Every room has different acoustical properties. The size and shape of the room, the items it holds, and even the materials of the room itself affect how sound waves will travel within a room. This is why it is important to consider the acoustical properties of each type of flooring before deciding which is best for your home.
Sound waves are absorbed and deflected by carpet and carpet padding with more sound being absorbed with a thicker pad. Carpet is great for theater rooms since bass frequencies from your entertainment system’s subwoofers travels low to the ground. If the bass frequencies aren’t absorbed, you can experience a loss of clarity in the higher frequencies, causing you to constantly adjust your volume.
Cork is a soft, flexible, and resilient material that quiets walking and reflective noises. The porous structure of cork doesn’t simply dampen sound, it absorbs sound waves into its cellular structure. It is so effective at sound reduction that it is used on recording studios’ walls to achieve clear soundtracks without background noise.
Quality, foam-backed vinyl flooring has a cushioned, flexible surface that contributes to sound reduction. The material of the floor over which the tile is installed will also influence sound absorption qualities.
Laminate makes the most noise, both when walked on and in echoing sound, due to its hard surface and light weight, but can be a good choice for sound reduction when used over a quality underlayment. The underlayment will pad the laminate floor similar to how a pad works under carpet. Some floors come with an acoustic underlay integrated into the bottom of the planks themselves. Engineered hardwoods have more weight, making them quieter than laminate, but solid hardwood will be the best wood flooring for absorbing sound.
Installation techniques can also affect acoustics. The floating installation method doesn’t use fasteners or adhesive. The floor is laid over the existing floor and simply snaps together with a specially designed edge joint. This is often how laminate and engineered floors are installed, but this method is the loudest due to echoes and movement noise from the floor itself. Another method is the glued down installation. Engineered and solid hardwood floors can be glued, but not laminate. While quieter than floating, glued down floors echo considerably and can only be done over very secure subfloors, such as concrete. The nailing or stapling methods allow a floor to vibrate with the sound, while absorbing some of it. This method is used primarily for solid wood, but can also be used with engineered wood.
At Flack’s we know everything there is about flooring and what will work best for every space in your home. Come shop with us today and let us answer all your flooring questions.