It is no longer surprising why hardwood and tile flooring are perennial choices in many homes across the US. Not only they can add visual appeal and warmth to your home, but these flooring materials also provide long-lasting durability. However, tile and hardwood floors share a common denominator: they absorb sounds very poorly. Like tile and hardwood, several flooring materials tend to produce an unflattering quality of sounds that can disturb other people inside your home. Fortunately, there are myriads of ways to soundproof floors, so you can easily mitigate noise problems even before they occur. In this guide, we have put together 6 incredible ways to soundproof floors and how they can improve your home’s acoustics.
Soundproofing is an excellent way to block sounds from leaving or entering a space. It is an efficient means to make any area in your house much quieter, thereby improving comfort and quality of life inside your home. Whether you are building a new floor or replacing an existing one, it is worth enough to consider soundproofing your floor, so you can prevent unwanted noise at home. But before we dive into some of the best strategies to soundproof floors, it helps to know about different types of noises and how you can address them. Noises fall into two categories: impact noise and airborne noise. Let’s find out their differences.
Also known as footfall noise, this type of noise is produced as a result of a force applied when one object directly impacts another object. The noise is created when a specific object makes direct contact with the floor. Some examples of impact noise include running or walking on the floor, moving chairs and furniture, or dropping something heavy on the floor. The vibrations are carried from the surface floor through the joists and throughout the entire room. It travels freely in the structure of your home such as joists and beams that connect your floor, walls, and ceilings. This type of noise is frequently difficult to address because it travels in the air freely and contains more energy when entering the floor structure. The best solution to reduce impact noise is to install a durable and flexible subfloor underneath the floor covering.
Airborne noise or ambient noise is a sound transmitted through the air before it reaches the floor, ceiling, or wall. Some examples of airborne noise are sounds coming from the radio, flushing of the toilet, people talking, dogs barking, and cars blowing horns. To address airborne noise, you need to install sound-absorbing material like fiber insulation.
Flooring And Soundproofing Permit: Do You Need It?
When you’re planning to soundproof floors, you need to secure a permit only when you will install or replace floors in condo units, apartments, or similar dwelling areas. You also need to obtain a soundproofing permit if you are replacing or installing floors at partitions and floor assemblies between sleeping units or dwelling units that are close to each other. However, if you are living in a single-family residence or townhouse, you don’t need to secure a permit to soundproof floors.
Things To Consider
Before you start to soundproof floors or buy any soundproof materials, there are several factors you need to consider first. Here are those:
What is the floor construction of the area or room that you are planning to soundproof? You need to know whether the floor construction of your room is concrete or timber. The timber joisted floor has floorboard on timber joists, but plasterboard underneath. On the other hand, the concrete floor is where concrete formed a flat slab or solid surface.
What level of noise are you trying to diminish? To make sure that you use an appropriate soundproofing material, it is necessary to determine the level of noise you are trying to block. A loud level of noise will require denser and tougher material than low levels of noise.
Where does the noise come from? Before you place any material to soundproof floors, identify the source of noise or sounds. Is the noise coming from below traveling up into your room or is it from above traveling down into your room?
What type of noise are you trying to block? As mentioned earlier, there are two types of noise: airborne and impact. Knowing which type of noise you are trying to block will help you identify the right way to address and treat them.
Ways To Soundproof Floors
To create a much quieter room or home, you need a good quality noise-reducing material. This material will help you achieve the level of sound insulation you want in your room. Here are some amazing ways to soundproof floors in your home.
1. Carpet Padding
If you have hardwood flooring and you want to make it soundproof, a sound-absorbing carpet padding is a good choice. Aside from underlayment beneath your floor covering, carpet padding can reduce noise in your room, especially if you have a hard surface floor such as tile and hardwood. The thicker and denser the carpet pad you have, the better it will absorb sounds. The great thing about carpet padding is that it can dissipate noise even before it enters the floor structure and travels to other areas of the house.
This noise-absorbing material comes in a wide array of sizes, textures, and thicknesses. Make sure to choose a thicker carpet pad to not only provide comfort underfoot but also enhance sound insulation. Typically, carpet pads made from rubber are thick enough to control noise in your house. However, you can always talk to your local flooring contractor for better recommendations and options.
Before you place carpet padding to soundproof floors, always consider the level of activity or foot traffic in the area where you want to have it soundproofed. If you want to place the carpet padding in a high foot traffic area, you must choose a rubber carpet underlay that has closed-cell foam beneath the soundproof barrier. Open-cell foam underlay won’t stand up so well in high traffic areas.
Installing carpet pads may also mean that you’re covering your hardwood or tile flooring. If you really want to showcase the charm of your hardwood or tile flooring while maintaining sound insulation inside your home, you can have other choices. You can choose a thick area rug. This is not only ideal for hardwood or tile flooring but also a good choice for cemented and concrete floors. Area rugs can absorb some noise without covering your entire floor.
2. Interlocking Floor Mats
One of the easiest ways to soundproof floors is through interlocking floor mats. Simply choose the design you want, then cover the entire floor. Floor mats are available in various designs, textures, and sizes. They are almost similar to padded tiles. The edges of the floor mats are created to guarantee that the pieces interlock and fit by the sides. You can also easily trim the floor mats to fit each corner of your existing floor.
Aside from soundproofing ability, interlocking floor mats are low-maintenance and durable. These are also used in commercial settings such as gym, studio, and garage. However, interlocking floor mats do not entirely suppress sounds. They are highly effective if combined with other soundproofing materials such as carpet padding and floor underlayment.
3. Noise Proofing Compound
Noise proofing compound, also known as a sound dampening compound, is an effective means of minimizing sounds or noise from either side of your floor. It is an odorless, non-hazardous compound that can be applied directly between two surfaces or to your existing subfloor. It is suitable to apply between the underlayment and the floorboard.
The best thing about this soundproofing material is that it only takes a few minutes to apply. Normally, it can reduce up to 90% of sounds. It is also easy to clean and environmentally friendly. However, its performance can only take up to 30 days of application. At the end of 30 days, it can no longer serve its purpose.
While a noise proofing compound is not harmful and can be handled easily, it is still important to always read the manual or manufacturer’s instructions before using it. Before handling it, make sure to follow simple precautions such as wearing gloves. You may also ask for help from a professional flooring contractor before using this soundproofing material.
4. Rubber Floor Mats
Noises coming from appliances and machines such as dishwashers, stereo systems, television, and dryers can be a little annoying. If you want to reduce the sounds from these appliances, the easiest solution is to use rubber floor mats.
In using rubber floor mats, just simply place them directly under any appliances. This way, it will muffle the sound or vibration, thereby minimizing noises on your floor and the entire room. With the help of rubber floor mats, you don’t need to endure the noise from your household machines.
5. Soundproof Floor Underlayment
Another option to soundproof floors is installing a resilient underlayment. Acoustic or soundproof underlayment is a special material that is installed over subflooring. Underlayment is the first layer underneath your floor covering. It is an optional floor layer, but it is normally recommended by builders or contractors because of its good sound-absorbing quality. It cushions your floor covering and minimizes the effects of impact and airborne noise.
Installing this soundproofing material is relatively easy if you have a naked floorboard. Just make sure that the naked floorboard is free from any dirt, cracks, protruding nails, or rough surfaces. If you see any damage, it needs to be repaired first before you install the underlayment. On the other hand, if the floor is already covered with your preferred floor covering such as linoleum, tile, or carpet, you must pull out these floor coverings first, so you can install the soundproof underlayment. In this case, you may need to hire a local flooring contractor to remove the existing floor and install the underlayment.
The materials and textures used for underlayment vary depending on the discretion of the manufacturers. However, the most common underlayment materials include vinyl, rubber, foam, and cork. All of these materials are dense enough to provide better sound insulation and reduce noise in your home.
Different types of underlayment are categorized into three: standard foam underlayment, upgraded foam underlayment, and combo underlayment. The standard foam underlayment is simply a thin layer of foam on top of your subfloor. Moreover, the upgraded foam underlayment is practically a better version of standard foam, but it tends to last longer. On the other hand, the combo underlayment contains a combination of foam and film. This type of underlayment is usually installed over plywood or concrete subfloor.
6. Deck Screws
When you hear squeaky sounds coming from your floor, the best intervention is to insert deck screws. The process is pretty much straightforward. First, you need to get access to your subfloor, so you must remove your floor covering. You can either remove the entire floor or only the areas where you specifically hear the squeaking sounds. Don’t forget to put a mark on the squeaky areas. On each mark, start to drill some pilot holes, then use a drill bit with a countersink of the correct size of the deck screws that you will be using. As a rule of thumb, the drill bit must be a little smaller than the width of the deck screw. Once done, position the floorboard. Insert the screw into the drilled pilot holes, then gently push the deck screw into the framing and through the floorboard using a bit driver.
Repeat the process until all drilled pilot holes are secured. Check your work once finished. Walk on the floor and make sure that you will no longer hear any squeaky sounds.
Soundproofing Timber Floors
To reduce noise through your timber floors, you can lay either a floating floor or an acoustic mat. Underlay matting can absorb noise and vibrations before it can even reach through the floor structure. It also minimizes airborne noise from transferring. Acoustic underlay mats can be installed below floor coverings such as laminate flooring, carpets, vinyl, and tiles. Also, it is better to consult a local flooring contractor before using any acoustic underlay mats.
Soundproofing Concrete Floors
Concrete floors typically have a good level of density and mass to block airborne sounds. The best way to block noise in concrete flooring is to install a resilient layer on top of it. A resilient layer can absorb sounds and noise before they even reach and transfer into the concrete subfloor. As an alternative, you can also use a floating floor material.
Additional Tips and Considerations
Always consult a local floor contractor or experts before you make any changes in your flooring. You can schedule a free in-home consultation to determine what is best for your floor. If you plan to do the soundproofing yourself, don’t forget to ask the flooring store about specifics such as appropriate tools, equipment, and products to use.
If you’re renting a property, refrain from making any changes in your flooring without obtaining a permit. A soundproofing permit is important before you start the project. This also guarantees that you are complying with the building codes and guidelines.
Take extra precautions when handling drills, saws, screws, dampening compounds, and other materials. Wear goggles and gloves as necessary. If you can’t manage to do it yourself, you can always hire a professional contractor to do the job.
Flooring Materials With Acoustical Advantages
Aside from soundproofing, you may also have the option to replace your existing floor with a different material that has an acoustical advantage. Here are the following flooring options that are suitable for sound treatment.
Carpet flooring is not only soft and warm underfoot, but it can also mitigate impact sound. Carpets with higher piles or thick pads underneath have more ability to reduce sound transmission and absorb sounds.
Most rubber floors, especially commercial rubbers, have sound absorbent quality, making it a great option to create a quieter room. Rubber flooring offers an exceptional cushioning surface, the reason why it is an ideal choice for the gym and studio. You can also use rubber as an underlayment.
Cork is a sustainable flooring option that provides sound insulation. Because of its unique cellular structure, it can absorb sounds. Typically, cork is used as an underlayment to dampen noise or sound.
Noise can be everywhere. Whether we like it or not, it can be transmitted into our homes inevitably. However, it does not necessarily mean that we just take them for granted. That is why we always have the option to soundproof floors in our homes, so we can minimize all those unnecessary noises and create a much quieter home.
Soundproofing your home is a great way to keep you and your family more comfortable. However, if you think that soundproofing materials will no longer provide you a noise-proof home, it’s probably the best time to repair or replace your flooring. If you feel that you need professional help to provide you with more options and better recommendations for your next flooring project, don’t hesitate to connect with us. Schedule a free in-home consultation today!