best underlayment for soundproofing

Best Underlayment for Soundproofing for All Floor Types

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If your house flooring is noisy as you walk on it, it's time to invest in the best Underlayment for soundproofing. Besides soundproofing the floor, the underlayment materials also play a major role in absorbing irregularities and thermal insulation. We understand that choosing the best soundproof Underlayment can be tricky, but not anymore. We have listed the best soundproof underlayment options compatible with all flooring types.

Why Invest in Soundproof Underlayment?

Underlayment is a thin layer of material usually placed between the new hardwood floor (or most types of flooring) and the subfloor. It creates a level, strong base for the flooring. Besides, it serves as a moisture barrier, provides additional comfort for individuals walking over carpet, and acts as a firm surface for tile to adhere to. It can also absorb or deaden sounds and reverberation as people walk on the floor.

All underlayment types, whether they are made of foam, plywood, cork, or another material, will help somehow muffle unwanted noises. However, an Underlayment designed for soundproofing floors can help to eliminate structure-borne noise and prevent footfalls.

Furthermore, Underlayment has a moisture-resistant or waterproof layer to reduce the likelihood of mold formation between the floor and subfloor. However, some types of Underlayment will require a vapor barrier installed.

Now that we know why soundproof Underlayment is crucial let's check out the best options for your house flooring.

1. Roberts First Step Roll Underlayment, 630-Sq Ft

First Step 630-Square Foot Roll Underlayment
  • Price per 630 sq.ft roll
  • 3mm thick comes with overlap and tape to install
  • Suitable for concrete and wood subfloors
  • Use with engineered hardwood, solid hardwood, or laminate...
  • Fast & Free Fedex Ground

Roberts First Step Roll 630 Sq. Ft is the best option if you are looking for a low-density underlayment for your floor. The Underlayment offers an easy installation without being bulky. It has a cushioning foam beads layer in between. Besides, it has an open-cell foam design that provides more airflow beneath all laminate or engineered flooring to slow down premature aging.

Furthermore, the extra layer on this Underlayment usually helps with comfort and noise reduction. The beads, on the other hand, allow air to flow throughout the Underlayment, preventing mold growth. They also serve as a vapor barrier. This makes it the ideal solution for floor-level (or lower) applications in moisture-prone or humid environments.

Even after regular use, I have noticed that the Underlayment still has all of its thickness. I compared it to other foam underlays I have used before, which gradually shrank to almost half their initial thickness. It effectively dampens and absorbs noise as it has an IIC rating of 68 and an STC rating of 66. Additionally, we recommend using it on laminate or engineered wood floors.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Help with comfort and noise reduction
  • Still have all of its thickness even after regular use
  • Ideal for floor level (or lower) applications

Cons:

  • A bit expensive

2. FloorMuffler 300SF Ultra Seal Underlayment

FloorMuffler Ultra Seal Underlayment 300SF
  • Superior acoustic protection
  • Provides moisture control
  • For use under laminate, engineered and solid hardwood
  • Contractor size roll

FloorMuffler 300SF Ultra Seal Underlayment is 100 percent recyclable, complies with low-VOC content guidelines, and provides different installation techniques to improve your floor's flexibility. Besides, it uses closed-cell polypropylene foam to achieve outstanding noise absorption. Also, it offers a great barrier to prevent moisture accumulation that can cause the growth of mold and mildew.

Though FloorMuffler 300SF Ultra Seal Underlayment is 2mm thinner than its competitors, it's more effective at absorbing noise. Besides, it has STC and IIC ratings that exceed its competitors. Also, the soundproof Underlayment features a vapor barrier. Moreover, when I was installing my unit, I took less time and effort.

The Underlayment gives the best acoustic rating performance. That said, for an underlayment that offers great noise reduction at a reasonable price, count on the FloorMuffler 300SF Ultra Seal. It's the best underlayment for laminate flooring.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • It offers a great barrier to preventing moisture accumulation
  • Ideal for laminate, engineered flooring
  • Effective at absorbing sound

Cons:

  • Some users complain that the Underlayment is not ideal for hardwood flooring.

3. Floorlot 200sqft Laminate Flooring Underlayment

FLOORLOT SHOP. FLOORS. DELIVERED. 200sqft 3mm Laminate...
  • Coverage: 200 sqft per roll
  • Includes Moisture/Vapor Barrier
  • Extra Thick 3mm Foam Has Natural Sound Absorption
  • For Laminate & Engineered Floating Floors
  • 3mm Thick / Comes with overlap & tape for easy installation

Floorlot Laminate Underlayment covers up to 200 square feet. It features a vapor and moisture barrier as well as a 3 mm thick layer that you can adjust beneath the laminated flooring to create a smooth base for the top flooring. Moreover, it provides excellent soundproofing against footsteps and reduces the hollow sound related to floating floors.

When it comes to installation, I can assure you that I had an easy time. I used the peel-and-stick tape and overlay system to create a strong seal and eliminate the need for additional vapor barrier films. I noticed that the Underlayment has two sides; one side is attached with a vapor barrier, while the other (blue) has foam for noise reduction.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • The Underlayment can hide minor imperfections on the subfloor
  • You don't require additional tape during the installation process
  • Features a vapor and moisture barrier

Cons:

  • Difficult to cut

4. Roberts Super Felt Cushion Underlayment Roll, 70-193A

Sale
Roberts 70-193A Super Felt 360 sq 60 in. x 72 ft. x 3...
  • For use with engineered wood and laminate flooring
  • Provides cushion over concrete and wood subfloors
  • 360-Feet square roll.The IIC and STC tests measure sound...
  • Sound Transmission Lost Test (STC) rating of 66
  • Impact Sound Transmission Test (IIC) rating of 67

If you have engineered or laminate flooring, count on the Roberts Super Felt Cushion Underlayment. You also install it on a concrete floor to provide great insulative capabilities. Besides, this Underlayment will offer great results if you need to convert a garage to a room. Furthermore, it has a plastic film for extra moisture protection; this film absorbs sound rather than reflects it.

Roberts Super Felt Cushion Underlayment has an IIC rating of 67 and an STC rating of 66, making it effective in sound absorption and reduction. For instance, the International Building Code requires that each rating be 50 or more and that STC and IIC for multi-unit structures must be 60 or more according to municipal and HOA codes. That means this Underlayment is excellent in soundproofing since it has ratings above 60.

The Underlayment is dense, 4 mm thick, and manufactured from recycled felt. I noticed that you need to carefully handle the moisture barrier because it can easily tear down.

Pros:

  • Offers extra moisture protection
  • Absorbs sound rather than reflecting it
  • Easy to install
  • Ideal for engineered or laminate flooring

Cons:

  • The moisture/vapor barrier can easily tear down

5. QuietWalk 360 Sq. Ft. Laminate Flooring Underlayment

Sale
MP Global Products QuietWalk Laminate Flooring...
  • FOR FLOATING FLOORS: Acoustical floating flooring underlayment...
  • LARGE ROLL: Comes as a 6-by 60-foot roll for 360 square feet of...
  • SUPERIOR SOUND REDUCTION: Recycled fibers absorb sound and keep...
  • MOISTURE PROTECTION: DriWick technology prevents moisture damage...
  • GREAT, ALL-YEAR FLOOR SUPPORT AND PROTECTION: Provides...

QuietWalk 360 Sq. Ft. Underlayment offers sound protection for laminate floor installation projects. Besides, you can use it on almost every type of wood floor, including vinyl plank and nailed-down hardwood flooring. Furthermore, the Underlayment is manufactured from recycled materials to ensure your structure receives a safe installation experience.

The recycled fibers allow the felt to have airflow. Conversely, the Underlayment comes with a vapor barrier that prevents moisture buildup and is Greenguard certified to release no harmful or VOCs gages. Besides, the Underlayment is approved for use with any radiant heating systems installed on the floor.

QuietWalk 360 Sq. Ft. Underlayment has an IIC rating of 71 and STC rating of 66, making it much more effective in blocking noise, and being easy to install made me love it even more.

Pros:

  • Easy to install
  • Effective in blocking noise
  • You can use it on almost every type of wood floors
  • Greenguard certified Underlayment

Cons:

  • Quite difficult to cut

Airborne Noise Vs. Structural Noise

Airborne noise is usually audio waves transmitted via the air and become noise when colliding with a solid object. Then, the collision generates vibrations that our ears can easily detect. Then, the brain converts unimpeded soundwaves (picked up by the ears) into specific sounds.

For instance, when speaking with someone on the phone or in person, the voices you are hearing are airborne sounds. Another example is watching TV, listening to music, etc. All these examples apply the same principle.

Conversely, structural noise happens when an object bangs a solid surface creating vibrations. Our hearing can still distinguish the original audio pattern even when the energy passes through other materials like metal, wood, or concrete. The echoing effect of the structural sound is what makes it unique.

For instance, if someone is stomping their foot on a hardwood floor in the upstairs living room in apartment buildings, the person living below them would hear a structural sound.

Factors to Consider Before Buying the Best Underlayment for Soundproofing

1. Material

Before buying the best soundproof Underlayment, consider the material of the Underlayment. The material will determine whether it's suitable for nail-down hardwood flooring. Soundproof underlayments come in different materials. However, this guide will pay attention to the four main materials, rubber, foams, cork, and felt.

i). rubber

Rubber has a great potential to block sound transmission since it's flexible. It can readily absorb the noise and vibrations even for flooring that are nailed down. Besides, rubber underlayments are quite easy to install, and since they are water-resistant, they protect wooden flooring.

ii). foam

Foam underlay can help deaden airborne and impact noise for nail-down wood flooring. Besides, foam underlayment is used to reduce the echoes of footsteps caused by the hollowness of the wooden flooring. In addition, the foam underlays feature a vapor barrier. So, if you prefer this kind of underlay, go for one with a moisture protection layer.

iii). cork

Cork underlayments are a good option for absorbing sound energy, even though they're not often used for soundproofing. The good thing with Cork underlay is that it's both environmentally friendly and anti-microbial material. Furthermore, a cork underlay helps smooth out an uneven flooring surface. However, though Cork underlay is ideal for soundproofing, it does not offer moisture protection.

iv). felt

Felt is effective for both sound control and moisture protection for flooring. Besides, it's the most common underlay material for hardwood floors. By placing a felt underlayment, you can nail down the wooden flooring and make it soundproof.

2. Density and thickness of materials

When shopping for the best Underlayment for soundproofing, pay attention to the density and thickness of the materials. The thickness of an approved soundproof underlayment material usually indicates its general quality. For example, if the unit is made from rubber, foam, felt, or cork, the thickest and densest item will offer the noise reduction you are looking for.

Since moisture or condensation can intensify structural vibrations, going for a soundproof flooring material with a vapor barrier is advantageous. Besides, allowing your floor to withstand droplets create a calmer environment. On the other hand, any underlayment unit is better than nothing. Though thinner units may not block all generated audio waves, they still keep a structure quieter than flooring without it.

3. Soundproofing capacity

i). Sound Transmission Class Ratings

Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings are essential when choosing other soundproofing material or an underlayment. The ratings usually determine the airborne sound reduction ability of a product. So, a product's ability to reduce airborne noise will increase with its STC rating. For wooden flooring, the minimum STC rating should be 40.

However, this measurement doesn't represent the product's post-installation capacity to reduce structural or surrounding noise. On the other hand, when assessing the STC of the Underlayment, a higher figure is usually preferable. You need to choose this item depending on its thickness, compatibility with different types of floors, and other unique qualities.

ii). Impact Insulation Class Rating

Impact Insulation Class (IIC) ratings usually measure the structural sound transmission through the floor. So, the ratings are related to impact noise. In particular, when there's hardwood flooring, impact noise usually generates vibrations easily transmitted through the building structure. So, looking for an Underlayment with a higher IIC rating would be the best option.

For a room, the minimum IIC rating should be 50, while for non-insulated hardwood flooring, the maximum IIC rating should be 45. Furthermore, it should be more than 50 in most construction codes. For a house or other structure to pass a construction inspection, Underlayment is required.

Though a good underlayment might not reduce all noises produced by this method, it should block most of them, especially in the mid-range frequencies. Besides, since floor joists transmit more vibrations than subflooring, carpet, hardwoods, tile, or linoleum, installing this Underlayment along them is ideal.

5. Flooring type

Before buying the best Underlayment for soundproofing, pay attention to the flooring types.

i). Hardwood

Cork material is the flooring underlayment that will most likely maintain rigidity without flexing and absorbing sound. Foam is a great second alternative as it's thick and very dense even though cork lasts longer and performs better.

ii). laminate

Laminate flooring is usually prone to moisture; therefore, foam with vapor barrier qualities works best underneath it. Conversely, the cork will reduce noise even more than it would.

iii). carpet

Rubber and foam are the best options for carpet flooring underlayment since they will make the floor softer and absorb the produced structure-borne sound.

iv). tile

Most underlayment materials are not recommended for application under tile flooring. But you can use rubber cork or thick subfloor underlayment. After deciding on the best type for your floor, assess the sound deadening and absorption qualities of the different products you have to choose from.

v). Vinyl

Before purchasing the best Underlayment for vinyl flooring, keep in mind that most manufacturers won't fulfill warranties if additional Underlayment is installed. However, the best thing is that vinyl flooring products frequently ship with cork underlayment. So, if you require additional soundproofing, foam, cork, and felt will all work, although cork is the best option since it won't damage or stain the flooring. We discourage using rubber since it will leave stains.

Frequently Asked Questions on the Best Underlayment for Soundproofing

1. Can you use soundproof Underlayment on hardwood floors?

Although soundproofing the wooden floors is costly and time-consuming, it's possible. Besides underlayments, you can use floor joists, rugs, carpets, and rubber floor mats. On the other hand, the underlayments provide insulation and eliminate sound vibrations between the subfloor and the wooden floor.

2. Can you use soundproof Underlayment for walls?

The short answer is no. Most Underlayments haven't been tested out in other applications. To soundproof your walls, we recommend adding extra mass or decoupling. These options are impractical for floors, so an underlayment is usually the best option.

3. How can I stop the walking noise on my floor?

The best way to deal with impact noise is to use a carpet and a thick pad underlayment. You can choose the best soundproof carpet underlayment on our list. The Underlayment will reduce the sound of footsteps and stop airborne sounds between floors.

4. Can I use a foam mat to reduce impact noise?

No. Foam does not stop a sound; instead, it reduces or absorbs echo within the room.

5. How can you soundproof a room with a carpet?

We recommend going for a carpet underlay to increase the soundproofing properties of your carpet. This is just an additional layer of fabric that sits between your carpet and the floor, and it's made of materials known for effectively blocking airborne noises.

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About the author

Brenda Nyawara

Brenda Nyawara is an editor at Archute. She is a graduate architect with a passion for edge-cutting ideas in design, fashion, art and modern world interests.