Wood floors can add tremendous value to a home in addition to being a more durable, healthier when it comes to allergens, and elegant-appearing option. Even so, these floors come with a major drawback: noise. Sound waves bounce easily around a room installed with wood flooring. However, sound reduction can be implemented in several ways — before and after your wood floors are installed.
Pre-Installation Sound-Reduction Tips
Think about isolating the noise before it even has a chance to reflect throughout the room. This is best done during construction. One way to do this is by installing an acoustical soundboard beneath the subfloor. This can easily insulate the sound vibrations. Noise can then be blocked by ensuring the soundboards are cut to fit the outline of the room, yet be sure to leave gaps (e.g. 1/8-inch) around the edges. Then, before nailing the boards in, seal these gaps using sealant or silicone to stop the noise from spreading.
Underlayments such as mats can provide additional aid when trying to isolate sound. These underlayments can be made from the likes of rubber, vinyl, or even lightweight closed-cell foam. Remember: thicker floor coverings equal greater soundproof. In other words, cushioned vinyl will help isolate noise greater than regular vinyl.
A simple way to soundproof would be to combine mats and chipboard sheets with an acoustic underlayment. Many manufacturers offer these soundboards and mats, so be sure to ask what is available before installing any wood floors.
Post-Installation Sound Reduction Tips
If a home is already built and ready to go, think about decorating options. Specific furniture can often reduce the noise level you would hear from wood floors. Specifically, upholstered pieces help. Sofas and sectionals that are made using soft fabric are ideal choices for absorbing noises, especially when compared to leather furniture that does not offer much sound prevention.
When it comes to tables and chairs found in a dining room, think about tablecloths, slipcovers, and cushions. These materials easily soften the vibration of sounds.
While decorating a home to reduce sound, be sure to look at the walls, floors, and windows. A good area rug can readily absorb any sound, as does a fabric wall hanging. Concerning the windows, draperies will be able to capture any sounds that may vibrate off the floor and around the room. For greater absorption, use thicker material like suede rather than cotton or other lightweight fabrics.
Another area to look at would be the wood itself once you begin hearing squeaks. Over time, floorboards may start rubbing against each other. This generally means that there may be gaps between the finished flooring and the subfloor, or gaps between the subfloors and joist, all of which cause a squeaking sound when someone walks over it. The best way to handle this is to discover exactly where the squeaks are coming from.
If possible, head to the basement and have someone else walk along the floor above you. Once you hear a squeak, determine exactly what is causing it. A gap between the finished floor and subfloor has to be fixed from the finished side. Drill a 3 ½-inch drywall screw through the subfloor and into the joist. Squeaks that occur because a gap between the subfloor and joist can be fixed from below. Use a 3 ½-inch to 4-inch drywall screw, and angle it into the area where the joist and subfloor meet to pull the two together.
We hope some of these tips will help in and around the home to make it more comfortable for you and your family.