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Is Soundproof Flooring a Real Thing?

Sound proof flooring material that is black with dusty boot prints

No one enjoys living with the constant disruption of noise coming from the floor above or the room below. Footsteps, loud music and other sounds emanating from another room or apartment into your living space can eventually affect your quality of life, hindering your ability to work, concentrate and sleep. Fortunately, there are soundproofing techniques that can significantly diminish distracting noises. By adding materials on or under the floor, or by adding soundproofing materials to the ceiling, you can successfully soundproof the floors between two living spaces.

The kind of noise, airborne or impact, and the decibel levels you are trying to muffle are important considerations as you determine the best approach to the problem. Airborne noises include voices, a ringing telephone, music from a stereo or live instrument and noise from a TV. Impact noise includes sounds and vibrations like footsteps, objects dropping and chairs scraping. It’s important to make sure the soundproofing solution you choose is designed to mitigate the noise that most troubles you.

Your level of access to the floor or ceiling will also make a difference in the kind of soundproofing you can install. If you are soundproofing floors in your own home, you have more options than in a rental house or apartment or a condominium that has certain building restrictions.

If you are bothered by sounds coming from upstairs and you don’t have access to the floor, because it’s in your neighbor’s apartment, there are some materials you can add to the ceiling above your living space, a layer of sheetrock or plywood, for example. Acoustic tiles or panels can also be installed. Other soundproofing techniques from the ceiling side include removing the ceiling and filling cavities with fiber insulation or a soundproofing sealant.

Soundproof Underlay

When soundproofing floors, there are several approaches to try, depending on how much work you are prepared to do, and the amount of money you want to spend. Thick rugs, or carpeting with a thick pad underneath, works well for soundproofing a floor against impact noise. This option can be relatively inexpensive but it will not help with airborne noise. Carpeting will wear out over time and does take effort to clean.

Other techniques for soundproofing a floor involve installing an underlayment material made of cork, rubber, foam or fiber between the flooring material and the subfloor. Added to this, a dampening compound will decrease impact noise. If airborne noise is also a problem, more mass in the underlayment material will be necessary.

The best time to devise a soundproofing strategy is when you select and install new flooring. If you know noise is going to be an issue, the best choices for efficient soundproofing are cork or carpet. If you choose to use wood, laminate, vinyl or tile, you will definitely need to install a substantial underlayment to soundproof your floor. Whichever type of flooring you choose, easier and more effective soundproofing is achieved when underlayment materials and flooring are selected and installed together.

If you have any questions for the pros ask away! Otherwise, check out our article on how to choose the best flooring contractor to get the job done successfully!