Flooring which won’t reduce noise in your home
You’re living in your dream home, but there is just one problem. You need to know how to reduce noise in your home. Whether you live in a flat, terraced, or semi-detached home, you may find your tranquillity disturbed by environmental noise outside or your neighbours.
While some are aware that modern building methods have left our homes a little noisier, many have not realised that their flooring might compound the issue. Since the boom in Ikea’s laminate flooring in the 1990s, interior design trends have leaned towards replacing carpet with harder forms of flooring such as laminate, hardwood, marble, ceramic, concrete, or stone. These have many advantages, such as being easy to clean and offering improvements to allergies. However, that doesn’t mean there aren’t drawbacks.
The truth is hard wooden flooring be it: hard wood, engineered wood or laminate will make the noise worse for you and your neighbours.
There is little test data on separating party walls, showing before and after sound insulation tests with and without carpet. Or a sound insulation test with carpet and with hardwood solid flooring. However having installed soundproofing and many different soundproofing materials over the last 15 years or so we know without doubt that removing the carpet and installing hardwood flooring, you can go from hearing the odd muffled noise from your neighbours to being able to make out words.
Similarly you can go from hearing a muffled noise from your neighbours with hardwood flooring to barely hearing them at all once you have installed carpet everywhere.
Andy’s home renovations and soundproofing
Having been in the trade, Andy decided he would carry out some renovations to his home. At the same time, he decided to add some soundproofing to give him more privacy from his neighbours.
Things started well. He installed a new kitchen and bathroom and renovated all the rooms in his house. His own team of builders sanded down all the floorboards, restoring them to their natural beauty. To soundproof his home, he applied three layers of soundproof plasterboard to each wall, alcove, and chimney stack along the party wall he shared with his neighbours.
When the work was completed, Andy moved back into the property. However, he soon realised that he could hear his neighbours more clearly than he could before the work. The noise had increased rather than decreased.
Noise from neighbours is something many people will experience. While many people might believe their neighbours are exceptionally noisy, this is often not the case. Particularly when home renovation work has taken place in either property, you may find yourself listening to their television, hearing the children running around, or even the hum of everyday appliances such as the boiler or washing machine.
If you live in a flat, you will probably hear these noises coming through your floor or ceiling. Whereas, if you live in a terraced or semi-detached home like Andy, you will likely blame the party wall. Therefore, Andy’s decision to carry out party wall soundproofing would seem to make sense. So, why did he end up experiencing more noise? And if soundproofing a party wall doesn’t work, how do you reduce noise in your home?
The truth about carpets and other flooring surfaces
A natural response might be to blame the newly sanded floorboards. Most of us might assume it must be the hard floor surfaces increasing the amount of noise. We’ve all heard the echo of high heels or metal tipped shoes as someone walks down a corridor, becoming increasingly conscious of the noise they are making. In fact, many flat tenancies ban the use of hard flooring for this reason – it creates an unacceptable level of noise for those in the flat below.
Carpet, unlike hard flooring, keeps our footsteps much quieter because it absorbs the noise. But while it might reduce the sound of Andy’s own feet on the floor, could adding some rugs or carpeting reduce the level of noise he was hearing from his neighbours?
There is no doubt that carpeting can help to absorb some of the noise in your home. However, soundproofing is a little more complex than this, and it’s unlikely to provide the level of solution you seek.
Direct and indirect noise paths
What most people don’t realise is there are a multitude of pathways in which sound travels through homes. Therefore, Quietco introduced the 4-Step Soundproofing Method. It is only through tackling each pathway that you can successfully soundproof a room or home.
While Andy treated a direct path of the noise when he soundproofed the party wall, he didn’t tackle the other routes. These comprise:
- Main causes such as missing bricks or thin walls.
- Indirect noise paths such as flanking walls, RSJs, and floors.
- Fixtures and fittings such as sunken ceiling lights or fixtures which compromise the soundproofing.
As you can see, carpeting the floors would also not provide a solution as it only tackles one minor element.
When we first met Andy, he wasn’t quite ready to accept this 4-Step Soundproofing Method and you can hardly blame him – we were telling him that not only would we have to remove his soundproofing attempt from his newly painted walls, but we would also need to take up his newly sanded floors.
Andy was insistent we only soundproof the party wall, leaving sanded floors and perpendicular walls untouched. Of course, this only gave a minimal reduction in the noise. It was only then Andy realised the importance of also treating the indirect noise paths. We returned to treat both the floor and perpendicular walls, and Andy was thrilled with the results.
Does your choice of flooring matter when reducing noise in your home?
Your choice of flooring can contribute to the amount of noise you experience. Carpet will absorb some sound travelling through the floor, whereas hard floorings will probably increase it. However, as you’ve seen, this only tackles one way in which noise might travel through your home. You might think that if you’re living in a flat and dealing with noisy neighbours below you, that this would be a perfect solution. However, it doesn’t matter whether you live in a house or a flat, noise will travel along multiple pathways.
Yes, adding carpet can reduce the noise your neighbours might hear as you move around your home, and it might absorb a little of their noise. But it will not offer you soundproofing. It is also perfectly possible to have a harder floor surface and soundproof a room, but it will require professional help.
Reduce noise in your home with a professional solution
If you want to reduce noise in your home, then you will need to seek a professional solution. Quietco is a specialist consultant, manufacturer and installer of high-quality soundproofing and sound reduction systems. Our process starts with a survey which will identify where the sound is travelling in your home. This can vary depending on renovation works undertaken and construction methods used. However, once we’ve identified all the noise paths, we can discuss with you the different options you have. Why not take the first step and book your FREE noise diagnosis call with Quietco? It’s time to look forward to peace and quiet in your dream home.