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How to Soundproof Floors

How to soundproof a floor

Floor Soundproofing Solutions for all Types of Flooring to Stop Impact and Airborne Sound

Do you want to stop airborne or impact sound transferring through your floors? If you are trying to stop the sound of footfall, or the noise of furniture being moved around then you are looking for solutions to stop impact noise. If you want to stop the sound of your neighbours TV or conversation then you are trying to stop airborne noise. The following article will explain the most suitable method of soundproofing your floors to reduce the most common domestic sounds. You will also find help and advice on methods of insulating separating floors for new build and conversion projects to ensure they comply with the latest Building Regulations.

Is it airborne or impact noise?

Airborne Sound – This occurs when a sound transfers directly from a source to the receiver. Typically this would be through small holes or openings in the construction, along ductwork, or through voids such as ceiling cavities. Airborne noises are conversation, TV noise, music, barking dogs.

Impact Sound – Impact noise is structural vibration, transmitted from a point of impact through a structure and experienced as radiated sound from a vibrating surface. This is commonly caused by an item hitting the floor, from where the impact results in vibrations being transferred through the buildings structure. The most common path for the noise is generally to the ceiling of the lower property or room. Impact noises are footfall, dropping items on the floor, or children running.

Soundproof a wooden separating floor constructed of timber joists and floorboards

This type of floor construction is used in most domestic properties; the typical floor construction will be plasterboard or lathe and plaster ceilings, timber floor joists and wooden floorboards or chipboard flooring over the top. Floors constructed in this way with little or no insulation and no absorbent or resilient layer on the floor will allow airborne and impact noise too easily pass between rooms from one room to another through the floor.

Stop airborne sound transferring through a floor

Insulating between the floor joists with acoustic insulation will reduce airborne sound transmission through wooden floors. Building Regulations stipulates using 100mm 45kg/m³ insulation between the floor joists as part of a separating floor solution to comply with Part E. For an increased level of soundproofing we would recommend using the DFM 100mm 80kg/m³ acoustic insulation slab, the higher density will reduce more airborne noise. Compliance with Part E does not mean sound will not transfer between the floors; using the higher density 80kg/m³ slab will block and absorb more airborne noise. Acoustic insulation should not be confused with rolls of thermal insulation which are lower in density, therefore do not offer the same level of sound insulation as the DFM slabs.

DFM acoustic insualtion slabs

DFM acoustic insulation

DFM acoustic insulation can be fitted between floor joists, cut the slabs to size using a hand saw, cut them slightly larger than the opening so the slabs will friction fit between the floor joists, ensure the whole area is filled with insulation using any off cuts to fill any small gaps. Using this type of acoustic insulation below the floor will reduce all types of airborne noise.

An alternative to using DFM acoustic insulation to soundproof your floors is to use the 5mm Barrier Shield, a high density rubber mat that can be laid over the top of the floorboards to reduce airborne noise. Use the Barrier Shield to increase the sound insulation of floors that have already been insulated, or if you can’t lift the existing flooring.

Stop impact sound transferring through a floor

Effectively reduce impact sound through a floor by reducing the vibration caused as an item hits the floor. The level of noise that will transmit through the floor depends on the force of the impact, the vibration transmission characteristics of the floor structure and the floor covering.

There are two types of floor soundproofing solutions to reduce impact noise, acoustic matting or floating floors; both solutions will reduce impact noise transferring through wooden and concrete floor structures.

Deciding which type of flooring suits your requirements will depend on certain factors.

  • Floor finish
    • Carpet
    • Laminate
    • Tiled
    • Wooden
  • Height requirements
    • What is the height restriction?
    • What height can you raise the floor?
  • Building Regulations
    • Do you have to meet certain requirements?

Use acoustic matting to soundproof floors

Acoustic matting is the most common form of floor soundproofing used to reduce impact noise, the NSSF7 and NSSF7+ products are specifically designed to be used over any floor below most floor finishes including, carpet, wooden floors, laminates and tiled floors. The NSSF7 is predominately used below carpets and the NSSF7+ is used below wooden, tiled and laminate floors.

NSSF7+ acoustic underlay

NSSF7+ acoustic underlay mat

Install this type of flooring quickly and easily, the mats can be cut with a sharp knife, laid in a brick pattern with the edges butted together. A perimeter strip can be used around the edge of the room if you are using carpet underlay and carpet. If you are laying a hard floor finish over the mats you might need to use a layer of 9mm ply or equivalent over the matting to reduce movement and possible damage of the edges of the floor finish, you should check this with the floor installers.

These acoustic mats can be used to soundproof separating floors to meet the Part E Regulations when combined with acoustic insulation and the correct ceiling construction, for more details, click here.

Floating floors reduce high levels of impact noise

A floating floor refers to flooring that is not mechanically fixed in place with nails or screws. Floating floors are normally supplied as interlocking flooring that has a tongue and groove edge that fit together locking the floor in place, soundproof floating floors have a resilient layer bonded to the underside, this layer is to isolate the floor from the buildings structure, this isolation will reduce sound transmitting through the floor and joists into the room below.

Floating floors can be laid over wooden and concrete floors to reduce high levels of sound and to ensure new build and conversions comply with Part E Regulations. Floating flooring can be laid either directly onto the joists or over the existing floor. The Noisedeck range of floating floors can be used to soundproof floors for most applications. The Noisedeck 36 and Noisedeck 32 can be laid over existing floors or directly onto joists, the Noisedeck 27 can be used over an existing floor including concrete floors.

Install a floating floor in rooms that require the highest level of sound isolation, floating floors can be used in recording studios to reduce vibration along the floors from one room to another.

The flooring should be isolated from the wall to reduce flanking noise, isolation tapes can be provided to help isolate the flooring from walls, alternatively seal around the perimeter of the floor with an acoustic sealant.

Help and advice

If you require any more help with soundproofing your floors please contact us, alternatively give us a call 08451 306269 one of our advisers will be happy to help.

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