What is the Best Flooring for Soundproofing?

visual image of soundproofing flooring

When installing new flooring into your residential or commercial building, there’s more to consider than just the aesthetic you want. Certain floor types offer superior soundproofing to limit the noise transfer between the floors of your space. Soundproofing also varies depending on the installation process. While carpeting is the least expensive method of soundproof flooring, cork, engineered hardwood, laminate, and vinyl are just as capable of minimizing sound transfer while also lending a clean and polished aesthetic.

Best Flooring for Soundproofing

To evaluate the effectiveness of a floors soundproofing capabilities, it’s important to note the sound types and how they’re measured. There are generally two different types of sound that are transmitted through flooring: impact sound and airborne sound.

Impact Sound

This type of sound is generated by direct impact against the flooring through footsteps, vibrating machinery, dropped objects, etc. To measure the level of which a floor reduces impact sounds, the Impact Insulation Class (IIC) is used. An IIC 50 is the lowest rating, IIC 60 absorbs medium impact, and IIC 65 has the highest level of sound absorption.

Airborne Sound

Airborne or transmission sounds come from conversations, televisions, music, etc. The Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) is the measurement used to test how much a flooring material absorbs sound. A high NRC score will reduce background noise and be more soundproof than a lower NRC flooring type.

Floor Types

Different flooring types offer varying soundproofing capabilities. Some flooring types such as carpet and cork are made from thicker, porous materials increasing the sound absorption. While flooring such as vinyl, laminate, and engineered hardwood offer aesthetic and sound proofing benefits, when installed with a sound muffling underlay. The best time to soundproof your flooring is during the original installation. Our experts at King of Floors can assist in finding the most soundproof and cost-effective flooring in Vancouver to best suit your space.

1. Carpet

Carpet is effective at absorbing sound, however, to maximize the benefits, you should place an underlay between the concrete and the carpet. This extra layer of cushioning strengthens the soundproofing capabilities. Carpet flooring has the highest NRC rating as it reduces ambient sounds and absorbs the impact of footsteps, however, carpet absorbs dirt and flattens out under the weight of heavy furniture. Therefore, carpet lacks longevity and is more high maintenance when it comes to keeping it clean and looking fresh. Alternatively, you can place rugs over any flooring type to minimize sound transfer.

2. Cork

Due to the sponginess of cork, this flooring material is great for absorbing both impact and airborne sounds. The porous nature of cork absorbs sound waves, giving it a high NRC rating and medium IIC rating. However, due to its tendency to stain and experience indentation, cork is typically more popular as an underlay.

3. Laminate

Laminate flooring is extremely durable and scratch-resistant. It has a moderate IIC rating as it’s not known for its ability to absorb transmission sounds on its own. However, for increased soundproofing and practicality, you can install laminate flooring with an underlay to absorb both impact and airborne sounds.

4. Vinyl

Vinyl is a highly durable and affordable option for your flooring in Vancouver. When installed with a layer of foam beneath it, vinyl flooring is very effective at minimizing impact sounds, such as heavy foot traffic. Vinyl flooring typically carries a medium to high NRC rating to absorb airborne sounds as well. It’s easy to install and maintain, making it a great option for both soundproofing and longevity.

5. Engineered Hardwood

Engineered hardwood is not glued or nailed down but is known as the “floating floor,” therefore, underlayment can be installed beneath to absorb sound and moisture. While other types of hardwood are usually secured down, adding a layer of cushioning beneath may not be an option. However, engineered flooring can have effective soundproofing capabilities when installed with an underlay beneath and is more stable than traditional hardwood.

What’s Next?

There are many flooring types that offer high soundproofing capabilities. In combination with sound absorption, it’s also important to consider the durability, cost, and aesthetic of the flooring type. To get the most out of your flooring in Vancouver, our friendly and knowledgeable team at King of Floors are here to help. Our flooring showroom offers the largest selection of in-stock laminate, vinyl, and engineered hardwood as well as a variety of underlayment options. You won’t find better quality or price so come visit our flooring showroom in the lower mainland to find the right flooring for you.