We often get questions from condo and apartment dwellers, sometimes even homeowners, about the best way to soundproof floors. Soundproofing a floor that is covered with carpet is usually pretty easy but if you plan on installing a hardwood, tile, vinyl, or marble floor you may have your work cut out for you.
It is, of course, easier to soundproof a specialized floor during the original construction phase. For best results you should consider floating the ceiling below the floor with whisper clips. Without floating the ceiling below you’ll probably never get the STC value (or sound rating) you really desire.
If your home wasn’t new construction when you purchased it you may have to do some more work. Before you can lay your new tile, vinyl, or marble floor you’ll have to pull up all of the carpet and padding to completely reveal the original subfloor. At this point you’ll want to look carefully at the floor and determine if there are any gaps or cracks that need to be filled with acoustical caulk. Afterwards you’ll need to cover the floor with a soundproofing material.
In the past we would have recommended covering your floor with mass loaded vinyl, which is still an incredibly effective soundproofing material. The problem is that mass loaded vinyl needs breathing room in order to allow sound to resonate – room you won’t get when you place the vinyl between the subfloor and floor. We have recently found, however, that Green Glue damping compound is even more effective at soundproofing and suggest you cover your floor with this material as you lay your new hard floors.
Unless you own your home you will need to remember to call your homeowners association or landlord before you start your soundproofing project. You may not have permission to make changes to your home or they may mandate that specific materials are used. The changes you are asking to make are considered “upgrades,” so your landlord may not mind but you’ll be responsible for paying for these changes and may never be reimbursed – even after you move.
Take your time and carefully consider the source of the noise before you attempt to try soundproofing floors. The best way to eliminate a noise is at its original source. Don’t waste your time and money on a soundproofing project you could have avoided by simply asking for another type of change.