DIY How To

Sound Proof your floor

Victorian houses converted into flats often have sound proofing issues, especially if you live upstairs with wooden floorboards. Here is how to soundproof your floor and lay wood flooring without breaking the bank or annoying your downstairs neighbours.

People living in old converted flats often complain about noise from neighbours, but neither you nor your neighbours have to suffer in silence. Why it might seem like an intimidating job, it's never been easier to soundproof your home within a limited budget, so both you and your neighbours can live in peace, and maintain those friendly relations we all strive for.

Sound proofing issues

When you set about soundproofing your home, remember that it's not just your walls and floors that require your attention. Windows are the worst problem. There are two principles of noise reduction. One is noise absorption and the other is noise reduction. To absorb noise, you use carpets, upholstered furniture and install acoustical ceiling tiles, soundboards or interior walls. By installing carpets at home, you absorb the echo and not the noise itself. This is very different from noise reduction. Noise is reduced by stopping it, killing it, not letting it pass through the wall or window, meaning you stop it from entering the room you are in. To achieve noise reduction, homeowners need to understand the concepts of mass space and dampening.

Many people think that wood floors create more noise as they produce echo, but it's not that simple. It is common for people living in Victorian houses to hear voices, footsteps, stereos, dogs barking, and even loud appliances make noises from below, and to combat these, you need to know whether you're dealing with airborne or impact noise. Once you know this, you can choose the appropriate floor type, whether to buy laminate flooring, real wood or engineered wood floors for example. Airborne noise will include sounds made by TVs, stereos, voices and loud appliances. Impact noise, on the other hand, occurs when one object actually comes in contact with another, which includes footfall, but could also be caused by objects being moved or rolled across the floor, or vibrations such as those from a washer or dryer.

To soundproof your floors, mass-loaded vinyl barriers work best when blocking airborne sound. This is loaded with a heavy substance so that sound can't pass through it – it works on the principle of creating mass. There are different types available, with different capabilities. Some work very effectively and can stop 85-90% of airborne noise.

You might also consider underlaying your floor. Underlay is the most technically advanced sound blocker available for hardwood, laminate and engineered flooring systems. It's usually a composite of durable, dimensionally stable, cross-linked polyolefin resin and a 2-mil Polyethylene vapor barrier. It reduces airborne and impact noise and improves in-room sound quality, especially when coupled with quality wood flooring. Plus, it's easy to install and also provides thermal insulation.

By making sure that you've followed these steps, you can make your life a lot quieter and stay on the right side of your neighbours. Be sure you know what kind of wood floor to buy. Whether your buying laminate, hardwood, or real oak flooring, make sure you've got the appropriate soundproofing in place to cope.

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