Author Topic: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??  (Read 11295 times)

mossman

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Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« on: August 20, 2008, 03:20:46 PM »
I have been recently looking at A LOT of information on this site as well as others in regards to upstair neighbor noise.  It seems that this is a very common problem.  This question has been asked several times, but my situation is a bit different.  I am in a wood frame condo that was built in 2006.  The upstairs neighbors have a floating floor above my bedroom.  They have carpeting elsewhere and aren't allowed to put in hardwood (God thing !!).  I currently have a resilient hung ceiling.  I don't hear airbourne noise much at all, but I do hear impact noise (footfall noise, cabinets slamming etc.).  Everyone in the building is also required to have 80% of their floors covered and this helps, but I still hear a lot.  My newest neighbor likes to get up before 5AM on Sunday mornings.

Anyway, since I have a RTC ceiling already (although I don't think they used caulking around the perimeter) I was thinking of just adding GG and another layer of sheetrock.  This is by far the easiest thing to do, but I am concerned I would still hear flanking noise.  I do hear noise when they walk even in my adjacent rooms where they have carpeting above.  So the noise much be flanking noise I think.  My other option is to rip down the ceiling, and put drywall and GG directly against their subfloor.  Then put in sound clips and two more layers of drywall and GG.  I am sure the 2nd option would have to help both in my bedroom and adjacent rooms.  So my question is which is the best way to go?  I would hate to just add drywall and GG and then have a marginal increase.  I would be doing the work myself with only paying someone to do taping and mud (I hate that part).  If I go with Option 1, I would cut 1/4" gap around perimeter around ceiling and fill with caulking.  Someone at GG suggest I put my ear to the walls when there is impact noise in an attempt to see if it is flanking noise or not.  Does that make sense?   Any help would be greatly appreciated.  Thanks.

Mark Daveis

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #1 on: August 20, 2008, 11:06:09 PM »
The impact noise is conducting straight through the mass and maybe through your walls and radiating into your room.
Another layer of drywall and GG wont do nothing and you would be lucky to get say a 4 stc increase.
First find out where its conducting through before spending your money. Yes put an ear to the walls and roof or soundmeter against a pad. :)

mossman

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2008, 01:25:41 PM »
I put my ear to the wall.  I do hear lots of vibration from walking above.  I don't believe the new owner has her floors covered and that makes it worse. 

So if I do rip out the ceiling below and use two layers of drwall and GG right against the subfloor.  I guess that is the best I can do to stop the vibration from entering the structure.  That is without ripping out her floor above me. 

Before this building I lived in a cement building.  It was built in 1987 and they used cement shells to construct each unit.  Bascially at least 2 feet of concrete around each unit.  Then they sprayed a noise isolation layer on the celing deck before constructing any interior walls.  Everyone had hardwood floors.  I had NO IDEA my neighbors were home.  I couldn't hear a thing.  I could even blast my stereo with no issues.  I really feel that is how every building should be built.  Great for fire rating as well.

Mark Daveis

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #3 on: August 22, 2008, 09:10:27 PM »
If you could isolate and damp the points where the floor/roof beams contact your walls then that would stop most of the noise conducting into the walls.
The rest of the noise coming through the roof would be taken care of by the rtc ceiling.

That much concrete is great for soundproofing but nowadays lots of building companies concentrate on most profit while using the cheapest materials and just covering building regulations. :)

mossman

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #4 on: August 26, 2008, 05:20:37 PM »
So if I actually remove the exisiting floating celing and apply two layers of GG and drwall directly between the joists against my upstairs neighbors floor.  Then add isomax clips, to more layers of drwall with GG in between.  Does anyone think I'll approach the quiet of a concrete building???

I know, tough question.  What STC, or IIC rating would you guys guess? 

I have spoken to my neighbor and she has put more rugs in place and doesn't wear her shoes.  The noise is much better but still.  I just dread ripping down a ceiling.  I know how much dust that makes.......   :'(


johnbergstromslc

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #5 on: August 27, 2008, 01:57:30 AM »
So if I actually remove the exisiting floating celing and apply two layers of GG and drwall directly between the joists against my upstairs neighbors floor.  Then add isomax clips, to more layers of drwall with GG in between.  Does anyone think I'll approach the quiet of a concrete building???

I know, tough question.  What STC, or IIC rating would you guys guess? 

I have spoken to my neighbor and she has put more rugs in place and doesn't wear her shoes.  The noise is much better but still.  I just dread ripping down a ceiling.  I know how much dust that makes.......   :'(




Granted, I'm in construction, but I'd recommend tearing down the existing ceiling and removing the insulation to get a good look at the problem first.  It's better to get in there and do any 'remedial' soundproofing needed than to apply a bandaid, cross your fingers and hope for the best.  Besides, it's just drywall, not lath and plaster - if you take it down in big pieces it's not that dusty...   

Increasing the mass of her subfloor with drywall will definitely help, especially with the use of Green Glue. 

Hanging the ceiling with Isomax clips + hat channel will give you a 3-4 point gain in STC over RC-1, which is probably what your builder used.  I'd bet good money he only used one layer of drywall, with minimal or no sealing, so you can certainly improve on that - 2 layers of 5/8", GG, and good sealing will probably add another 4-5 points of STC.

As to IIC improvement, I have no idea.  Those tests have a lot of variability, and only a test of that specific configuration would give you an accurate number.  They don't take into account flanking noise, like ceiling-to-wall transfer, either.   

You can upgrade your ceiling and it will surely help, but you should be ready to spend the money to do the walls, too - an extra layer of drywall + GG will kill a lot of the flanking noise.

Something you might also consider is to offer to buy your neighbor a really good, high density carpet pad and have the cheapo one she has now replaced, at least in the offending rooms.  Not sure what it would cost, but you're right, it's always better (and might be cheaper) to stop the impact noise before it gets into the frame of the building. 

Concrete definitely rules and I personally think that all multifamily dwellings should be required to have 6" of concrete between units, as well as independent wood framed walls and ceilings.  Raise the minimum legal STC to 70 and call it the 'Renter's Sanity Preservation Act'... 

Also, have you considered a white-noise machine?  If you raise the ambient noise level in your bedroom, the 5 a.m. neighbor noise won't seem as intrusive - you may not hear it at all.  I live in a detached house with excellent soundproofing in my bedroom, but I still use one every night, just to drown out all the transient stray noise.           

mossman

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #6 on: August 27, 2008, 05:47:40 PM »
Thanks for all the info.  The reason I am trying to decide on which way to go is because I really don't hear any airborne noise.  It's almost all footsteps, cabinet doors and the big sliding door going to her balcony which happens to be directly over my bed.  So if I do all this, I fear it will improve it, but not really stop it.  The noise isn't exteremly bad and has gotten better since I spoke with her.  The problem is this is supposed to be a luxury condo.  You wouldn't want to know what I paid for it....

After renting in a concrete building, before deciding to buy this wooden structure condo, I really had a false sense of noise isolation.  I knew it would be worse.  I wonder if it's possible to ever get close to concrete levels of isolation in a wooden structure even with the proper methods of construction.  It sure seems concrete works if money isn't an object.

 

Mark Daveis

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #7 on: August 28, 2008, 09:51:26 PM »
If you attach GG and drwall directly between the joists it would make most likely no difference as its not for impact noise.
What I meant was add another layer to your roof if not enough mass there already.
Also I meant looking at where the joists join your walls and there you would have to change the connection to the wall using say neoprene rubber pads so the joists dont transfer noise into your walls.
This could be a tricky job depending how its done in the US but if you can absorb all the vibration using the neoprene then wont hardly hear any impact sound. :)

mossman

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2008, 01:03:31 AM »
I thought adding drywall and GG directly to her subfloor would allow me to dissipate some of the sound before it travels into the structure.  You are saying no?  Separating the walls from the bottom of the joists sounds impossible now that the condo is fully finished.  I can't rip down the walls and start again.  I would think my walls are direclty nailed to my ceiling joists. 

Also, I don't think the RTC is installed correctly in my condo.  It was my understanding that you should be able to flex the ceiling a little bit after everything is done.  I can't budge my ceiling.  Feels like a normal ceiling to me.  Does that mean they screwed it up??

johnbergstromslc

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2008, 10:00:21 PM »
I thought adding drywall and GG directly to her subfloor would allow me to dissipate some of the sound before it travels into the structure.  You are saying no?  Separating the walls from the bottom of the joists sounds impossible now that the condo is fully finished.  I can't rip down the walls and start again.  I would think my walls are direclty nailed to my ceiling joists. 

Also, I don't think the RTC is installed correctly in my condo.  It was my understanding that you should be able to flex the ceiling a little bit after everything is done.  I can't budge my ceiling.  Feels like a normal ceiling to me.  Does that mean they screwed it up??

If you add drywall to her subfloor, you're effectively increasing the mass and adding damping to the floor.  It would be better to add mass on the other side, but your plan will help some.   If you're gonna tear off the existing ceiling (and it sounds like you're leaning in that direction) it isn't that much more work. 

Forget about the 'neoprene rubber pad' idea proposed to you.  Your walls are likely load-bearing and you dare not take them down.  An additional layer of drywall + GG on the walls will help kill some of the vibration and flanking noise. 

You're right, a ceiling properly hung with resilient channels should feel a little 'spongy'.  Chances are they took shortcuts on the installation of the ceiling.  If so, and your drywall is directly attached, then upgrading to a resiliently hung ceiling will make a huge difference.  It seems to be counterindicated, because you said you don't really hear any airborne noise - this could just mean that she doesn't make enough of a racket to be audible over the ambient noise in your unit.

It definitely sounds to me like you need to do some demolition to see what's what.....       

Mark Daveis

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #10 on: August 30, 2008, 01:03:38 AM »
Adding the drywall to the sub floor will help a bit but remember when the impact noise hits the joist then it travels along it and into anything which it is in contact like the walls.
Yes damping the joists from the wall would be difficult using neoprene or springs but you need to really reduce the conduction into the wall if a lot of sound is passing into your walls as it will just radiate into your room bypassing the other soundproofing measures. But really depends on how much is getting into your walls. I mean do the walls vibrate if you place a hand on it when there is impact sound and how much.
I dont think you would take down the wall but only the smaller area around the joists where they connect the wall but yes this type of thing is put in when the walls are first built. :)

mossman

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #11 on: September 02, 2008, 02:41:28 PM »
Thanks for all the info.  It seems like most problems listed on here are impact noise and I can understand why.  It is also very hard to descibe noise levels since they are very subjective.

It's really hard to say what I hear and don't.  If she yells, screams, or laughs loudly I can surely hear it.  Other than that, I hear nothing as far as voices go.  Unless there are several people talking, then I can hear conversation but can't make out the words.  This is actually important because if the ceiling were hung correctly, I probably wouldn't remove it.  I did check the edges and I do believe that they simply pushed the ceiling right against the wall.  They didn't leave a gap and fill with sealant like they should.  I poked a pin in the corner and I only felt sheetrock.  I am sure it would have felt soft if there was sealant used.  Also, in my living room, which should also be RTC, I have crown molding.  Thats seems very very wrong.  That leads me to believe the RTC was put in just to satisfy code.  The most noise is from vibration from walking.  I also hear a distant rumble when her garbage disposal is on.  That is the type of noise I hear.  The walls don't physically vibrate or anything.  Not nearly that bad.  Actually, that's the problem.  the noise is not incredibly loud where I have to do something for sure.  This also makes me believe that I can rip out the ceiling, put it back correctly and still see hardly any benefit since the noise sounds like it is in the structure.

I think I will start by ripping out my master bathroom (right under her kitchen) and see what I can see.  Then I can try the clips, and GG and see how much of a difference it makes in that room.  Of course since it is mostly impact noise, I might not see a big difference.  At least it will be a start before I make a really big mess and do the bedroom.  Thanks for all your help. 

I wish someone could magically send me a sound clip of exactly how my condo will sound after the work... ;D  I know, impossible. 


Mark Daveis

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #12 on: September 03, 2008, 07:42:07 PM »
Before starting any major work I would do a quick and easy test to see if it is mostly impact or airbourne noise if possible.
Get a thick board like plywood and put this on a thick piece of sponge cushion or similar on the floor above then have someone walk on it at normal pace. Listening to the amount of noise downstairs will tell you straight away what type is getting through so you can take the proper soundproofing measures. :)

johnbergstromslc

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #13 on: September 04, 2008, 01:32:29 AM »

I think I will start by ripping out my master bathroom (right under her kitchen) and see what I can see.  Then I can try the clips, and GG and see how much of a difference it makes in that room.  Of course since it is mostly impact noise, I might not see a big difference.  At least it will be a start before I make a really big mess and do the bedroom.  Thanks for all your help. 

I wish someone could magically send me a sound clip of exactly how my condo will sound after the work... ;D  I know, impossible. 



Don't forget the insulation - you'll suffer a 5-6 point loss in STC if you don't have it.  Be sure to fill the whole cavity, loosely, and use R-30 (10" joist) or R-38 (12" joist).  Doesn't really matter if it's faced or unfaced.

Well, I can tell you how your unit will sound after the proper soundproofing - much quieter.

joel

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Re: Upstairs neighbors, not a new issue, Which way to go??
« Reply #14 on: October 23, 2008, 05:47:47 PM »
Wow.  What a lot of discussion.  Let's go back to the original post.  Your ceiling - did the installers tape and hard-mud the corners where the ceiling dry wall meets the walls?  If so, then your nice "soundpfoof" ceiling was turned into a tight drum top.  This is a common occurance and can be solved.  Take a sawsall and open the seam of the ceiling where it meets the wall to create a 1/8" to 1/4" gap (if you run into metal from the decoupling channel then the whole thing is "grounded out" and you might as well rip it out and start over).  Then fill in the gap with acuostic caulk the full depth of the dry wall.  This will decouple the ceiling from the walls.
As far as Green Glue damping compound goes - it is most effective for ceilings when used in multiple layers with multiple layers of dry wall.  AND it is important to use it on the walls (with added layer(s) of dry wall there) to damp the flanking sound you describe.