Can I install insulation on the ceiling of an old unfinished basement? I have a bungalow home with hardwood floors.

  • 1
    Yes. That it the normal thing to do. – DMoore Feb 9 '15 at 16:22
  • 2
    Is the basement conditioned (heated/cooled)? If so then adding insulation to the ceiling doesn't accomplish anything – Steven Feb 9 '15 at 16:24
  • I did on a place when I lived Maine, made a big difference upstairs in the living areas. – Wayne In Yak Jun 23 '15 at 13:56

Actually adding insulation is both beneficial for sound reduction and heat retention. When you insulate your floors you prevent heat loss from your basement, especially if you live in Northern States where it gets cold like me. This also helps keep rooms at even temperatures which makes your HVAC system operate more efficiently. Also, if you're outside walls in your basement are not insulated then I wouldn't install it in the floor. As it would be more beneficial to get those outside walls done first then insulate the floor. You'd be well on your way to a finished basement as well. Python is right about doing it completely or not at all. Hope this helps!


Yes. If you're using bats with a vapor barrier put the vapor barrier side against the wood floor.

Even if the basement is conditioned another benefit of insulation is to reduce noise transmission from any appliances (like air handlers) that may be running down there.

  • If you want to reduce noise transmission, then there are special products for that which work a lot better than just fiberglass insulation. – Steven Feb 9 '15 at 20:49
  • @Steven: Last I looked I couldn't find any that can compare with 10-12" of fiberglass when cost is a factor, and when the subfloor isn't being replaced. But I would be interested in hearing of anything new on the market. – feetwet Feb 9 '15 at 21:00
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    Roxul Safe'n'sound is one product I know of. – Steven Feb 9 '15 at 21:33
  • That stuff is like three times the cost and has mixed reviews. I have pondered it, but decided against it personally. – Evil Elf Apr 24 '15 at 13:01

When I started working chief engineer on one site told me something that describes this situation the best: "When you are cold do you eat your coat or do you wear it?” To put it differently every type of insulation, thermal included should be placed on the outer side of the building. From how you described I realized that you are planning to do it from the inside. Or did I have it wrong? Anyway, you can isolate basement, best to use Styrofoam or something like that, but it is highly recommended that you do it from the outside, which in a case of basement, sadly can be a problem, since most of it is under ground.

EDIT: Plus I forgot to mention that partial installing insolation partially (just ceiling or one wall etc.) doesn’t make much sense, and could cause even more problems. If you want to do it you should do it completely.

  • The analogy makes sense if one is concerned about a cold basement, but often a cold basement is acceptable (if not preferred). – DA01 Jun 23 '15 at 14:22
  • @DA01 yes but in this case insulation should be placed like there is no basement, meaning it should be under basement celling and around the walls continuously. Also insulation keeps cold things cold and warm things-warm. And since heat is going up I think this is applicable for this situation too. – python starter Jun 24 '15 at 8:03

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