Resilient Vs Hat Channel For Ceiling Soundproofing

There are so many things that we take for granted when living in a house or apartment building. For example, think of how irritating it would be if there were no soundproofing within your walls! The drywall doesn’t provide adequate soundproofing; for this, you need other components. When soundproofing material is lacking from your walls, you can tell!

How do resilient and hat channels compare for soundproofing a ceiling? Resilient channels ultimately provide the most effective soundproofing. However, hat channels are physically more durable and less likely to bend under the weight of other materials in your ceiling.

There are many things worth knowing about both of these soundproofing methods for ceilings. Read on to figure out which one would be best for your situation!

Why is Soundproofing Ceiling Necessary?

Having noise come through a ceiling is one of the worst soundproofing issues you have to deal with in a home. Hard floorings have gained popularity, making noises much louder when people move around upstairs. You have probably observed that people make much less noise when they walk on a carpet or pad. 

You must also consider how much force is being applied to the floor when someone is walking around. However, force is not only applied to that small cross-section of the floor under the moving person or object. 

A footstep or movement on a floor will cause a large amount of vibration that will reverberate throughout the entire framing of the ceiling, as well as the walls downstairs that are holding it up.

Holes within the ceiling increase the amount of vibration that takes place. When you are deciding on a soundproofing method, what you are trying to do is minimize the amount of vibration within the ceiling, so you don’t hear everything that’s going on upstairs when you are downstairs. [Source]

[Related Article: How To Soundproof Your Ceiling Speakers At Home]

What is a Resilient Channel

Auralex RC8 Resilient Channel in 25 Gauge Metal; Box of 24- 8' Lengths

A resilient channel is a metal bar that keeps the drywall separate from the wood framing inside. The drywall is directly connected to the resilient channel, rather than the wood framing. What this does is create a more soundproof wall, as the sound vibrations will encounter more difficulty when traveling through the wall. This phenomenon is known as decoupling. Check out our guide on how soundproofing works here.

Other characteristics of resilient channels include:

  • They add 3 to 5 Sound Transmission Class points to your wall or ceiling.
  • They are about half an inch thick and have one leg that is attached to the supporting structure and another one that is floating with more flexibility. 
  • They are usually made from 25-gauge sheet steel and have the appearance of metal bars with holes throughout the horizontal axes.

(Source: The Construction Specifier)

What Is a Hat Channel?

A hat channel is a framing piece that is used within walls and ceilings. It is also referred to as a furring channel; furring is a technique that is used to level out walls and ceilings with metal channels.[Source]

While the resilient channel is a metal bar with holes, the hat channel is shaped like a hat from the front view. Because of the same decoupling mechanism that works with resilient channels, hat channels can soundproof walls and ceilings.

Other characteristics of hat channels include:

  • They are grooved metal bars that can be made out of a variety of different metals, such as aluminum and steel. 
  • Their dimensions vary depending on the project, but they are typically between 16- and 25-gauge and 10- to 12-feet long. 
  • They are often used in the installation of ceiling tiles and acoustic panels. The channel is shaped in such a way that it is easy to attach to tiles and panels within walls. 
  • They add up to 10 Sound Transmission Class points to your ceiling or wall. 

(Sources: The Soundproofing Company and Clark Dietrich)

Resilient vs. Hat Channels

Resilient vs. Hat Channels
Image by Flickr Lee Haywood

Resilient and hat channels are both quite effective for soundproofing walls. However, because they are constructed differently, they don’t function in the same way.

The similarities between resilient and hat channels are:

  • Cost. Even though different products usually have different prices, resilient and hat channels will cost about the same on average.
  • Installation process. Both these types of channels are installed perpendicularly to studs or joists within the wall.

The differences between resilient and hat channels are:

  • Shape. Both channels are metal bars. However, when you look at them head-on, the resilient channel is shaped like a baseball cap, with the back being shorter than the front, and the hat channel is more symmetrical and is shaped like a fedora.
  • Attachment to the framing. Resilient channels are attached to the framing using one leg or brim, while hat channels are attached using two legs or brims.
  • How much mass they can support. Because hat channels are attached to the wood framing on two sides, they can hold more mass than the resilient channels, which are typically only attached on one side.
  • Strength. Hat channels are generally more durable than resilient channels. Resilient channels are much more likely to bend under the weight of the material in the ceiling.
  • Effectiveness. Hat channels allow for more space in the wall. Additionally, because they are attached to the wood framing along both sides, there are more points of transfer for the sound vibrations. Both of these facts make hat channels slightly less effective than resilient channels when it comes to soundproofing capabilities.

In many cases, you can get the best of both worlds by combining the two. They both work well to insulate sound, although each has advantages and disadvantages. You can talk to an expert to see how you can combine both channels to create incredible soundproofing within your ceiling. Many have found the combination approach to be best.

Other Soundproofing Methods

There are other soundproofing methods that you can use as well, either in conjunction with or as an alternative to resilient and hat channels. Very often, the best approach is to combine two or more methods, if you want better insulation and soundproofing in your home.

Mass-Loaded Vinyl

Mass-loaded vinyl is a heavy polymer sheet that you can attach to the joists and studs within a wall before putting in resilient or hat channels and covering the internal structure with drywall. Alternatively, you can decide not to use resilient or hat channels and simply put the mass-loaded vinyl between two layers of drywall. 

[Related Article: Soundproofing Walls: 8 Cheap Ways to Make It Happen]

This product comes in a variety of thicknesses; the thicker it is, the more effective it can be at blocking out sound vibrations. It’s also much more effective when you put it beneath the drywall, right against the studs, where it can move freely rather than be stapled down to form a rigid barrier. A freely moving sheet will absorb more sound than a rigid one. [Source]

Green Glue

Green Glue Company 10730 Noiseproofing Compound

The application of a layer of green glue between two layers of drywall can also be useful in reducing the transmission of sound waves. Green glue is a viscoelastic damping compound that will interact with the sound waves so that they are converted to heat energy and dissipated within the walls.

One significant advantage of using green glue is that it is effortless and quick to apply. Typically, you’ll apply it between two pieces of drywall or two pieces of some other construction material. It is most effective at dissipating low-frequency noise, but it also works on noises of medium and high frequencies. [Source].

Final Thoughts

Luckily, there are many options available if you want to soundproof your walls and ceilings since being able to enjoy quiet in your home is priceless. It makes sense, then, that you would want to try to choose the option that will work best for you and fits your budget.

Whether you choose resilient channels, hat channels, a combination of both, or a combination that includes some of the other soundproofing options, you are taking a step to improve your quality of life in your home. Just remember to do the appropriate research and figure out which of these options will be best for you.

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