Airborne & Impact Noise Issues - Are Sound Insulating Floor Coverings Any Good?


Standard Member
My situation is similar to that quoted in this previous forum post by Domola a few months ago at

I have read the posts on this site and there's a lot of good advice on airborne sound insulation but what do you use when it's combined with impact noise? I know you can install a floating floor but this is expensive and raises the level of the floor a lot.

I have a 1st floor converted victorian flat with a very spongy floor (it is bouncy as you walk across it - probably because the joists aren't big enough) and noise travels up and down, and footfall noise apparently travels down a lot.

We currently have carpet and underlay.

I was looking at acoustic underlay such as 'Quiet Floor' and we have also had someone come and visit who recommended 'Tranquility'. Are any products better than other? How much do they actually work? Should they be combined with putting acoustic insulation under the floor and sealing up the cracks? I'd really appreciate some advice and recommendations, especially from people who have used the products.

I need to discuss this with the lady who lives downstairs (co-freeholder) and would like to go to the meeting with as much info as possible.

Thanks, Dominique

I live in a ground floor flat conversion of a Victorian house in the United Kingdom (England). It was built in the 1850s out of solid red brick and the outside walls are extremely thick solid red brick nearly 12 inches or 0.3 metres thick. The heat insulation properties of the walls is very good, even though they do not appear to have a cavity given construction techniques in use at this time. There are two floors above me, being the original bedroom layer of the house and then the attics above converted in to flats.

Unfortunately the floors are made of probably just the original 1850s wooden joists with modern grey coloured chipboard of some kind nailed across it. This floor board looks as though it was fitted by the developer when it was converted in to flats in the early 1990s and although it just looks like it is square edged sheets if I insert a kife it won't go down much more than an inch and a half, whereas there is a small circular hole around the radiator pipes in the chipboard and I can insert an 8 inch long table knife the whole way down through that without hitting anything. So this suggests the board is tongued and grooved according to advice I was given but despite this the sound insulation properties are quite useless. There is carpet and underlay on the floor above my apartment but it is carpet chosen and installed by the developers before they sold the apartment.

However all of the noise transfer issues are very similar to those described by Domola. Namely loud thudding footstep noises and the ability to hear the tone and intonation of all conversation in the apartment above when my own apartment is in any way quiet (I often have to turn the radio or television up loudly to mask the noise). Only rarely however does one catch an actual word that is said, generally if it is said particularly loudly or distinctly. Apart from the thud of footsteps there is also creaking of the floorboards in certain specific spots. My male neighbour is a moderately mid to heavy sized Mediterranean male of average height and he makes most of the intrusive noise. His wife is English and when she is there on her own the noise intrusion is much less. He talks loudly, he walks loudly, he shouts on the phone to his Mediterranean friends etc, it is just natural to him to do so but if the noise insulation between our flats was adequate this surely wouldn't be a problem. The creaking boards have become worse over time.

My own ceiling is not the original but 1990s plasterboard with artex swirling and there is a different ceiling height in every room going from about 9ft in the hall to 10ft in my kitchen. I have been told the developer may have removed the original lath & plaster ceilings in favour of these new artex ceilings and that has made matters worse with perhaps only plasterboard between me and their floorboards. There is some kind of glass fibre material in the ceiling voids (I can see it through an entrance point at the top of my bathroom water tanks cupboard) but it only appears to have heat insulating and fire retardant qualities and not any noise insulating qualities.

I been pointed towards either Sound Solutions Quietfloor Plus (see quietfloor plus noise reducing carpet underlay ) or Custom Audio Designs Quietfloor Premium + ( see Quietfloor soundproofing underlay UK ) or Acoustilay 15 (see Acoustilay 15 | Acoustic Insulation Mat) as superior forms of sound insulating floor coverings that would allegedly yield significant improvements if my neighbour fitted them under their carpets.

The current situation is that I have learned from a few days advance notice they gave that my neighbour is replacing their carpets and underlay and when I discussed this with a sound insulation consultant they claimed that using one of the above specialist noise insulating underlays would greatly improve my situation and reduce noise to a lower level. But after a long process of trying to find out what my neighbour was fitting and him initially claiming he was fitting "the most effective soundproofing underlay available" I have now discovered he is only fitting an ordinary carpet layer's underlay at the higher end of their range with a little more foam insulation.

The issue here seems to be price since the area of their apartment to be re-carpeted is about 70 square metres (about 800 square feet) and all the Quietfloor or Acoustilay products costs around 30 pounds sterling or 47 US dollars per square metre but the carpet underlay my neighbour is using costs less than three pounds sterling or five US dollars. Looking at the difference in construction of these acoustic underlay materials it seems clear that the prices charged for the acoustic underlay material are fairly excessive but the firms concerned seem to operate a cartel on price and perhaps believe they can get away with it due to those who need such products already being desperate to do something about noise.

I did have a previous quote to take out all my current ceilings in my apartment and then work on the joists that seemed to be loose or inadequately supported and then pack them with the best sound deadening materials available and build a new ceiling over them but this would cost around 14,000 pounds sterling or 22,000 US dollars. I might be prepared to spend this if I was going to be here another 10 years but I do not see that as likely as I have already been here a few years and the problem has become much worse since my neighbours retired and I began working from home so that we are all here all the time.

Would Ted suggest that even if I could persuade my neighbour to fit the much more expensive Quietfloor or Acoustilay underlay/floor covering products under their new carpets that it won't make as much difference due to flanking etc as the sound insulation consultant I have talked to suggests that while such specialist airborne and impact noise focused sound insulating underlay won't cure the whole problem entirely it ought to roughly half the level of noise being transmitted from the apartment above.

Ted White

Active Member
There is going to be significant flanking noise, as you say. It is physically impossible to avoid flanking paths. Having said that, there's no way to estimate how much flanking through the walls there is.

The problem is that floor solutions generally eat up height. They raise the floor by several cm. It would be great if the person upstairs could add another layer of plywood panel to the floor with a competant damping material in between. Then proceed with the carpet pad and carpet.

This would add mass and damping, as well as a shock absorption layer (new carpet and pad).

Much more significant results could be obtained if you were to decouple your ceiling plasterboard. Remove the existing plasterboard, use whatever insulation is already up there, install a resilient system to the underside of the original joists, then two layers of new plasterboard and a damping material between them. Seal up all penetrations.
With regards to an underlay giving sound proofing properties, your best bet is Tredaire Colours Red... but its very expensive... however, which ever product you buy.. whether its a bumpf high marketed underlay, you still will never be able to eliminate everything.

Hope this is of some help

Ted White

Active Member
That appears to be a standard foam rubber. The thought is "thicker is better" which isn't the always the case. Also, I saw no link for test data. Generally proven performers have basic requisite test data.

Again, the solution is a system not a product.
That appears to be a standard foam rubber. The thought is "thicker is better" which isn't the always the case. Also, I saw no link for test data. Generally proven performers have basic requisite test data.

Again, the solution is a system not a product.

Ted - sorry about that. Was just a thought :rolleyes:

Interesting to know whats said in this thread as i too would be interested in sound proofing my garage - if its to a reasonable expense


Well-known Member
I've worked in Victorian buildings that have been adapted to purposes very far different from those that their builders intended ... consider the situation in which a substantial Victorian Detached house belonging to a Mine Owner has passed by means that I can only guess at to become attached to four similar houses and then adapted to become a School of Business Management ..with a Cinema in the Basement .. mine all mine :D .. and an office directly above ..decidedly not mine. Oh how the girls in the office did love the sound from the Cinema. :D I once set up a TV studio in what was once .. I would guess .. the bedroom of a long dead Victorian Gentleman. Who knows what my bedroom will be used for in a hundred years from now?

The thing is that large Victorian Houses in terraces or even detached have been adapted to many uses and even the term Victorian ... well the Old Lady didn't ascend to The Throne as an Old Lady and over the period of her very long reign many changes took place in building construction ... not many of such changes involved sound insulation nor even heat insulation if it comes to that. In the earliest of Victorian House there may not even have been tongue and groove floor boarding and even if there were that tongue and grooved boarding it may well have been split all over the place to allow for wiring .. that new fangled 'electric light ' that was becoming oh so fashionable .. and other such stuff even before 'modern ' builders got to work to make as much money as quickly as possible in our crowded cities by sub dividing houses into flats ... from which Heaven Preserve Me!

As has already been mentioned 'Flanking Noise ' can be a big problem in conversions and then you have to consider that lots of these conversions have been done over by Property Developers to LOOK simply stunning ...The WOW factor ..with the confident knowledge that buyers just wont ask about sound insulation.

SO ... whats under that floor of yours ? .. " We currently have carpet and underlay " Yes but what exactly is under that ... " Unfortunately the floors are made of probably just the original 1850s wooden joists with modern grey colored chipboard of some kind nailed across it. This floor board looks as though it was fitted by the developer when it was converted in to flats in the early 1990s and although it just looks like it is square edged sheets if I insert a kife it won't go down much more than an inch and a half, whereas there is a small circular ... "

What, not even the original floorboards but just modern floorboard substitutes intended for use in modern houses and laid after the original .. rotten ? damaged, recycled .. boards have been removed ? I don't like the sound of that at all!

When I had my 1930s Semi extended I had to Specify and insist upon tongue and groove floor-boarding since builders do LOVE those large chipboard plates that pass for floorboards in modern houses ... SO easy to fit SO inexpensive .. and So ..I said ' I AM paying ! ' and so I specified :devil: But even with my new and pristine tongue and grooved floor boarded bedroom floor and modern, building regulation specified, heating insulation stuffed beneath and around that floor does leak sound like ... a very Leakey thing into the utility space below and no amount of carpeting would solve that since a good part of it is Flanking noise that will leak down via the garage door at the front of the house.

If I wanted to convert that utility/garage space ..does Anyone use them as garages ? .. then I'd have to get the builders in again and start thinking of serious building work and not just expensive carpets that some chancer of a carpet salesman wanted to sell to the punter ... they'd probably tell you that the most expensive Carpet plus yet more expensive underlay would save you against attack by Zombies and /or Alien invasion if it would get them the sale and the sales commission... after the event just try to prove that they'd said that. Even if you'd recorded the conversation ..what then ? The salesman would be long gone and the carpet firms owner would deny all knowledge. The only test of a successful carpet-ish solution to your problem would be a Demonstration of success in a situation precisely similar to your own ... not very likely is it?

Sorry to be so negative but this kind of job in this kind of house is unlikely to be either inexpensive or easy.


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