23rd Feb 2023 -

What is soundproof flooring?

There are two different types of noise to consider when choosing soundproof flooring: airborne noise, such as talking and shouting; and impact noise, which includes footsteps. When people talk and walk upstairs, their noise travels to the downstairs rooms and results in an uncomfortable environment. Evidently, this becomes an issue for privacy and can be detrimental for those who work or study from home.

Types of soundproof flooring

When choosing a flooring material, its acoustic elements are not the only thing to consider. There are 5 acoustic soundproofing floor types. 

1. Vinyl tiles

Made with a sound-insulating underlayment, vinyl tiles - particularly luxury vinyl tile (LVT) - are a popular choice because of their low maintenance costs, versatility and durability. You can use vinyl tiles in commercial and home environments, such as bathrooms, kitchens and utility rooms. Vinyl underlay or any other type of underlay is not needed because the flooring base layer is cushioned.

2. Carpet

Known for relieving impact sound, carpet or carpet tiles are a popular choice for environments such as offices, hotels and schools. Carpets with a thick underneath pad or a high pile carpet are especially good at reducing the flow and absorbing sound. 

3. Rubber flooring

As well as being mould, mildew and slip-resistant, rubber flooring also upholds excellent sound-absorbing qualities. Rubber flooring is primarily used in commercial environments such as gyms, hospitals, schools and kitchens. 

4. Wood plastic composite (WPC) flooring

Easy to maintain, durable and waterproof, WPC flooring also has brilliant acoustic-proofing qualities which are mainly to do with its backing layer. In addition to sound insulation, it also protects from mildew and mould. 

5. Cork flooring

A comfortable and sustainable option, cork flooring is frequently used as an acoustic underlay to provide insulation. You might see cork flooring in various environments from kitchens to bathrooms, children’s playrooms and living rooms. 

Advantages of soundproof flooring

Soundproofing your floor can provide a range of benefits to you, the people you live with and - if you live in an apartment - your neighbours. Here are the key advantages to enjoy. 

1. Reduces noise levels: An obvious benefit, but soundproofing your floor will greatly reduce noise levels and create a more comfortable living situation. Your family, housemates and neighbours will thank you for this - especially if you live in an apartment with creaky floorboards, constant foot traffic will negatively impact their daily lives.

2. Potential thermal insulation: Although quite minimal, soundproofing your floors may also help with adding thermal insulation to your property. Over time, you could see a difference in how much you pay for your energy bills. 

Disadvantages of soundproof flooring

Although they are minor issues, there are a few disadvantages of soundproofing your floor to think about before you start the project. 

1. Floor levels: For installing soundproofing materials on an existing floor, the height of the floor will be raised. To put this into context, this means you will have to raise your plug sockets, skirting boards and trim down doors. Because of this, soundproofing may prove to be a bigger job than you initially planned. 

2. Time-consuming: Especially for period properties, you may think twice about hiring a professional to pull up your floorboards. But to solve the issues of travelling airborne and impact noise, pulling up original floorboards and installing soundproof materials is your only solution. It is a time-consuming challenge and may also prove costly. 

Types of flooring underlay

Securing a good-quality underlay for floors will bring a range of benefits aside from improved sound insulation, from reducing wear and tear by absorbing foot pressure to smoothing out uneven subfloors. To put this into context with carpet flooring, a poor-quality acoustic carpet underlay can decrease its lifespan. It makes carpet fibres rapidly break down, and causes premature wear and tear. Here are the different types of acoustic underlayment to think about. 

1. Acoustic laminate underlay

Laminate flooring needs a great quality underlay for the boards to float above any sub-surface imperfections. 

2. SBX boards

A silica-filled board which effectively tackles both airborne and impact noise. SBX boards are slim fitting and are simply placed underneath laminate, tiles and carpet flooring.

3. Foam underlay

Polyurethane (PU) foam underlay is usually produced from recycled trimmings of foam. This option comes with various thickness and density options - it is lightweight and provides brilliant performance and comfort. It is best used for laminate flooring.

4. Crumb rubber underlay

A great underlay option for heavy footfall, crumb rubber underlay is dense and flat but provides little comfort compared to other underlays. This type is popular for staircases and landings.

5. Felt underlay

Environmentally friendly and traditional, felt underlay is dense and firm, and also provides good thermal insulation as well as sound insulation. It is made from recycled materials and is a popular option when fitting wool carpets.

6. Combination underlay

Created from a mix of a felt top layer and a rubber crumb base, combination underlay provides excellent protection, comfort and durability. For carpets with seaming, it allows it to bed into the top felt.

7. Sponge rubber underlay

This option has a durable spring retention and provides comfort. It is also available in a varied selection of weights and is manufactured in waffle or flat patterns. 

How much does soundproof flooring cost?

As well as the structure of your home or workplace, the cost of acoustic soundproofing will depend on the type you decide to go for. For example, you will find a majority of apartment buildings are made from concrete. Whereas older properties are made using timber and brick. Plus, you need to think about the type of sound you would like to block coming in or out: impact or airborne noise. To tackle airborne sound, soundproofing will help to limit sound between floor joists and wood flooring. 

Acoustic matting (isosonic mats) can be used as soundproof carpet underlay and for hardwood flooring to reduce impact noise. For concrete structure buildings, you will be able to install soundproofing insulation straight onto the concrete. But for decreasing airborne sound through wooden floors, acoustic insulation should be placed between the floor joists. This will affect the overall price. Generally, SBX boards are the most expensive to install and all soundproofing work takes approximately 1 - 2 days to finish. 

Below, you will find the average soundproofing costs for a room depending on the soundproof type.

Soundproof typeDurationAverage cost
Isosonic mats under laminate1 - 2 days£400 - £500
Soundproofing under floorboards1 - 2 days£500 - £600
SBX boards below flooring1 - 2 days£900 - £1,000

How to fit laminate flooring and underlay

It is fairly simple to install laminate flooring and underlay yourself. But if your DIY skills need a refresh, it is advisable to leave this to the professionals. 

Step 1 - Prepare your materials

Below is a list of tools and materials. Be sure you have everything you need ready for the job.

Laminate flooringChalk box
Utility knifeFoam underlay
HammerTable saw
Circular sawTapping block
PencilTape measure
Straight edgeRafter square
Scrap wood spacersAluminium tape

Step 2 - Start with the underlay

It is always recommended to use an underlay for laminate flooring. A foam underlay is the best option as it helps with any small gaps or bumps on the underlying floor, is a comfortable solution for walking on laminate, and also adds a thermal barrier. With the underlayment sheets, roll them out and make sure the edges are touching each other. You may find the underlayment comes with sticky adhesive edges to join pieces together - tape can also be used to secure the seams. Also, with a utility knife, be sure to cut the underlayment so it fits comfortably against the walls.

Step 3 - Fit the first row

First, you need to trim the small flat edges (also known as tongues) on the laminate boards. A utility knife should do the trick, but you can also use a table or circular saw. Start with the longest wall, from right to left, and the trimmed plank edges. With the first plank, you should lay it with a space of 6 - 10 mm from the wall - the groove edge should be facing outwards. Use scrap wood spacers between the wall and the floor to hold this gap. Keep using this method as you work from right to left. With a tapping block and hammer, lock each laminate piece together. 

Step 4 - The end plank

Before finishing the first row, you will likely find the last plank is too long. Use a tape measure to work out the length you need and cut the plank with a jigsaw or circular saw. You need to think about the 6 - 10 mm expansion gap with the measurement. The tongue end should also be left so it can attach to the last plank. Once you have cut the plank to size, keep the remaining cut-off end as this is needed for the second row. 

Step 5 - Fit more rows

This is where the cut-off piece from the end of the first row comes into play. Again, moving from right to left, start laying the second row. Each row should be staggered so the seams will never line up. If the seams were to line up, this could cause issues with the strength of the laminate flooring. Following this method, you can finish the rest of the rows. With each plank, hold it at a 45-degree angle and attach the long tongue edge to the previous row’s groove. As you move along, be sure to lock the planks in place.

Step 6 - The final row

You may be lucky, but it is likely that you will have to cut the last row of planks so it fits properly. Mark up the plans with where you need to cut, taking into account the 6 - 10 mm expansion gap between the wall and the floor. A jigsaw, circular saw or table saw can be used to cut the final plank row. Once you have made the cuts, use the same 45-degree angle technique as before to finish the fitting. 

Shop for soundproofing materials with Building Materials Nationwide

Soundproofing your floor provides a range of benefits and we can supply everything to complete the job successfully. We work with the best building and construction suppliers across the UK to provide high-quality products, whether it is laminate underlay for concrete floors or underlay for vinyl flooring. Buy all the tools and materials you need with complete assurance. You may also want to open a trade account with us. Cash and flexible credit options are available. Your trade account manager will make sure you have it when you want it, and organise a speedy delivery to your home or job site. Make sure to ask any questions to our friendly team by giving us a call. But if you feel ready to sign up straight away, you can do so on our website.