How to Soundproof Floorboards

Hearing screaming babies and the loud thud of furniture moving around comes with the territory of apartment living. You know how noisy it can get when your neighbors upstairs decide to throw a party and pump music so loud you feel like you’re at Coachella.

If you didn’t know any better, you’d swear Beyonce was belting notes in your living room. Those noisy neighbors can be incredibly annoying. But you don’t have to put up with it.

You can soundproof your floorboards and greatly reduce the level of noise you hear. You’ll also be able to keep your sanity.

Soundproofing is an excellent way to block sound so it doesn’t enter or leave a room at the same level. It is a perfect solution to remedy the problem of loud tenants. This article will explain how to soundproof floorboards and discuss the best soundproofing materials.

How to Soundproof Floorboards

It’s important to identify the type of noise you’re trying to reduce. Is it impact or airborne noise that you want to knock out?

Impact noise is the sound you hear when something hits the floor. Moving furniture around, walking, or dropping weights will produce impact noise.

The sound moves downward so the person most affected by impact noise is the unfortunate soul living a floor below you. On the other hand, airborne noise circulates through the air and is more likely to travel upwards.

Moving heavy furniture like the table you see here can easily create impact noise. When these guys sit this table down, you’ll definitely hear the noise it makes. If they were to drop it by accident, you can imagine the loud thud that would fill the air.

2 moving table

Creative Commons Removalists transporting a table to the removal truck photo by Sunset Removals / CC by 2.0

If you’ve ever heard people yelling or playing their music in an apartment, you know how irritating airborne noise is. Soundproofing your floors will help with both types of noises.

If you’re living in an apartment, you’ll want to use the type of soundproofing material that is temporary. You’ll also need to check the terms of your lease to make sure that it’s okay to make these changes so you can avoid being fined.

However, if you’re in a house you plan on staying in a while, you should consider going with a permanent soundproofing solution.

Acoustic Floor Insulation

While it is easier to start with a naked floor and build your soundproofing floor as you go, you can still soundproof a floor that isn’t naked. One way you can stop airborne sounds is by using acoustic underlays.

This floor insulation will be placed between the floor and ceiling joists. It works by absorbing impact sound before it transfers to the floor’s structure.

Combining acoustic foams with mass loaded vinyl sheets is an amazing way to lower airborne and impact sound. This process does involve lifting floorboards.

Hopefully, you’ll find that the naked floorboard is smooth and free of dirt. But if it has any protruding nails or cracks, you will have to get it fixed before installing the acoustic floor insulation.

3 bad floor
If you lift the floorboards and notice damage or dirt like you see in the above image, then you’ll need to stop here. You will need to repair them yourself if you know how to or hire a professional to correct the issue. Either way, you’ll need to fix this before installing soundproofing materials.

If you find that the subfloor is in wonderful shape, it’s time to gather the following materials:

  • acoustic underlayment and mats
  • broom
  • dustpan
  • scissors
  • tape

Take the acoustic underlayment and roll it out. Make sure that the plastic or adhesive side is facing down when you do this. Place the edge with the adhesive against the wall.

You want the other side to face outward to the room. Lay the next acoustic underlayment on top. The adhesive part will join the underlayment together.

After the underlayment has been lapped together properly and covers the room, remove the extra material. Acoustic mats go over the underlayment. The last step is to install the floorboards.

However, before installing the final flooring, make sure to attach your flooring to the underlayment with an adhesive instead of nails. This will further reduce sound.

Floorlot Barrier Underlayment

Floorlot’s barrier underlayment has extra thick foam to block unwanted noises. It is well suited for a wide range of flooring including bamboo, engineered wood, laminate, and hardwood.

Floorlot offers a soft cushioned step and absorbs sound when you walk on the floor. Plus, it comes with an adhesive strip that makes installation easy and gives you quick seam sealing.

Another simple and attractive way to reduce noise is to add an area or throw rug to the floor. However, if lifting floorboards isn’t your cup of tea, you can lay down a barrier shield over the floor.

To reduce airborne sounds without lifting the floor, you will need to use interlocking floor mats. They’re easy and quick to lay down. Some are even designed to look like hardwood floors.

Interlocking Floor Mats

Interlocking floor mats make soundproofing feel like a walk in the park. It’s as simple as buying the design you love and getting enough to cover your whole floor.

4 interlocking mat
Floor mats have edges that remind you of jigsaw puzzles. Notice in the picture how the edges aren’t smooth but are designed so that each mat can fit snugly into the other one to cover the length of your floor.

Creative Commons 080817 tiles by Dan4th Nicholas / CC by 2.0 

Floor mats are similar to padded tiles. They come in a variety of sizes, textures, and designs. They have edges that allow them to fit or interlock with each other.

You can even cut them to fit different corners in your rooms. Another benefit they offer is their durability. Interlocking floor mats are super easy to clean.

You’ll find that some are made with antibacterial materials. From the gym to the bedroom, these mats are ideal for a variety of rooms.

However, unlike floor underlayment, floor mats don’t provide full soundproofing effects. They will still block out a lot of noise – just not all of it.

Forest Floor Wood Grain Interlocking Foam Floor Mats

Forest Floors faux wood grain print flooring creates the appearance of hardwood. This mat would be perfect for any room including your basement, garage, living room, playroom, or laundry room.

Put it over floor boards to reduce noise and provide support for your joints. The interlocking mats fit together like a puzzle and assemble in just minutes.

Each tile has two detachable border pieces. The easy-to-trim edge pieces allow for a customizable fit.

Noise Proofing Compound

Using a noise proofing compound is another awesome way to turn down the volume on loud sounds. You can use a product like Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound.

Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound

Green Glue is a simple, affordable, and effective product to use for soundproofing any room. It can be used over any floor by adding another layer of material to reduce sound transfer.

5 green glue
You can tell by looking at the image why you need a caulk gun to use this product. This isn’t a product you pour out of a can. It’s designed to be used with a caulk gun, so make sure you have one on deck when using this soundproofing product.

Creative Commons Case of Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound by Josefina Tucker / CC by 1.0

It reduces both impact and airborne noise. Green Glue was tested in independent laboratories and was proven to be one the best sound proofing products available.

This is a wonderful product to use anywhere you crave some extra peace and quiet.

It’s effective at dampening sound from either side of the floor by up to 90%. This compound is odorless, eco-friendly, and non-hazardous. You can apply it directly to the subfloor.

Another option is to apply it between two hard surfaces so you can use it between the underlayment and floorboard. Take the necessary precautions by wearing gloves before you start using the compound.

In addition to gloves, you’ll need to break out a caulk gun. The gun will allow you to spread the compound all over the subfloor. Once it is distributed, you’ll put the underlayment on top.

Next, you’ll put down your floorboards. This product is easy to clean and can be applied in a few minutes. You’ll need to give it thirty days to reach its peak soundproofing performance.

Rubber Floor Mats

Sometimes you’ll find that the source of your noise woes isn’t coming from inconsiderate neighbors, they’re coming from you – or better yet, your appliances. If you have a washer or dryer that vibrates on the floor you need to get a rubber floor mat.

6 rubber mat

For areas that only need soundproofing due to noisy appliances, opt for a rubber floor mat like the one pictured here. It’s great at absorbing sound, shock, and impact. Plus, the rubber material is durable so it’ll last a while. 

Creative Commons Guardian Floor Mat by Destiny Phillips CC by 1.0

Putting these mats under appliances like TVs, stereos, and dishwashers will muffle the sound and greatly reduce the impact of the noise.

Rubber-Cal Diamond Plate Rubber Flooring Rolls

Rubber-Cal’s flooring rolls are designed to protect floors and the equipment that rests on them. It offers exceptional grip and protection.

Also, the rubber absorbs impact and shock very well. A double-sided adhesive makes for a quick and easy installation process.

Deck Screws

Are squeaky floorboards driving you crazy? If they are, then it sounds like you are in need of some deck screws. To begin this project you will need the following:

  • bit driver
  • deck screws
  • drill
  • drill bit with a countersink
  • pencil

Lift up your squeaky floorboards to access the subfloor. You don’t have to remove all your floorboards, just the noisy ones.

Once you find the squeaky areas mark them. Next, drill pilot holes on each mark. To do this, you will need to use a bit with a countersink.

Make sure that it is the right size of the screw you are using. It shouldn’t be a perfect match. You want the bit to be just a little smaller than the width of the screws.

Snug Fasteners Deck Screws

Snug Fasteners’ deck screws are made with a premium corrosion resistant ultra-guard tan coating. It’s great for securing floor boards.

7 deck screws
Prepare to break out the drill, some screws, and a drill bit like you see pictured here. With a little muscle, your squeaky floorboards will be a thing of the past.

Creative Commons Screwing the cladding on by Sam Wilson / CC by 2.0

Once you get a floorboard in the right position you’ll want to put the deck screw’s tip into the hole you drilled earlier. Using the bit driver, gently drive the screw through the board and into the framing. Apply pressure as you do this process.

Rinse and repeat. You’ll need to do this until all the floorboards are secure and squeaky-free. Your floor will be more secure and your mind will be less stressed.

Soundproofing your floorboards is a great solution to a number of inside and outside noises. It doesn’t have to be expensive or complicated.

To make the process as simple as possible, you may want to go to a hardware or flooring store for feedback. The personnel there can help you gather the right tools for the job.

Take a picture of your floor or sub-floor and show them what you’re working with. They’ll be in a better position to tell you about the best products and methods to use to work on your project.

Being well-prepared with the right tools will go a long way. Also, make sure to wear your personal protective gear.

Gloves and goggles are necessary when handling compounds, saws, and screws. Don’t forget to add in a dose of patience and the project will be smooth sailing.

At the end of your soundproofing project, you will have a more peaceful living environment that you and your neighbors will appreciate.

1 how to soundproof floorboards