how to soundproof the floor

How to Soundproof the Floor: 11 Methods that Actually Work

Ian Mutuli
Updated on

There will always be noise wherever you go. Unwanted noises can be very annoying, and it is impossible to overlook noises from neighbors. Foot noise is frequently the biggest challenge. Soundproofing floors help prevent the transmission of sound waves from one house to another. Are you looking to learn how to soundproof the floors of your home? Look no further. 

This post will examine some basic strategies for turning your house or apartment into a quiet retreat, free of outside and internal disturbances.

Does Soundproofing a Floor Work?

A great way to minimize the noise entering your home is by soundproofing your flooring. It's particularly useful if you live in an apartment with louder neighbors.

It makes sense to have soundproof floors in apartments or family homes. If you're remodeling the first floor of your home or converting your loft or basement, think about adding a DIY soundproof layer to prevent sound from traveling up and down the floors.

It will not only make your home a more quiet and delightful place to live, but it is also a simple task to accomplish. Knowing you can stop fighting with your neighbors about the noise is a relief. Luckily, there are plenty of techniques, depending on your needs, budget, and other criteria discussed below.

Things to Consider Before Choosing a Floor Soundproofing Method

1. Types of Noises

i. Impact Noise

Impact noise, or footfall noise, is created when an object strikes the ground. Examples include furniture dragging, footsteps, and heavy object drops.

The air and the ceiling below are filled with the sound of impact. Naturally, the person who lives below the floor is more impacted by impact noise than you are.

ii. Airborne Noise

Airborne noise travels through the air. As a result, it spreads somewhat across the atmosphere. In a place like an apartment, it rises through the floors .

People talking, dogs barking, moving or honking cars, music, and someone having a party below you are all examples of airborne noise.

2. Types of Floors and Materials

i. Carpeting

Carpeting alone can help to reduce footfall noise, but airborne noise transmission through the floor is more powerful. Major airborne noise issues exist in some spaces, such as recording studios, home theaters, and practice rooms for musicians.

Reduced noise leakage through the floor is achieved using a thick barrier fiber composite. Additionally, it will stop unwanted noise from entering the rooms below.

ii. Hardwood Floor

Floorboards made of hardwood might be glued, nailed, or both. If at all practicable, gluing is preferable over nailing since glue doesn't transfer noise to the subfloor.

No matter the use, a flooring underlayment will solve the noise problems in your room.

iii. Laminate Flooring

Two significant noise problems are brought on by laminate or composite floating floors: echoing within the space and impact noise transmission. A flooring underlayment for laminate floors can considerably alleviate both of these issues.

The vapor barrier, which helps shield the floor from dampness, can be used to cover the sub-floor beneath the final layer, just like other underlayments.

iv. Vinyl

Vinyl tile is a great resilient flooring option for sound treatment, especially luxury vinyl tile (LVT) with a sound-insulating underlayment. Many facilities choose it because of the design flexibility, robustness, and comparatively cheap maintenance expenses.

v. Ceramic Tiles and Stone

Since you must put the floor at an even level, soundproofing ceramic tile and stone can be the most difficult.

Flooring underlayment is the perfect floor soundproofing option for tile and stone since it was specifically built for use beneath thin-set and mud-set mortar.

3. Noise Levels

You will need different levels of floor soundproofing for different noise levels. i.e., low noise levels, such as conversations, require less floor soundproofing than high noise levels.

4. Budget

There are many solutions available for soundproofing, so you can always choose a project that fits your budget. Some will cost more than others, especially if you need professional help. So it is always great to go for something you are financially comfortable doing.

5. Living Situation: Permanent or Temporary?

If you are a renter, it is best to choose temporary means. In fact, installing permanent soundproofing is far more expensive.

How to Soundproof the Floor at Home

Materials with good noise-reducing properties are needed to achieve optimum sound insulation while soundproofing a floor.

The weight of the material used on the floor will also immediately impact the soundproofing quality. Here are the eleven methods for soundproofing a floor:

1. Soundproof Floor Underlayment

Using this method is considerably simpler when you have a naked floorboard because it makes it simpler to construct the next floor using a soundproof material.

You need to remove any carpet, tile, linoleum, or vinyl floor coverings to install the acoustic floor underlayment.

The acoustic underlayment should be used with acoustic mats to absorb impact and airborne noise completely. During installation, check that the exposed floorboard is smooth and free of any cracks or protruding nails.

Image Source: homestratosphere.com

The installation procedure is done in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions, but there is also the standard installation procedure.

Place the acoustic mat first and the acoustic underlayment in between for carpeted floors. The carpet is placed last, on top of the acoustic underlayment. Remember that this installation order is primarily for laminate or wood flooring.

2. Rug Underlays/ Carpet Padding

Sometimes, the rug you're using cannot absorb the impact of the footsteps from an apartment floor. As a result, using an underlay could turn it into a memory foam carpet that can absorb sound. However, the underlay should be unnoticeable when placed under your rug, regardless of its thickness.

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You can trim down the rug to the exact dimensions you need. The underlay should be about one inch smaller than your rug on all sides. This allows the carpet to create a slopping and beveled effect, preventing you from tripping and falling.

Image Source: menards.com

A carpet padding is like a bicycle helmet for your floor, which is particularly made to be thick enough to offer sufficient protection from the noise threat. Unfortunately, even though these carpets are quite effective, traditional carpets perform best.

Similar to installing a standard carpet in your home, carpet padding involves cutting the cloth at the edges, rolling it out to meet both ends of your floor, and securing it with glue or nails.

Image Source: flooringamerica.com

Due to the larger weight, you'll need a few tools and possibly the assistance of a friend or two to complete the installation. Several types of carpet padding can be used only for soundproofing. Look for padding that provides extreme durability and slide resistance to simplify the application process.

3. Cork Tiles

Cork tiles are another good soundproofing material that can be placed above or below the floorboards. They often have a thick structure, and their thickness makes the floors softer. However, the majority of the cork tiles aren't waterproof. Instead, they are water resistant.

Image Source: thisoldhouse.com

On the other hand, cork dampens noise by trapping sound waves and vibrations within its cell structure. They lessen sound transmission through walls if put on wall surfaces and reduce footfall impact noise. It's well known for its ability to withstand sound but is also an effective heat absorber. It holds onto heat and keeps the flooring from heating up.

4. Rubber Floor Mats

Rubber mats are an option to explore if you believe carpet pads are out of your price range. This is also an easier alternative to putting underlays.

Although thin, rubber can effectively absorb impact noise. It is also sufficiently dense to dampen sound between existing floors by preventing airborne sound waves from flowing through it.

Image Source: homedepot.com

Even the most basic rubber mats are made to insulate your space from noise. It makes the floor more solid, making it harder for sound waves to go through it with the same strength. When sound waves penetrate the carpet and rubber mat, they are too weak to be heard.

5. Noise Proofing Compound

Reducing noise coming from either side of the floor is possible using the well-known noise-proofing compound, sometimes referred to as a sound dampening compound.

You can put it directly on the current subfloor or between two solid surfaces. In other words, you can use it in between the floorboard and the underlayment.

Image Source: greengluecompany.com

Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound is non-toxic, odorless, and earth-friendly. You can apply it quickly, it is simple to clean, and it can reduce noise by up to 90%. Green Glue has its optimum sound-dissipating capacity 30 days after application.

You will need to buy enough Green Glue to enjoy this dampening compound. Place the underlayment or a hardboard, such as cement board or medium-density fiberboard (MDF), on top of the compound, which you applied to the subfloor with a caulk gun. Then as needed, install your carpeting and flooring.

6. Additional Flooring

Proper flooring will contribute to noise reduction as well. Installing tiles, hardwood or laminate wood, linoleum, or carpet are all great options. These options will reduce floor noise.

Before you install the final flooring, use glue to adhere your flooring to the underlayment rather than nails to be more competent.

It contributes to sound reduction with even minimal effort. If the best area rugs or throw rugs are more your style, they are a lovely, eye-catching solution to absorb noise.

7. MLV Under the Floorboards

MLV, also known as Mass Loaded Vinyl, is one of the versatile soundproofing materials since you can use it as either a floor underlayment or a carpet pad. The installation is quite similar to installing a regular floor underlayment.

Image Source: secondskinaudio.com

However, the MLV material comes in rolls, so once you lay it down, give it some time to relax. You can cut it down to the correct size, adjust it to the right positioning then nail or tape it down.

8. Interlocking Floor Mats

One of the easiest and straightforward ways to reduce noise between floors is to use interlocking mats. They come in a range of colors and patterns. Select a style that will look good in your house and a size enough to cover the entire space. They resemble padded floor tiles in appearance.

The noise and sound waves that try to pass through these mats are absorbed because they are thick and dense. In addition, they are made of antimicrobial materials, long-lasting, and simple to maintain.

Image Source: bigdug.co.uk

While they won't provide a completely soundproof environment for you, they will deliver excellent benefits when combined with other soundproofing materials like carpeting and underlayment.

When you cover your floor with these mats, sound waves will find it difficult to flow through the mats. The sounds from your room wouldn't be able to escape either.

9. Deck Screws

You need some deck screws to fix your annoying squeaky floor noises. Of course, it's possible to hire a handyperson to complete this task for you, but it's a really simple and straightforward procedure.

First, remove any existing flooring, including carpet, linoleum, tile, and hardwood flooring, to gain access to the subfloor. For example, you could remove the entire flooring or only the parts that make the squeaking noises.

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Find the squeaky areas and mark them. Use a bit with a countersink that is the size for the screws you use to drill pilot holes on each mark. The bit should be somewhat narrower than the screws' width.

Put a floorboard in place and push the sharp tip of the deck screw into the pilot hole that was previously bored. With the bit driver, gently insert the screw into the framing and through the board while maintaining pressure.

Repeat this procedure to secure all the floors by inserting screws into the previously drilled pilot holes.

10. Floor Joists Isolators

You will undoubtedly slow down the speed of sounds and sound waves if you can separate the floor joists from the subfloor. Floor joist isolators are little more than substantial rubber chunks. In addition to separating the subfloor from the main floor, they also lessen noise from impacts.

Image Source: soundproofingcompany.com

Rubber is also an excellent noise absorbent. While sound waves try to get through to the main floor, these rubber pads efficiently reduce as much noise as possible. The rubber parts also minimize any chance for the main floor and subfloor to brush against one another and create a squeaky sound.

11. Floating Floor

A floating floor is connected to the sub-floor but mostly installed on top of it. It is free to move around and allows sound wave absorption because it is situated between the subfloor and the top floor. However, they must be attached to something. Absorption pads are used, but the pads are not attached to the joists.

Image Source: thespruce.com

This prevents sound waves from passing through the floating floor and transmitting upward through the joists. A gap is created because the floating floor is not attached to the subfloor.

The vibrations are caught in that gap and cannot flow through the floating floor. They successfully lessen noise between floors.

Before installing a floating floor, keep in mind that the height of your floor may be increased. Therefore, make sure you have enough room. You will be surprised to hear the substantial noise reduction in your space once you have installed a floating floor.

Finding a Professional

There is always the option of hiring a professional if you cannot soundproof your floors yourself. They could, for starters, offer advice on what would work best for your house.

Asking family, friends, and neighbors for recommendations is the best direction to go. By doing this, you can potentially avoid dishonest merchants who aren't worth your time while saving a large amount of time that you would otherwise spend looking for a suitable trader.

Image Source: flooringstores.com

You must request a written estimate for every home improvement project. Before agreeing to the contract, you should always inquire about the experience of your trader to ensure that they are a good fit for your needs.

How Much Does it Cost to Soundproof a Floor?

The average price range for soundproofing is between $1,000 and $2,500. For example, a typical homeowner invests about $1,500 on soundproofing their floors. For one room, adding an acoustic floor or carpet pad can soundproof it for as little as $300. However, for comprehensive soundproofing, prices can reach $45,000.

These costs can vary depending on a number of factors. The primary factors that influence your project's overall cost are listed below.

1. Noise Type and Loudness

Finding out what kind and how much noise you are currently exposed to will be the first step on the list because this will influence the type and caliber of the soundproofing material you choose.

A decibel reading is used to measure loudness. The quantity of soundproofing material you require will change based on your readings, which could decrease or increase the cost of the soundproofing project.

2. Soundproofing Material

In addition to the type and quantity of noise you are now experiencing, you also have a variety of soundproofing material alternatives to select from, all of which have varying pricing points.

3. Floor Size

The cost you pay will depend on the size of your floor. The price increases with surface area and vice versa. Also, you might need to raise the floor level depending on your sound isolation method. This will require you to raise the plug sockets and skirting and trim the doors, increasing overall costs.

4. Labour

When soundproofing a floor, labor is one of the major cost considerations. Although it is quite simple to do the task yourself, it can take a while, especially if you have chosen to remove the flooring. Although it would cost far more to finish the project with a contractor, it will be done swiftly and effectively.

Tips And Precautions on Soundproofing Floors

  • When handling screws, saws, hardwood, and dampening chemicals, take the appropriate measures to use gloves and eyewear.
  • Avoid altering the floor of a structure that you do not own. Before making alterations to the floor's structure, get the required consent from the building's owner.
  • You can offer to buy the soundproofing materials for your downstairs neighbor in order to reap the full benefits of soundproofing your floors.
  • You need to draw a floor plan of your house to see what is adjacent to, above, and below each room so you can decide which floors need the best soundproofing. Children's bedrooms are the obvious choice for soundproof floors in most households.
  • Carpet naturally ranks among the soundproof flooring solutions because the fibers can absorb the majority of the sound. It's also among the cheapest solutions for soundproofing that works.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) on Soundproofing Floors

1. Can You Soundproof Existing Floors?

Yes. One of the solutions to block the annoying sounds from a finished floor is soundproofing. Soundproofing need not be difficult or expensive. You can always use furniture or thick rugs to soundproof existing floors.

2. How do you soundproof a cheap floor?

Yes. Laying down some carpets is one of the cheapest methods. Examples include interlocking floor mats, memory foam rug underlay, and rubber rolls. You can get a good rug with a budget of $200 or sometimes less. However, no matter the method of soundproofing floors you use, you should be ready to spend some cash.

3. How do I stop the walking noise on upstairs floors?

The best products for reducing impact noise are carpets and a thick pad underlayment. Use a premium soundproof carpet underlayment, which uses a sound barrier bonded to a closed cell foam, for a significant upgrade. This will significantly lessen the sound of footsteps and stop airborne sounds between floors.

Ian Mutuli

About the author

Ian Mutuli

Founder and Managing Editor of Archute. He is also a graduate architect from The University of Nairobi, Kenya.