Floors are notorious for being the source of noise pollution in a home.
Footsteps, falling of objects, the television blaring, dogs barking are all sounds that can easily travel through floors.
These noises can distract you from work, disturb your sleep, and overall be a nuisance.
So how can you stop all these noises and be at peace in your space?
The answer is simple, try to soundproof your floors.
Whether you want to block sounds from entering or leaving your apartment, our guide on how to soundproof a floor can help.
It doesn’t matter if it is an existing floor or a new build, we have you covered.
Soundproofing floors: The two sources of noise
Impact noise is any noise that is produced when an object makes an impact on the floor.
Common examples are footsteps, moving furniture around, and dropping something heavy on the floor.
This type of noise travels through the air freely as vibrations.
If the sound is coming from above you, those vibrations travel through the floor down to your ceiling.
Since you are below the impact, the noise is going to be louder to you than your upper neighbor.
Similarly, if you are the source of the noise, it will sound louder to your neighbor below you.
Impact noises create more energy thus making it the hardest noise to get rid of.
However, there are a couple of things you can do which will be mentioned later in this article.
Airborne noises on the other hand are transmitted through the air.
Sounds such as people conversing, television playing, or dogs barking are all airborne sounds.
Airborne sounds occur when an object makes a noise and generates soundwaves.
The soundwaves travel through the air until they hit a solid surface.
Upon hitting the solid surface, the waves generate vibrations.
The vibrations then continue to travel through that solid surface and to your ears.
This is why you may feel like noise from your noisy neighbor below you feel like it is traveling up to you.
How to soundproof a floor cheap (existing floors)
Most times, with an existing floor, you won’t be able to rip up that floor.
If you are renting, you may not be permitted to make major renovations as such.
One way to work around this problem and gain some quiet time is to soundproof using various materials.
A key point to note is that existing floors are a bit harder to soundproof than new floors.
Most apartment complexes are supposed to follow a building code with a specific STC rating.
Unfortunately, most times, landlords and property managers substitute materials and fail to comply with this code.
If you are a homeowner looking to soundproof a house, know it is going to cost a pretty penny to do so.
However, there are some measures you can take to soundproof your existing floors.
While you may not get the best sound blocking properties, you will be able to minimize both impact and airborne sounds.
Here are 4 cheap ways on how to soundproof a floor cheap soundproof an existing floor:
1. Interlocking floor mats
I’m sure at some point in your life you came across mats like these.
They come in various colors, designs, and textures with an edge designed to interlock with another piece.
These are a quick and cheap fix to soundproof your floor.
All you do is pick out your favorite design and the amount you need and start fitting them together.
Think of it as a large jigsaw puzzle for your floor that cuts easily to fit the corners of your room.
Although they are not the best for soundproofing, they do have a bit of sound dampening effect.
Interlocking mats are perfect if you feel like you move around furniture regularly.
The sound on the floor won’t travel up nor down.
For the best results, you can combine them with other soundproofing materials that we will get into next.
- Noise-reducing design
- No toxic phthalates
ProsourceFit Puzzle Exercise Mat features a noise-reducing design to dampen sounds.
This soundproof floor mat creates an impact-absorbing space without damaging your existing floor.
This high-density EVA foam mat that contains no toxic phthalates and is safe for use in any room.
With ½ inch thickness, this lightweight interlocking foam mat is durable and easy to clean.
The textured non-skid and water-resistant surface will ensure you never have an accident due to a spill.
This set comes with 6 tiles, each measuring 24” x 24” covering a total of 24 square feet.
What is more, is that it includes 12 borders for a smooth and clean look in corners.
If you need to you can cut the tiles for a customized fit.
The tiles won’t leave any residue behind if you decide to remove them at some point.
2. Thick carpet or rug
Thick carpet and rugs work great at absorbing sounds that would otherwise just bounce and reflect on hard floor surfaces
Choose one that is tightly woven as opposed to ones that are basic and loose.
Keep in mind that the thicker they are, the better.
- High pile for better sound absorption
- Grips dots for no sliding around
- 10-year guarantee
The Gorilla Grip Area Rug is a machine-washable high pile rug that helps to absorb and reduce sound transmission.
The top layer features a layer of thick shaggy material that makes you feel like you are walking on clouds.
The middle foam layer adds extra cushion for an ultra-plush feel and finish.
Worry no more about high traffic areas of the home as this rug was built to last for years to come.
Equipped with tiny durable grip dots on the bottom, the risk of fall or the rug sliding is reduced drastically.
To install, make sure the floor is clean and dry.
The rug should lie flat on all sides and should stay that way throughout its use.
Cleaning up is a breeze, you can vacuum the rug or throw in the machine for a deeper clean.
Buy with confidence, the Gorilla Grip Area rug comes with a 10-year guarantee.
3. Carpet Padding
For use under traditional carpets, carpet paddings offer extra sound dampening properties to your floors.
The application process is the same as laying out your carpet.
Roll it out cut to fit at the edges and secure either with nails or glue.
This would all depend if you are allowed to use nail or glue if you are renting.
If not, simply lay it flat and you’re done.
- sound blocking layer
Add another sound blocking layer to your carpet with Premium Grip(TM) Rug Pad
Not only can it block sound but also extend the life of the carpet as well.
It will not stain or discolor your floor or carpet for up to 15 years.
This low VOC rug pad is constructed from 100% natural rubber and 100% recycled felt.
It meets the Rug Institute Green Label low emission standards and is safe to use in a space with allergy sufferers.
The non-slip rug pad also adds underfoot cushion for no more foot pain or falls
It is reversible and can be used in either of 2 ways.
The first way is by placing the rubber side down to secure your rug in place.
Secondly, you can reverse the rug pad and use it on rug-to-carpet applications.
Either way, you are bound to love your rug pad and enjoy its benefits.
4. Cork tiles
Cork tiles are great at soundproofing and can be used either over and under floorboards.
In this instance, you’re going to be using it over your existing floor.
The one issue you may find with this method is that cork isn’t fully waterproof but somewhat water-resistant.
Use it in areas where there isn’t much chance of water getting on them.
When choosing cork tiles, check to make sure they are at least half of an inch thick.
Any less would not have any soundproofing abilities.
Some cork tiles feature an adhesive backing while others may come with mounting tape.
If you do not want to glue the tiles to the floor, simply glue them to a piece of rubber and place it on the floor.
Alternatively, you can glue them to the underside of your rug to act as padding for better soundproofing.
- Natural cork
- Unique glue formula
- Installs easily
High-density natural cork tiles create a durable noise-absorbing surface.
These modular cork panels are 1/2 thick with an adhesive backing.
The adhesive backing features a unique glue with some sound absorbing properties too.
Installation is easy, just peel back and attach to any floor or carpet underside.
The adhesive is strong and will continue to hold for a long time.
Just remember to clean and free the surface of dust and moisture before you lay down the cork tiles.
This set comes in 4 with each measuring 12”x12”.
How to Soundproof Floors (new floors)
Soundproof flooring is easily attainable during construction.
This is because you can administer and add soundproofing materials and compounds between the floor layers.
Some finished floors are hollow which permit sounds to travel through easily.
When building new floors you can fill those empty spaces and block out sounds.
A typical floor set up includes:
- Floor covering- this is either wood, tiles, or whatever the top surface of your floor is.
- Adhesive layer- usually glue or cement
- Underlayment- most times they use plyboards which reflect sounds.
- Sub-floor- thicker ply board that offers stability to the other floor layers.
- Joist- provide structural support for the entire framing system.
Let us take a look at some of the things you can do when constructing a new floor to ensure sounds can’t pass through.
1. Soundproof Floor Underlayment
Instead of using plyboards as the underlayment, choose a soundproof floor underlayment.
They usually come in rolls with a peel-off strip of tape on one side.
Putting this in place will take care of any airborne sounds
Depending on the core of the product, it will soften impact noises as well.
- Effective acoustic barrier
- Excellent moisture barrier
- STC rate of 73
There is a reason the Roberts soundproof Flooring Underlayment is the highest rated underlayment on the market today.
It is the most effective acoustic barrier that is water, mold, and mildew resistant with a rating of IIC74/STC73
This product works on most laminate, engineered, and solid hardwood flooring.
This underlayment is made from closed-cell polypropylene with an excellent moisture barrier.
There is no need to apply another moisture barrier on top of this product.
It is light, strong, and flexible which installs without trouble.
One edge has a thick peel and stick tape and the other has an overlapping film to attach separate pieces.
2. Mass loaded vinyl
Although MLV can be used on the existing floor, it works best as a floor underlayment.
MLV works by containing and blocking sound transmission through large surfaces including floors and walls.
It is usually made from a combination of calcium carbonate or barium sulfate and polyvinyl chloride (AKA as vinyl or PVC).
This makes it a weighted viscoelastic material that has both viscous and elastic characteristics.
Since it comes in rolls you may want to lay it down to rest for a while before you install.
After that, you can cut to size and tape or nail it down.
- Virgin materials
- No odor
- Standalone STC rating of 27
TMS MLV makes use of the highest quality materials in its construction.
It is made from virgin materials which means it contains no recycled or reground materials.
Unlike the competition, TMS MLV has no odor and is safe to use in both residential and commercial settings.
The MLV by itself has an STC rating of 27 and that rate goes up when used between floor layers.
It is 4 feet wide by 10 feet long, 1/8 of an inch thick, and weighs one pound per square foot.
3. Floor Joist Isolators
Floor joist isolators are u-shaped pieces of thick rubber that separate floor joists from the subfloor.
They help to dampen impact noises between two surfaces by separating the flooring from the structure that supports it.
Installation can be done by simply slipping them over the standard joist frame.
You want them to be between 12” to 24” apart.
- Specially formulated rubber compound
- Vibration isolation properties
- Installation is easy
Auralex Acoustics Floor Floaters is made from a specially formulated rubber compound.
They are used to greatly improve transmission loss with vibration-isolating properties.
Installation is easy since they are molded and u-shaped to fit around the edge of the joist.
This is great for decoupling framing members and floating from the supporting structures.
The size of these floor isolators measures 2-⅛ while the sides are 5/16 in thickness.
4. Green Glue
Green Glue is for use between two solid surfaces and is different from the regular caulk.
Think of it as a sandwich, you take 2 pieces of plywood and put the Green Glue in the middle.
While drywall works for walls, plywood works better for floors when you want to soundproof.
Green Glue works by converting vibrations into thermal energy.
It is a great and durable compound to tackle impact noises such as footsteps.
Unlike regular caulk, Green Glue does not crack, harden or shrink so it works for a longer time.
- Reduce impact and airborne sounds
- STC rating of 56
- Easy to apply
With the ability to reduce both impact and airborne sounds, Green Glue offers an effective and affordable way to soundproof your floors.
A third-party test proved that Green Glue has an STC rating of 56 when used in a single stud wall with drywall.
Applying Green Glue can be done using a standard size caulk gun and trowel to spread.
Green glue also comes in buckets if you need a large amount and can be applied with a brush or trowel.
For more soundproofing products, read here for other soundproof flooring materials