Sometimes living in an apartment can present certain challenges when it comes to noise. Not only is it common for apartment dwellers to want to keep outside noises out, but you may also feel inclined to soundproof your apartment floor out of consideration for your neighbors-- especially if you play any musical instruments or have small children. For this post, we've researched the various ways that you can do this.
Here are some of the most effective ways that you can soundproof your apartment floor:
- Use large pieces of furniture.
- Use rubber floor mats.
- Install acoustic floor underlayment.
- Place thick area rugs on the floor.
- Lay carpet padding.
- Use Green Glue.
- Create a barrier with weatherstripping.
- Install cork flooring.
- Use dampening blankets.
- Install mass loaded vinyl.
Let's take a closer look at what's involved with each of these soundproofing methods. We'll also discuss how to minimize floor vibrations, look at the best flooring materials for noise reduction, and answer whether soundproofing underlay works.
Use large pieces of furniture
This is a rather simple method that you can implement to soundproof your floor. Scan your room and note the largest pieces of furniture within it. This can include beds, sofas, futons, wooden tables, and large desks. All of these types of furniture have in common that they have the density to naturally dampen any sound waves coming from the room. It helps to experiment a bit with your furniture's placement to figure out what works best based on the type of noise you're trying to minimize.
Use rubber floor mats
Rubber floor mats offer an inexpensive way to dampen sounds as well. There are several types of rubber mats that you can find either online or in everyday home shopping stores. The mats can go under your area rug or directly on the floor if you have carpet or hardwood floors. Another benefit of these rubber mats is that they can also work as great shock absorbers (and they're usually slip-resistant). Yoga mats or interlocking exercise mats are the best options for this type of sound dampening method.
To install them effectively, it's best to start in the corner of the room (where the most noise will be generated) and work your way to the other side, even applying two or three layers of mats if needed. The density of these rubber mats makes them a great option for musical instruments such as drums or acoustic pianos.
Install acoustic floor underlayment
Acoustic floor underlayment can easily be placed underneath carpeting or any type of hardwood or tile floor. This type of soundproofing is more involved and would require pulling up the current flooring material and laying the underlayment beneath it. Often used in new construction, such as apartment buildings and office buildings, acoustic floor underlayment is also great for providing extra insulation beneath hardwood solid stone floors.
The installation process is fairly simple, as it only requires the underlayment to be cut to the dimensions of the room and unrolled onto the floor. To secure it, you only need to hammer the underlayment edges around the room's perimeter with nails.
Place thick area rugs on the floor
Thick area rugs (or heavy carpeting) can provide an easy way to soundproof your apartment floor at a budget-friendly price. Not only do the fibrous materials of rugs and carpeting offer sufficient sound dampening effects, but the rubber backing of the rugs also adds additional dampening ability and impact/shock reduction. It's best to go with tightly woven rugs when searching for sound dampening carpeting.
Lay carpet padding
Carpet padding is another way to dampen the sounds coming from your apartment floor. You can purchase carpet padding either online or at any home improvement store for about $2.78 per square foot. Carpet padding also offers insulation capabilities, as you will typically see its R-value (used to calculate the density of insulation) on its packaging label.
Carpet padding is typically laid before carpeting is installed in a room, so you may need to remove current flooring to install the padding. However, if you want to save money, you can simply lay the padding over your current flooring and used carpeting tape around the floor's perimeter (and on any seams) to secure it. Most carpet padding is slip-resistant, and the best quality padding brands will be more durable.
Use green glue
Green Glue is a polymer-based compound used to soundproof new construction and buildings such as opera venues, concert halls, and music studios. The glue is especially effective when applied between two sound dampening materials. It's commonly used with plywood, MDF (medium density fiberboard), and concrete building boards. Green Glue is also mold-resistant and eco-friendly, so you don't have to worry about deterioration when applying it beneath your carpeting. Interestingly, the glue dampens sound waves (which is a form of energy, believe it or not) by converting them into heat.
Create a barrier with weatherstripping
Weatherstripping is a rubber or vinyl-based strip typically placed around areas such as windows and doors to seal them and help maintain interior temperatures. But while weatherstripping is great for keeping drafts out, it can also work well for keeping sounds in. Weatherstripping can be installed on the perimeter of your room. You can also take several strips, remove their paper backing, and adhere them to the bottom of a large area rug (this can be done in about 15 to 20-minutes) to soundproof your floor. You can usually find weatherstripping online or at home improvement stores for about $5 to $10.
Install cork flooring
Cork flooring can be another choice for sound dampening material. Cork works by actually absorbing sound, resulting in a significant reduction in the number of sound waves that travel through it. It's commonly used as a soundproofing material for recording studios, reducing background noise.
The reason that cork works so well is its porous nature and cellular structure, which actually breaks up the sound waves, preventing them from bouncing around. Installing cork on your floor can also add a bit of spring to the floor's feel, making it easy to walk on. Depending on where you live, you can typically purchase cork flooring for about $1.78 per square foot.
Use dampening blankets
If you don't mind laying a few blankets on the floor and vacuuming them regularly, sound dampening blankets may be a good choice. These blankets are about the size of bay window curtains (about 60-inches long and 60-inches wide). Depending on the brand that you purchase, they can absorb upwards of 85% of soundwaves that make contact with them.
These blankets are commonly used in voice recording studios and homemade, DIY studios. They typically consist of non-toxic recycled materials such as fiberglass, paper, and cardboard. Due to the blankets' cloth-based material, they may accumulate dust and require vacuuming every week or so, especially if you have hardwood floors.
Install mass loaded vinyl
Mass loaded vinyl (aka "MLV") is one of the most popular choices for home or business soundproofing. It can be installed almost anywhere, including beneath flooring and behind drywall sheets. Mass loaded vinyl also makes for a great insulator, as the rubber is very dense. To install, you can use a carpet cutting tool to cut the pieces so that they fit the total square footage of the floor or cut a few pieces and place them in the area where the loudest sounds will be emitted.
For example, if you have a piano, you may want to place them directly beneath the body at the piano. Or, if you are installing them in your children's playroom, you may want to center them in the middle of the room where most of the traffic and impact will be. Mass loaded vinyl is usually nailed to the floor and can be installed in a matter of minutes. You can usually find it online or from specialty soundproofing stores for about $50 per roll (per 100-square feet).
How do I stop vibration from coming through the floor?
In many older homes or apartment buildings with hardwood flooring, floor vibrations can be an annoying issue to deal with. This is usually caused by the nails and construction adhesive within the boards loosening over time. And factors including vibrating machinery, human activity, and natural occurrences can exacerbate these vibrations.
The first step to addressing the issue is to determine if the floor needs to be fixed. For this, you will need a home building contractor's expertise, as they can offer you a few solutions to address the issue. For example, a common way of fixing this issue with new construction is to increase the size of the joists in the construction or reduce their depth. The most common method for older buildings is to either re-nail the floorboards or install soundproofing/impact-reducing materials to minimize the amount of vibration felt through the floor.
Does soundproofing underlay work?
Soundproofing underlayment works especially well by dampening the sound transmitted through it. Sound is transmitted whenever hard objects make contact with other solid, hard objects, creating sound waves. If there is nothing to absorb the sound waves, they will bounce off surfaces such as walls, floors, and ceilings. However, underlayment works by absorbing the sound waves within its dense material makeup, preventing them from escaping (depending on the underlayment thickness). The materials used to make underlayment are usually rubber (the most common type), recycled materials, and fiberglass.
What is the best soundproof flooring material?
There are three types of materials that are considered the "go-to" options for professional soundproofing jobs. These commonly used soundproofing materials include:
- Mass-loaded vinyl
- Acoustic underlayments and acoustical foam
- Sound dampening blankets
With the number of options available today for soundproofing a room, it can be challenging to nail down the best materials for your specific soundproofing project. So, here are a few things that you can look for when comparing brands and various types of materials.
Effective soundproofing is really all about mass and density. The greater the mass and density of the soundproofing material, the more effective it will be to absorb sound waves and prevent them from passing through. For example, a rubber mat that is three inches thick will be a more effective soundproofing material than a plush carpet that is one inch thick.
Impact Insulation Class or ITC is a measurement used for soundproofing and flooring materials to classify how effective building materials attenuate impact sounds. The higher the number, the more effective the material will be (a 50 or more rating is considered effective).
Sound Transmission Class
Sound Transmission Class or STC is another commonly used rating system applied to soundproofing materials. An STC rating of 50 or above is generally an acceptable level of soundproofing.
Wrapping Things Up
We hope that this post has provided you with a few options for soundproofing your apartment floor. Remember, the denser and thicker the soundproofing material, the more effective it will be at dampening noises.
Before you go, be sure to check out our other posts: