Soundproofing Your Floor – A Complete Guide


man soundproofing floor

Soundproofing, in general, can be tedious and frustrating if you don’t get it right. But soundproofing your floor is the most tricky aspect of soundproofing. 

Why? 

Because your floor is not the same as my floor. [cricket sounds…]. 

Okay. The answer is not as straight forward as that, but we will get into why soundproofing a floor can be a hassle at times. 

Just to give a quick overview, in this article, we will explore the various ways you can go about soundproofing your floor. How about a quick preview of what soundproofing a floor is all about? 

For soundproofing your floor, you will need to use soundproofing materials to reduce the amount of noise traveling up from below or down from your floor. Example of soundproofing materials for your floor includes acoustic underlayments and insulations. 

Reasons for soundproofing your floor

There are a couple of reasons why you would want to soundproof your floor or any floor at that. 

  • One reason is you’re getting a lot of complaints from a neighbor or family member about the noise you create upstairs. So, the noise is coming from your floor level down to the lower level. 
  • Another reason is the noise directly below your floor is invading your space and causing a lot of annoyance for you. 

Now you know the reasons soundproofing a floor, let’s look at some of the things to consider before doing that. 

THINGS TO CONSIDER BEFORE SOUNDPROOFING YOUR FLOOR 

THE TYPE OF SOUND

When it comes to soundproofing a floor, there are two categories of sounds to worry about. 

  • Impact sound – As the name suggests, impact sound is the type you hear when something heavy hits the floor. This could a bowling ball crashing on the floor. It could be kids stumping or even dragging furniture around.  In general, impact sounds are generated when there is sudden contact between something heavy and the floor.

 

impact noise Soundproofing your Floor

  • Airborne sound – These are the most common type of sound because it’s everywhere from across the room to outside your window. Typical airborne sounds you hear at home include the people talking downstairs, the TV or radio, etc.

airborne noise Soundproofing your Floor

PERMANENT VS. TEMPORARY RESIDENCE 

Owning or renting your place of residence affects how much you can soundproof your floor. 

If you are renting an apartment, you will need to ask your landlord before even thinking of soundproofing. And as you can guess, you probably won’t have freedom soundproofing your floor the way you want. 

Fortunately, in this article, you will get to know the ways you can follow to soundproof your apartment floor. 

On the other, if where you leave is yours – you own it, then you have no restrictions in soundproofing your floor the way you like. But you will still need to get approval from local authorities, as said above. 

FLOOR HEIGHT BUIDL-UP 

Now, floor height build-up is what happens when the level of the floor is raised by some inches. It’s not a big deal, but it’s something you might have to deal with. 

LABOR INTENSITY 

Another thing to consider is the labor intensity required for soundproofing your floor. Some soundproofing techniques don’t require any help – maybe an extra pair of hands. 

However, there are some soundproofing methods that will require all the help you can get. It may even be better for you to get the advice of a sound abatement expert. 

PROJECT COST 

Now, soundproofing is no small endeavor. Budgets for soundproofing vary and be from somewhat cheap to expensive. 

Regardless, the cost of soundproofing your floor will depend on things such as: 

  • The type and brand of soundproofing materials 
  • The floor finishing you are going for 
  • Fees you may have to pay to authorities 
  • The cost of hiring a sound abatement expert and crew 
  • The square-foot of the floor you want to soundproof 
  • The type of floor structure supporting the floor finish

So, the above are the things you should give a lot of thought to if your planning on soundproofing your floor. It is advisable to take your time with the plans and not rush into it. For an idea of what soundproof might cost, check out my article on Cost to Soundproof a Room.

MATERIALS FOR SOUNDPROOFING YOUR FLOOR 

We are getting closer to the sweet part – or not so sweet part. In this section, we are going to explore: 

  • The different soundproofing materials for your floor, and 
  • How they work at reducing sound transmission 

One thing to note is some are specifically designed for absorbing and muting airborne sounds. Others, on the other hand, are manufactured just for dealing with impact sounds. 

A good approach is using a combination of soundproofing materials that reduce airborne and impact noises. 

CATEGORIES OF FLOOR SOUNDPROOFING MATERIALS 

If you are like, you would have noticed that there are a lot of soundproofing products out there that do the same thing. And it becomes hard to figure out which brand product to go for. 

But that’s not what you have to worry about reading this blog post. Here, you will get to understand the type of materials for soundproofing your floor. 

Hence, you will be able to decide which brand product you prefer to work with. So, let’s look at the different types of floor soundproofing materials and how they function.

SOUNDPROOFING INSULATIONS 

soundproofing mineral wool

Sound insulation products come in either foam, sprays, or rolls of insulation. The type you will use for soundproofing your floor is those that come as foams. 

They are usually thick, and the thicker, the better. Sound insulation materials are also durable and are designed to absorb sound waves. Thus, making them suitable for reducing impact sounds and preventing the transfer of vibrations. 

A benefit they provide is how easy they are to install. They also help in preventing transfers of heat. Here is a link to get mineral wool by Rolux.

ACOUSTIC UNDERLAYMENT 

 

soundproof floor underlayment

 

Acoustic underlayments are materials that help eliminate the vibrations caused by impact sounds. They also block the transfer of airborne noise as well. 

Underlayments can be used for virtually any flooring including tile, wood, stong, etc. They also act as insulators and keep the floor warm. You can check out the popular QuietWalk underlayment here

SOUND DEADENING AND DAMPING COMPOUNDS 

green glue review

Sound deadening and damping materials work for both stopping airborne and impact noise. Their design helps in minimizing vibrations and the transfer of sound waves. 

These materials come in both paint-like medium and sheet form. Those in paint form are applied onto surfaces and act as adhesives. 

They are easy to apply and also provide long-lasting results. An example product damping compound is Green Glue. Here is a link to find on Amazon.

SOUNDPROOF BARRIERS 

sound barrier mass loaded vinyl

Soundproof barriers work by minimizing vibrations and reducing echoes. They are made from foam composite, mass loaded vinyl, and fiberglass composite. 

An excellent characteristic of these materials is flexibility and ease of installation. You find it on Amazon here.

TECHNIQUES AND APPROACHES FOR SOUNDPROOFING YOUR FLOOR 

The techniques for soundproofing a floor are more of a personal preference. Sometimes, it could be a result of building regulations. But for clarification, the techniques are ways you could go about soundproofing your floor. 

Approaches, on the other hand, are dependent on the kind of floor structure you’ll be working on.

In residential homes, there two kinds of floor structures, namely: 

  • Timber structure (joist-and-beam) 
  • Concrete structure 

No matter the floor structure you have, obtaining effective soundproofing for your floor is possible. Let’s start with soundproofing floors on the timber structure.

SOUNDPROOFING YOUR FLOOR – TIMBER STRUCTURE

soundproofing on timber joists

For soundproofing floors on timber structures, there are two options to choose from. Depending on your situation and preference, the two options are: 

  • Soundproofing below your floor 
  • Soundproofing above the floor

HOW TO SOUNDPROOF BELOW YOUR FLOOR 

This involves removing the floor finish and subfloor to get to the joist structure. This option is excellent for homeowners who don’t want to raise the height of their floor. Remember the discussion about floor height build-up?

However, it provides the best deadening result for your floor.

The tools you will need: 

  1. Duck tape 
  2. Acoustic sealant 
  3. Green Glue 
  4. Saw, scissors, or carving knife 
  5. Protective gloves 
  6. Mask 
  7. Tape measure 

Let’s get into the process. 

Install sound-absorbing floor insulation:

This is also known as acoustic mineral wool. It is a thick and dense fibrous material used for dampening the transfer of sound.

  • Remove the floor finish and subfloor, revealing the joist structure. 
  • Measure the spaces between each joist and take that into account. 
  • Unwrap the mineral wool and cut them using the previous measurement. 
  • Lay them in the spaces between the joists. Make sure you are careful about the wiring and all whatnot. 
  • Once all that is done, reinstall or replace the subfloor. 
Prepping subfloor:

Your subfloor could be planks, plywood, or OSB. After the reinstallation of the subfloor, the next step is to:  

  • Make sure the plywood, plank, or OSB subfloor is level. 
  • Get rid of any debris on top of the subfloor. 
  • Spread Green glue on top of the subfloor 
  • Lay another subfloor (of the same type) on top of the green glue
  • Place gripper risers around the ledges of the room to seal any gaps. 
Lay acoustic underlayment
  • Lay the acoustic underlay panels on top of the subfloor, ½ inch away from the perimeter wall. 
  • As you place the underlay panels side by side, make sure to leave a ⅛ inch gap between them. 
  • Stagger the panels so that the joints between underlay panels don’t form straight continuous lines. 
  • Use an acoustic sealant to fill in the gap between panel-panel and panel-wall.  
  • Wipe off any excess acoustic sealant and allow it to dry.
 Lay acoustic mat:

the following step is to place the acoustic mat on top of the underlay. This part can be skipped. But, if your floor finish is going to be a carpet, then you can go ahead with this one. 

  • First, place tackless strips on top of the gripper risers. 
  • Just like the acoustic underlay, stagger the acoustic mat to cover every part of the floor space. 
  • Cut them into appropriate sizes. 
  • Make sure to press the mats up against the tackless strips to close gaps. 
  • Use the duck tape to tape up the joints formed by the mats. 
  • Use the acoustic sealant to run around the edges to seal up any gaps or crevices. 
  • Finally, you can lay down your floor cover, which could be carpet, engineered wood, or hardwood. 

HOW TO SOUNDPROOF ABOVE YOUR FLOOR 

Soundproofing above the floor is the option most people living in rented apartments follow.

The floor will be raised to some height. The good thing about this technique is it doesn’t require much labor and is cheaper. 

The tools you will need: 

  1. Duck tape 
  2. Scissors or carving knife 
  3. Tape measure 
  4. Gripper riser 
  5. Green Glue 
  6. Acoustic sealant 

Let’s get into the process. 

  • Make sure the floor is level, and there aren’t any bumps or holes. 
  • Get rid of any debris on top of the floor. 
  • Place gripper risers around the ledges of the room to seal any gaps.
  • Next, you will want to lay acoustic underlayment panels on top of the floor.
  • As you place the underlay panels side by side, make sure to leave a ⅛ inch gap between them. 
  • Stagger the panels so that the joints between underlay panels don’t form straight continuous lines. 
  • Use duck tape to close up the gaps between panel-panel and apply an acoustic sealant in the spaces between panel and wall.  
  • Wipe off any excess acoustic sealant and allow it to dry.
  • Lay acoustic matting above the acoustic underlay. An example of this is mass loaded vinyl. 
  • Finally, place the floor finish, which could be vinyl, laminate, or hardwood, in a staggered arrangement.

SOUNDPROOFING YOUR FLOOR – CONCRETE STRUCTURE 

If your floor structure is made of concrete, then you are going to go with a floating floor sytem. 

In a floating floor system, soundproofing materials are glued to the floor as opposed to using nails. The benefit of using this system is that transfer of sound is drastically reduced because of the acoustic glue. 

A particular thing about the floating floor system is that it can be relatively easy to somewhat hard to do. It all depends on the floor, finishing you will like to use in the end. 

FOR TIMBER OR TIMBER-LIKE FINISHING 

The floor finishings of this category include vinyl, laminate wood, and hardwood. 

The process involves: 

  • Removing any floor covering – that is, if there was any floor covering to remove. 
  • Next, you want to make sure that the concrete subfloor is level and free of debris. 
  • Measure the water content of concrete to ensure it’s at a safe level. You may have to get a professional to handle that for you. 
  • Once everything with concrete subfloor is all good, lay the acoustic mat on it. Mass loaded vinyl is a popular product to use. 
  • Next, you want to lay acoustic underlayment on top of the MLV. 
  • Finally, you can place your floor finish, staggering them against one another. 

So, that was for timber and timber-like finishing.

NEXT IS SOUNDPROOFING FOR DIFFERENT TYPES OF TILE FINISHING 

The process involves: 

  • Removing any floor covering – that is if there was any floor covering to remove. 
  • Next, you want to make sure that the concrete subfloor is level and free of debris. 
  • Measure the water content of the concrete to ensure it’s at a safe level. You may have to get a professional to handle that for you. 
  • Next, generously spread a subfloor substrate on top of the concrete floor. The substrate acts as an adhesive layer. 
  • Carefully lay plaster-boards on the substrate. Gently press on them to stick nicely to the substrate. As you put the plaster-boards down, remember to stagger them against one another. 
  • Again spread another layer of substrate adhesive on the plaster-boards. 
  • Finally, you can now install your choice of tile finish. 

How about a quick question?

What if you want to use concrete as an extra subfloor on top of your timber-joist structure? 

Well, if that something you would like to do, you can check out the YouTube video below. 

RECAP  

If there is anything you should take away from this article, it should be these: 

  • Noise can travel through the air or building structures.
  • High mass and density materials will block airborne noise. 
  • Padded soundproofing materials will help to reduce impact noise. 

CONCLUSION

If you’re considering soundproofing your floor, you need to decide whether you’ll be soundproofing below the subfloor or above it. You also have to research the types of materials you will need to soundproof the floor. Additionally, getting clear on the type of noise disturbing you, your residence, the cost and other things discussed will guide on which steps to take.

As you can see, there are so many ways you can go about soundproofing your floor. The reason for that is no two floors are ever the same. Even if they are on the same kind of subfloor, what you’ll need to achieve better soundproofing on one floor may differ for another. 

There are a lot of moving when it comes to soundproofing your floor. The end result will depend on what you are looking for, your budget, and how much soundproof you’re able to do. Hopefully, this helps you in deciding on the technique you would like to use for your floor. 

However, if the entire process seems daunting, you can always get advice from a soundproofing professional. The consultation might cost you some money, but it will save you a lot more in the future. Don’t forget to leave a comment and good luck!

 

 

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