A noisy staircase can disturb homeowners during their daily activities and night sleep. Sound is easily transmitted from one floor to the next via a staircase. For this reason, homeowners need to try out a combination of techniques that can help them fight that annoying noise. Here is a thorough guide that can help you soundproof a noisy staircase once and for all.
How to Make Stairs Quieter, Step by Step!
It is essential to point out that in order to properly cope with a noisy staircase, homeowners need to take several steps that will guarantee that the whole problem is dealt with. However, the construction of a staircase makes it a bit difficult to soundproof.
1. Examine the Staircase and the Steps
The first thing you need to do is to thoroughly examine the staircases of your house to see if any steps squeak or creak.
If you notice any type of noise, then the stair treads are probably coming away from the stringers.
You should then carefully examine the stair treads for any holes which indicate that the steps need to be nailed down to the stringers.
You should also look for any holes or gaps that exist between the steps. As we all know, gaps can easily transmit noise. For this reason, if you discover such spaces, you need to cover them adequately with the use of an acoustic caulk.
You can find a variety of sound sealants on the market nowadays. An inexpensive, yet effective solution Green Glue Noiseproofing Sealant. This particular sound sealant is a durable and flexible soundproof material that can reduce sound transmission and adequately cover any holes or spaces within your staircase.
2. Detached handrail
The handrail is an essential safety part of any staircase. If however, a handrail is not firmly attached to the wall, it may not only deprive you of something to grab upon in case of a fall, but it can also, cause a lot of unnecessary noise when someone climbs the steps of the staircase.
In the same category of problems, we often include a loose-fitting post. A building contractor should best address both of these issues.
3. Insulate the bottom of your staircase
The most important step towards soundproofing your stairs is to insulate them properly. As you can imagine, you will have to properly insulate both the bottom of the staircase and the around space, as well.
To insulate the bottom of a stair, you first need to install a wood strapping along the surface of the stringers. That strapping will help you create a proper surface for your insulation attachment.
After that, you are ready to install about an inch or two of foam board insulation. There are currently three basic types of foam insulation products available on the market: polystyrene, polyisocyanurate, and polyurethane.
Most residential designs have used the extruded polystyrene foam, commonly known as XPS or pink board. There are quite a lot of products available nowadays, most of which are affordable and durable.
A popular product in the market is the so-called Pink Insulation Foam 1/2” Thick foam which has an R-value of 3.
Some people have observed that only the top steps of their staircase are the cause of noise transmission around the house. If that is the case, then you should probably have in mind that the hollow space just under the treads may be the cause of this.
That space may actually work as a big soundbox. Try to move your hand into that empty space and fill it with insulation material and if needed, with extra bracing, as well.
4. Cover the stairs
A useful step to achieve noise reduction coming from your staircase is to cover the stairs with enough carpet and cork adequately. To have the best results, you first need to measure the stair treads.
An easy way to achieve that is to multiply the width by the length for every single step and then add up the results in order to get the total area of the stairs you have to cover. With the use of a knife, cut pieces of cork and fit them to the steps of your staircase.
In case you have steps of different sizes and shapes, you can use a newspaper to cover them beforehand and create a pattern. Then, you should do the same with your carpet.
Cut pieces of carpet and attach them to the steps with the use of carpet tape. You could use a ruler to cut straighter lines of the carpet and the cork.
5. Use acoustic underlay
If you find out that the noise has not been sufficiently reduced after placing the carpet and corks mentioned above, you could add an acoustic underlay, as well.
This material will add an extra level of insulation to your staircase, and it will help a lot in further reducing noise coming from footsteps or just from old wooden steps.
An excellent choice of underlayment is the widely used FloorMuffler Flooring Acoustical and Barrier underlay that is particularly effective for wooden staircases.
Homeowners could also, take a look at the QuietWalk Underlayment for Laminate Flooring with Attached Vapor Barrier that offers noise reduction and moisture protection, as well.
6. Soundproof your staircase from above
To properly soundproof your staircase, it is important that you make it soundproof from above, as well. The first step towards achieving such a thing is to apply some lubricant between the staircase’s boards.
Particularly in cases of wooden stairs, every step is usually made of more than one wooden boards. As the years pass by, those boards may start to rub against each other and cause a lot of noise when you step on them.
There are many lubricants you can use to achieve the best possible result, including powdered soapstone, talcum powder, as well as powdered graphite.
After that, you need to make sure that there are sufficient nails that secure the treads in place. If you need to apply some more, you should first apply some pressure on either side of the area that needs some fixing. Use 8 or 10-penny nails and with the use of a hammer, put them into place.
7. Isolate masses
When people wonder about how to soundproof a set of stairs, they usually forget about the impact masses have on noise transmittance around the house.
One of the best ways to achieve noise reduction is to isolate masses, for example, walls from stairs. Usually, the impact of a footstep is being transferred through the tread into the stringer and then into the wall.
The wall, mainly if it is not correctly insulated, will reverberate the sound back to your home, just like a drum. If you have to deal with a problem like that, then you should check your space thoroughly and find out how you can disconnect a part of this sequence.
There are two main techniques you could try out; create some air space or add some insulating mass between the staircase, the walls, and the rest of the room.
The second option is much easier actually, and it can be achieved with the use of a proper carpet or acoustic underlay, as mentioned beforehand.
8. Stop the noise at its source
A useful option you should have in mind when you wish to soundproof your stairs is to stop the noise from reaching the staircase in the first place.
There are actually a lot of different ways that can help you achieve such a thing. A good solution is to enclose the staircase completely.
That way, there will be no space for an echo chamber to be created. To achieve this, you will need to fit the stairs with risers that will close the staircase completely. You need to cut each riser individually and use some timber blocks to fix the risers to the treads.
Another commonly used option is to place a heavy door at the base of the staircase, as well as at the top of it. Although you could measure the height and width of the opening and install the door all by yourself, it is preferable that you hire a professional to provide your home with the best results.
You should also use some heavy carpet or large rugs to soundproof the basement room. That way, the noise that reaches the staircase will be much reduced.
9. Soundproof the walls of the Staircase
Using acoustical insulation to soundproof the walls around the staircase is extremely important. You first need to examine the walls for any gaps and use an acoustic sealant to seal them.
You can use the same sealant you purchased for sealing the gaps in your staircase. Add some insulation material to eliminate any sound reverberation.
You can use many different acoustical insulation products. For example, a popular product in this category is the 12-Pack Acoustic Panels Studio Foam Wedges produced by Foamily.
Alternatively, there is the option of the 48 Pack Acoustic Foam Panel Wedge Studio Soundproofing Wall Tiles. Those panels can successfully reduce middle to high range frequencies, as well as diminish echoes.
It is important to increase the mass of the wall, as well. You can achieve this by using some high-density products. If you wish to improve the ability of the wall to absorb sounds and vibrations, you need to use different materials of high mass.
An efficient combination can really provide you with the utmost results when it comes to soundproofing the space. There is also the option of using soundproof paint along the walls.
This specially made paint will create a thick surface to your wall that will prevent the sound from bouncing and reflecting. That way, the so-called echo will be diminished, and the amount of noise that will reach the stairs will decrease considerably.
10. Reduce noise transmission
To prevent the noise that comes from the stairs and landings, for example, due to footsteps, you need to decrease the transmission of sound.
It may sound difficult at first, but it can be easily achieved through separation between the stair flights and the landings. Specifically designed bearings are situated on the upper, as well as on the lower support of the stair flights. For maximum results, bearings should be installed across the entire width of the flight.
11. Fight reverberation Within the Staircase
Reverberation in a house needs a lot of attention. The main reason is that reverberated noise is not always easy to identify.
It is also challenging to suppress this type of noise in a staircase when there is an absence of sound-absorbing furniture.
Apart from placing many soundproof materials, like panels underneath the stairs, as well as on the wall, ceiling, and risers, you could also, put some heavy furniture in the basement close to the bottom of the stairs. That way, the noise will not be able to reflect so much around the room, and the reverberation will decrease considerably, as well.
Noise reduction in a house is something most homeowners have had to cope with at least once in their lifetime. For those of us who live in a home where one or more flights of stairs exist, there is an extra burden in dealing with the problem.
Fortunately, there are various steps we can take to fight those annoying creaks, whether they are associated with footsteps or with other types of activities.
Apart from focusing on the stairs themselves, we also, need to focus on the rest of the space, as well. Besides, a staircase is not an isolated feature of a house. It is, however, firmly attached to other parts of it, including the walls, the ceiling, and various pieces of furniture.
Therefore, properly soundproofing the whole house can be the key to fighting noise and resting in a quiet and peaceful environment that provides the necessary silence to all of the members of our family.