Q: My problem is an in-law apartment downstairs. We can hear everything in the unit — talking, cabinets closing, the shower. We re-carpeted our unit, but the noise from downstairs actually got worse. I blame it on the new carpet, which didn’t have the dense backing our 1970 carpet had.

The rooms below us have open-beam ceilings. Since the beams are 9 inches deep, my thought was to put soundboard between the beams and then staple carpet over the soundboard.

Do you think this is the way to go?

A: Kudos to you for thinking outside the box. It’s tough to eliminate all sound between adjacent spaces but relatively easy to substantially reduce it.

Your situation is common in many older homes. We have seen many an in-law unit carved out of an existing home.

One of the first projects we did together was to finish a family room addition that a seller failed to complete in a duplex Bill purchased in Alameda, Calif. The exterior had been finished, but the interior was just studs and joists. Bill decided to convert the unfinished family room into a studio apartment. So the duplex became a triplex.

Bill added insulation to the common walls but did nothing more to dampen the sound between the two units. He was fortunate to have quiet, considerate tenants for the most part.

As to your noise from below, we think you’re on the right track. But we think adding a couple of extra steps to the project, at little cost, will pay great dividends.

We wouldn’t attach the soundboard directly to the subfloor above. From what you have described, the ceiling in the in-law unit is the subfloor of the living space above. The open beams double as floor joists.

To dampen the sound, we suggest you nail ledger boards to the sides of the beams about 5 inches from the subfloor and nail or glue the soundboard it. When you do this, you are creating a cavity of 4 inches to 6 inches between the soundboard and the bottom of the subfloor above.

Before attaching the soundboard, install non-faced insulation batts in the cavity. R-13 should do for a 4-inch-deep cavity. The result should be a significant reduction in sound transmission from the in-law unit.

If you still want to attach the carpet to the soundboard, go with a fairly thick cut-pile carpet. The idea is to disrupt the sound waves, and cut pile will accomplish this better than a smoother carpet.

You can do all this yourself, and we’d encourage you to go for it. Material cost is not much and after good day of your labor, things should quiet down quite a bit.

***

What’s your opinion? Send your Letter to the Editor to opinion@inman.com.

Show Comments Hide Comments

Comments

Sign up for Inman’s Morning Headlines
What you need to know to start your day with all the latest industry developments
Success!
Thank you for subscribing to Morning Headlines.
Back to top
Inman Connect Las Vegas is back and there are only a few presale tickets left! Register today before they're gone.REGISTER×
Log in
If you created your account with Google or Facebook
Don't have an account?
Forgot your password?
No Problem

Simply enter the email address you used to create your account and click "Reset Password". You will receive additional instructions via email.

Forgot your username? If so please contact customer support at (510) 658-9252

Password Reset Confirmation

Password Reset Instructions have been sent to

Subscribe to The Weekender
Get the week's leading headlines delivered straight to your inbox.
Top headlines from around the real estate industry. Breaking news as it happens.
15 stories covering tech, special reports, video and opinion.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
Unique features from hacker profiles to portal watch and video interviews.
It looks like you’re already a Select Member!
To subscribe to exclusive newsletters, visit your email preferences in the account settings.
Up-to-the-minute news and interviews in your inbox, ticket discounts for Inman events and more
1-Step CheckoutPay with a credit card
By continuing, you agree to Inman’s Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

You will be charged . Your subscription will automatically renew for on . For more details on our payment terms and how to cancel, click here.

Interested in a group subscription?
Finish setting up your subscription