There can be many reasons that you may want to soundproof your floor. Apartment and condo living, for example, can lead to headaches with neighbors. Or, you may simply want to make your house more peaceful and soundproof overall.
Types of Noise
Before you start the soundproofing process, it is important to examine what noise you are trying to stop. Since sounds cannot be completely avoided in life, creating a soundproof or acoustically reduced barrier is a great option. There are two types of noise to be aware of: Impact and airborne.
Impact noise is created from movement on the floors. When you walk or move on flooring, it creates noise. It is annoying to people who are living or working below you, and because the most part, the one creating it does not notice it. This makes it especially hard to know how much noise you are actually putting out.
Moving furniture, dragging a laundry basket, and other day-to-day activities can also create a large amount of impact noise.
Airborne noise is the noise that travels through the air. It could be something like having a television or radio playing a touch too loudly, a dog barking, or people talking.
Airborne noise can make your living space sound as if you are constantly having a party, even when you are alone. Those sounds can be particularly annoying to neighbors, especially since you do not necessarily keep the same hours as those who live nearby.
Before You Begin
Before you begin any project, it is imperative to know your budget. Is this something that you want to tackle yourself or would it be better to hire a professional?
You need to consider whether you rent or own your property as well. If you are a tenant, it may require your landlord’s permission before any alterations can be made—check your lease carefully.
This may also affect the amount you want to spend, particularly if you do not plan to stay in the living situation for a long period of time. It helps if you can determine the cause of the excess noise you are creating. If it is a washing machine or other appliance that is unbalanced or otherwise causing vibration a rubber floor mat may be all you need. Simply place a mat under the offending appliance and you should see a notable decrease in sound.
Another simple solution is for squeaky floors—simply purchase some deck screws and use a drill to put them into place in the squeaky areas. However, make sure that you sink them all the way into the flooring; otherwise, your feet may end up not thanking you.
You will need to access the subfloor, which is likely the culprit of the squeaking. This will mean removing current flooring in the area that needs adjusting. When you are getting ready to drill make sure to drill pilot holes—this will keep cracks from forming in the subfloor, which can create other problems down the road.
When You Cannot Go Bare
Starting with a clean slate is the ideal situation for any flooring project. This may mean removing tile, hardwood, carpet, or other flooring materials before you begin. If you are in a situation where you cannot start with a bare floor, you still have a few options from which to choose.
First, you can add area rugs and carpets to existing floors to help absorb some of the sounds. Area rugs can be purchased at a variety of price ranges, so you can certainly find one to fit your budget.
They also come in different sizes, shapes, and colors to match your décor. In fact, an area rug or carpet is a great way to breathe new life into a room that needs an update.
In this situation, another good choice is interlocking mats. They are available for purchase in numerous places and are commonly found in gyms and garage environments.
Interlocking mats are effective, inexpensive, and provide a nice bouncy surface to walk on. They also come in a vast number of colors and styles—and can even be made of eco-friendly materials like cork.
Starting from Scratch
If you can start with a bare floor, you need to examine the type of flooring you want to put down. Some flooring types have claims to being sound or acoustic reducing. Carpets, in particular, have wonderful sound-reducing qualities.
If you are choosing carpet, a good solid carpet pad is key. Carpet padding is available in different thicknesses and can be composed of diverse materials.
A good carpet pad can also reduce your power bill by providing better insulation. So consider it an investment! The pile, or thickness, of the carpet, can also play an important role in soundproofing. So look carefully at all of your options.
It is a good idea to consult with your local retailer to find out which padding will best meet your needs.
It truly boils down to your need, personal decorating style, and layout—some thicker carpet pads are not ideal for high-traffic areas or certain types of carpet.
Soundproof underlying is a good idea for any carpet or hard surface floor you plan to install. The underlying helps absorb impact, greatly reducing the amount of impact noise you are creating.
The type of flooring you choose determines the type of underlying. The most difficult type of flooring to soundproof is tile—whether it be ceramic or stone. Therefore, those may not be your top choices if you are looking to soundproof your floor.
The application of soundproof underlying can also be complicated, but using video resources and talking to professional installers and retailers can help in the installation process. Do not hesitate to reach out to product manufactures as well—they may have assorted tips and tricks for their specific product that can save time and money.
No matter which type of sound barrier you choose be sure to check with more than one source to get advice if the task seems difficult. Hiring a handyman or installer can be worth the price in the long run. One mistake in product purchasing or application can be costly.