Soundproofing a Ceiling With RSIC-1 Clips
I was reading your blog on your acousticalsurfaces.com website tonight with great interest. I own a new construction steel-framed loft condo in Los Angeles, CA and I am experiencing a great deal of footfall noise from my neighbor above me. All the units have hardwood floors and when my neighbor walks on his floor it sounds like a bass drum every time his feet hit the floor.
I need something that will block this noise as much as possible, the solution has to be close to 95-100% effective otherwise it’s really not worth the cost or hassle for me to do it.
The main concern I have is how to find a contractor that is knowledgeable about your products that could do the work in the Los Angeles area. The ceiling itself contains a few light fixtures, some suspended ducting for heat/AC, fire sprinklers, etc. I assume these would come into play even if only dropping the ceiling an inch or two.
Any insight/advice would be greatly appreciated.
You are exploring the exact right product – the RSIC-1 clip system. This would be my first suggestion to you for treating such a problem from the bottom up (rather than starting with the floor upstairs). It is, by far, the most efficient and effective way to stop impact sound transmission, but I will tell you that treating the problem once it is into the structure is a slippery uphill slope, and I will try to explain why.
As I’m sure you already know the design of the RSIC-1 clip system is to decouple the finish ceiling from the joists and eliminate the hard surface-to-hard-surface path of sound transmission. As a foot hits the floor, the energy from the impact travels to the sub floor then to the joists and then to your sheet rock and comes out as an airborne sound. If this path is broken up and the sound has to pass across an air space, it looses energy as it makes the conversion, kind of like a bolt of electricity arcing across an air space.
There is only one sentence that makes me nervous. “I need something that will block this noise as much as possible, the solution has to be close to 95-100% effective otherwise it’s really not worth the cost or hassle for me to do it.” Believe me, I know exactly what you are talking about, but unfortunately it is impossible for me to tell you weather or not this is going to be applicable after you go through the trouble and expense of completely re-doing your ceiling and all the services in the joist cavities. The reason why I am nervous is because of two main reasons, the first being that depending on the severity of the problem as it exists now, if the joists are actually bowing and moving considerably, even a decoupled ceiling will still allow sound to pass through it. Additionally, keep in mind that the studs and sheet rock that make up your walls are attached to the same joist structure as the ceiling and if they are moving too, you will also hear noise coming from them. You might not hear it now because the ceiling is transmitting enough noise to drown them out, but you might after the ceiling is “fixed”.
I’m wracking my brain to come up with an analogy that is constant with the clips being used on the ceiling and how a severe problem may be helped by the product, but not completely removed. The only thing that comes to mind is the suspension in your car. If you’re traveling down the street at 20 mph, and you hit a small bump – let’s say the size of a golf-ball, your suspension will most likely absorb the bump. You might feel it in the floor and maybe in the seat, but for all practical purposes, the suspension did its job. Now, if you hit a speed bump at 20mph, you’ll know it and you might even catch some air. The suspension will most likely have bottomed out and your car will most likely receive a major jolt from the energy of the much more significant bump.
I may not be making any sense at all, and I’m certainly not trying to scare you into not using our product because it WILL help, I am just extremely cautious about telling people that it will help by a certain percentage because of the number of variables in a situation and the severity of the existing problem.
Sound proofing technology is very helpful. No one can really concentrate on anything on a noisy environment.
I live in West Hollywood, California, and I have the overhead neighbor footstep problem in my condo that was previously mentioned. I am interested in your products, but I am also interested in having it professionally installed, and I was wondering if you could give me more information on possible solutions and their cost. Do you have representatives in the Southern California area who could set up a consulation with me? Thanks, Robert
Robert, thanks for the comment.
Unfortunately I do not have any representation in California, but I would be happy to do what I can from here to determine if there is a solution for you and if so, what the best solution may be.
With footfall types of sound problems there are a few things that come into play. The BEST way to try to eliminate the problem is to get some kind of underlayment down onto the floor above. The best product for this is, by far, the Acoustik Underlayment. This is a construction grade product that goes onto the subfloor and because of the fact that the floor would have to be torn out and re-constructed, it is not a likely option for an occupied situation. The advantage here is that it takes the energy out before most of it gets into the structure.
You can float a new ceiling in your unit with a product called the RSIC-1 Clip System. They are a resilient channel isolation clip. I have had a number of customers get some good reduction numbers from this approach, but it does have limitations. Because the joists are screwed into the studs that are holding up your walls, there is a strong possibility that some energy will be passed to the walls as well. Additionally if the structure itself is insufficient and is shaking, whatever is hanging from the joists will also be shaking.
Please let me know what you think of these options for your situations and any additional questions.