Living in an apartment can be advantageous for many reasons such as regular maintenance of surroundings, security, and such but it also means sharing the same building with multiple people. And people can be noisy. So, if you are exasperated about being bombarded with the noise from people living on floors beneath you, then you should learn how to soundproof a floor.
Usually, when someone thinks of soundproofing, they only think to pay attention to the sidewalls, doors, windows, and vents. The floor and ceiling are often ignored. But the truth is sound can leak from the flooring too. Through a floor, sound can travel out as well as travel in. This is why soundproofing the apartment floor should be a must and will help you live without any noise disturbance.
Two types of noise usually make their way through the floor- Impact noise and Airborne Noise. Impact Noise is made when you walk or run around your room or drop something on the floor. The person living below you may find it endlessly annoying.
The other type of noise is airborne noise- it is all sorts of sound around the apartment building that enters your room through the floor. Both of these noises can be reduced or blocked by soundproofing the floor.
9 Cheap Ways to Soundproof Apartment Floor
A Soundproofing project need not always cost a lot of money, it can be done cheaply too.
There are many ways in which you can get DIY soundproof flooring for apartments.
The most effective ones have been listed below:
Rugs are one of the easiest ways to block impact noises created inside your room from escaping through the floor. Since impact noises are created when an object comes in contact with the floor, the vibrations are more intense.
Rugs dampen the vibrations and reduce the intensity of the sound. They are also good for absorbing sounds that try to leave or enter the room. Thick fluffy rugs work the best because of all the soft fabric that either deflects the sound waves in different directions or absorbs them.
Rugs with bristles work wonders when it comes to stopping noise from leaving through the floor as the bristles are attached in a haphazard manner which makes it impossible for the sound waves hitting it to reflect back in a united path. Instead, it disperses into different directions and eventually dies out.
Interlocking Floor Mats
Another way to reduce noise in the room due to sound leaking from the floors is to cover the floor with interlocking floor mats. These mats are good at absorbing loud noises and reducing their intensity because of their thick padded surface made of rubber.
There are many types of interlocking floor mats and they come in different textures and designs but generally, these look like tiles interlocked with each other. The grooves between the tiles also help to break the united motion of sounds and dissipate the sound waves in different directions that kills it.
Acoustic Floor Underlayment
This is an insulation material that is very effective when it comes to making a floor soundproof. Although it is quite useful for sound dampening uses but for sound deadening, it needs to be coupled with other soundproof materials like a rug or an interlocking floor mat.
Many apartment floors are ill-constructed which leads to the problem of sound leaking through them. Acoustic floor underlayments address this problem by bringing about dimensional stability to the floor so that the sound imperfections are not a cause of annoyance.
Many architects especially install underlayments in order to solve the structural transmission of sounds through the floor because of its sound dampening characteristics.
The acoustic underlayments work best on vinyl or wooden flooring over which it is laid and then an additional layer of a thick carpet or rug is laid out on top of it. This technique to soundproof a floor in an apartment also reduces impact noise and saves your feet from fatigue by offering a cushioned surface to walk on.
Soundproof Laminate Flooring with Padded Bottom
Soundproof laminate flooring has a good sound deadening capacity that can drastically reduce noise coming in and going out from the floor. Laminate floors that come with padding on their bottom also stop hollow percussive sounds from traveling between the subfloor and the main floor.
The padding is usually made from a thin layer of polypropylene or polyethylene and it is attached to the subfloor before the laminate layer is put on top of it. The padded floor gives added stability to the floor and is also an economical choice as compared to other underlayment options.
Green Glue and Plywood
Green glue is pretty much a dedicated product for soundproofing as it is used in between layers of soundproofing materials to hold them together. Apart from its usage as an adhesive, green glue in itself is a sound dampener and thus is a go-to choice for the purpose of noise reduction in soundproofing projects.
The compound shows the best results when used between two hard surfaces, so you can try attaching a layer of plywood on top of the main floor using green glue. The layer of green glue in between has to be at least 0.55 mm thick to get a completely soundproof floor.
Both plywood and green glue are easily available at any hardware shop and won’t blow a hole in your pocket. The whole installation process is quite uncomplicated and can be done without any professional skills as green glue is a completely non-toxic compound.
Mass Loaded Vinyl, commonly known as MLV is a very popular soundproofing material that works on all surfaces. It is an excellent material for soundproofing floors that are thin and conducts sounds through its surface. This material has been in the market since the 1970s and the reason why it is still as popular as ever is because of its rational price and easy installation process.
MLV is made up of Calcium Carbonate or Barium sulfate both of which are dense and ideal for soundproofing purposes. It also has PVC or vinyl inside it which adds flexibility to the sheets.
MLV sheets are sold in rolls and have to be unrolled and kept like that for some time for the material to become completely flat. One of the most advantageous things about MLV is that it is loaded with metal particles to add mass to it which is why it serves the dual purpose of a sound barrier as well as a sound absorber.
An MLV underlayment under a thick carpet is a good enough measure to make your floor soundproof against impact noises traveling downwards or airborne noises traveling upwards.
Cork Tile Underlayment
Due to its porous structure, cork is an excellent absorber of sound waves. The molecular structure of cork also allows it to be an insulation material against sound and to block and disperse sound waves to kill its volume.
A 12 mm thick layer of cork if placed between the main floorboard and the subfloor can reduce the volume of any sound or noise by as much as 48 decibels.
Cork is made from the bark of Cork Oak Tree and can contain up to 50% air. This amount is however lower in cork flooring tiles which are made from chipped and compressed cork. Even then, cork contains enough air void to block sound waves.
This material is especially good for soundproofing your floor to stop impact noises from traveling outside because when a hard object comes in contact with the cork, it gets compressed and that deadens the impact. Consequently, the volume of the noise is reduced.
In short, cork is an ideal material for absorbing sounds and a great choice if you want a soundproof apartment floor.
Floor Joist isolators
This is a decoupling measure that prevents any structural transmission of sound through the floor. Thick pieces of rubber are used to separate the floor joists from the subfloor by being installed in the middle. Buying these joist isolators is pocket-friendly and easy to install if you follow the procedure descriptions on the kit.
The rubber pieces kind of hoist the subfloor up by around 10 to 12 inches but the height of the main floor isn’t elevated enough for it to be a problem or hazard.
Since the joist isolators are separating the two surfaces, it also prevents any squeaky sounds resulting from friction between the surfaces.
Engineered Wood / Floating Floor
As the name suggests, floating floors are not securely held in place by screws or glue, instead, it allows movement. It uses an interlocking system with tongue and groove edges that fit in together. This is an excellent method to stop sounds that travel through the structure of a building and into the floor surface.
The lack of contact between the building structure and the floor makes it soundproof and the sound waves cannot travel between the two layers freely.
The Bottom Line
The purpose of soundproofing an apartment floor is not just to stop sounds from the floor below to penetrate your otherwise quiet home, but also to make sure that the noise created inside your home does not become a source of annoyance to those living below.
These were some of the cheapest but most effective solutions to get a soundproof floor. Try them out for yourself today!