Last updated: February 5, 2021 at 14:56 pm
If you live in a flat, then a concrete floor might seem like a good idea. Surely with fewer gaps, it will block more sound than a timber floor? You’re partially right, a concrete floor will definitely block more airborne noise. It is not as great, however, at blocking impact noise. You’ll need to install some soundproofing. Let’s take a look at how to soundproof a concrete floor.
Unless you’re completely stripping your house back to brick or you’re building a house, then it’s unlikely you’ll be able to add much soundproofing to the floor itself. That means the best way to go is to add extra mass on top of the existing concrete floor.
More mass = less sound penetration.
There is a range of options and the best one for you depends on your budget, DIY skills and how much you’re willing to disrupt your home while it’s being installed.
7 Ways to Soundproof a Concrete Floor
1. Rubber Mats
Rubber is a great soundproofing material as it absorbs sound and cushions footsteps. Mats can be fairly thin so they can easily take the place of, or supplement, traditional underlay. It is slightly inconvenient in the sense that you’ll have to lift the carpet before laying the matting. Once the carpet is up then laying it is fairly straightforward. You do need to ensure that they are cut to fit properly. If you squeeze a mat in it could cause a bulge or lump in your floor.
2. Mass Loaded Vinyl
If you’re prepared to lift your carpet, then mass loaded vinyl is another ideal choice as a supplement to your underlay. It is thin, flexible and both blocks and absorbs sound. When paired with carpet, this should reduce impact noise to almost nothing. Mass loaded vinyl is relatively inexpensive so if you’re on a lower budget it’s worth considering.
3. Acoustic Underlay
Whether you’re laying carpet, laminate, or wood you’ll need to use underlay. If soundproofing is important to you, then acoustic underlay is available. The difference to traditional underlay is that it’s denser and therefore will block more sound. It is more expensive than standard underlay so you’ll need to see if your budget allows for it.
Want something more unusual? Read our article on cork soundproofing!
If you don’t want to lift your carpet, or are using laminate and don’t want to carpet your room, then good thick area rugs in the highest traffic areas will help reduce the sound. Soundproofing is all about total coverage and sealing any gaps so you won’t experience the same level of noise reduction as some of the other solutions but it will definitely help. Whether it will help enough will depend on how loud the sound being transmitted is and how thick the rugs are.
5. Green Glue
Green Glue is a company that makes a range of products including a soundproofing compound. It’s normally used between two layers of drywall and converts sound to heat to block noise travelling between two rooms. However, you can also apply the compound to the concrete floor before laying underlay, mass loaded vinyl or rubber mats on top.
This combination should block almost all sound from getting through. It’s not a cheap compound so you need to decide if it’s important enough to spend extra money on.
6. Install a floating floor
Impact noise is transferred most when surfaces touch each other. Floating floors are made of interlocking panels with membranes affixed to the back. The idea is that the membrane forms a layer between the floor and the concrete sub-floor. This will prevent impact noise by stopping the two floors from touching. Noise is blocked before it transfers into the concrete. There is a range of products you can use for this. This is great as there are options to suit any budget. The most commonly used types of flooring that can be installed as a floating floor are:
- Laminate (Lowest Cost)
- Luxury Vinyl (Mid Range)
- Engineered Wood (Highest Cost)
Be aware though that if a floating floor is poorly laid or the concrete floor is not properly prepared, the floor can feel hollow and unpleasant to walk on. There are lots of guides online explaining how to fit it so read it carefully and if you feel you don’t have the skills you may want to call in a professional.
7. Flanking Strips
Even if you carefully soundproof your floor using one of the methods above you may find some noise is still getting through. This is because sound is transmitted wherever two surfaces come into contact. In this case, it’s where the walls meet the floor. This is known as acoustic failure. If you’ve added soundproofing but can still hear footsteps or furniture moving then this may be the cause.
Just as the underlayment, floating floor or mass loaded vinyl is designed to separate the floor and sub-floor flanking strips separate the floor and the walls. They are plastic and L-shaped and attach to the corners of the floor to stop it touching the wall and transmitting sound. It will be much easier to fit these strips while laying the floor rather than after so it’s a good idea to make it part of your project from the beginning.
Concrete floors are much better than timber floors at blocking airborne noise but impact noise will continue to get through. If you’re finding it’s annoying you when other members of your family are moving around upstairs or you’ve received complaints from downstairs neighbours then soundproofing is a good idea.
From rugs to floating floors to acoustic underlay there is an option that will work in every situation and on with every budget. It’s worth doing your research before you start as well as checking how much noise you need to block. Most smartphones have apps that can measure decibels. They may not be super accurate but they’ll give you an approximation. If you plan carefully you should be able to block the majority of the sound and restore peace once again.