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Wood flooring

Which underlay is best for soundproofing?

When choosing new types of flooring, whether laminate flooring, vinyl, carpets or anything else, making sure that your choice of floor finish does not create a noise nuisance around the home or for adjacent properties is probably not the first thing we will think about.

However, taking steps to soundproof your floor by carefully considering the type of underlay you use at the planning stage can make a massive difference to the overall result, especially for separating floors.

So what is it and why do we use underlay?

Underlay is a material that you lay underneath your flooring to provide both thermal and sound reduction benefits, It can be made of different materials, the most common being:

  • Foam
  • Rubber
  • Cork
  • Felt

When choosing an underlay for soundproofing, it’s important to consider the type of flooring you’ll be using it with. Some materials are more compatible with certain types of flooring than others, so it’s important to select an under

You could be forgiven for not realising that there are plenty of acoustically insulating flooring underlay products available. When buying new floorcoverings, particularly from one of the large national retailers, their underlay options are likely to be determined by factors other than their soundproofing capabilities.

Will thicker underlay provide better soundproofing?

The thickness of the underlay is also an important factor to consider. Thicker underlays will provide better soundproofing than thinner ones. However, they may also be more expensive and difficult to install.

When underlay is advertised for carpets, major retailers will usually provide a product range based largely on different levels of comfort level – the more you pay, the more plush the carpet will feel. Acoustic insulation is often mentioned with more premium types of carpet underlay, but it is not usually the key factor.

For floor coverings such as laminate or engineered wood, soundproofing is likely to be a more important factor when it comes to the choice of underlay, largely because of the potential for impact sound transmission such as footsteps on hard floors. However, the standard options provided by retailers and many flooring suppliers are unlikely to offer much beyond relatively basic levels of acoustic insulation.
But it is not just these types of flooring that can benefit from an enhanced acoustic underlay.

Floors created using LVT (luxury vinyl tiles), ceramic tiles, sheet vinyl, stone, Flotex, and marble can all use underlay designed to reduce sound transmission. Some types of underlay can also be used with underfloor heating (UFH), although here some thought may also need to go into whether the timber joists need treatment too.

How acoustic underlay improves a floor

The acoustically insulating floor underlay options available from specialist manufacturers offer a major step-up from the standard products. They are purpose-designed and tested to minimise impact sound by creating a resilient layer to stop sound waves.

Impact sound often results when someone walks across a floor surface, especially hard surfaces like tiles, laminate and wood, but it will also stem from furniture being moved or items being dropped or thrown on the floor. The result is that sound waves transmit through the floor surface material, the sub-floor – whether concrete or timber floorboards – and the ceiling, and into the room below.

Underlay for Vinyl Flooring

The best performing underlay for vinyl floors is an acoustic felt, like the one purposely designed by our products team. This type of material is perfect for vinyl as its thinner and less dense so relives a lot of the ‘bounce’ you would experience with other materials when using vinyl.

For an improvement on the sound reduction qualities, you can use this in conjunction with other acoustic products such as acoustic overlay boards.

Be sure to see if your supplier provides acoustic test data with the product.

Underlay for engineered wood

Although project differ in regards to their purpose and also their budget, a good rubber based underlay has been proven to create a fantastic sound barrier for hardwood floors. Our technical team recently created a case study on a live project so we could could see sound test results based on using an acoustic underlay for hardwood floors here.

Underlay for Tiles

This is a huge question – can you use underlay when tiling?

The answer is yes! But as always, it depends on the condition of the floor you’re tiling on. It pointless using a tile mat underlay if you have an uneven surface. There are some amazing products on the market allowing you to use special adhesive to tile over. Our technical experts have produced a great rubber underlay that can help with your project. You read more about tiling over hush acoustic products here

Underlay for LVT

Luxury Vinyl tiles require a thin underlay due to nature of how the tiles connect and the material they’re manufactured from. Problems can occur when the floor you’re working on is not prepared properly and even using a thick underlay can be an issue due to LVT expanding and contracting. If the surface you’re installing on is level and prepared correctly, you can consider a thin acoustic felt underlay to help with sound transmission.

Do I need to use more than just underlay to soundproof my floor?

Most acoustic manufactures actually design whole soundproofing solutions called systems. These are specified materials that when combined can actually provide a better result with test data to prove that they work to building regulations.

Hush Mat 15 is at the core of Hush range of fully tested solutions which provides a specification to achieve soundproofing for a separating floor with confidence. The HD1049 Hush Mat 15 RB system brings together the resilient layer of the mat with Hush-Slab 100 sound absorber slabs fitted into the ceiling voids and a ceiling created using resilient bars and Soundbloc plasterboards.

This is ideal for use in refurbishment and conversion projects where there is scope to treat both the floor and ceiling below, providing a thin floor and ceiling construction that still complies with the acoustic requirements of all UK Building Regulations.

More on acoustic floor solutions

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