Learn How to Soundproof a Floor in an Apartment

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best underlay for soundproofingRoberts Super Felt best underlay for soundproofingQuietWalk Plus best underlay for soundproofingRoberts First Step best underlay for soundproofingFloor Muffler Ultraseal best underlay for soundproofingFeather Step 3in1
Review
Price $$ $$$ $$$ $$$$ $$
STC Rating 66 66 66 73 65
IIC Rating 67 71 68 74 64
Dimensions
Thickness 3.0 mm 3.1 mm 2.0 mm 2.0 mm 2.0 mm
Density 14.5 lbs./ft.3 11.5 lbs./ft.3 5.5 lbs./ft.3 n/a n/a
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With all the time that I have spent living in various apartments in many states, I have humorously labeled myself as an “apartment veteran.” And if someone comes up to me right now, asking what the first thing they should know about living in one, this is what I would absolutely tell them:

IT’S NOISY.

And one of the most common culprits of the noise is the type of material that is being used in most apartments all across the world. Wood and tile flooring may be very popular in many homes today because they add such warmth and beauty to your abode. They are also easier to maintain and last longer.

However, the fact remains that wood and tile perform much worse acoustically, which is why you need to learn how to soundproof a floor in an apartment.

Ask anyone who has spent some time residing in an apartment and they will concur with my belief: an apartment is by far one of the nosiest places to inhabit. There is just a lot of unwanted sounds coming from all directions. There’s the pet dog downstairs, the fighting couple upstairs, the blaring television in the next apartment and of course, the cacophony of noise coming from the outside, be it car horns or people loudly talking. You name it; an apartment resident has probably lived through it.

I’m no hypocrite either. I admit that at some point, my neighbors thought of me to be a prick at times especially when the Golden State Warriors game is on. From hooting to hollering, I can be very unmindful of the ruckus I’m making when cheering on my favorite sports team.

To save everyone the hassle, you should consider soundproofing your apartment and one of the most effective ways to do that is to soundproof your apartment floor. This would go a long way in keeping sound to a minimum as it helps absorb vibrations that are made by one’s everyday noise and makes it possible to stifle the noise of others.

All that said, this article would help give you a look into what is best underlay for soundproofing. In addition, you learn how to soundproof a floor cheap, taking a comprehensive dive into what methods you can use and the products you need make a soundproof apartment floor, without incurring a sizable hole in your bank account.

Table of Contents

  1. Reasons Why You Should Soundproof Your Floor
  2. What are the Types of Soundproof Flooring Materials?
  3. How to Soundproof Floors in Your Apartment
  4. The Bottom Line


Reasons Why You Should Soundproof Your Floor

Why you should soundproof your floor
Why not? As mentioned above, you could have loud downstairs neighbors, or be a nuisance yourself with all the noise you’re making.

There are plenty of reasons to undertake this acoustic project. You might have a dog that you leave alone during the day and you don’t want to disturb the neighbors with the all that barking and howling. To make a long story short, if you’ve got any of the following concerns, you might want to think long and hard about soundproofing your floors.

  • Preserving your privacy
  • Neighbors are complaining about noise
  • Raucous neighbors downstairs
  • Better acoustics

If you’re looking to keep television noises, music, or your pet’s noise from reverberating around your apartment complex, what you’re dealing with is called airborne noise. As the term says, this is the kind of sound that travels through the air, which means it probably seeps through small holes, under your doors, or directly through the floors and ceilings.

The other kind of noise you’re trying to keep yourself away from is called structure-borne or impact sound. These kinds of sounds occur when force is applied to walls, floors or ceilings. Basically, impact sounds are your footsteps, or kids dribbling balls on the floor.

Whatever the source of the noise is, there are easy steps you can take to attain some semblance of peace and quiet. Noise pollution can undoubtedly have an adverse effect on your productivity and overall health, and actually impair your hearing and raise your blood pressure.

To better combat all these, let’s next take a look at what materials will work to your advantage. Read on!


What are the Types of Soundproof Flooring Materials?

So you can’t sleep because of all the noise problems your current floor is causing? You’re not alone, my friend. But people like you and me and the many of homeowners out there who have spent many nights tossing and turning, don’t fret. There are many ways to resolve this problem with many different products that can help stifle the echo and sounds of footsteps and other noises that might bother you.

There is a wide range of impressive looking flooring materials available in the market today. The most widely used material is a soundproofing floor underlay, but there are other routes that you can consider such as a soundproofing floor mat, insulation, and acoustic foam tile products.

But before you go looking for the ideal soundproof materials, here are some terms that you should acclaim yourself before moving on below:

STC (Sound Transmission Class) – STC is a numeric value describing how well a building, or in this case a floor, is at reducing the effect of airborne noise. A high STC rating basically means the material is better at lessening the noise in rooms with wood and laminate floors.

IIC (Impact Insulation Class) – IIC is the numeric value identifying how efficient a floor assembly is at stifling the effects of impact noise, which most of the time are footsteps, but at times, also furniture and machinery. The greater the number the more superior the material is at lessening those kinds of noises.

Thickness and Density – When it comes to soundproofing, mass is king! Of course, you will have to pony up a little extra for the better performance but it will be worth the peace and quiet that you will be getting. But still, the thinner 2mm rolls are going to perform better acoustically than the cheap underlayment often found at big your usual home improvement stores.

The following are the best materials for soundproofing floors to help augment your home’s acoustics:

Acoustic Underlayment

An acoustic underlayment is a distinctive material that is placed over a concrete or plywood subfloor, cushioning the flooring and lessening the effects of airborne and impact noise.

Cork, vinyl, rubber, and foam are the usual underlay materials used. These are dense and provide great sound isolation and impact deadening of such noises like footsteps. Read on below to look at some of our recommended acoustic underlayment for wood, laminate, and tile floors.

Underlayment

Roberts Super Felt Premium Underlayment

  • Thickness: 3.0 mm
  • Density: 14.5 lbs./ft.3
  • STC Rating: 66
  • IIC Rating: 67

Price & Reviews

The Roberts Super Premium Underlayment is made for soundproofing floors and to cushion flooring. It is considered to be a high performance felt underlayment, partly composed of recycled fibers with the use of a high heat manufacturing process.

The felt is dense thus making it ideal material for absorbing noise, as opposed to reflecting it. It also works great for laminate or engineered flooring and is naturally insulating, which means it can keep frigid floors warmer in the winter, and cooler in summer months.

Underlayment

QuietWalk Plus

  • Thickness: 3.1 mm
  • Density: 11.5 lbs./ft.3
  • STC Rating: 66
  • IIC Rating: 71

Price & Reviews

QuietWalk Plus underlayment is an exceptional substitute to Super Felt. Although it is a little less dense, it still has similar noise proofing elements. QuietWalk Plus’ performance and versatility make it one of the best underlayment for laminate, hardwood, and engineered wood floors. It can also be used for under 5mm+ thick vinyl, LVT, and WPC/SPC planks but not ceramic tile.

If you are a green-minded homeowner, this is the product for you as the QuietWalk Plus is LEED™ compliant with 94% pre-consumer fibers. The material also has the Greenguard certification for low chemical emissions.

Underlayment

Roberts First Step

  • Thickness: 2.0 mm
  • Density: 5.5 lbs./ft.3
  • STC Rating: 66
  • IIC Rating: 68

Price & Reviews

Roberts First Step is a foam material, which generates a layer of open cell foam that lets air to flow and circulate below to inhibit the development of molds. This means it is unique to other underlayments. First Step can also be installed onto subfloors above or below grade.

The thickness and density are lower than the top 2 materials, but First Step still has equivalent noise suppression ratings. First Step is thinner, but does a great job of smoothening out subfloor imperfections.

Underlayment

Floor Muffler Ultraseal Underlayment

  • Thickness: 2.0 mm
  • Density: n/a
  • STC Rating: 73
  • IIC Rating: 74

Price & Reviews

Floor Muffler is a premium acoustic underlayment composed of closed cell polypropylene foam. You can find it in both regular and Ultraseal configurations, but it would be better to use the Ultraseal for the convenience of lip and tape installation.

Floor Muffler is identical in composition to First Step but has a higher STC and IIC rating. For the most noise reduction, Floor Muffler is a nice choice.

Like QuietWalk, this material can be set up in a number of ways, giving you or your installer the flexibility to install your new floor exactly the way you want it. Lay down Floor Muffler before placing your favorite laminate or engineer wood product.

Floor Muffler is considered to be a safe product, which functions as an excellent moisture and mold barrier that safeguards your floor investment. The other safety and environmental benefit is that it is 100% recyclable.

Underlayment

Feather Step 3in1 Silent Vapor Barrier Underlayment

  • Thickness: 2.0 mm
  • Density: n/a
  • STC Rating: 65
  • IIC Rating: 64

Price & Reviews

If you are working on a tight budget, Feather Step 3in1 underlayment is a great choice compared to the other materials mentioned above. The 100 square foot roll offers you more savings than the bigger brand names but still retains all the acoustic performance and features that they have.

Feather Step is a 2.0 mm thick foam material with a foil vapor barrier film, and has adhesive strips on the other for a convenient flap over edge installation process. Most of the homeowners that have used Feather Step are impressed with the toughness, and how less prone it is to tearing compared to other underlayment materials that use the foam style.

Sound Dampening Vinyl

This is more popularly known as Mass Loaded Vinyl, which is a thin but heavy vinyl sheet that is exceptionally effecting at reducing noise, particularly in floors, machinery, and automobiles. The density of the material helps to stifle sounds and noise caused by foot traffic. It’s a versatile material and can be cut into just about any shape to fit your application.

Fatmat Sound Deadener

FatMat Sound Deadener absorbs the noises and vibrations that travel through vehicle floors, which can help lessen all those irritating noises that includes road noise, engine and exhaust noise, and grating rattles.

  • Noise and vibration absorption to battle audio vibrational distortion
  • Easy to set up
  • Self-adhesive and easy to cut to fit your application

TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl

TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl is a 27 STC, and it is a one-eighth inch thick. The extruded virgin material that comprises this product generates no odor. The mass loaded vinyl lets you wrap it around pipes and other obstacles. It reduces noise transfer and works for an array of noises.

Use this acoustic underlayment for carpet and other floor materials. It also works for walls, HVAC system components, noisy pipes, and ceilings.

  • Made for floors and walls and vehicles
  • Heavy and dense with a good STC of 27
  • Quality product made from extruded virgin material

Soundproof Floor Insulation

Sound Absorbing Floor Insulation is an acoustic insulation that is placed in between floor joists, right below the subfloor. It can also be set up from the ceiling in the floor below.

Roxul Rockboard 80

If you need a rigid material, then the Roxul Mineral Wool Floor Insulation is perfect for your acoustic project. The batts are ideal for filling the floor structure before laying the subflooring but are also usually used as bass traps, and for recording studios or home theaters.

  • Solid soundproofing qualities
  • Water-repelling, easy to cut and install
  • Class A fire rating

How to Soundproof Floors in Your Apartment

A quick but important note before you even begin searching for ways to soundproof your apartment floor: please make sure that you are not infringing on anything that may be within your lease.

This sounds like it’s idiot-proof, and in most cases an apartment tenant will be perfectly alright with it, but as mentioned, being an “apartment veteran” means that I have had my fair share of experience living in an apartment complex that had rigid rules. So, if you live in one of these areas, you may well want to look into it first before moving forward.

That said, here are some of the best ways to soundproof floors in your apartment:

Leave It to the Pros

If budget is of no consequence to you, then the best way to go about soundproofing your apartment floor is by letting the professionals handle it.

By doing this, you don’t have to fret about purchasing materials or handling some kind of renovations, which if not done right, can cause more damage to your living space than good leaving you more burdened than when you started. Instead, you just have to worry about paying the experts and waiting to reap the benefits of the final product.

Take note though that professional installation can be prohibitively expensive than purchasing the needed materials and handling the work with your own hands. Also, a lot of the work can be deemed lasting modifications, which is something that is not really sanctioned if you are just renting the apartment. You don’t want to violate your lease, right?

But if you have the resources and either are the owner of the apartment or your landlord green lights on the proposed changes, then this is absolutely the most hassle-free way to soundproof your apartment floors.

The DIY Way

But if you are willing to get down and dirty and you can buy the soundproofing materials, then the time is nigh for some do-it-yourself soundproofing work!

There are a number of ways to soundproof your own floor, but be aware that the work that is needed can be more time consuming and permanent than most. And it goes without saying, that because of the nature of these ventures, you’ll want to get the proper authorities to sign off on the proposed work or risk breaching your lease.

Let’s face it: what’s there to noise-proof if you are actually without a home?

Kidding aside, for most of these techniques, it is easier to have a non-carpeted, bare floor to work with. This will make it more convenient to apply the different pads and carpets to the floor and requires the least amount of work.

However, not everybody who resides in an apartment will have this accessibility available to them, and that is why some of these procedures can also be used on an carpeted floor. But take note that there will be little more work that needs to be done.

All that said, here we go! Time for to get some DIY work done!

Interlocking Floor Mats

interlocking floormats
If you are familiar with those strange-looking, puzzle piece mats often found in elementary school classrooms or kids’ nurseries, you would be delighted to know that these are actually used for the purpose of soundproofing, and hence, can be used inside your own apartment also.

To utilize these interlocking floor mats, you just have to lay the first one down into the corner of your apartment floor and go from there, covering your floor by linking the mats like it is one huge jigsaw puzzle. Continue on this undertaking until you cover the surface that you are looking to soundproof.

This method is one of the most convenient soundproofing methods for those that don’t have a lot of money or time. It is also one of the most inexpensive methods to try at your apartment, with some products such as the Prosource Puzzle Exercise Mat just costing $20.

The disadvantage is that interlocking floor mats are not the best at stifling noise compared to some other products.

Carpet Padding

Think of carpet padding as like a helmet for your floor, which is particularly designed to be dense enough to offer sufficient protection from the danger that is “noise.” You’ll get the most out of these kinds of carpets, when layered underneath a more traditional carpet.

Setting up for the placement of carpet padding is not all that different from that of installing traditional carpet in your home: just roll out the material until it meets both ends of your floor, cutting it at the edges and then securing it with either glue or nails.

There are different carpet padding that you can choose for soundproofing, but you definitely can’t go wrong with the Premium Grip Rug Pad. These pads are ultra-durable and slip resistant, making the installation process a lot less cumbersome.


The Bottom Line

And there you have it! There are so many ways to soundproof your apartment floors.

If you begin applying them one by one, beginning with the underlayment, you’ll be pleasantly surprised at the difference these will make in the noise levels in your residence.

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