Wondering how to install soundproof flooring without calling a professional or breaking the bank? Read our guide below to find out about the benefits and the different methods to soundproof your flooring on a budget.
Whether you’re living in an apartment or a multistorey house with other family members, a lot of noise in your house is transmitted through walls and floors. Many people prefer to use hardwood flooring in their homes as it’s very appealing and looks fancy, but it’s not very efficient in reducing echoes. Different sounds like footsteps, music, and loud conversations can easily travel through these floors.
In this article, we’ll look at some basic steps and materials that can help you soundproof your floor without full blown house renovation.
What Is Floor Soundproofing?
When you carry out an acoustic insulation and install soundproof flooring in your home you could effectively deal with an issue that is more and more common among modern households. After you add thermal and sound insulation, the reduction of noise pollution will bring a considerable acoustic comfort in your life.
Why You Should Add Soundproof Flooring In Your Home?
A large part of the the population, close to 80%, would consider the high level of noise as one of the most stressful nuisances on a daily basis. And that’s quite understandable, since noise pollution is one of the main causes of physical or mental issues and sometimes could lead to serious health disorders. And in fact many of today’s health conditions usually start with lack of enough proper sleep. To see how important sleep is for your health check this study on sleep deprivation.
Psychological balance is concerned as well as good physical health, since we can also experience problems related to depression, constant fatigue, irritability or heart problems such as high blood pressure.
In other words, the presence of noise in your house does not only brings permanent discomfort, it is also a dangerous factor that could directly affect the well-being and health of your family. Usually, noise and sound in closed environments like a house or apartment tend to spread mostly through hard materials like walls and less so through the air.
So, installing a proper soundproof flooring allows you to effectively limit the noise and the sound waves caused by the neighbor’s steps or loud music downstairs. Isolating a floor also limits the sounds spreading in the air (this is called ” airborne noise “) such as voices and noises coming from television or boombox speakers.
Advantages And Disadvantages Of Floor Soundproofing?
Any renovation work understandably has many advantages, but also inevitably comes with some disadvantages too.
Benefits Of Floor Soundproofing
Sound insulation of the floor prevents nuisance while offering a number of direct benefits:
It’s simple and works like that: the noise passing from one floor to another is blocked, reflected or absorbed by the insulation material of the floor.
If you are a musician or if one of the members of your household plays a loud musical instrument, you have the opportunity to arrange a room specifically dedicated to practicing of your favorite hobby or playing music, as it’s soundproofed and isolated from the rest of your home.
Another benefit is that neighbor relations tend to improve when loud noises are no longer an issue. No body likes to have angry neighbors, right. A floor renovation is therefore a perfectly suitable choice in this specific case.
Disadvantages Of Soundproof Flooring
In the first place, note that such renovation project involves removing and then putting back the existing flooring material, (whether it is a soft, plastic or lino flooring, tile, a floating, nailed or glued parquet) or even completely replacing it.
Other work could also be necessary, such as the upgrading of doors (due to the under layer of the insulation, such as the under layer of a parquet), skirting boards or the replacement of threshold bars. To complete the structure and optimize the acoustic performance, the installation of a false ceiling can also be needed (the soundproofing effect of the acoustic ceiling will complement that of the floor).
Understanding the basics of Soundproofing a Floor
To soundproof your floor, you need to understand how noise travels in your room and what are the different sounds you need to fix. It will help you get a better idea of all the important materials you need to get the job done. There are generally two types of noises: Impact and Airborne.
As the name indicates, any sound transmitted by air can be considered airborne noise. Air is a great carrier of noise, and it’s common to hear airborne sounds like music, shouting, or loud horns from vehicles. To reduce airborne noise, we recommend using soundproofing materials for your floor with a decent STC (Sound Transmission Class) Rating. Materials with an STC above 40 tend to absorb more sound and will greatly reduce noise transmission.
Impact noise is produced when an object hits your floor or other hard surface. This type of noise travels through surfaces in the form of vibrations. Vibrations produced from running kids and pets or moving furniture are also an example of impact noise.
To get rid of impact noise, you need to upgrade your standard flooring with acoustic soundproof flooring. Acoustic flooring materials can be classified based on impact insulation class (IIC). An IIC rating above 70 provides maximum protection against impact noise.
How to Soundproof a Floor
Use Interlocking Soundproof Floor Mats
Interlocking floor mats are usually used in kids’ rooms as they’re available in many vibrant color combinations. But, you could also use them in gyms because they serve the same purpose, which is to dampen the sound vibrations. These interlocking mats are very easy to install as they fit together perfectly. You can use soundproof adhesives like green glue to increase sound absorption, but it’s generally not recommended as it may damage your floor. So, have that in mind when choosing adhesive for your floor mat.
These mats are made of different materials like foam, rubber or cork and you can find them in a wide range of designs and shapes. In addition to noise reduction, these mats will also provide a comfortable cushion to your floors. Most of these tiles are also waterproof, anti-bacterial, and non-toxic, making them a reliable and affordable option for soundproofing your floors.
If you’re looking for an excellent interlocking mat, we recommend you check out BEAUTYOVO’s foam mat. You can pick between five shades of black color. The pack consists of 24 foam tiles that’ll cover an area of about 96 square feet.
You may have to buy multiple packs to cover a large space. It’s designed with 0.4-inch thick and soft foam, which reduces the noise to a great extent.
Carpets are exceptional at absorbing sound compared to standard laminated hardwood floors. They’re widely used in halls, cinemas, and residential homes as they’re ten times more capable of noise reduction on wood flooring. You could also make use of carpet underlayment that provides cushion and increases the thermal and sound insulation of the floors in your home. This inexpensive underlayment is 3mm thick and covers an area of 100 square feet. It’s designed with recycled fiber and provides you superior sound deadening and floor protection.
Dampening Soundproof Flooring Compounds
If using carpets and floor mats doesn’t reduce the noise transmission for you, it’s time to get yourself some professional sound dampening compounds. Soundproofing materials like green glue can be applied between two layers of subfloors and underlayment. It’s a non-toxic compound that you can use between materials like plywood or drywall. The cost-effective and easy-to-use compound can reduce both impact and flanking noise by decreasing the energy transfer between two surfaces.
Most of the soundproof flooring materials are expensive or very complicated to install. And, if you’re looking for a temporary and affordable solution to soundproof your floor, you should consider buying a rubber floor mat. They’re widely used in offices, halls and gyms to reduce the noise produced by heavy and loud equipment. These mats not only help in sound deadening, but they also keep your floor clean and protect it from scratches.
Rubber floor mats are great at absorbing excessive noise and annoying sounds, that would usually reflect from ceramic or hardwood tiles. You can check out Rubber-cal’s mats that are manufactured with eco-friendly recycled rubber. It’s available in multiple sizes and provides excellent comfort along with some heat and soundproofing for your floor.
How Much Does It Cost To add Soundproof Flooring?
The new flooring and its installation cost can become quite high when you see your bill in the end. It is considered that the average cost of soundproofing of the floors in your house will range from $10 to $30 per square foot or about $50 per square meter.
Most of us will be looking to save money with floor sound insulation, so it goes without saying that combining sound and heat insulation is the preferred approach, regardless of the type of flooring you have.
So, what you should do?
Use mineral wool (mineral insulating material, i.e. non-organic glass wool, rock wool) and natural wool (plant fibers, wood fiber, cork fiber, cellulose wadding or natural hemp wool) are really effective in preventing thermal loss.
These insulating materials are used in the manufacture of thermal insulation boards, and they are also perfectly suitable for a house sound insulation. In the case of natural insulation, however, it is important to choose panels whose insulation materials have a high density. Natural insulation such as hemp wool insulation is perfect choice for the case.
In addition, just like the sound insulation of your walls, the soundproofing of the floor is equally essential: it should be known that about 10% of the heat losses take place through the floor. In other words, carrying out sound and heat insulation of the house makes it possible to reduce the use of the heating system for increasing your comfort. It’s great for reduction of energy consumption that directly affects energy bills, in addition to soundproofing your rooms.
Some soft flooring solutions like carpets and mats with rubberized underlay are an excellent option you can use on a heavy concrete floor by cushioning the sound waves at its source, but they are relatively insufficient on light floors.
In modern buildings , the floor mass allows to meet the requirements of the regulations regarding aerial noise but doesn’t really protect against impact noise. The most common method therefore consists in laying an underlay under floating screed or sealed tile with a total thickness of at least 6 cm.
Whatever solution you choose, the acoustic efficiency of the flooring system depends on scrupulous compliance with the rules of implementation with the principle of absolute material separation: no point of contact must exist between the circulation layer and any building element linked to the load-bearing floor. So, no transmission of impact sound is possible in this case.
Other Considerations When You Plan To Install A Soundproof Flooring In Your Home
In a building or house that has several floors, noise is transmitted from floor to floor by the vertical and horizontal elements of the structure. Most commonly tiled floors and glued parquet floors are more likely to promote the spread of annoying noise.
So, the insulation of the floor should always be considered in relation to the overall soundproofing of any given room in your house. It’s really important to ensure perfect insulation between walls, ceiling and floor to eliminate sound bridges.
Modern buildings are subject to the acoustic regulations that requires a maximum level of 58 dB between floors for impact noise and 53 dB for airborne noise. The most common method in construction is to place an insulator with a thickness of about 6 cm under the tile or floating screed.
During a renovation, the rise in the level of the floor generated by this additional layer can pose a problem. Other solutions are then preferred: dry screed on underlay, mineral wool panels on OSB type floor slabs, underlay under parquet or glued tile.
Several methods and techniques are available in such cases
The techniques and materials used vary depending on the nature of the floor you are working on:
- parquet: dry screed of high density panels (cellulose, fiberglass or wood, cork or plaster) above the insulating cork or rubber underlay
- concrete floor: polyolefin insulation mats, polyurethane foam panels or cork is good too
If the housing construction allows, a floating concrete screed can be poured onto the existing floor after inserting a layer of resilient cork, polyurethane foam or polyethylene material. The disadvantage is that the total thickness can exceed 100 mm, which is not always a good option. However, it’s possible to take advantage of the soundproofing project to install also a heated floor and save some money on your heating bills during the cold months.
In case you have a parquet flooring, the cavity under the wooden boards can be filled with mineral wool covered with an insulating mat, OSB boards and a layer of foam flakes.
A 28 mm thick glass wool panel will also achieve an acoustic attenuation of 11 dB under concrete floor.
In the end of the day the level of improvement in sound dampening depends on the nature of the floor. So, choose your flooring material carefully for your soundproofing renovation project.
We all agree that it isn’t a great experience to hear irritating loud noises when working or trying to get a good sleep. Fortunately, as we’ve shown in our guide there are some effective floor soundproofing techniques and materials that can help you reduce these noises. Above we have listed several of the most cost-effective ways for floor soundproofing you can find on the market.
If you are looking to save on heating bills and avoid the noise that is stressing you out, these soundproof flooring solutions will surely make your home peaceful and quiet as it should be, while also improving your room’s heat insulation in the meantime.
Have you had any issues with noisy neighbors or other annoying sounds lately and what approach you have used to deal with the situation? Let us know in the comments below.