As homeowners, we’ve all been irritated by unwanted sounds in our homes – be it footsteps, the washing machine’s hum or loud music from the neighbor’s home. Unwanted noise can cause major stress and discomfort.
we looked into and tried out various flooring options to find the one that absorbs sound the best. We were pleasantly surprised to find that the right flooring can significantly reduce noise levels and create a calm and quiet home environment.
This article shares our personal experience and knowledge to help you choose the best flooring for sound absorption in your own home.
Understanding Sound Absorption
Sound has two ways of getting around: one through the air, and one through things hitting other things.
Airborne noise means sound waves that move through the air and enter our ears. It comes from things like talking, tunes, TV, and car noises. Airborne sound goes through walls, floors, and ceilings without problems and can bother us indoors.
To cut down on the spread of airborne sound, you need to use stuff that soaks up the sound waves. Soft things like curtains, rugs, and padded furniture can reduce the noise and how far it spreads.
It also helps to fit noise-soaking things like acoustic panels and insulation to reduce the amount of airborne sound that gets through.
impact sound is the noise made when things hit or shake a surface. It happens when you walk, drop stuff, or slam doors. Impact sound can be a real problem in tall buildings because it can move from one floor to another easily.
To stop impact sound from moving, you need to use materials that can suck up or reduce vibrations. You can use things like cork, rubber, or foam under the finished floor surface.
This can help stop the noise from moving. You can also choose floors made of materials that take in sound, like carpet or cork.
Factors Affecting Sound Absorption
The floor you pick affects how much sound is in your home. Hard floors, such as wood and tile, bounce sound back. Soft floors, such as carpet and cork, soak up sound. This happens because of how thick and tough the materials are. To get the best sound-absorbing floor, pick a material with a high absorption rate. Cork and rubber floors have high rates, while wood and tile have low rates.
Underlayment is a layer put between the floor and the subfloor. It helps soften the step, lowers sound, and levels the subfloor. Different materials like foam, cork, or rubber can be used to make underlayment. Thick and heavy materials are better at muffling sound and preventing noise from spreading between floors.
The subfloor sits on joists and makes a level base for flooring. Sound can be impacted by the kind and quality of the subfloor. Plywood or OSB make thicker subfloors that dampen noise between levels. To limit noise, fasten the subfloor securely and limit gaps.
Best Flooring For Sound Absorption
here are the best flooring options for sound absorption:
Acoustic Underlayment flooring
An underlay that cuts sound, the acoustic underlayment, goes between the floor and the subfloor. It’s simple to use, cheap and can stop noise well. It’s usually created with cork, rubber, or foam and lessens both airborne and impact sound. Many pick it for flats, condos, and tall buildings to reduce noise.
Carpet and carpet tiles are good at stopping noise, which is why they’re great for hotels, schools, and offices. Thick carpets or ones with a chunky pad below them work best at taking in sound and stopping it from spreading.
People can make carpets out of different stuff, like wool, nylon, and polyester. However, it’s crucial to know that carpets can catch dust and things that cause allergies. That means it might not be the best for people with allergies.
With a pad attached, laminate flooring offers a fantastic sound-absorbing flooring option. A good underlayment can also add some extra warmth and stability, as well as soften the underfoot with each step, reducing that hollow echo you sometimes get when floated over a subfloor.
Laminate flooring is made of layers of material that are fused together, including a high-density fiberboard core, a decorative layer, and a wear layer. People like using it in houses and businesses because it is durable, cleans well, and has lots of different looks.
Vinyl flooring is designed with a foam-backing design and flexible material, which is ideal for sound absorption. Top-quality vinyl like Beauflor vinyl sheet has excellent sound absorption, with several luxury vinyl collections that offer Comfort Bac textile backing. Vinyl floors resemble wood, stone, or tile and come in different shades and designs.
Ways to silence sound involve building a wall or shield between noise and the area where you want to keep things peaceful. This is known as soundproofing. It helps stop unwanted sounds from coming in or out of a room.
People use soundproofing material to reduce noise that enters or exits a room by absorbing or stopping sound waves. Acoustic foam, sound blankets, mass-loaded vinyl, and fibreglass insulation are some examples of soundproofing materials. They usually work with other soundproofing methods to make a better defence against undesirable noise.
Green Glue stops sound from going through walls, floors, and ceilings. It works by changing sound energy into heat. You can use it by putting it between layers of drywall or other building materials. It’s easy to use and you can apply it with a caulking gun. Green Glue is good for DIY soundproofing projects and it’s also safe for the environment. People like to use it for green building projects.
Measuring Sound Absorption
To know about STC and IIC, first understand sound absorption. When sound waves are taken in by a thing instead of bouncing back, it’s called sound absorption.
The coefficient of sound absorption tells how good a thing is at absorbing sound, from zero (not good) to one (very good).
Testing methods are there to check the coefficient of sound absorption, but the ASTM C423 test is the most common.
This test checks the sound absorption of a thing over various frequencies and gives an NRC rating between zero and one. This rating is the average of the sound absorption coefficient over all frequencies.
Sound Transmission Class (STC)
We measure how well materials stop sound using Sound Transmission Class (STC). We compare walls, floors, and ceilings using STC ratings that range from 0 to 100. Bigger numbers mean better sound stopping. High-performance walls can have STC ratings of 60 or more, while regular walls can have ratings of around 30. Labs test materials to get their STC ratings.
Remember, STC ratings don’t measure sound absorption. Just because something has a high STC rating doesn’t mean it’s good at absorbing sound, and vice versa.
Impact Insulation Class (IIC)
We measure how well stuff blocks sounds when dropped or stepped on with a rating system called Impact Insulation Class (IIC). This helps us compare different types of floors. The IIC scale goes from 0 to 100. The higher the number, the better the floor blocks sound.
For example, a plain concrete floor has an IIC of around 25. But a fancy floor can have an IIC of 60 or more. We test the floors in a lab to figure out their IIC.
It’s important to know that IIC isn’t the same as how much sound a floor can absorb or its STC rating. A floor with a high IIC might not absorb much sound or have a high STC rating. The same goes for the opposite.
Choosing the Best Flooring for Sound Absorption
When we pick floors to muffle sound, we think about a few things. We like things that work great, endure for long, are affordable, and look good.
We measure how well a flooring material absorbs sound with something called Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating. If the STC rating is higher, the flooring material is better at reducing sound.
For absorbing sound, carpeting is usually the best choice with an STC rating of 30 or more. Other options for sound absorption include cork, rubber, and certain types of vinyl flooring.
We choose strong floors for noise reduction. Tough floors last longer and are better bang for our buck. The carpet is good for noise, but not so tough in busy spots. Hardwood and tile are tougher, but not as good at reducing noise.
We must factor in the cost of flooring. Carpets are cheap for soundproofing, costing between $2 to $6 per square foot. Cork and rubber floors, on the other hand, can cost us more, around $4 to $12 per square foot. Hardwood and tile floors are the costliest options, with prices going as high as $6 to $15 per square foot.
When we pick out flooring for noise control, we should also think about how it looks. Carpeting has many colours and textures to choose from, so we can find one that matches our home decor.
Cork and rubber floors also have different colours and patterns, but there might be fewer choices. Hardwood and tile floors are usually not as flexible in terms of design, but we can still change their colour or paint them to match our home decor.
FAQs for Best Flooring For Sound Absorption
does concrete absorb sound?
Concrete walls reflect noise but also absorb some of it because the sound can’t go through the cement. They stop airborne sound from getting through, so they’re good for blocking noise. Concrete is solid and keeps sound from escaping a room and spreading to other places. It can even absorb sound inside a room.
what flooring prevents noise?
Luxury Vinyl Plank (LVP) is considered one of the best types of flooring for reducing noise levels, as it can absorb sound and minimize echoes). Rubber flooring is also popular for its ability to absorb sound and prevent impact. Acoustic floor tiles and sound-deadening floor insulation can also help to reduce noise by preventing sound waves from echoing.
can floor be made soundproof?
Yes, floors can be made soundproof. There are several ways to soundproof a floor, including using interlocking floor mats, carpet padding and carpet, rubber mats, and acoustic underlays. It is important to address both impact noise and airborne noise when soundproofing a floor, as they require different methods of treatment.
Picking the right flooring for sound absorption matters to me. It makes my home peaceful and quiet. If we know the traits of different materials and think about thickness, density, and design, we can cut down on noise and live better.
There are many options, like carpets for softness, cork for eco-friendliness, and hardwood for durability. We can select what works for us. Good flooring for sound absorption is worth the investment. It lets us chill out and forget the distractions outside.