How to Soundproof Floors In An Apartment – Top 3 Ways


Soundproofing a floor is slightly different than other soundproofing projects.

First of all, we actively use the floor every time we’re in the room. Unless you’re Superman or an advanced yogi that can levitate. In that case, I want some of those shrooms you’re having.

Joking aside, we have to make sure that the material is strong enough so that it can withstand damage from foot traffic, moving furniture and so on.

Finally, the material has to be installed properly so that it stays firmly in place.

There are 3 main types of products you can use to soundproof your floors:

  • acoustic underlay (installed on the sub-flooring)
  • carpet pads (placed on top of the floor)
  • interlocking floor mats (similar to carpet pads, placed on top of the floor)

In this article I’ll show you the benefits and the downsides of each of these materials, and also how to install them on the floor properly.

That way you will know which option is the best for you.

So let’s check out the options.

Is Acoustic Underlay effective?

Acoustic underlay is a vibration dampening and soundproofing agent that reduces the amount of noise that can travel through the floor.

When it comes to installing it, you’ll first have to remove vinyl and carpets if they’re present.

Acoustic underlay can be placed on the sub-flooring or on top of the floor, depending on which product you’re using.

There are many brands available on the market, and with varying effectiveness. Here are 4 underlays that do a great job with noise reduction:

1. UltraSeal Floating Acoustic Underlayment

UltraSeal Acoustic Underlayment is an example of a lightweight product which can cover a wide variety of floor types.

But it’s mainly used on concrete and wood sub-floors. It creates an effective sound and moisture barrier and is great for reducing sound and vibrations from walking.

You can check out the installation process in this video:

It’s important to remember that there are floor underlays for different floors; you may have to get a different type for a concrete floor as opposed to a wooden or tiled floor.

While there are a few brands which can be used for many different types of flooring, you still need to keep an eye out for the different underlayments.

Here are two other options that work really well.

2. Floor Muffler – Wood Acoustical Underlayment

Made of dense foam composite material, this is a heavy duty underlay that can be used with both laminate flooring and wooden floors.

It also acts as a vapor and moisture barrier and it’s hypoallergenic (unlikely to cause allergic reactions).

What makes it rather convenient is the self-sealing system in place as well, so there’s no additional adhesive required.

One customer of this underlay mentioned that upon meeting the tenant who lives in the apartment below, the man said: “I didn’t even know anyone lived upstairs.”

Perhaps an exaggaration? I’m not sure, but it sounds assuring.

3. Mass Loaded Vinyl

Sound Deadening Vinyl is also great, and I especially like it because it can be used on different floors.

It’s a very versatile product. It’s made of a dense rubber-like material and has an adhesive on one side.

It seriously reduces vibration noise even though it’s only 1/8 inch thick, which is why it’s used in cars and trucks a lot.

It can be cut into different shapes and sizes which makes it easy to use on surfaces of varying size.

4. Cork tiles

Cork tiles are a solid soundproofing option, and they’re pretty affordable. This is an on-flooring option, in comparison to sub-flooring acoustic underlay mentioned before.

Cork tiles are water-proof, slip-resistant tiles that are used in different settings like kitchens, offices, and bathrooms.

They also provide great thermal insulation. They’re soft and provide a warm surface so it’s nice to walk all over them.

If you have cold feet or feel like there is a lot of cold radiating from the floor, cork tiles are a good option for fixing that.

This is a good cork tile installation tutorial:

Is there an easier solution than installing acoustic underlay?

Installing acoustic underlays takes time and effort, and some handyman experience as well.

If you have a significant noise problem at hand I still recommend you do it, even if it means hiring a professional and paying a little extra. Still, buy the material yourself, otherwise the material will cost you more.

So if you’re wondering if there’s a simpler solution, yes there is.

If the noise is not severe, you’d be better off using carpet padding or soundproofing floor mats instead.

These don’t require any digging into the floor. You just place them on the top of the floor, and they can be just as easily removed and replaced if needed.

The only difference from a random carpet is that these items are pretty thick and the material they’re made from (usually felt, thick rubber or soundproof foam) provides great sound insulation.

5. Carpet Padding

Carpeting is one of the most common ways of padding floors; not only does carpet padding provide good soundproofing, it also provides a good amount of thermal insulation.

Most apartments already have carpeting. If your apartment does, you may want to use carpet padding beneath your existing carpet.

Carpet pads that are created especially for soundproofing are easy to find. They are dense and absorb a lot of sound.

While you can install carpet pads yourself, you may prefer getting professional help to close the tiny imperfections and create improved noise reduction between your apartment floor and the room below.

Here is one way you can do it on your own:

Here are 3 excellent carpet pads that are also pretty popular at the moment.

Superior Lock Non-slip rug pad

This rug pad is crafted specifically for improved noise reduction.

Combining a thick layer of non-slip rubber and felt, it’s a very good option for apartments and houses.

You can check it out on Amazon by clicking here.

Rug Central 100% Felt Pad

These Rug Central pads are the most popular carpet pads on the market, as you can see from over 1000 customer reviews.

They’re made with 100% heat-pressed felt fibers. These pads are 3/8 inches thick and very durable. 

It’s a hypoallergenic pad, as well as mold and mildew resistant. Both great bonuses in my book.

You can check it out on Amazon by clicking here.

Cloud Comfort Rug Pads

These rug pads are especially suitable for placing underneath larger mats (8×10 or larger).

They’re made from 100% visco flexible memory foam, which is also found in high quality mattress.

The result of using this material is increased comfort, so the name for these pads was not chosen at random.

Based on the manufacturer of these USA-made rug pads, they’re best used on hardwood floors and polyurethane finishes, stone, tile, concrete, laminate and vinyl floors.

With 1/2 inch  thickness, it’s the best soundproofing option out of these 3 carpet pads, but it’s also more expensive than the others.

Check it out on Amazon by clicking here.

How to choose the right carpet padding

Choosing the right carpet padding is an important, but not overly complicated thing. There are a few different variables that have to be taken into account.

First of all, the padding should be adequately thick; at least 2/8 inch thick.

Comfort and durability are also important. While soft carpet padding provides enough comfort, it is often not as durable and can tear down quickly in high traffic areas such as hallways and stairs.

Because of that, soft cushioning is normally used in sleeping rooms where there is less traffic.

Most carpet-padding companies provide their recommendation based on their experience and research, so it’s useful to check that information before buying.

Carpet pads typically include density-felt fiber that stops pressure from reaching the floor.

There are two types available for purchase; ultra-premium and superior felt pads.

Felt is one of the best noise-and-vibration absorbing agents currently used, and it’s affordable compared with soundproof foam panels and similar products.

I’ve recommended those 3 carpet pads because they stand out based on these qualities.

Do interlocking floor mats block sound?

Another convenient way to soundproof your troublesome floors are interlocking floor mats.

However, although these mats are really convenient, it doesn’t mean that they work as complete sound blockers.

These mats are first of all sound absorbers. In other words, they will primarily absorb vibrations, but if you play your music too loud for example, the sound will only be muffled to an extent.

So if you want something quick and easy, these mats are a great solution. However, if you’re looking for heavy duty soundproofing, you may want to use carpet pads or underlays in sub-flooring alongside this solution.

Often times, these floor mats work well enough on their own for light traffic and light sound reduction.

They’re great if you have kids, especially since they drop things on the ground and these mats lighten the noise (and the fall!). That’s also why they’re used in many gyms.

6. Best Interlocking Floor Mats

It’s hard to go wrong when picking interlocking floor mats or tiles, however you prefer to call them.

I haven’t used any at home because I got thick carpet pads already, but these are the ones that are used in a gym I go to.

I was really impressed by their thickness. Most of the interlocking floor tiles I’ve seen around are only 1/4 inches thick. These are 1/2 inches thick, which is a huge difference when it comes to soundproofing.

These tiles can endure A LOT of damage. Here’s what I mean. I prefer to use dumbbells instead of a barbell on bench press. So I usually have to throw a lot of weight on the floor after I’m done with my set.

It’s not easy to lower 100 pound dumbbells on the floor if you want to avoid getting injured, so I throw them from a relatively high position.

Anyway, in the previous gym I trained in, throwing dumbbells like that posed a serious risk for damaging the floor. It also caused a lot of racket, and made me feel like a real gym douchebag.

But when I throw heavy dumbbells on these tiles, the sound at impact is drastically reduced. So, as far as reducing vibration sound and protecting floors, I can safely attest that these mats work great.

From an aesthetic perspective, they’re dark and neutral, so they can be used in most rooms, especially if you plan to cover them with a carpet anyway.

I haven’t had any direct experience with other interlocking tiles myself.

However, I have to share these Forest Floor Interlocking Tiles. They look really nice and they’re 3/8 inches thick which is pretty good. They would probably fit in better in a dining room, kitchen and a living room area.

Just keep in mind that thickness is the most important factor with interlocking floor tiles, both for sound reduction, durability and floor protection and you can’t go wrong.

Pros of soundproof floor mats

VERY DURABLE – Soundproof floor mats are quite durable, which is why they’re used in most fitness centers. They also have non-skid texture, so they reduce the likelihood of injury due to the floor being wet or just being plain unlucky.

EASY ASSEMBLAGE – These mats are like puzzle pieces. They connect quickly and easily, and can be disassembled in the same manner.

VERSATILE – They’re used in garages, gyms, children’s play areas and just about any other area you can think of.

EASY TO CLEAN – They collect dust like any other floor material, so using a vacuum, a dust mop or a soft bristled broom is recommended. Using a regular floor cleaner gets rid of any serious stains.

GREAT FOR KIDS – if you have kids running around, not only will these mats provide them with a soft surface to land on if they fall, but also reduce impact noise from dropped toys and objects. Both the people below your floor and your kids will be thankful for that.

Cons of soundproof floor mats

COST – Relatively higher cost than carpet pads.

IT MAY REQUIRE FURTHER SOUNDPROOFING – Soundproof mats might have to be used alongside other solutions to create full soundproofing. Depends on the level of noise you’re dealing with.

Conclusion

These are the 3 main items you can use to soundproof your floors.

Which (and how many) of these options is right for you depends on the amount of noise you’re dealing with and the amount of time, money and energy you’re willing to invest in this project.

For small to medium amounts of noise, carpet pads or interlocking floor mats usually provide satisfactory noise reduction.

For really piercing noise from playing instruments like loud drums, or throwing heavy objects on the floor (in case of weightlifting for example), using acoustic underlays within the sub-flooring would probably be a good thing.

But it also depends on HOW MUCH noise reduction you want.

So if you just want to muffle the noise to an extent, carpet pads and interlocking mats might be enough even in more “extreme” situations.

All of the products I’ve recommended in this article are available on Amazon, where you can check out detailed specifications and plenty of customer reviews before making your choice.

I hope this article was helpful. If you have any questions or experience you’d like to share, you can do so in the comment section below. – Luka Baron

Luka Baron

Soundproof expert and a staunch opponent of noise. This website is a free source of information on how to 'keep it down a notch'. I update the content regularly to keep up with advancements in the soundproofing industry.

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