The Secret To Soundproof Between Floors


These days, the trend is people staying at home to work. Of course the whole COVID-19 thing has powered that up enormously. It has also led to a ramping up of the tendency to work from home. 

The thing is, in many ways our homes are not set up for sharing spaces together in a work context. One of the things that are particularly inconvenient is the transfer of noise in a residential setting, especially between floors. The question is, is there a simple and cost effective way to soundproof an upstairs room so everyone downstairs is acoustically isolated so you can get on with your important work.

You’ll be happy to know that yes indeed there is a simple and cost effective way forward. Lets get into the detail of the secret of how to soundproof between floors. 

Many Challenges To Soundproofing Residential Spaces

There are so many challenges when you’re trying to keep a place quiet. Buildings are being constructed faster and faster using lighter and lighter materials.

The reality is that when it comes to residential construction, there is no building code that is going to ensure your room is quiet and acoustically separated from the rest of the house. 

You won’t be able to soundproof your office, either upstairs or down, if you work at home and your office is upstairs or downstairs. 

Traditional Approaches For Soundproofing Very Expensive

The traditional approaches, while effective at creating an acoustically isolated space, are not at all cheap – in fact they are very expensive. 

For example, to properly soundproof through floors in a way that not only muffles conversation but completely stops its transmission, as well as greatly reducing impact noise in a modern house built from light materials such as half inch drywall in walls and five eighths OSB plywood in between floors, you’re up for a very significant cost of about 15 to 20 dollars per square foot of ceiling / floor area.

Even though these standard soundproofing techniques and technologies are expensive, they are very effective in giving you that nice, quiet, peaceful life.

This traditional approach is based on what is called a hat channel along with soundproof clips (with thick rubber pads) attached to it and screwed into floor joists to minimize surface area contact. The other important part of the process is specialist green glue noise proofing compound. It’s about $40 of green glue required for every four by eight sheet of drywall – and that is before any installation costs. 

A Simpler, Cheaper Alternative To Soundproofing Between Floors

No don’t think that if you put a little bit of insulation in your ceiling, and cover it up, that it’s going to work. If you do that, you’re going to be disappointed. Even if it meets minimum code requirements, it is not going to deliver the outcome you really need.

There is a simpler and cheaper way to stop sound transmission from upstairs onto the main floor downstairs. It will solve transmission of most of the noise coming from upstairs of people walking and talking. 

It is as simple as changing your flooring to something that is much more soundproof.

You just need to remove the existing flooring upstairs and change it to something that is more soundproof. 

Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) For Soundproofing Between Floors

That material is called mass loaded vinyl. It is a material with metal particles embedded. It is used to add a mass to walls, ceilings and flooring to help with soundproofing and area. The most common place that MLV is used is between two layers of drywall or sheetrock.

So what you want to do is you want to go into that room upstairs, take off the baseboard, take out your existing flooring such as the carpet – it will only take a few minutes. And then proceed to roll out the mass loaded vinyl right across the room. 

You can purchase it in one eight of an inch thick (one pound per square foot) or the thicker product of two pounds per square foot. The heavier (and thicker) it is, the quieter it is. 

So for the best soundproofing outcome, you want to get the two pound mass vinyl. You can buy it in the 25 foot rolls that weigh 200 pounds (90kg) so it is quite heavy. 

You can also buy it in smaller rolls, but the bigger the role, the cheaper it is. 

It is best to have a helper around when installing it.

So how does it compare price wise to the standard options? It is just $1 a square foot. This allows plenty of latitude to buy some new vinyl tile to go on top for about $3 per square foot. 

So for $4 a square foot, you can do it yourself. You don’t have to hire a pro to put new flooring in, put the trim back on and you’re done. 

If you had a room that was 12 by 12 feet (144 square feet), you’d have it fully done for $400 in materials, all done as a saturday project – boom!

More Details Of Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)

Sound Barrier Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is the most popular noise barrier in the U.S. 

If you need a soundproofing barrier for your home, that is durable, economical and relatively easy to install, you can pat yourself on the back because you’ve found the ideal product.

Product Description For This Extreme Soundproofing Soun Barrier:

  • Fire Rating:  Fire Resistant SE “0”
  • Color is black only.
  • Temperature Limits: Service range of -20° to 160° F.
  • Certified flame retardant by California State Fire Marshal Registration No. F-5 1.1.
  • Vinyl noise barrier is tough and durable.
  • Will not rot or disintegrate under adverse conditions
  • Easy to install – may be cut with scissors or utility knife.
  • Barrier is safe and non-toxic. Contains no asbestos or lead.
  • It should not be installed too close to a heat source.

 Additional Tips For Installation Of MLV

The mass (weight) of the MLV is what makes the product work to reduce airborne sound. Cut the pieces into smaller, more manageable sizes as you install it. This heavy layer is placed under the carpet and padding for optimum impact and noise control.

MLV can be laid directly on or under an existing tile or wood floor to make the floor both more comfortable and to reduce transfer of airborne noise.

It is recommended that caulking the edges with Acoustical caulk.  Use a fine bead of caulk all around the seams of the MLV, sealing any potential leaks.  Much like water, sound will pass through the smallest crack, therefore, it is recommended that all seams be caulked or overlapped. 

Sound Barrier vinyl may also be laid between two layers of plywood, in a sandwich fashion, in either walls or ceilings.

Physical Properties MASS LOADED VINYL Sound Barrier

Physical PropertiesTest MethodResults
Weight1lb.per square foot
TensileASTM D412284lb. per square inch
ElongationASTM D412104%
TearASTM D62467lb. per inch
Thickness3/8″
Weight Loss70 hours@ 300 degrees4% (Maximum)
Dimensional Stability70 hours@ 300 degrees2 – 3.5%
Flammability-FoamUL-94 HF-1Passes
Flammability – VinylMVSS lb.302Passes
Roll Size25′ x 48″  Rolls
TemperatureRange-30°F to +225°F

Test Results

Frequency (Hz)125250500100020004000STC
Transmission Loss (dB)14182027354126
STC11162430353527

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