Soundproofing your floors will depend on what kind of sounds you want to reduce and how well your current flooring is blocking sound. But there are many ways to deal with it. In this project, you could use one method or combine a few different ones to get your desired results.
Ready to look at all of them and see which method will work best for you? Let’s begin!
10 Ways to Soundproof a Floor
Table of Contents
- 10 Ways to Soundproof a Floor
- What Are the Two Types of Noise?
- What Are the Principles of Soundproofing?
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Here are the things you can do to soundproof your floors:
1. Carpet Padding and Carpet
One of the easiest (and prettiest) ways to soundproof floors is simply placing a carpet or rug. This is especially good for hardwood floors since those don’t absorb sound at all.
Using it along with carpet padding will muffle sounds from below your floor and can even prevent the noise from reaching your floor if your carpet is thick enough.
Long, thicker carpets are better for soundproof floors than rugs are, especially if they have thick carpet padding underneath.
A rug will also do in a pinch! It might not work as well as thick carpets, but it will reduce noise significantly, especially when used together with carpet padding.
The best part about using carpets and rugs is that they are safe choices for creating a soundproof apartment floor since you won’t need to hammer any nails or change anything about the existing flooring.
2. Rubber Floor Mats
If you already have carpeted floors but still want to kill more noise, installing a rubber floor mat (also known as an interlocking floor mat) is a good option.
Floor mats are great for reducing impact noise since they have shock-absorbing properties.
Interlocking floor mats are very easy to install, and since they connect to each other, they are also great for high-traffic areas or those with heavy activity.
It’s why we see the interlocking floor mat at gyms and children’s play areas so much. They are also great for childproofing a certain area since it softens the impact.
Additionally, interlocking floor mats come in different thicknesses, sizes, and even colors to match exactly what you need!
If you want to install rubber floor mats under your carpeting, you’ll want to lay them on your floor before the carpet so that it will be tucked out of sight!
Or, if you’re using it for your kid’s play area or bedroom, you can pick out colorful colors for interlocking floor mats!
3. Mass Loaded Vinyl Floor Mats
Vinyl floor mats are excellent soundproofing materials that can handle most types of noise very well. They are also very affordable, and the installation process is easy to do yourself!
Many people use it along with rubber mats and carpets for the ultimate floor soundproofing.
These kinds of floor mats are very dense, and the material creates a sound barrier to prevent noises from passing through them.
It’s also a very versatile soundproofing material, as it can also be used on ceilings and walls, not just the floor!
The only downside to mass-loaded vinyl mats is that they need to be nailed on whatever surface you install them on.
This poses a problem for those who rent and need help to make these changes on their finished floor.
4. Acoustic Floor Underlayment
What if you don’t want all those carpet paddings, rugs, or mass-loaded vinyl on your existing floor?
If you have engineered or laminate flooring, a good soundproofing option is installing a floor underlayment using acoustic underlayment.
An acoustic underlayment requires more time and effort to install than rugs or carpets, but this method of soundproofing a floor COMPLETELY gets rid of both impact and airborne sound!
There are also different kinds of materials that you can use for flooring underlayment, such as basic foam, combination style, felt, and cork that you can choose from!
Here’s how to do it, starting with the acoustic insulation process for laminate floors:
To install the acoustic underlayment, your existing floors must first be naked. This means that if you have any carpets or mats, you’ll need to take them all out before you start working.
Then, you have to ensure that your existing floor has no protruding nails, is clean, and has no damage, such as cracks, or you will have to have it repaired first.
Next, you grab your acoustic floor underlayment, acoustic mats, scissors, and tape.
Then roll out your chosen acoustic underlayment material, with the adhesive side facing DOWN until all desired area is covered completely.
After the whole floor is covered, cut off the excess underlayment, then install the acoustic mats on top of it. Now, you can install the flooring material!
Now, how about the acoustic insulation for carpeted floors?
The only thing you will do differently is to install the acoustic mats first, then the acoustic underlayment, and finish it off with your existing carpet.
If humidity poses a problem with this method, consider adding a vapor barrier to reduce moisture.
5. Green Glue
Green glue is a dampening compound meant to be used in between other soundproofing materials to aid other materials in reducing noise.
It is meant to be used with two layers of drywall, with the Green glue sandwiched between them. It works by converting a sound wave into heat, therefore reducing noise.
Green glue never sets hard, so you can’t use it to stick flooring materials for soundproofing together.
Instead, separating the two sheets of drywall with a flexible dampening compound in between dampens the vibration, and low-frequency sounds are easily reduced.
It’s designed to be used with timber-based construction, which is lightweight and has little mass, and therefore can easily let sound waves pass through.
Green glue is mostly used for soundproofing walls, but you can also use it to soundproof a floor.
Green glue comes in two variants, the acoustic caulk, and the dampening compound. Make sure you purchase the dampening compound for your soundproof flooring project!
6. Floor Joist Isolator
Another good soundproofing method you can use if you’re not renting your place is to install sound isolators for your floor joists.
These are small rubber U-shaped spacers installed to lessen sound transmission through vibration.
If your floor joists are sitting directly on your sub floor, you can remove them and fit the floor joist spacers under them.
Most floor joists are designed to fit two-by-twos easily. When installed, they absorb sound vibration between the sub floor and floor joists through decoupling.
Alternatively, you could use joist gasket tapes instead of the u-shaped spacers.
Joist gasket tapes are great for both dampening impact sound and eliminating floor squeaking sounds.
You can use them together with floor joist spacers to increase sound isolation, and they’re very versatile. You can also use them on your wall and ceiling joists!
You could add some foam or insulation material between the floor joists to make the most out of it.
These will do a great job absorbing sound waves so they won’t even get through your apartment floor.
7. New Floor
If you have the budget and time, you could also build a new floor on top of your current apartment floor or replace the existing floor entirely.
This is also a good idea if you think your current flooring is hopeless to remedy to achieve your desired soundproofing.
If your existing floor is hollow, you absolutely have to replace it because just adding a new layer won’t do you any good.
You start by stripping your floor down to the sub-layer of your floor, then inspect it for problems.
Are there any squeaking or vibrations you can address? Get them all out of the way before you proceed!
Tile floors are the number one choice to minimize the noise in building your new soundproof floor, while linoleum and laminate wood are runner up options.
Meanwhile, using hardwood floors in your soundproofing construction will require a little more work and effort, but you can still work with it.
While working on your floor assembly, try to avoid using nails as they still produce some vibration, contributing to the noise.
Instead, use adhesive to not only minimize vibration but also dampen noise.
8. Floating Floor
When you walk on a floor or drag furniture across it, those motions cause a vibration.
This vibration is felt not only on the top layer of the floor but also on all the layers of solid surfaces to which the floor is attached.
This allows the vibration (and the sound) to travel through the materials, making more noise.
Turning your flooring into a floating one is one of the best ways to reduce BOTH impact and airborne noise, although it takes more time, money, and work.
That’s what makes floating floors different. Floating floors have no solid fixtures attached to them.
Instead, there is a clear break between the flooring layers, with the upper layers of the floor “floating.”
These breaks prevent sound from traveling through the layers, resulting in reduced noise overall.
For example, for the joists, use adhesive tapes or isolation strips instead of fixing the sub-layer of your floor with nails.
This will separate the sub-layer of the floor from the rest of the building structure, essentially making it float.
You could also add a mass-loaded vinyl to your sub-layer to make it more effective.
Until you reach the final flooring, the key is to attach the upper layers using adhesive and never nails or screws.
Remember, to be considered “floating,” nothing should be fixed to the building structure.
Also, before you install your floating floors, you need to make sure that the layer your floating floors are supposed to mount on has enough mass and can support the weight of the upper floating layers.
9. Cork Tiles
Cork isn’t just for your bulletin board; you can also use the same material for sound reduction!
You can place them under or over your floorboards; the thicker your cork tiles are, the more sound they will reduce.
However, it’s better to place them under your floorboards so that the tiles are not exposed to elements.
Because although most cork tiles are water resistant, they are not waterproof!
And when you install the cork tiles, it’s a good idea to use adhesive or glue instead of fixing them with nails.
If you don’t want to attach the tiles to your floorboards, you can use them as carpet padding!
They are much more sound-absorbing than regular carpet padding and more resistant to wear and tear.
10. Deck Screws
We know we just said that fixing the floor using nails is not advised to lessen the sound being transferred, but if the only thing you’re dealing with is squeaking floor sounds, deck screws will do!
For this project, you’ll need deck screws, a drill, a drill bit with a countersink bit driver, and a pen or pencil to mark the squeaky areas.
Like installing new flooring, you first need to remove your current flooring and have access to the sub-layer.
You don’t have to do it on the entire floor if there are only a few parts where you can hear the squeaking. Just focus on the parts of the floor where there are obvious squeaking sounds.
Inspect which areas are the source of squeaking, then mark those areas and drill pilot holes in them.
Next, utilize a drill bit with a countersink that is the proper deck screw size, and use bits that are a bit smaller than your deck screw width.
After, place the floorboards on top, then screw them into the drilled pilot holes.
Do the same for all the squeaking areas, then walk all over once you’re done to ensure you have everything.
What Are the Two Types of Noise?
What type of floor noise are you currently dealing with?
You’ll have to answer this first before considering what kind of soundproofing project you need and what type of materials you should use.
Let’s look at the two types of noise and how you can deal with each of them:
Airborne noise is found in the air and the atmosphere. For example, if you’re listening to music from your speakers, watching a movie, or talking, all of that is airborne noise.
What we know as noise pollution is usually airborne noise.
However, airborne noise can also turn into impact noise.
For instance, if you have big speakers on the floor and the vibration from airborne noise creates structural noise throughout the floor, producing impact noise.
Airborne sound can easily be soundproofed against by simply adding mass.
Meanwhile, impact noise is sounds made from impact. It is also known as structural sound.
For example, footfall noise, footsteps, dancing, when someone upstairs drops something on their floor or rearranging their furniture are all impact noises.
Impact noise is the structure-borne noise, and you’ll have to deal with more of it the lower your floor is in a building.
For instance, basements usually suffer the most noise throughout an entire building.
Impact sound is harder to soundproof against than airborne since airborne noise is something you only hear, and impact noise is sound whose vibrations you can both hear and feel.
What Are the Principles of Soundproofing?
There are four methods you can use to soundproof flooring. It’s best to combine a few ways instead of sticking to just one method for the best results!
You can make use of sound absorption for soundproof flooring by installing some insulation materials.
Sound absorption work by removing the amount of energy in the sound waves as it passes through the thick insulation material, reducing sound transmission.
Sound dampening works by acting as a shock absorber for the sound vibrations and “dampening” it.
Dampening materials turn these sound waves into heat, lessening the transfer of sound to the other side.
Sound decoupling is separating two solid parts of a structure to lessen the sound vibrations from being transmitted and traveling across materials such as walls and floors.
Noise is produced when the sound waves hit a solid object.
So if the two solid walls are separated, the sound waves will need to pass through an air cavity in the space between the walls first, reducing the noise before it’s transferred.
For both impact and airborne noises, the more mass you add, the more noise is reduced since there is more soundproofing material to absorb sound.
Added mass makes it harder for something to move. Therefore it can stop vibration caused by sound waves.
Installing materials like cement board, drywall, or mass-loaded vinyl increases the mass and reduces sound transfer.
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)
Do you still have questions about achieving soundproof flooring? Get your answers here!
Can Floors Be Made Soundproof?
We’ve listed many different ways to soundproof a floor above, so pick one (or combine a few) soundproofing projects that work best for you!
How Do I Reduce Footstep Noise From Upstairs?
If you want to reduce noise from upstairs, you need to do more than try to soundproof floors, you also need to soundproof your ceiling.
Footsteps from upstairs are impact noise, so a few ways to soundproof your ceiling are to add mass or insulation, add an additional ceiling layer, or even replace the ceiling with a soundproof one.
Another option is to soundproof the floor above your ceiling, so their footsteps don’t even reach it.
How Do You Soundproof a Wooden Floor?
A thick carpet and carpet pads are a great way to soundproof a floor. Hardwood flooring creates a lot of impact noise, but a carpet floor is a fast and easy solution!
A thick rug will easily absorb sound and impact noise, preventing it from even reaching your hardwood floors.
Additionally, carpet pads don’t require nails or any adhesive to install, protecting your finished floor.
Interlocking floor mats are also a good alternative to carpets and rugs!
How Do I Choose the Best Material to Use for My Floors?
Noise is measured using either Impact Insulation Class or Sound Transmission Class. They rate how much sound transfers through certain materials.
You can use these two ratings to guide you in choosing your desired material. The higher the score of the material, the better it is at absorbing sound.
For instance, carpet and foam have higher ratings than hardwood or ceramic tiles, meaning they absorb more sound at impact.
You can look at the ratings of the different materials you are considering for your noise reduction project, then mix and match them until you find what suits your room best!
Soundproofing your floors is one of the most difficult parts of room soundproofing since it deals with a lot of impact noise.
There are many different ways how you can soundproof a floor, from taking your flooring apart, constructing a new one, or simply throwing a carpet and calling it a day.
Depending on the kind of flooring you have and your desired level of noise reduction, we hope this article has been helpful in finding the perfect soundproofing method for you.Soundproofing floors is just the beginning, but it’s a vital step in creating a soundproof room!