How to Soundproof a Ceiling with Hat Channels
To soundproof a ceiling, you will need to do more than just set up some drywall and paint over it. The drywall is not a very good soundproofing agent in and of itself. To really deaden the sound, use a "hat channel." These metal channels redirect the sound into sound-dampening material.
If you're looking to soundproof part of your home, be it a home recording studio, home movie theater, bedroom, workshop, or anything else, follow the simple steps here and in Part 2 of this series to install hat channels in your ceiling.
Step 1 - Prepare the Ceiling
If this wall is part of a new construction project, you can skip this step. Otherwise, you need to remove the drywall or other material from which the ceiling is made. Do that and, when you are down to bare joists, disconnect any lights.
Step 2 - Attach Soundproof Clips to the Joists
The reason the hat channels work well is because they are not fixed to any of the joists. This means they don't easily transfer sound waves to adjacent material. Use some soundproofing clips to hold the hat channel away from the joists and drywall. Attach them with small screws at a spacing of at least 10 inches.
Step 3 - Measure and Cut
Measure your joists to determine the amount of hat channel you will need. Then, cut the pieces with a hack saw or jigsaw.
Step 4 - Start Installing Hat Channels
The hat channels are going to be set into the joists with the smaller flange pointed toward the roof. The larger flange will be pointing down, toward the floor. Attach the hat channels with the sound-dampening clips so there is no transference of vibrations through screws or other metal fasteners. Start in the far corner of your room and install one entire row.
Step 5 - Repeat Installation
Once that first row is attached to the sound-dampening clips, repeat the process throughout the room. When you come to a light fixture, cut out the shape of it with a jigsaw. Then, lift the hat channel into place over the fixture.
Step 6 - Attach Soundproof Material
To give your ceiling a little more protection, you can add some soundproof foam. It can either be attached directly to the hat channel with some adhesive or placed in the space between the channel and the joist. This material can come as a spray, in foam strips, or as a thin film that you can apply over the entire ceiling as you would a vapor barrier.
That's it for part 1; your hat channels are installed. To cover them with drywall and finish the job, continue on to Part 2.