This blog post will answer the question, “What are the methods to soundproof a wooden floor?” The ways in which noise can develop in wooden floors, what kinds of wood are better at soundproofing than others, and the benefits of soundproofing a wooden floor.
How to soundproof a wooden floor?
There are several key methods to soundproofing sliding doors
- Interlocking Floor Mats
- Carpets and Rugs
- SoundProof Floor Underlayment
- Noiseproofing Compound
- Deck Screws
- Additional Flooring
- Floor Joist Isolators
- Resilient Channels
How can noise develop on a wooden floor?
Noise can develop on wooden floors in two ways:
Airborne Noise: They are sometimes referred to as ambient noise are sounds transmitted through through the walls, floors & ceiling. This can include a general conversation between people, TVs, pets, musical instruments and so on and so forth.
Thus, the sound vibrations through these sources travel through the interstitial spaces between the floorboards and can diffuse into the adjacent floor space causing disturbance or reducing privacy.
Impact Noise: This type of noise is generated when some object or person directly makes contact with the wooden floor boards. There are several examples, feet stomping, falling objects, objects being dragged across the floor.
Image 1: Ways in which sound can infiltrate a space
Benefits of Soundproofing Wooden Floors
Below are the benefits of soundproofing Wooden Floors:
- Makes the room isolated from unwanted noise which can disturb activities such as studying or sleeping.
- Reduction of ambient wind noise that can take place from airborne transmission.
- Improves room comfort and a general level of cosiness.
- Prevent sound leakage into adjacent spaces thereby improving privacy.
Sound Absorption Vs. Sound Blocking, which to consider?
Now, contrary to conventional usage of Sound Blocking Vs. Sound absorption which are often incorrectly used interchangeably, lets study below what they actually mean:
Sound Absorption happens when vibrations from a sound source are absorbed by acoustical absorbing surfaces or elements which reduce reverberation, echoing & amplification.
Materials used for this function are typically porous and plentiful air gaps to enhance effectiveness.
Sound Blocking or Sound Isolation seeks to contain the sounds emanation from a source within the boundaries of a predefined area.
Materials used for this function are typically dense, thick and heavy with as little porosity as possible.
The 4 Most Soundproof Wood types preferred for flooring
Naturally occurring and sourced from the cork oak tree without the need for cutting down the tree or damaging it so it is eco-friendly and known to have antimicrobial properties.
In addition, it has great sound absorption abilities since the cellular structure of cork oak enables it to have a lot of air spaces to dampen sound.
Although its sound blocking capabilities leaves much to be desired.
Similar to Cork acoustic plywood is great at sound absorption but even better at controlling sound as it fragments standing sound waves, reflects high frequencies and absorbs less bass.
It also can minimise impact vibrations especially the no sanded plywood kind which in addition resists moisture better than common wood flooring types.
Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF):
MDF is a type of engineered wood made by fusing broken-down softwood or hardwood fibres with resin binder and wax under heat and pressure to create panels.
Its specialty is that it shares STC Rating (for more information about STC rating please refer to https://kineticsnoise.com/downloads/analysis/AT001099B.pdf), density and thickness with a drywall. It has excellent acoustical abilities due to its density.
However, it’s not easy to work with as it releases VOCs during cutting, absorbs moisture quickly and is highly flammable.
Oriented Strand Board (OSB):
It is manufactured in a similar way to MDF by pressing various wood strands together and securing the layer or fibres with adhesives.
What makes OSB such a great choice as flooring material is unlike MDF it does not absorb moisture quickly and it has an impressive STC rating.
Some studies have shown a combination of OSB wood, glass wool and air actually creates more effective sound blocking and sound absorption than some concrete and brick buildings.
8 ways to soundproof a wooden floor
The following are some of the most effective ways to soundproof a wooden floor
Interlocking floor mats:
They come in different textures, sizes and designs and are placed like a jigsaw puzzle piece. One has to make sure they procure enough quantity of it to cover the entire floor.
However, they are only good at controlling and reducing impact noise creation but they do not provide a sound deadening effect. Unless used in conjunction with floor underlayment, carpets or other soundproofing materials.
Carpets & Rugs:
Carpet pads & Rugs that absorb sound are thick and made mostly of rubber. In fact with carpet pads, the thicker, the better. A thicker pad provides more durability and noise control.
However, a room with high-traffic will require you to purchase a rubber carpet underlay with closed-cell foam underneath the soundproofing barrier. The reason being that an underlay with open-cell foam will not last under heavy use.
SoundProof Floor Underlayment:
One of the most effective methods to eliminate noise and provide a sound deadening effect is to use soundproof floor underlayment. It almost completely absorbs noise from airborne and impact media.
It is usually installed before any hardwood floor is placed and is recommended to be done during the new construction or renovation phase.
The underlayment comes in a variety of materials such as cork, foam etc.
It works in a similar way and can be considered as an acoustic caulk considering it can absorb 90% of noise and is suitable for application on either side of the floor.
Green Glue Noiseproofing is a regularly used compound used for this purpose which can be applied between any two hard surfaces or in the existing subfloor.
It reaches its peak noise dissipation performance after 30 days of application.
It does not basically stop airborne or impact noises however, it does stop the squeaking and creaking of floor boards that can develop over time due to moisture or damage.
However, keep in mind you need access to the subfloor which requires removal of the current floor.
The final step in the floor soundproofing process. One can choose to install additional flooring materials such as laminate wood , linoleum, vinyl tiles etc.
Keep in mind that additional flooring can only be used in conjunction with the methods described above to dampen noise and reverberation. Since they don’t have enough mass nor porosity to completely absorb or block noise.
Floor Joist Isolators:
They are U shaped products and are usually made of foam or plastic. Moreover, they are installed right over floor joists to reduce impact noise by separating the flooring from the structure supporting it.
They are better than Floor Joist Isolators and are ideal in situations where drywall is installed for a ceiling. The channels screw directly into the floor joists and then the drywall is directly screwed into the channels.
They help to create a gap between structural supports and flooring similar to Floor Joist Isolators.
This blog addresses the ways in which sound can infiltrate through a wooden floor, the performance metric information an individual needs before opting for soundproofing a sliding door. Also the type 4 types of wood material which need to be considered in the pre-construction phase that provide effective sound blocking and absorption.
Finally, what are some of the main ways that an individual can soundproof a wooden floor and the effectiveness of each method.
If you have any questions or comments please let us know.
Frequently Asked Questions: How to soundproof a wooden floor
Using acoustical rubber padding or rugs and carpet can help absorb sound waves thereby reducing sound reflection and dampen outside invasive and disturbing sounds.
What is the best way to soundproof a wooden floor?
The best technique to reduce airborne noise between floors is to use DFM acoustic insulation around floor joists. With acoustic floor insulation, you can eliminate airborne sounds between timber floors.
Use acoustic floor padding between the floor and ceiling beams to block airborne noises from passing through a wooden floor.
Why does the wood floor make noise at night?
As the Earth moves away from the Sun at nighttime, the temperature outside would drop by 30 degrees or more. Items like wooden floors, construction materials, and furnishings cool down as well, contracting and sliding a little, causing cracking and groaning noises.
Is Velvet a good sound absorber?
When it comes to sound-absorbent textiles, most experts agree that suede and velvet are two of the greatest options. Because these textiles are dense, porous, and have rough surfaces, they may absorb a substantial quantity of acoustic energy.
What situations require soundproofing?
The basic reason to soundproof a room or a space is to prevent your current activity from getting disturbed.
This could be in situations such as:
In a bedroom to snooze in absolute silence. A good night’s sleep can keep a person more focused and active for the day and revitalise the senses.
At a recording studio where ambient sounds are detrimental to the recording process which could require multiple retakes and order expensive post processing to filter out such noises
In meetings or during a conference where sound bleeding cannot just be a disturbance but a leakage of confidential or privileged information not suitable for any other audience. Also, it can prevent clear passage of sound and cause incorrect information to be registered by the audience.
Personal office spaces and study rooms greatly benefit from sound isolation as much like good night’s sleep it can help to improve and sustain focus on the task at hand and prevent distractions.
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