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The Basement Ceiling: Decision Time

 
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WanMan



Joined: 19 Mar 2006
Posts: 10261



PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:53 pm    Post subject: The Basement Ceiling: Decision Time Reply with quote


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I was planning on drywalling the ceilings in the basement until a couple of years ago I went to a local HT meet and got to see an alternative. The person didn't drywall the ceiling in most of the basement, and instead took the finished walls up to about 8' and everything above that was painted flat black.

Now, when you add in the red-brown warm tones of the brick and paint, use tiny spot lighting and sconces instead of canned lights the overall result was surprising. In fact, so surprising that it caused me to re-think the drywall ceiling idea.

Right now my daylight (walkout) basement ceiling has el'cheapo fiberglass insulation in it. I do plan on installing Miraflex insulation in the ceiling joist cavities of the home theater room and then drywall, but for the rest of the basement I'm thinking of drywalling the soffets and then leaving the non-soffet portions exposed, but painted flat black.

Anyone care to offer thoughts on this?

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greg_mitch



Joined: 03 May 2006
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 12:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

IMO, not drywalling the ceiling makes it look unfinished and cheesy. You will know you are in the "basement". If you want the basement to feel like any other part of the house, you should drywall it.

Just my 2 cents.
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Nashou66



Joined: 12 Jan 2007
Posts: 16170
Location: West Seneca NY


PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you use high end dropped ceiling materials like the drop ceiling coffers that also gives a nice finished look. Not the crap at home depot. You need to go to a professional distributor. For the theater a used a high noise refracting/absorbing and low noise transmission tile in Black. Great product, and the chanels i have hung by Isolation mounts, they are springs with a rubber center that isolates any vibration to the mounting surface. I will have to look at what the product is, it wasnt cheap but it looks great. In the rest of the basement you could drywall since sound transmission there isn't as much of a concern. make sure in areas you may need to access later you add those access panels into the drywall that pop into place, they come in different sizes. Put them where any junction box and at drain locations and water pipe runs about every 8 feet or so incase you need to add another water service to part of the basement or another location upstairs.
My sister dry walled her entire basement and later had to tear into it about 5 times for drain repairs and some add on electrical work. and the repathces are never nice and smooth.

Athanasios

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Nashou66



Joined: 12 Jan 2007
Posts: 16170
Location: West Seneca NY


PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 1:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

If you use high end dropped ceiling materials like the drop ceiling coffers that also gives a nice finished look. Not the crap at home depot. You need to go to a professional distributor. For the theater a used a high noise refracting/absorbing and low noise transmission tile in Black. Great product, and the chanels i have hung by Isolation mounts, they are springs with a rubber center that isolates any vibration to the mounting surface. I will have to look at what the product is, it wasnt cheap but it looks great. In the rest of the basement you could drywall since sound transmission there isn't as much of a concern. make sure in areas you may need to access later you add those access panels into the drywall that pop into place, they come in different sizes. Put them where any junction box and at drain locations and water pipe runs about every 8 feet or so incase you need to add another water service to part of the basement or another location upstairs.
My sister dry walled her entire basement and later had to tear into it about 5 times for drain repairs and some add on electrical work. and the repathces are never nice and smooth.

Athanasios

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WanMan



Joined: 19 Mar 2006
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 3:25 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Actually, I was planning on using drywall in the theater to avoid the rattling of the tiles.
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Nashou66



Joined: 12 Jan 2007
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Location: West Seneca NY


PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 3:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

These tiles are heavy and dont rattle at all, also the Isolation Hangers help with that as well. If its installed properly there should be no problem.

Athanasios

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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 4:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Warning: Long post ahead!

There are plenty of ceiling systems that won't rattle - that problem can be solved. Unfortunately, the isolation hangers alone won't help much with bass transmission - you need mass, too. Few drop ceiling systems have the mass to effectively mitigate low-frequency transfer to adjoining spaces. That's why most HT designs (those with good isolation, anyway) feature double 5/8" (or a layer of 5/8" and a layer of 1/2") on RSIC clips and resilient channel. The same 2x2 section of ceiling one ceiling tile might occupy with double drywall has mass of 15-18 pounds, and can be acoustically sealed to boot. How's that compare to any drop ceiling? It doesn't. Not to mention gyp is typically much cheaper than any good ceiling system - even when you factor in finishing.

Unless you're willing to sacrifice acoustic isolation performance or unless you have a specific need to keep the ceiling cavity accessible, gyp and RSIC/channel is by far the best bang for the buck... in the HT.

Wan, I love the idea of painted unfinished ceiling, too - the "loft" look if you will. With the right furniture and interior design, it could be very cool. Several of my friends are architects, so I tend to look at finishes and materials a little differently than do most, which is why the idea appealed to me. Drywall is boring, uninspiring, and has been done a million times. I even considered doing it in my basement. I decided against it for the following reasons:

1) Resale. Few people are going to find the appeal like we do. Probably less than 10%, I'd say. So, unless you're planning on staying there for a long time, or unless you don't mind having to finish it to sell it, or unless you don't mind waiting a long time to sell, waiting for the 1 in 20 that are like us and think it's cool, it's probably not a good idea.

2) This goes with #1. If you look at commercial spaces, you'll see all the mechanicals are designed for an open plenum. The HVAC, electrical, plumbing - the materials and install have all been done to aesthetic standards. HVAC uses the nice round rolled pipe with special diffusers. The electrical all has nice, perfectly bent radii that match or nest together. It's often all installed only after the plenum has been painted black or chocolate or whatever, so there's a nice material contrast. Conversely, the HVAC supplies and returns in residential construction and that which you already probably have are big square boxes with sheet metal screws, ugly elbows, or maybe you even flex tube that will have to be replaced. The electrical is probably exposed ROMEX in some places, and if you have tile or hardwood upstairs, you probably have screws or nails sticking out the bottom of the subfloor. The bottom line is that it'll be really tough to execute and have look as good as the vision you have in your mind.

Instead of deal with all that, I decided on an alternate solution for my basement room - something you could consider. I have a ranch with a flat roof, so the only access I have to anything mechanical or electrical on the main floor is through the ceiling in the basement. I don't want to cut off every possible point of access, so I've decided on some "clouds" as architects call them. I'll do some drywall finish around the ceiling perimeter, then hang some maple laminate (to match the trim in the house) panels - "clouds" with recessed lighting in them to cover the giant holes I'll leave in ceiling. Gives me the best of both worlds... some architectural interest, high-end finish, and I can still get into the ceiling cavity without any messy demolition/reconstruction.

I can post a rendering or two if you're interested.

SC
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paw



Joined: 08 Mar 2006
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 5:22 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sound transmission, especially bass, will/could be an issue. If you're single with no kids, it don't matter. If you have a SO or kids that go to bed earlier that you AND you like to crank the volume, it will be an issue.
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Nashou66



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PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 6:26 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I had the luxury of 10.5 foot ceilings, so the drop system was easy decision. I also Insulated the floor joists, then i added a layer of 1.5 inch foam insulation panels with resiliency channels ,then I have another sub ceiling not coupled to the floor joists. this has 1/2 inch foam board on top filled with more insulation foam board on bottom and then the dropped ceiling accoustical black tiles hung from isolation mounts. So its not to bad, and even double dry wall cant stop deep base, After cliffs Meet and feeling his side walk vibrate outside all the sound stuff is moot.

Athanasios

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JustGreg



Joined: 07 Mar 2006
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Location: Kenosha, WI


PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:01 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

I'm still chipping away at finishing my basement. The walls are straightforward except for insulation in the cavities on the HT walls. The ceiling has been causing me the most grief due to the age of the home and all the ^%$&#!@& crap mounted on the surface of the joists...the usual arteries required to make a house work. I've got ducting that had to be re-routed through joists (not manufactured but not in a load bearing location), metal junction boxes to move inside the joists, etc. I'm going with a flame retardent semi accoustically transparent black muslin and unbacked insulation for the HT ceiling. Again, my budget (actually, the lack thereof) dictates how I accomplish my goals.

The in-HT part is coming along nicely. Outside the HT however is a different kettle of fish. The problems are compounded out there by the addition of 2" PVC with the 220V run to a stove outlet (I use natural gas and am tempted to yank it out but I won't), transformers sticking out of junction boxes (at least 2 per box) that are used for the solar panels I'm assuming...although I've never fired that system up since moving in 9 years ago. And in one corner the PVC plumbing for the kitchen sink and dishwasher.

My 'plan' for the outside the HT area ceiling is to buy 14'x2"x3/4" oak, and 3/4"x3/4"x14' (length not critical as it will be hidden) and glue/nailered to create T's that will be hung inverted to create pretty much the same design as aluminum suspended ceiling runners. I've already built a bending jig for the hangers and have a roll of 100' of nail wire. I don't look forward to the tedium of cranking out a hundred or so hangers.For panels I'm going to use 1/4" drywall cut to 2'x3'.

I prefer to work with wood although it's probably going to take longer than a standard suspended ceiling. My savings should be huge in comparison tho. At least the mechanicals of the house will still be accessible this way and I won't have to beg the wife for money for a more expensive solution.
That and I need that money for better audio later on. I'm tired of my center channel dialogue sounding like Brando in the Godfather. Laughing

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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Well, you're right that if you have an massive amount of low-frequency energy contained in a space, some of it is going to get out. But, "all the sound stuff" is never moot - if you care about isolation, that is.

How's Cliff's room constructed? It's not room-within-a-room is it? Are the subs decoupled from the floor? Are the walls decoupled from the foundation or floor joists? If the subs are sitting on the floor and the walls aren't decoupled, then that would explain why you can feel the bass in the sidewalk. It's a short path from room to walls to concrete foundation to porch/sidewalk. Besides, you're talking about Cliff's "blow your F'ing mind demo mode" - which is WAY WAY above normal listening levels.

I can tell you that Art's room is incredible. His room is in a dormer over the kitchen and main living area. You can be in the kitchen directly under the theater and hear only a low rumble... while if you were in the theater, you'd be wondering how the house doesn't collapse. Of course, the different between Art's room and Cliff's room is probably $100k or so. Good, well-done isolation takes time and planning and costs good money to do it right - like how Art's room performs.

I'm having a hard time picturing your ceiling construction... You mean you dropped your HT ceiling framing below and completely decoupled from the floor framing above? That's true isolation - essentially room-within-a-room construction. That kind of decoupling will very effectively stop low-frequency energy if you couple it with mass. Of course, if you don't seal the envelope well, then the isolation does become moot. I'm not sure what you're talking about with the foam board or panels - that material would provide only thermal insulation, but would have no acoustic benefits at all - isolation or otherwise.

My room is "poor-man's" isolation. Double drywall w/Green Glue, on standard wall/ceiling/floor construction. The framing was all faced with Integrity Gasket before the drywall was installed, and the joist cavities have R-19 and walls R-13. I think it turned out very, very good for the money. I used about $300 or so dollars' worth of drywall instead of half that. I spend another $175 on Green Glue and $100 on Integrity Gasket. I decided not to go with RSIC and channel because I didn't want to spend the time or money, and I couldn't really afford the loss of space (I'm using every inch of my room - it's tight as-is. I only have a 93" floor to ceiling height.) In essence, I spent somewhere around $1200 to finish the walls with modest isolation as opposed to probably around $500 if I had done only insulation and standard drywall finish.

How did it turn out? I think it's awesome for what I spent. You can hear no high- or mid-frequency whatsoever directly above the HT - regardless of sound levels in the room. Only low-frequency escapes, and even then it's tamed to mostly a low-rumble - like thunder getting closer. I don't even have the rack door on or the entry door sealed yet, but I'm very happy with the results. I don't have to ride the volume any more when I'm watching a movie at night or worry about waking up the wife or kids - as long as I don't get carried away. The only thing that didn't turn out too well is that because of the lack of true decoupling, the living room hardwood floor above the theater transfers impact noise pretty well into the ceiling in the HT. Kids toys like cars and such are particularly obnoxious. RSIC and channel would have mostly eliminated that. Something to shoot for in my next theater...

SC
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JustGreg



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PostLink    Posted: Wed Aug 13, 2008 9:59 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Can an existing room be decoupled without tearing it down to the studs and starting from scratch? Up is the only direction I'm having a problem with as mine is a basement HT. (I'm not really comfortable using that lofty, inherently expectant descriptor yet but for lack of a better word...) Rolling Eyes

I currently have A LOT of LF rumble upstairs despite stuffing glass insulation in between the joists and having a fabric ceiling. I was thinking trap when I had the brain fart that led to the current ceiling. I think all I did was prove how little I know about accoustics, but it's not AS bad as it was...definately far from ideal however.

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ecrabb
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PostLink    Posted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 4:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

JustGreg wrote:
Can an existing room be decoupled without tearing it down to the studs and starting from scratch? Up is the only direction I'm having a problem with as mine is a basement HT.

Yes. Partially. You drop a whole new ceiling framing system below the existing joists and hang drywall on that, but then you also need framing for the side walls also decoupled from the upstairs framing to support the new ceiling. That's true room-within-a-room. Obviously, you need a lot of real estate and you have to really want an isolated room.

The easier thing to do (I didn't say "easy" - I said "easier") would be a new ceiling with double drywall and RSIC clips on resilient channel. The poor-man's version is just drywall on 1x furring strips running the opposite direction of the existing framing. Either way, you'll lose probably 1 3/4-2" of ceiling height (compared to one layer of 1/2" for instance.) Of course, this does nothing for what will likely become a flanking path - your walls. If you isolate and decouple the ceiling plane, then if your side walls are coupled to the floor above, the LF energy will find its way upstairs through the side walls. Will it be as bad as it is now? Probably not. But, sound isolation is like performance upgrades on cars. You do some intake work, then you have to do some exhaust work... then you have to put better tires on to hook up better, but then you have to upgrade the rear end to handle the torque.. which then means you need a bigger stall converter... and it goes on and on. That's why I wen the cheap route with no true decoupling other than the Integrity Gasket. If you wanted to hang drywall on the ceiling, you could just use Integrity Gasket and two layers of 1/2" drywall - that would likely be a vast improvement over your current situation.

Unless you want to put up drywall or at least some sort of heavy drop ceiling, any improvement you might gain would likely not be worth the money and effort.

SC
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WanMan



Joined: 19 Mar 2006
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PostLink    Posted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:10 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

ecrabb wrote:

Instead of deal with all that, I decided on an alternate solution for my basement room - something you could consider. I have a ranch with a flat roof, so the only access I have to anything mechanical or electrical on the main floor is through the ceiling in the basement. I don't want to cut off every possible point of access, so I've decided on some "clouds" as architects call them. I'll do some drywall finish around the ceiling perimeter, then hang some maple laminate (to match the trim in the house) panels - "clouds" with recessed lighting in them to cover the giant holes I'll leave in ceiling. Gives me the best of both worlds... some architectural interest, high-end finish, and I can still get into the ceiling cavity without any messy demolition/reconstruction.

I can post a rendering or two if you're interested.

SC

I think I get the proverbial picture, but a rendering or two would be nice, and a picture or two would be even nicer.

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WanMan



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PostLink    Posted: Thu Aug 14, 2008 11:12 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

paw wrote:
Sound transmission, especially bass, will/could be an issue. If you're single with no kids, it don't matter. If you have a SO or kids that go to bed earlier that you AND you like to crank the volume, it will be an issue.

No kids, and never will be. Just got back from a Nine Inch Nails concert and that was for my wife. I do not thing sound transmission from the theater will present a marital issue.

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