Before jumping into the best soundproofing solutions and their costs, we look at what shoppers should be looking for. Then, readers begin to understand why all this matters so much for flooring at home or in a business.
Floors can cause a lot of problems for people trying to soundproof a particular area. Not only can sound leak through another level, but the flooring inside an area could be problematic as well.
Three Important Factors To Consider for any Soundproofing Project
When shopping for soundproofing solutions for a floor, there are three main attributes to look for. This will help people understand without having to go through the trouble of actually installing anything that can make a difference.
Sound Transmission Class
Also known as STC, it is a number that will help define how well a floor is doing at reducing airborne noise. The higher the STC, the better the material is at cutting down on sounds. (Source – STC Rating)
Impact Insulation Class
Also known as IIC, this will allow shoppers to have a better idea on what type of impact materials have on impact noise.
For flooring, that usually means footsteps, but moving around furniture and other pieces in a room can make a difference as well. Like STC, the higher the number, the better.
The cost of soundproofing a floor might vary a bit depending on what type of work actually needs to be done. Some people believe that they can get the job done by using some pretty basic materials, while others are looking for the best of the best. (Source – IIC)
Overall Thickness and Density
A huge factor in soundproofing is having some type of mass to help. If the material can add that to the mix, it is going to provide some level of effectiveness.
It really does come down to how much mass is added to the mix as a barrier. With flooring, the goal is to add some mass, but it can’t be too much due to the limited amount of space.
1. Soundproof Underlayment Option
The most common option for soundproofing a floor is to use soundproof underlayment. They come in a few different options, ranging from a felt to foam.
All of them will add a level of thickness and density that is beneficial, and the STC usually falls somewhere in the mid-60s.
A few top options are listed below, with their STC and IIC ratings as well as how much they cost in the end. Most people do not want to spend a ton of money unless they are absolutely sure it is going to be beneficial.
Roberts Super Felt Premium Underlayment
- STC 66
- IIC 67
- $.30-$.40 per square foot
Felt that is a certain level of thickness can be a great underlayment option for flooring. Roberts is a very trusted brand that many people have used, and it is fairly affordable for what it can accomplish.
It is engineered for both wood and laminate flooring, providing cushioning and soundproofing that is extremely beneficial. Click this link to buy on Amazon.
Feather Step 3 in 1 Silent Vapor Barrier
- STC 65
- IIC 64
- $.15 per square foo
Anyone on a very tight budget when it comes to shopping for soundproof underlayment should consider the solution.
It might not have the overall effectiveness from a score standpoint as some of the others, but a few points here and there is not going to be that noticeable to the untrained ear.
With a 2.0 mm thickness, this foam material (Amazon) comes with a foil vapor barrier film. It is easy to install, holds up under a lot of use, and has a very hard time tearing at all.
Those who are a little worried about putting underlayment down near an area that has heavy traffic will definitely want to have something like this to rely on.
How inexpensive is the option compared to some of the other solutions out there? Considerable savings will work well with wood and cement subfloors only.
A 100 square foot roll can be as cheap as $15, making it very easy to cover a lot of flooring at once.
- STC 66
- IIC 71
- $.35-$.45 per square foot
This high-quality option is one of the highest-rated as far as pure numbers are concerned. QuietWalk Plus (Amazon) not only does it have a solid STC rating, but its IIC rating is one of the best of the best.
That is pretty impressive for something that is not exactly that dense, but it does not have to be with a unique synthetic blend.
The thickness overall is 3.1 mm, and it can work on laminate, hardwood, or engineered wood floors.
Insulation is very easy for people who might not have any experience in the past, which helps do-it-yourself enthusiasts as well. All that is needed is some type of glue, or maybe even nails to nail it to the subfloor.
2. Mass Loaded Vinyl
Above is a Video I made for my YouTube channel a couple of years back. I’m planning to make an updated video about mass loaded vinyl (MLV)
Without question, mass loaded vinyl (Amazon) is an essential part of soundproofing any part of a room. This can be used for the floors, ceilings, walls, and virtually any other flat surface.
The beauty of mass loaded vinyl is that it is thin, odorless, and flexible enough to wrap around just about anything.
In fact, there are some people who use it to wrap around their pipes to help reduce any noise transfer from occurring.
From a flooring perspective, this is going to work as an acoustic underlayment. That means putting it directly under carpets or other decorative floor material.
It is very easy to cut and have it ready for any type of size. It also stays in place pretty well, so getting it in a particular location on the floor does not take that much effort.
Most mass loaded vinyl is created pretty equally, since the industry standard is pretty high.
That is not to say that there are not more trusted brands out there than others, as companies try to make things as easy to work with as possible for customers.
Expect to buy at least 45 square feet of material at a time, but that is perfectly fine for anyone working on floors.
Using mass loaded vinyl across the entire floor is going to provide the best sound perfect solution that will be very much appreciated below as well.
Even though it is not particularly made for helping with structure-borne noises, it does help when it is placed on the floor.
Any type of cushioning, even if it is not particularly built for that, is going to be sufficient and help in controlling sound even a little.
3. Soundproof Floor Insulation
People often associate insulation (Amazon) with walls and even ceilings, but not so much floors. A flooring project that is starting from scratch can really benefit from soundproof floor insulation in place before anything else.
It is simply putting acoustic insulation batts under the subfloor and between the joists to achieve this. Insulation is going to fit snugly between the floor beams and cut down on the sound that goes between floors.
There are a few different options available for this type, but mineral wool is usually recommended for floor installation.
They have excellent soundproofing qualities, and a very high STC rating for people to benefit from.
Not only that, but the material repels water and fights against fires. Having some added safety features is always beneficial in a situation like this.
Just like with any type of insulation, people doing it themselves should have the proper protection so that they are avoiding contact with the skin and not breathing everything directly.
As for trust brands in the industry, Roxul Rockwool Mineral Wool Insulation is one to take a look at.
It offers high quality noise reduction that is hard to find in other companies. It is easy to install without needing a lot of professional experience, and it will last for a very long time.
4. Acoustic Floor Tiles
Acoustic floor tiles (Amazon) by themselves are not going to provide the type of soundproofing that someone is looking for.
However, when combined with other soundproofing materials, they are going to be very good at killing those annoying echoes that happen in rooms.
They are designed for very high traffic areas to not only keep people in the room pleased with the sound, but anyone below.
The beauty of acoustic floor tiles is that they are very easy to install for anyone who just wants to put something down temporarily.
In fact, some places will benefit from floor tiles that they put down for exercise or moving around, and then peel them back up to have them stored away.
They might not be the most aesthetically pleasing, which is why people do not want to keep them down all the time.
Floor tiles are very popular in gyms and weight rooms because they can take a lot of impact noise. It is more about absorption than anything, but it does add a little bit of mass that will help with soundproofing in general.
For the best type of convenience, look for acoustic floor tiles that are easy to snap together. Most of them come in tiles that are square in shape to interlock and make it easy to place down in a matter of seconds.
Tiles need to also be made of anti-slip material so that they work just as effectively as other types of flooring.
Other quality attributes for acoustic floor tiles include the fact that they are very lightweight, water resistant, and cheap to provide value in controlling sound.
It might not be specifically made for soundproofing, but it is an important part of the puzzle to getting a floor that people really appreciate.
5. Carpet Padding
Whether it is padding for carpet or a rug, soundproof padding (Amazon) is the best way to go. It is a little bit thicker and denser than the standard options, but that little bit of extra cost is worth it for most.
It can help to absorb sound very well, and prevents footsteps from going to other rooms when people are walking around.
Carpet by itself is tough to handle all the soundproofing without some level of help. Even very thick carpets and rugs are going to do a sufficient job, but padding is going to help with soundproofing as well as protecting the floor underneath.
Everyone should have some type of padding underneath the carpet anyway, so why not go with the soundproofing option?
The top options are usually made of a combination of rubber and felt. They need to be very gentle on the floor they are protecting, because no one wants to pull up the carpet and find that it is damaging the floor underneath.
Reversible options are also nice, because it makes it so much easier to flip around and not wear out too much.
The good news is that most padding for carpets and rugs are pretty expensive, so shopping around and getting a more premium option is not going to be that much of a hassle.
6. Treating the Ceiling Underneath
The ceiling of the room underneath needs to work in conjunction with the flooring if at all possible. It might not always be the case with apartments, as it is impossible to get on the same page.
However, for buildings with multiple floors, doing a little bit of treatment on both sides can make a huge difference.
Look for ways to decouple the ceiling from the floor if possible. This will create that little bit of gap that will cut down significantly on any vibration noises becoming a problem.
There is also the opportunity to go with putting something like mass loaded vinyl on both sides to add additional layers.
In general, it is easier to soundproof a floor than a ceiling, so keep that in mind as far as pricing is concerned.
It is all so much easier for people who are doing it themselves to work with flooring. Start with the floors, and then only treat the ceilings if necessary.
Why Soundproofing the Floor is Crucial for Any Room
Every single surface in a room needs to be properly soundproof to make an area as perfect as possible.
Floors often get overlooked, but they can damage some great soundproofing from all other angles if not done properly.
As great as hard flooring surfaces might look to the eye, they are not exactly great when it comes to controlling sound. Explore some of the options above, and at least a few of them end up working in the end.
Floors might be relatively easy to soundproof, but they also take quite a bit of abuse.
While some of the other soundproof insulation options for walls and ceilings last a long time, anything that is above the floor can wear down somewhat quickly.
If it seems like soundproof qualities are starting to fade away, make sure to make fixes and repairs often. This is the only way to stay one step ahead of the curve overall.