Floors are the most common source of noise pollution at a place.
People walking overhead, stuff falling, music, television, and conversations are some familiar noise sources that penetrate a floor.
That unwanted noise could be a significant distraction, particularly when you are getting some work done, trying to relax, or spending quality time with family.
Soundproofing a floor is a fantastic way to enhance the quality and comfort of your home.
If you are about to begin a renovation project, it is the perfect time to reduce unwanted noise from the flooring.
Soundproofing Floors in Flats – The Basics
Before we discuss the tactics of soundproofing floors, it is essential to know the type of noises we are trying to address and how you can treat them.
There are two types of noises that we should acknowledge when trying to soundproof a room. These are:
1. Impact Noise
This is also known as the footfall noise.
It is a form of structure-borne sound that occurs when sound travels through a building. It also stems from moving furniture, chairs, machinery, and appliances.
These vibrations travel through the floor. They eventually emanate through floor joists and move into the room under it.
This kind of noise is more challenging to address because more energy is entering the floor assembly.
2. Airborne Noise
Airborne noise is transmitted through the air and atmosphere. It is experienced through dog barking, people talking, loud television, radio, and so much more.
When an object produces sound, it travels through the air until it hits a solid structure. This creates a vibration that passes through the structure and radiates on the other side.
This noise is a nuisance for people within the room and those who hear it.
Methods for Soundproofing Floors in Flats
Whether for an existing floor, an apartment unit, or new construction—there are methods to make your floor look astounding and create an incredible sound effect.
The following guide enlists all strategies you can use for soundproofing floors in flats, offices, and even townhouses.
1. Lay down some carpets or rugs
The easiest way to soften the sounds of your footsteps on a hardwood flooring is by laying down the rug.
Thick and soft carpets are your best bet, regardless of how difficult they are for cleaning.
Much like the upholstered furniture ideal for absorbing sound in an apartment, a carpet can keep your place quieter.
You may consider backing the rug with a padded design for an enhanced effect.
Carpet padding is available in various textures, designs, and qualities. The thicker the carpet padding, the better are the chances of absorbing and cutting the noise.
Carpet paddings usually come under the carpet, even though they work efficiently alone. It would be helpful to measure the rug and then find a padding cut accordingly.
If the movement around your place is dense, you should get a carpet with rubber foam underlay. The rug with an open-cell form underlaid tends to wear out sooner.
We suggest that you lay the carpet and ensure it reaches all corners of the apartment. Then, cut the edges and use nails or glue to secure them firmly.
2. Interlocking floor mats
It could be a hassle to deal with the rubber rolls and rectangles for some people. If you are clueless about handy work, this method is viable.
Puzzle-piece mats are a great way to cover an odd-shaped area.
These mats are made from a wide range of materials. This includes cork, foam, rubber, and some more.
The edges of these mats are designed to connect the pieces easily. Plus, these mats are safe and easy to clean.
They are made from antibacterial materials to keep pesky germs at bay.
Installing the interlocking floor mats is an easy task.
You have to place the pieces on the floor and connect them. It adds density to the floor, helping it to reduce noise transmission.
It also adds softness to the floors and improves thermal insulation.
Another helpful trick is to glue these mats to the floor. This increases a mat’s dampening quality, especially if you opt for Green Glue or an acoustic caulk.
However, this would mean that you ruin the look of your current floor.
3. Use rubber mats
Rubber mats are one of the best soundproofing solutions for flooring.
The sound dampening rubber material is ideal for soundproofing floors in flats, hospitals, gyms, schools, concert halls, offices, retail stores, home theaters, etc.
Rubber is a great material to use in soundproofing because of its ability to not only absorb but also block out unwanted noise.
High-quality rubber flooring has a high IIC rating. If the floor has high IIC, it provides more impactful sound insulation.
Remember, rubber is flexible to cushion the footfalls; it is not as absorbent as memory foam. Thankfully, some products occupy the middle grounds, such as rubber foam mats.
Rubber foam mats are similar to the ones used in fitness equipment. It is an excellent option if you want to add some bounce to your floors.
Besides keeping sounds at bay, the rubber floors will also protect parts of your equipment and the floor itself.
Elastic rubber floors will create a smooth surface instead of a rigid jagged base. This could be a great option in industrial settings or music rooms where they need to contain the sound.
Its low cost and accessible installation properties make it the first choice for many entrepreneurs and homeowners.
4. Install Cork Tiles
If you aren’t fond of carpets and rugs, you can consider cork tiles instead. These are on-flooring soundproofing material that goes on atop the existing floors.
They are snapped and positioned above the current flooring of flats and offices.
The thick cork softens the floor without giving it a ridiculous look. It has antimicrobial properties, indicating minimum or no mold growth even if you spill something on the tiles.
Nonetheless, there is a downside to it—cork is not waterproof.
It would be best to try your best possible to keep these floors liquid-free. So, if you are looking for a soundproof kitchen or a bathroom, don’t opt for it. Use a rubber mat instead.
Cork works by breaking the sound waves inside the cell walls and diffusing them. The honeycomb-like cell structure of the cork and airspaces trapped in it make it an excellent soundproofing material.
One cubic centimeter (estimated 3/8” cubed) contains 40 million cells. A thin layer of such cells will absorb 10dB of sound waves.
If you don’t want to glue cork tiles to the floor, you can use them as an underlay. The cork goes under ceramic, hardwood, porcelain, and laminated flooring.
This will reduce the noise and provide a thermal barrier to prevent cracking from the subfloor from transferring towards the finished floor.
The tiles you install should be half an inch thick (at least) to have soundproofing properties.
Cork flooring has been in use for over 150 years. Some public buildings designed by Frank Lloyd Wright more than 75 years ago have original cork floors.
It is a sustainable and eco-friendly product that resists mold and mildew. These properties make it a natural and healthy soundproofing choice.
5. Use Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass Loaded Vinyl is a flexible and thick material mainly designed to work as a soundproofing layer. Sometimes, it is called a Limp Mass Barrier.
It contains two main parts:
- Calcium Silicate or Barium Sulfate is a highly natural mass that gives soundproofing properties to the floor
- Vinyl that allows MLV to become flexible
The density of MLV makes it an excellent soundproofing material. Plus, it is easy to install and relatively cost-effective.
You can add mass-loaded vinyl to the floors or ceiling studs if you are remodeling your place. It will minimize the impact and airborne noise.
It can also work as an underlayment to the floors. If you are a renter, we suggest you check with your landlord if they allow you to make any structural changes.
If the landlord permits, you can tear up the existing floors and prepare them with the new flooring material.
Install MLV as an underlayment during these preparations.
Like all other materials, you should accurately measure the room and cut the material according to its size.
If the room is large, you can lay it in sections. This is more manageable than one large piece covering the entire floor.
It is pretty easy to install MLV. You have to place it and tack it using nails or staples.
You can also apply soundproofing compounds to the sub-floors, such as Green Glue.
It is a glue that you can plug holes into and fill the spaces. It turns sound waves into heat energy, so you can use it in hard-to-reach points to enhance the performance of the soundproofing materials.
Once the MLV is securely placed, you can lay another flooring material that you chose.
6. Use floor joist isolators
Floor joist isolators are a U-shaped isolation product made from medium density thermoplastic. It is designed to isolate vibration and structural noise transmission.
These isolators can improve the floor’s assembly sound transmission class (STC) and impact insulation class (IIC). It decouples the floor from structural supports, which reduces sound transmission.
These rubber parts are compact and light on the pocket. So, they will not change the height of your floor.
And more importantly, they are easy to install. You have to slip these on the standard joist frame to be 12 and 24 inches apart.
Nailing the subfloor back at its position could be a problem. But if you follow the product instructions, you can do so quite easily.
7. Construct a new layer of flooring on the previous one
Original floorboards may look beautiful and contain a history of people and their footsteps over the decades.
As they have been in place for years, they have settled and molded the structure of the buildings.
Removing these floors can bring several difficulties. These include:
- It is difficult to extract the original floor without damaging it. As they are nailed down, taking them without harming the feet is a daunting task.
- Once the original floorboard is out, it turns, warps, and bows over. Fixing it back once the floor is soundproofed is difficult without using nails or drills. This can split and destroy the old boards, resulting in weak soundproofing properties.
Consider adding a new layer of soundproof materials atop the original floorboards. Most people prefer laying tiles or laminating the existing floor.
Lamination is easy to cut and install. It would help if you considered installing a new floor on top of the existing one.
However, this will prevent you from examining the subfloor and addressing any potential squeaks.
In case you are not clear about the new flooring material, you should seek help from professionals. They will evaluate your needs and recommend options accordingly.
Can you soundproof an existing floor?
You can soundproof an existing floor by opting for cheap soundproof materials. Interlocking floor mats are the most accessible and convenient soundproofing option prevailing in the market.
They are easy to clean, durable, and contain antibacterial properties.
Do soundproofing floors in flats work?
The soft material will help to absorb the noise traveling through the floor. Carpeted apartments will benefit from the natural insulation provided by the fabric.
The wool and pile carpets also offer a good level of sound protection. These solutions make it easy to soundproof flats.
Apartment living is a good experience until you have sounds blaring from all around. In that case, it turns into a constant nuisance.
Using any of the techniques mentioned above will allow you to soundproof floors in flats and make sure none of the sounds escape or enter your flat.
Also, the noise-blocking properties of every material vary. We recommend that you seek assistance from professionals to evaluate your flooring and noise level requirements.
Sometimes, you can’t go against the building code and rupture the entire flooring. An expert will guide you on how you can use cost-effective and proven methods to block the noises.