Hardwood is an elegant, versatile and upscale flooring option that never goes out of style. But despite their many benefits, wooden floors can be noisy.
Unwanted noise from echoes, high-pitched laughter, clicking heels and falling objects can trigger the body to release stress hormones like cortisol, which can make you angry, irritated and frustrated. Over time, stress and frustration increase blood pressure and even affect your gastrointestinal activity. These annoying noises are sound waves that bounce around a room with timber flooring; hardwood resounds with certain frequencies and acts as a speaker. Fortunately, with proper soundproofing techniques, you can interrupt the sound waves and reduce their impact.
How to Minimize Noise in a Room with Hardwood Floors
As they say, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Building a soundproof room is much easier and more inexpensive than trying to fix the issue after the hardwood floor has been installed. However, this doesn’t mean that the problem can’t be solved, although the approach will have to be different. Here are a few soundproofing tricks – both pre- and post-hardwood flooring installation – to lessen the noise and improve the acoustics of your room.
Pre-Installation Sound Reduction Tips
An underlay is the most popular and effective way to dampen noise related to wooden floors. Although originally designed for laminate floors, acoustic underlays also work well with solid hardwood and engineered hardwood flooring. Underlayment, installed between subfloors and flooring, acts as a buffer to minimize noise transfer. It also reduces the sound echo in a room and acts as a moisture (mould and mildew) barrier.
There’s a wide range of acoustic floor underlays available, so making the right choice can be tricky. In general, a thick and heavy underlayment provides a cushioning effect underfoot and reduces more annoying noise than a thin underlay.
Floating Hardwood Floors
Unlike typical floors that are nailed into the subfloor, floating floors are installed using special adhesives. Since there’s no use of nails in the floor joist, it eliminates the noise caused by squeaky floorboards and prevents sound from travelling between rooms. There are many ways to install a floating floor, the most popular being to use a vibration-absorbing material sandwiched between pieces of flooring.
If creaking hardwood floors are creating a nuisance, a simple joist tape can fix the issue and prevent noise from spreading through the house. While joist tapes can be used in an existing room, it’s best to use them before the flooring is installed, or else you will need to remove a section of the floor.
Lightweight, effective and affordable, soundproofing mats are an excellent way to reduce unwanted noise in your home. During hardwood flooring installation, these mats can be used between the frame and subfloor, between multiple subfloor layers or directly below the top flooring material to reduce noise transfer. They can be used in multiple layers, alone or along with other soundproofing materials for stronger insulation. If you already have hardwood flooring, install at least one sheet between the area rugs and wooden floor. Soundproofing mats can also be used in wall and ceiling construction to improve the sound barrier.
Post-Installation Sound Reduction Tips
Wall and Window Furnishings
Fabric wall hangings, quilts and woven floor rugs are great at reducing some of the sounds resulting from hardwood floors. You can also use fabric-covered wall panels over your existing walls to absorb a lot of irritating noise bouncing around the room. Thick fabrics like velvet, tapestry and suede are better at absorbing noise than lightweight materials like linen, cotton or lace. If you have thin window draperies, consider adding a thick fabric liner to increase sound insulation.
Use chairs, sofas, ottomans and headboards covered in thick fabrics like velvet and corduroy to reduce noise. Add cozy pillows, back cushions and thick bedcovers and tablecloths to dampen the noise created by hardwood flooring.
Consider wearing soft-soled slippers or socks to reduce the noise of shoes when walking on hardwood floors. If you have pets, clip their nails to eliminate the constant clicking against the wood. You can also install fabric-covered false beams over a vaulted ceiling to curtail noise; made with fabric-covered fiberglass, these faux beams have high sound absorption properties.
Few people want to live in a noisy environment. Unfortunately, many homeowners put up with this nuisance simply because they’re not aware of the solutions. Whether you’re having a hard time dealing with the noise created by wooden floors or planning a new hardwood flooring installation, consider these soundproofing tips before it’s too late.