If you live above a noisy neighbour then the benefit of a soundproof floor is obvious but even ground floor rooms can benefit.
This is because sound-insulated flooring not only deadens vibrations before they travel into walls and adjacent rooms but it also deadens sounds vibrations that travel into your room.
Most floors are built from either timber or concrete.
Concrete floors are excellent at preventing airborne noise from travelling through them however noises such as heavy footsteps can create vibrations which travel through them.
In fact part of the build specification for the Shard in London was that all 42 floors were completely soundproof, they achieved this using a screed isolation material in conjunction with their (many) heavy concrete load-bearing floors.
For those of us who don't live in the Shard (or any concrete-floored apartment) we probably have floors made from wood, these are not so great at stopping either airborne noise or vibrations so will require more work to soundproof them.
Wood floors also create a lot of noise when you walk across them in high heels, if this is an issue for you then read our article on how to make your heels quieter.
Before you start purchasing insulation, resilient channels and the like there are a couple of relatively cheap and simple things you can do that to significantly reduce sound transfer through your floors:
Timber floors will typically have cavities under them which sounds will easily reverberate around in, making it travel clearly between floors.
To soundproof a timber floor you have a number of options:
All three of these methods can be combined for optimum results.
You will need the following soundproofing materials:
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Then follow the following four steps:
To get the most out of your soundproofing project you should consider turning your floor into a floating floor to get the most effective result. Acoustic insulation can also be used for soundproofing a cavity wall using the same method.
A floating floor is a floor which is not glued or nailed to your subfloor. It sits freely on the subfloor allowing space for movement and vibration absorption.
A floating floor sits on absorption pads and is not secured to the joists with nails or screws, this helps to prevent vibrations from transferring through the joists.
There are a few different ways to install a floating floor, these include:
The simplest to implement and most cost and time effective method is method two, using absorbent pads on your joists to cushion the floor.
Before you start it is important to be aware that installing a floating floor may raise the height of your floor marginally (depending on the depth of the pads you use).
So you may need to make adjustments to doorways leading into the room.
You will need:
Once you have gathered the required tools together take the following steps to get your floor ready:
Having got your acoustic insulation and floating floor setup you should already be noticing significant reductions in the amount of noise travelling through your floor.
To further soundproof your floor it is worth adding acoustic grade underlay before installing a carpet over the top.
If you do not want to install carpet then your options are limited beyond the floating floor but we strongly recommend at least laying a rug down to help muffle sound.
Acoustic underlay is much like it’s cheaper cousin (non-acoustic) underlay except it is thicker and denser.
This means it can absorb significantly more vibrations than standard underlay.
Acoustic underlay has several great benefits on top of being a great sound insulator:
To install acoustic underlay your timber floor must be built on a subfloor or panelled floor, if they are just bare timber (lift them up and you can see a gap underneath with wires and the top of the downstairs ceiling) then you will have nothing to lay the underlay on.
If you don’t have a subfloor then consider installing a floating floor or using acoustic insulation.
If you do have a subfloor then take these steps to install acoustic underlay:
Concrete floors carry a lot of mass so are extremely good on their own at soundproofing against airborne noise.
However they do transmit impact noise quite well, if you’ve ever lived under a concrete floor you may be familiar with the thud of your neighbour getting out of bed in the morning vibrating through the floor!
To soundproof a concrete floor you need to add an absorbent layer on top of the concrete to help deaden any impacts.
A simple combination of underlay and carpet works very well.
If needs be you can purchase acoustic underlay which is designed to be extra dense so that more vibrations are absorbed.
Unless you have a serious problem with impact sound then standard underlay and carpet combined with your concrete floor should be sufficient to effectively soundproof a concrete floor against impact sound.