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We have a ranch (single-story) house with hardwood floors on most of the ground level. The basement below this level is finished, and is where I work out of at home. We have kids that like to run everywhere, so there is considerable noise transmitted from these floors down to the basement.

What are the best ways to accomplish noise reduction? The basement is completely open (or at least accessible in all places) to the subfloor above, no tight quarters, etc. In the finished area of the basement, the ceiling is typical drop-in tiles. These can be easily removed for work. No part of the floor above is inaccessible. Likewise, the floor itself could be replaced if there was a higher standard to be built against (see comment w/r/t luxury apartments).

Budget is not a primary concern here, finding an effective solution is most important.

As I see it, there are basically three kinds of noise happening:

  1. "Contact" noise, i.e. the sound of feet, shoes, dropped toys, etc. hitting the floor itself.
  2. Squeaking/creaking etc. from loose boards, or subfloor.
  3. A booming sound or vibration which I assume is either occurring between the (mostly insulated) joists below, or possibly between the hardwood and subfloor.

Sound #3 above is the most annoying. What's the best way(s) to resolve this?

  • Some sort of insulation between the floor joists? (e.g. this type of acoustic insulation, or just regular blown-in insulation)
  • Cork, mass-loaded vinyl sheets or other product between the hardwood floors (yes, I realize the current floor would have to replaced) and the subfloor.
  • A floating subfloor or other more sophisticated construction?
  • Combo of above?
  • Something else?
  • You say your basement is finished, what is the ceiling made of drywall, or ceiling tiles? – J Crosby Jul 2 at 17:08
  • White noise or music. It'll be very difficult to achieve meaningful attenuation of sound on that scale. – isherwood Jul 2 at 17:25
  • @JCrosby Half of the basement is finished, the ceiling with typical drop-in tiles. The rest (workshop, gym, mechanical area) has no ceiling material. – Dan1701 Jul 2 at 17:29
  • So you have access to that area then? While @isherwood is correct that getting meaningful sound reduction will be very difficult and potentially expensive. It may be possible to do so with some insulation around the offending areas. Which may serve to deaden the sound. – J Crosby Jul 2 at 17:31
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    Yep, and it was put there during construction, usually in the form of precast masonry floors with gypsum poured over. There's not a lot you can do afterward that will cover all the types of noise you list. – isherwood Jul 2 at 17:34
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Hardwood, especially nailed to subfloor (especially a thinner subfloor) is probably the noisiest type of flooring you can have for sound reverberations to a basement.

Also you have a construction in your basement that is causing two echo zones, the drop ceiling and the unfinished parts.

Going from easiest/least expensive to hardest/most expensive you can...

  1. Staple bats in between joists - even in unfinished.
  2. After stapling in bats buy some longer batted sound rated insulation to sit on top of ceiling tiles. Never blown in on ceiling tiles. Just absolute mess.
  3. Make sure unfinished has carpeting/rugs in most places.
  4. Finish your ceiling (drywall).
  5. Put carpet pad and carpet over existing hardwood.
  6. Put down an extra 1/2" of subfloor, concrete board, and tile everything. Note that this isn't as costly as it seems until you factor in having to redo all trim and doors in the first floor.
  7. Put down an extra 1/2" of subfloor and put in floating hardwood with a good pad.

The tile plus insulation/drywall the ceiling is going to be the most quiet by far. My basement is pretty quiet except for the jumping or loud drops with floating hardwood plust insulated/finished ceiling. If I went with a softer hardwood like cork it might be quieter but with hardwood you are not dispersing the "jumping sound" as good as tile.

  • Thanks for this, your list roughly matches what I would have expected to be possible. I guess an extra cost of doing thicker subfloor, padding layers and so on is the likelihood of having to remove all the baseboards, redo door jambs and such. – Dan1701 Jul 3 at 4:02
  • As for insulation, can you recommend any particular attributes? Most of what's for sale is just regular, pink, thermal insulation, but I'm assuming that's not sufficient for this use case. I linked a speciality acoustic insulation above, but it's not readily available at Home Depot, etc. Are there more "normal" consumer-grade products available? – Dan1701 Jul 3 at 4:04

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