Wood flooring and Soundproofing: an Expert Advice
Victorian and Edwardian flats will require soundproofing when installing new wooden flooring
Planning to install a new wooden floor, but live in an older style flat? If you do, you will definitely need some sort of soundproofing to reduce noise and keep you and your neighbours happy. Discover the most efficient and practical type of soundproofing for your property with our expert guide.
Work out which type of soundproofing you need
There are two types of soundproofing to consider; an Impact Sound Reduction Membrane or a more substantial soundproofed subfloor.
An Impact Sound Reduction Membrane is an acoustic underlay that will reduce sound through the subfloor. It is cheaper, less disruptive and easier to install than a full soundproofing solution. This is the type of soundproofing to choose if you need to deal with impact noise (structural vibrations from footfall), cutting out around 28 decibels.
Sound reduction membrane installed
The existing floor has to be removed when installing full soundproofing
Full soundproofing is far more efficient at reducing noise and will deal with both impact and airborne noise (including conversations, TVs and music) up to around 60 decibels. However, it’s a major job as the subfloor has to be completely replaced. The cost of the materials is significantly higher and it’s more disruptive in terms of noise and dust (both for you and your downstairs neighbours.) All furniture has to be removed and built-in structures have to be assessed. If your floor levels are uneven, this can be rectified when the subfloor is rebuilt.
Fitting an Impact Sound Reduction Membrane
This is a relatively simple process as the subfloor can remain in place. The membrane can also be laid in sections, so there’s no need to remove all the furniture. Plywood (not chipboard) is glued down directly to create a flat and stable surface. There are two different types of of membrane; one that’s glued down and another version which can be used as a floating floor (so the membrane isn’t actually attached to the subfloor). The latter is cheaper, but can make the floor rather bouncy and flexible. We personally recommend the fixed version, as it creates a more stable surface. Once glued down, it’s flattened with a 70 kilo roller, to create a strong and secure bond.
The Impact Sound Reduction Membrane is rolled out in sections
It’s then glued to the plywood
Replacing the subfloor and installing full soundproofing
The original floor is removed to expose the joists. These are then cleaned and acoustic mineral wool is placed between them. If the flooring levels are uneven, the height of the joists can be adjusted by sistering the joists at this stage.
Acoustic mineral wool is laid in place and the joists are levelled and strengthened
The joist caps are fitted to eliminate sound vibrations
Joist caps are fixed along the length of the joists to reduce the sound vibrations travelling from the floors surface through to the joists and the ceiling below. Tightly fitted plywood (not chipboard) is secured to the joists, so it’s strong enough to take the weight of the new floor. Wall and ply acoustic strips are then installed around the room, to ensure the entire surface is soundproofed. An Impact Sound Reduction Membrane makes up the final layer, which is glued into place and then flattened with a 70 kilo roller.
Once this process is complete, the new wooden floor can be installed.
Engineered flooring being fixed into place
Don’t be tempted and swayed by the price. Full soundproofing is significantly more expensive than laying an Impact Sound Reduction Membrane, but it’s far superior at reducing noise.
Freeholders may request a sound engineers certificate (which will involve testing the sound properties of the old floor and repeating the test with the new floor.) If it fails to meet requirements, the floor will either have to be ripped up and replaced, or a carpet will have to cover up the new floor. It definitely pays to do your research, so you can pick the right product for the job, first time round.
We are experts with many years experience of installing both types of soundproofing. If you need any further advice, please call Alin on 0745 668 4477 or get in touch via the Contacts page on our website
Typical installed old floorboards without soundproofing
Complete soundporoofing solution