 8 foot ceiling so best scenario would be to pull down the ceiling and insulate and re-sheet it with new drywall. Perhaps if it is a newer basement with the higher ceilings then there is maybe some other options out there as well.

Good luck and we hope that you are able to find a suitable fix for your situation.

Thank you,

Sherri & Dustin Depatie

Seamless Finishing Inc.

Office : 780-760-3852

Sherri : 780-297-0986

Dustin : 780-885-2231

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Gerald in Vancouver
Date/Time6/13/2012 at 11:50:53 PM

Weird I just got an email today that there were some replies to my question...

So to answer some of the questions and preconceived notions some people had. Our renovation was not cheap and we did get quotes. We went with a company that specializes in basement renos for completing basement rental suites. We made is very clear that sound transfer was a very big issue to us and the company assured us that they would address that concern. Where we messed up was not educating ourselves on what steps should be taken, but if we had intended to research every aspect of completing a reno we probably would not have hired a general contractor, we would have hired sub-trades and managed the work ourselves. I know people are trying to be helpful but the one insinuation that we went cheap is off base.

Ok now to the sound issues. The sound transfer up to us is higher pitched conversation, and we hear it more closer to our forced air vents. Our furnace was moved but the vents in the suite area are in their original location. The rental suite is new so we have nothing to compare the noise to. The sound transfer down is higher pitched conversation as well as impact from us walking on our hardwood floors. I am a realist and know that nothing would be 100% perfect, but I believe that the soundproofing could have been significantly better.

The quote only indicates that Roxul will be used so they did provide what they quoted, but they clearly did not know how to properly soundproof the basement. I had asked about the channels but I was told that they were quite expensive and overkill, so I trusted the "professionals"...

As the renovated area has lots of recessed lighting simply adding a T-bar ceiling would cause many electrical changes to be made, so really I suspect just properly re-doing the ceiling will be our choice.

Thanks everyone for your input, wish there was a simple fix but clearly there isn't.. It does suck that when we had an unfinished basement and were willing to take the proper steps to do everything as well as we could the company we hired did not provide us with options. BUT I do believe I/we should have looked into all the proper methods first so that we were more educated and could have requested more steps.

Thanks again

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Gerald in Vancouver
Date/Time6/14/2012 at 12:04:50 AM

I missed one question that was asked..

I don't believe any acoustic sealant was used.

So if and when we do rip the ceiling down this is what I plan to do, could someone maybe provide info on if I am doing too much or too little?

1) Acoustically seal all cracks

2) wraps all pipes

3) install channels

4) install safe and sound insulation (hopefully use the stuff already in there)

5) Now here is the big question... Can we use regular 5/8 drywall or should I just bite the bullet and get the acoustic drywall? If I use the more expensive drywall can I skip the channels?

Thanks again for everyone's feedback!

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Kevin from Precision Carpentry in Barrie
Date/Time8/6/2012 at 6:15:53 PM

Remove the drywall were the supply ducts for the basement heat are and remove the existing solid pipe, replace with insulated flexible ducting and try to make some slight bends in it as this makes it harder for sound to travel, but not to many as to restrict air flow. Then replace the drywall you removed and install another layer of 5/8" drywall to entire ceiling including the main supply and return air ducting (Bulkheads) with GREEN GLUE in between the two layers. Problem Solved!

FYI do not do a ceiling with resilient channel as they can fail easily, all it takes is one drywall screw to touch the wood floor joists and the whole ceiling will fail.

I hope it's not to late for this info.

Kevin Jackson

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Gerald in Vancouver
Date/Time8/6/2012 at 9:57:44 PM


Thanks for your feedback.. I have heard that the channels can be an issue if not installed 100% right. Presently we have a tenant in our suite and it appears that the sound issues while an issue are something that both sides are dealing with. Once the suite is vacant we are going to follow your advice.

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Gaby from Amg Renovation in Hearst
Date/Time9/23/2012 at 2:39:08 PM


Now your saying why? because all bad Carpenters, Electricians and more makes the good guys looks bad, that's why clients hires more and more handyman to be less expensive but get stuck again in this problem, this ends up more expensive for the client and the good guy gets blame for the amount spent by the clients (To expensive) they all say, Get the good guy in first place you will see he is not expensive at the end.

Thanks for your time.


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