The Best Material for Soundproofing Between Floors: A Comprehensive Guide

The Karma Acoustic Overlay Plus plate is a popular material used to soundproof a wooden platform and under floor finishes, such as hardwood floors, carpets, etc. This acoustic mat is an effective way to reduce impact noise. The least expensive underlayment option is the polyurethane foam base layer, which provides some insulation and creates a level floor surface. The ICC rating of a material is measured using a “hammer machine” on the upper floor and by measuring the sound in decibels in the lower room.

Floating floors, floor mats and sound-insulating underlayment can significantly improve the ICC rating of a flooring system. The ability of a material to prevent airborne sound transmittance is measured using a different sound transmission metric class (STC). The STC rating is a logarithmic measure of the loss of sound transmission between two rooms, measured at 16 frequencies, from 125 Hz to 5000 Hz. This rating measures the material's ability to absorb airborne noise and, consequently, prevent its transmission.

When considering acoustics, there are many factors to consider beyond acoustics, and a flooring contractor can guide you through them all. Combining carpets with resin floors can help isolate sound where it is most needed. Sound insulation solutions for floors, made of materials such as polyethylene foam, acoustic foam, felt, plywood, cement boards and carpets, cushion noise levels without the need to lift the floorboards and rebuild or replace the beams. When none of these costly, invasive and disruptive solutions are possible, that's where sound-insulating floor barriers come into play.

The higher the density, the more effective the polyethylene foam will be, but any type will be better than having no insulation at all. Beyond the simple foam subfloor sold for laminate floors, there is another more expensive type that is often called acoustic foam. WhisperStop is a brand of acoustic foam base and has a thickness of 3 mm. The muffler is another acoustic foam and is quite dense, with 20 pounds of sound-absorbing material per cubic foot.

Soft floor subfloors, regardless of their physical properties, will generally advertise that they are effective against blocking sound. While these statements may have some validity, it is important to distinguish between this type of subfloor and others that claim to be acoustic counterfloors. Acoustic subfloors are very dense materials designed to dampen sound vibrations. A quick way to determine density is to look at the weight of a material relative to its size.

The recycled felt base is environmentally friendly and effective at reducing noise. Roughly twice as expensive as polyethylene foam, felt underlayment is a good choice if your primary purpose is sound absorption and if your budget can afford the additional cost. The bottom layer of recycled felt is approximately four times heavier than foam and is therefore denser. This is your best bet with laminate and engineered wood floors.

Plywood subfloor is often used under thin, flexible flooring materials such as vinyl tile or linoleum. Plywood is only a moderately effective sound blocker. Sometimes red rosin paper or tar paper which have no sound-blocking advantages are placed on the plywood to minimize squeaks. You can do it better than plywood subfloor by installing a specialized acoustic subfloor in the subfloor.

The SoundEater is one of those products that combines a specially designed soft board with an impact-absorbing tongue and groove with a matching wooden profile. At more than 1 inch thick, the SoundEater is thicker than most common plywood products so make sure this doesn't cause problems with floor levels in adjoining rooms. Acoustic subfloor systems differ from the straight plywood option because the systems raise the floor over sleeping tables. This elevation creates a dead air zone that significantly reduces the transmission of vibrations from one floor to the next.

WonderBoard and Durock are two popular types of cement boards used as a base for tiling. Cement board can block sound a little better than wood because of its density. Cement board is very dense and can be effective for soundproofing although it won't completely silence noise as it arrives. Depending on your budget and the scope of renovation you're willing to tackle there are several methods of interfloor soundproofing that are effective at reducing noise.

The STC classification depends on the mass of the type of soil on the insulation of the material through separation and on the resilience of the soil. The high mass and density make it perfect for soundproofing and blocking excessive levels of noise in the air. This blog explains in detail how to successfully soundproof a floor to achieve a high level of soundproofing from airborne noise and impact noise. We offer solutions on how to soundproof a floor against noisy neighbors while complying with building regulations part E.

Every person's situation is unique so certain soundproof flooring options will work better for some than others. However, acoustic qualities are not the only factor to consider when selecting a flooring material for your building; if you need more information about soundproofing any floor you can contact us call us on 01423 339163 or send us your enquiry. Therefore finding the best ways to soundproof your floor will also make you a calmer person and almost as important a better neighbor. The easily available and environmentally friendly felt base provides additional soundproofing when replacing your floor.

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