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Installing Soundproofing Underlayment

10 Best Soundproof Flooring Materials & Products

It’s easy to understand why wood and tile are flooring are so popular in homes today. They add warmth and beauty to homes, as well as being easier to maintain and longer lasting.

One drawback to consider is they tend to perform much worse acoustically. An untreated hardwood floor can produce unflattering levels of echo and poor sound quality. If you’re considering tile or wood floors for your renovation, there are several products and techniques that can reduce the noise problems before they start.

What if you already have noise problems with an existing floor? Don’t lose hope, you just need to get creative with some different products to reduce the echo and sounds of footsteps. The following are the 10 best materials for soundproofing floors and improving your homes acoustics.

Types of Soundproof Flooring Materials

There is a wealth of great looking flooring materials out there, but not nearly as many products that can make them sound as good as they look. The most commonly used product is a soundproofing floor underlay, but there are other options like soundproofing floor mat, insulation, and acoustic foam tile products. Here is an overview of each category of materials.

  • Acoustic Underlayment – Special materials that lay over a concrete or plywood subfloor, cushioning the flooring and reducing the effects of airborne and impact noise. See the definitions of STC and IIC below.
  • Sound Deadening Vinyl – Also known as Mass Loaded Vinyl, this is a thin but heavy vinyl sheet that excels at dampening noise, especially in floors, machinery, and vehicles.
  • Sound Absorbing Floor Insulation – This would be acoustic insulation that gets stuffed between floor joists, immediately below the subfloor. It can also be installed from the ceiling in the floor below.
  • Acoustic Floor Tiles – These are special floor tiles that help reduce echo and reverberation in rooms with hard surfaces and floors.
  • Sound Absorbing Carpet Padding – Carpets with a cheap pad don’t perform as well as a carpet with a thicker, more dense, noise absorbent padding.

What to Look For: The Big Three

  • STC (Sound Transmission Class) – STC is simply a numeric value defining how well a building, or in this case a floor, is at reducing the effect of airborne noise. A higher STC means the material is better at attenuating the everyday noise in rooms with wood and laminate floors.
  • IIC (Impact Insulation Class) – IIC is the numeric value defining how well a floor assembly is at reducing the effects of impact noise, most commonly footsteps, but also furniture and machinery. The higher the number the better the material is at lessening those types of noises.
  • Thickness & Density – In soundproofing, mass matters, and you’ll see our top choices are thicker and denser than the others. You’ll pay a little more for the increased performance if that’s important to you. But, even the thinner 2mm rolls are going to be far better acoustically than the cheap basic underlayment at big box home improvement stores.

Best Soundproof Underlayment

A soundproof underlayment is a type of material that is applied over the subflooring (many times plywood or Hardie board) and underneath the final flooring (wood, laminate, or tile)

Common underlay materials are cork, vinyl, rubber, and foam. These materials are dense and offer good sound isolation and impact deadening (footsteps). Here are some of the top acoustic underlayment for wood, laminate, and tile floors.

Underlayment:
Roberts 70-193 Super Felt Underlayment 360-Feet square Roll for Sound Reducing and Absorbing
QuietWalk Plus QW100PLUS All Flooring Underlayment with Attached Vapor Barrier, 3' x 33.4', Blue
First Step 630-Square Foot Roll Underlayment
FloorMuffler Flooring Underlayment Acoustical and Moisture Barrier for Wood and Laminate with Self...
3in1 Silent Vapor Barrier Flooring Underlayment w/overlap and tape 100sq.ft by Feather Step
Material:
Felt
Synthetic Blend
Foam
PP Foam
EVA Foam
Thickness:
3.0 mm
3.1 mm
2.0 mm
2.0 mm
2.0 mm
Density:
14.5 lbs./ft.3
11.5 lbs./ft.3
5.5 lbs./ft.3
n/a
n/a
STC/IIC:
66/67
66/71
67/68
73/74
65/64
Underlayment:
Roberts 70-193 Super Felt Underlayment 360-Feet square Roll for Sound Reducing and Absorbing
Material:
Felt
Thickness:
3.0 mm
Density:
14.5 lbs./ft.3
STC/IIC:
66/67
View on:
Underlayment:
QuietWalk Plus QW100PLUS All Flooring Underlayment with Attached Vapor Barrier, 3' x 33.4', Blue
Material:
Synthetic Blend
Thickness:
3.1 mm
Density:
11.5 lbs./ft.3
STC/IIC:
66/71
View on:
Underlayment:
First Step 630-Square Foot Roll Underlayment
Material:
Foam
Thickness:
2.0 mm
Density:
5.5 lbs./ft.3
STC/IIC:
67/68
View on:
Underlayment:
FloorMuffler Flooring Underlayment Acoustical and Moisture Barrier for Wood and Laminate with Self...
Material:
PP Foam
Thickness:
2.0 mm
Density:
n/a
STC/IIC:
73/74
View on:
Underlayment:
3in1 Silent Vapor Barrier Flooring Underlayment w/overlap and tape 100sq.ft by Feather Step
Material:
EVA Foam
Thickness:
2.0 mm
Density:
n/a
STC/IIC:
65/64
View on:

*Last updated 2018-10-21 at 02:26 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

1.Roberts Super Felt Premium Underlayment

Made for soundproofing floors and to cushion flooring, Roberts Super Premium Underlayment is a high performance felt underlayment, made in part from recycled fibers using a high heat manufacturing process.

The felt is dense making it a good material for absorbing noise, rather than reflecting it. Roberts is ideal for laminate or engineered flooring and is naturally insulating, meaning it can keep chilly floors warmer in the winter, and cooler in summer months.

  • Thickness: 3.0 mm
  • Density: 14.5 lbs./ft.3
  • STC Rating: 66
  • IIC Rating: 67
  • Data Sheet

The felt is 3mm thick, are easy to install, and correct any minor sub-floor imperfections. It has a film overlay that helps to protect laminate and engineered flooring from moisture. The overlap and adhesive strip allow for fast installation. There is a 2-1/2” overlap strip with adhesive, making it super easy to match pieces up with multiple rolls.

2. QuietWalk Plus

QuietWalk Plus underlayment is an excellent alternative to Super Felt. While slightly less dense (11.5 vs 14.5 lbs./ft. 3) but boasts similar noise proofing properties, all for a competitive compared price.

The performance and versatility of QuietWalk Plus make it one of the best underlayment for laminate, hardwood, and engineered wood floors. It can also be utilized under 5mm+ thick vinyl, LVT, and WPC/SPC planks (but not ceramic tile).

  • Thickness: 3.1 mm
  • Density: 11.5 lbs./ft.3
  • STC Rating: 66
  • IIC Rating: 71
  • Data Sheet

Installation couldn’t be easier. It’s possible to float the flooring over the QuietWalk, double glue, or even nail the floor and underlayment to the subfloor. The vapor barrier self-heals around the fasteners to maintain the vapor barrier.

For the environmentally minded homeowner and builder, you’ll be happy to know QuietWalk Plus is LEED™ compliant with 94% pre-consumer fibers. The material also has the Greenguard certification for low chemical emissions. Here is a good video overview of all it can do.


3. Roberts First Step

First Step is another premium acoustic underlayment from Roberts Consolidated. This product is a foam material, which creates a layer of open cell foam to allow air to flow and circulate underneath to inhibit the growth of molds. This means unlike other underlayments; First Step can be installed onto subfloors above or below grade.

  • Thickness: 2.0 mm
  • Density: 5.5 lbs./ft.3
  • STC Rating: 66
  • IIC Rating: 68

The thickness and density are lower than the top 2 materials, but First Step maintains equivalent noise suppression ratings. First Step is thinner, but still does a good job of smoothing out subfloor imperfections. Just make sure to only use laminate or engineered wood planks in a floating floor configuration for best results.


4. Floor Muffler Ultraseal Underlayment

Floor Muffler is a high-performance acoustic underlayment made of closed cell polypropylene foam. You can find it in both regular and Ultraseal configurations, but we recommend the Ultraseal for the ease of lip and tape installation.

Floor Muffler is similar in construction to First Step but boasts a higher STC and IIC rating. For the most noise reduction possible, Floor Muffler is a great choice.

  • Thickness: 2.0 mm
  • Density: n/a
  • STC Rating: 73
  • IIC Rating: 74
  • Data Sheet

Like QuietWalk, this material can be installed in variety of methods, giving your installer the flexibility to build your new floor exactly the way you want it. Lay down Floor Muffler prior to placing your favorite laminate or engineer wood product.

Floor Muffler is a safe product, in part by being an excellent moisture and mold barrier that protects your floor investment. The other safety and environmental benefits are the low VOC content (California compliant) and the fact that it is 100% recyclable.


5. Feather Step 3in1 Silent Vapor Barrier Underlayment

For the budget minded homeowner, Feather Step 3in1 underlayment is a great bargain compared to the other materials we’ve recommended. The 100 square foot roll is quite the savings over the bigger brand names yet has all the acoustic performance and features as they do. So, if you’re looking to save some money, Feather Step is the best cheap underlayment around.

  • Thickness: 2.0 mm
  • Density: n/a
  • STC Rating: 65
  • IIC Rating: 64
  • Data Sheet

Feather Step is a 2.0 mm thick foam material with a foil vapor barrier film, and adhesive strips on the other for a simple flap over edge installation. Most buyers of the 3in1 are impressed with the toughness, remaking how less prone to tearing it is compared to other foam style underlayment materials.


Sound Deadening Vinyl

Sound deadening vinyl, also known as MLV, is a dense, rubber-like material with adhesive on one side. The dense vinyl has many different uses, including flooring. The density of the material helps to deaden sounds and foot traffic noise. It’s a versatile material and can be cut into just about any shape to fit your application.

6. Fatmat Sound Deadener

FatMat Sound Deadener easily absorbs the noises and vibrations that travel through vehicle floors, which can help reduce irritating noises. This includes road noise, engine and exhaust noise, and annoying rattles.

FatMat is easy to cut, peel off, and apply. It can be used as a barrier for your cars floor, doors, and trunk and can also be used on trucks, RVs, boats, and even homes. It comes in five self-adhesive sheets measuring 18”x 40”.

  • Noise and vibration absorption to combat audio vibrational distortion.
  • Easy to install with included installation kit.
  • Self-adhesive and easy to shape and cut to fit your custom application.

7. TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl

TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl offers a 27 STC, and it is a one-eighth inch thick. The extruded virgin material that makes up this product produces no odor. The mass loaded vinyl allows you to wrap it around pipes and other obstacles. It reduces noise transfer and works for an array of noises.

  • Designed for floors and walls and vehicles.
  • Heavy and dense with a good STC of 27.
  • Quality product made from extruded virgin material.

Use this acoustic underlayment for carpet and other floor materials. It also works for walls, HVAC system components, noisy pipes, and ceilings. Quickly trim it to size using heavy duty scissors or a utility knife. Roll it out, ensure the proper length and secure it into place.


Soundproof Floor Insulation

If you are just starting your flooring project, one of the very best things you can do to soundproof the floors, is to put acoustic insulation batts under the subfloor between the joists. Just like when it is used in walls, the insulation will fit snuggly between the floor beams and can reduce the amount of sound between the floors in your structure. Click here to see the comparison chart of all soundproofing insulation.

8. Roxul Rockboard 80

If your acoustic project requires a rigid material, then choose Roxul Mineral Wool Floor Insulation. The batts are perfect for filling the floor structure before laying the subflooring but are also commonly used as bass traps, and for recording studios or home theaters.

  • Solid soundproofing qualities, high NRC rating
  • Water-repelling, easy to cut and install
  • Class A fire rating

It comes in 6 piece cases, in 24” x 48” x 2” panels. When installing this product, it’s important to wear proper safety gear to avoid breathing in the material and to avoid contact with eyes and skin. It is recommended you wear gloves, eye protection, and long-sleeved, loose-fitting clothing as well as a respiratory mask.


Acoustic Floor Tiles

These products are meant to be used in addition to other floor soundproofing materials. By themselves, they can have a decent effect on noise, but the best results are when used with underlayment and floor mats to deaden echoing. The mats can be placed in high traffic areas to absorb footfall noise, and on walls to absorb sounds.

9. Pro Source EVA Foam Tiles

These interlocking foam tiles are a great choice for laying over your existing floors. Lightweight, durable, and easy to install, they are the perfect fit for gyms, weight rooms, martial art studios, trade shows, the kid’s playroom, daycares, and more.

These tiles provide style, cushion, and soundproofing, and come in several colors to choose from. Each pack comes with 12 interlocking tiles that measure 2” x 2” for a total of 48 square feet. Borders are also included.

  • Non-skid interlocking tiles can be placed virtually anywhere in many configurations.
  • Lightweight, water resistant, cheap method of reducing some noise an echo in homes and gyms.

Sound Absorbing Carpet Padding

Soundproof carpet pads are a thicker and denser version of the carpet padding people are most familiar with. The pad is dense to absorb sound, as well as prevent the sound of footsteps from transmitting to other rooms in the house.

10. Premium Grip Rug Pad

Made from 100% recycled all-natural rubber and felt, this non-slip rug is designed for hard surfaces, such as hardwood floors, as well as carpets.

It is designed to keep your rug securely in place and extend its life. It comes in reversible 8′ x 10′ rugs that add cushion to your already existing rug while protecting surfaces and providing a non-slip surface.

  • Reversible and made of recycled materials, will not slide around.
  • Spot cleaning typically works for moisture messes.
  • Green air label certified and low VOC content.

Take the Next (Quiet) Steps in Your Project

You’ll be spending a good chunk of money on your new flooring project, you would be wise to not cheap out at the point of installation. The options for soundproofing floors are quite good these days. Investing in a good acoustic underlayment not only makes the flooring install and float properly but improves acoustic performance and acts as a moisture barrier.

Out of all the materials available today, two stand out from the rest. Roberts Super Felt and QuietWalk Plus are both made from recycled materials, are easy to install, and have excellent acoustic absorbing and impact deadening performance. They are the ideal acoustic underlayment for hardwood, laminate, floating engineered, and vinyl plank floors. Invest in your underlayment now and enjoy hearing the results for years to come.

*Last updated 2018-10-21 at 02:26 / Product Links & Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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