One of the larger contributors to stress in today’s world is noise pollution. Noise is produced at every hour of the day, whether you are awake or not. More noise means more stress.
If you live in an apartment or condominium, you know the value of a peaceful weekend. After all, with just one layer of materials separating you from the tenant above you, what they do can impact your life – from a noise perspective.
If they have kids, you’ll hear them. If they have a dog, you’ll hear the footsteps of that dog. If they’re active at home, you’ll hear that too. The one thing that can impact it is the floor they’re on.
The easiest way to reduce noise is at the source but good luck trying to get your neighbours to turn down their televisions and stop their kids from yelling. Moreover, strata councils and condo boards are doing all that they can to reduce noise in buildings. Noise reduction is a big business.
In this blog post, we’ll detail the best flooring solutions that mitigate the amount of noise you create.
How We Measure NoiseTable of Contents [show]
First, I want to introduce you to the way in which people measure sound transmission. While there are 3 ways to do this, 2 of these can be applied to cover sound absorption of floor coverings: Impact Insulation Class (IIC) and Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC).
Impact Insulation Class (IIC)
IIC measures how well sound waves travel through a floor to the room below. IIC 50 has the least impact quality of sound absorption. In this class are stone and tile. IIC 60 indicates average or medium impact on sound absorption. Wood, laminates and some vinyls fall in this category. Lastly, IIC 65 is a high level of sound absorption and carpet and cork fall into this category.
Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC)
The NRC measures the amount of sound energy that is absorbed upon striking a particular surface. It’s a value between 0 and 1, inclusive. 0 indicates perfect reflection while 1 indicates perfect absorption.
Sound Transmission Class (STC)
STC is a lab measurement of the ability of a particular construction assembly to reduce airborne noise, like voice and television.
Flooring Solutions That Reduce Noise
CarpetCarpet is a strong sound absorptive material. In tests by the Carpet and Rug Institute, carpets laid directly on concrete had NRCs ranging between 0.15 and 0.55. Loop pile carpets had average NRC values of 0.20 to 0.35. Foam-backed loop construction resulted in higher NRC values.
A big factor in your carpet’s ability to absorb noise is the underlayment you use. Carpets that were tested with a 40 ounce per square yard hair cushion on the concrete floor under the carpet had significantly higher NRC values, between 0.4 and 0.7.
Remember that a NRC of 1 indicates perfect absorption and NRC ratings typically don’t reach any higher than 0.5 or 0.6. We would classify those carpets that rated as high as 0.7 in the tests as outliers, or outside the normal range of ratings.
So if you have carpet over concrete, your carpet’s ability to absorb sound isn’t as strong as when there’s a cushion in between the carpet and concrete. This makes logical sense.
CorkCork flooring is made from the bark of the Mediterranean cork tree. The actual bark is harvested and dried in the forest itself before being shipped to factories to be turned into wine bottle corks. It’s the leftover matter that is ground up and turned into flooring pieces.
Due to the composition of cork, sound waves get easily absorbed by its porous nature. The waves are absorbed and future broken down once they enter the cellular structure.
Not surprisingly, rooms designed to be high in noise production, like studios are typically soundproofed with cork. The IIC values for cork are typically pretty strong. Resilient types of flooring, like cork also have high NRC ratings.
VinylVinyl looks great and as a type of resilient flooring, it can be effective in absorbing sound. Vinyl typically has medium to high NRC ratings. High quality vinyl will help mitigate sound transmission while it’s look can give you the best of all worlds.
If you’re looking for the best sound-absorbent vinyl floors, you may want to consider a hybrid of both vinyl and cork floors – vinyl cork flooring.