8.How to Soundproof a Floor in 6 Steps [GUIDE]


How To Soundproof a Floor in 6 stepsI think you will agree with the following:

The floor is one of the most noise-generating parts of a room!

When a drummer is performing a powerful drum-solo…

…thumping of the floor could create serious “noise problems” during a session.

We don’t want “those huge vibrations”

An unprepared plain floor would introduce more vibration,

which microphones could capture during performances.

That’s why soundproofing is extremely important.

Don’t you agree?

As with other soundproofing methods in this guide:

it only takes plenty of work but the material is cheap.


A note on soundproofing the floor in your studio: You will lose some room height. This is in conjunction with losing room height with a suspended/floating ceiling.


We will also be creating a suspended/floating floor.

Do you have a vertically deficient room (room height)?

It might be best to choose soundproofing your ceiling and floor somewhere where there is immense height.

A good vertical space also helps recordings:

  • have a natural reverberation
  • a desirable reflection (provided the room is properly sound-proofed)

Yes, you guessed it right;

we’ll likely be using the same methods and materials we used for our ceiling and…

…some even from our door soundproofing.

Let’s soundproof that floor effectively.



The 6 steps:

  1. The Foundations Of The Suspended/ Decoupled/ Floating Floor
  2. Adding Layers
  3. Get Rid of the Squeaks
  4. Improving Damping
  5. The Actual Floor (That You Will Actually Step On)
  6. Rules of Thumb

1. The Foundations Of The Suspended/ Decoupled/ Floating Floor

Make your floor float

First:

You’ll need to remove all the floorboards in your room, if any.

Just like soundproofing a ceiling,

you’ll be creating a suspended layer of floor connected through the equivalent of sound isolators for floors: floor floaters.

  • These are made of anti-vibrating rubber material
  • They essentially suspend the layers of floorboard and the actual floor
  • Prevent any vibrations from entering the floor itself

Prepare!

You’ll need to place the floor joists with spaces enough to insert floor floaters.

Floor joists would act as dividers between different layers of soundproofing barriers.

Floor floaters absorb most of the vibrations that could come from the upper layers of flooring.

Upon insertion,

the next layers of massive material that could absorb sound would be placed.

Materials Used:

U Boat Floor Floater

Floor floaters: placed in intervals along floor joists, they separate or “float” the floorboards and actual floor to prevent the immediate resonance created by noise.

Compare Prices: Amazon


Note: The Level Of Noise The Floor Absorbs/Reflects

A sound pressure level meter (SPL) allows you to see the amount of sound energy that penetrates the floor or is reflected by the floor itself.

If the room’s floor, walls and ceilings are still un-layered and each of them are the very foundations of the room itself, then the sound energy traveling in different directions could be presumed as similar to one another.

The best way to measure the level of sound energy flowing through the room is to have a band perform their quietest to their loudest in separate performances.

This would show the alterations in vibrations throughout the room, and how many layers of flooring would you need to put up.

 


2. Adding Layers

Just like our soundproofed ceiling, we would layer our floor with layers that could prevent vibration and absorb sound energy efficiently.

The main principle of soundproofing is preventing an object in the direct path of sound energy coming from instruments from vibrating or being overcome by the sound energy itself.

Bare walls, ceilings, floor and doors would vibrate immensely if the sound energy travels without any hindrance.

This would mean using floorboards and absorbent material.

Once again, acoustic batt returns as another add-on layer for our floor.

Once again, layering is done in the form of gluing together material such as high-density floorboards or polyester along with acoustic batt in a “sandwich.”

Also, green glue is the best choice to put together the sandwiches of layers underneath the floor.

Upon installing your layers, make sure to leave about a fourth inch space around the edges of the new floor. Rubber isolation slips or acoustic caulk can seal these air gaps to prevent sound energy vibrations from passing through.

Make sure to leave gaps of four to six (4-6) inches between each sandwiched layer.

The air gaps are essential as they would act as an “airlock” that reduces sound energy vibration due to the paralysis of air movement.

It is wise to note that your suspended/decoupled/floating floor is more limited in space than your ceiling.

Therefore, it would be wise to only add layers until you still have enough space for air in the middle of your floating floor and your layers.

The air, as with the ceiling and double-glazed doors (if you intend to use two doors) would trap the sound energy in the middle until it bounces between the layers and eventually dissipates.

Material Used:

acoustic battAcoustic Batt: Acoustic batt is useful for floors. It could be molded into any shape and fill any cavity.

(Compare Prices: Amazon)

 

 

 

green glueGreen Glue: The combination of dense material, acoustic batt and adhesive in the form of green glue will attenuate sound energy effectively.

Compare Prices: Amazon

 

 

 

High Density Acoustic Floor QuietboardHigh Density Floorboards: available in almost every hardware store and also affordable. Remember, more mass equals better sound attenuation.


Soundproofing is essentially building a “room-within-a-room” to contain the sound energy from inside and outside the room. The task is similar to insulating a floor to ensure there is no energy gap to save energy (an advantage you would receive upon undertaking this project). Multiple constrained layers of different materials would reduce the passing sound energy effectively before it reaches the bare wall.  More mass lessens the likelihood of molecules vibrating strongly to transmit sound energy.


3. Get Rid of the Squeaks

Identify the squeaky areas per floor first.

Despite all the layers of absorbents for sound you could have underneath your floor, walk on every part of the wood and identify areas where squeaks happen.

Take note of even the tiniest ones that you could hear.

This process should be done on every layer of flooring to ensure there is no noise.

Use staples and nails to fix these areas and hold the floorboards in place enough to prevent them from squeaking.

Using strips of rubber, some high density foam tapes or even acoustic caulk could be useful at this stage.


Air gaps are essential for locking in air movement that would help prevent sound energy from aggressively penetrating and reflecting back into the studio room.


4. Improving Damping

Footsteps can still reflect upwards per step of those walking inside the studio.

Despite the efficacy of your layered flooring, floor floaters and everything else in between (no pun intended) reducing the sound energy passing through the initial floorboards.

If you need to further dampen the footsteps and if carpets are not up for this task, then adding urethane foam or any thick fabric below the upper layers that make up the flooring helps reduce sound energy, which is essentially any old bed mattress lying around.

You can place them between floorboards but make sure to leave at least four (4) inches of space in between.

For your second to the last layer (just beneath the floor you and your guests would step on repeatedly after you finish), you could use SheetBlok acoustic vinyl.

Acoustic vinyl is a great material that could layer over these fabrics and adds another vibration-preventative coating that would help absorb sound reflections from the floor itself.

Both are materials with great density and most hardware stores sell them for the purposes of putting up a studio.

Upon finishing the final layer, make sure to seal everything with acoustic caulk or noise-proofing tape (such as high density foam tape).

 

Materials Used:

High Density Urethane Foam

Urethane foam: is dense, helping reduce vibrations. You could have them between floorboards as long as you still have enough airspace to trap sound energy.

Compare Prices: Amazon

 

 

 

Acoustic BarrierAcoustic/Mass Loaded Vinyl: vinyl flooring that is very dense and conceals footsteps effectively despite your floor layering, which makes it a perfect investment for soundproofing your home.

Compare Prices: Amazon

 

 

Auralex SheetblokAuralex Sheetblox: a good brand of acoustic vinyl suited for studio purposes.

Compare Prices: Amazon

 

 

 

Noiseproofing TapeNoise Proofing Tape: available in all hardware stores, helps in sealing gaps between vinyl floors before adding the final solid flooring.

Compare Prices: Amazon


5. The Actual Floor (That You Will Actually Step On)

Aside from carpets, floors could also be dampened with other soft materials topside.

But the material and construction of the floor itself is crucial.

Plywood is good for this purpose, even strong gypsum wood is a good choice provided that it would not use any screws or nails.

The plywood should have the same length and width as your actual floor.

Fiberboard or plywood about a third of an inch in thickness would do effectively to soundproof.

These layers would shield your bare floor against the passage of sound.

When installing the final flooring, try to avoid having to screw or nail the final layer. As much as possible use green glue or powerful adhesives that could help prevent vibrations.

Screws and nails introduce gaps of air that would allow sound to pass through. This would put all the layers you have installed to become inefficient.

As your flooring would lead towards the walls, these gaps could be sealed with acoustic caulk.

Green GlueAcoustic Caulk: The edges of your flooring can be sealed by acoustic caulk and acoustic putty, which can be morphed into any shape, could plug any air gaps that you might find.

Compare Prices: Amazon


6. Rules of thumb

  • You can actually finish soundproofing your floor in one weekend. Invest an entire afternoon to it and you could finish quickly.
  • Materials used here, including acoustic vinyl, putty, caulk, batt and fiberboards, plywoods and drywalls could all be purchased in any hardware store.
  • Squeaking indicates an air gap is present and the foundations need to be sealed properly.
  • Make sure to have gaps of at least four to six (4-6) inches between each sandwiched layer of soundproofing you add above your bare floor.
  • Add as much layers as one can when soundproofing floors to ensure that the vibrations of instruments used simultaneously does not overpower the floor insulation.