How Flooring Materials Affect Sound Ratings

According to experts, flooring can affect the sound waves most especially in multi-story buildings such as apartments or condominiums. Fortunately, a lot of good flooring options with effective sound dampening features are available in the market nowadays.
flooring materials

Sound is created when hard objects such as furniture, shoes with hard sole, dropped objects, and even the claws of your dog impact a hard surface, like stone or time. Without anything to absorb the sound waves, it can spread and eventually multiply, echoing off the walls and amplifying even a small sound that can really be distracting. Given a large room with hard polished floors and high ceilings, a simple walk across an office building’s lobby, for example, can actually become a distraction to others.

Sound Ratings

The transmission of sound is rated using 3 different standards. Each standard defines a unique way in which sound is being transmitted. Floor coverings’ sound absorption can be measured on 2 of those scales. The 3rd covers transmission from room to room, making it more appropriate for walls.

IIC or Impact insulation class is always measured in terms of the impact of the sound, or how well the vibrations of the sound travel through a flooring below the room.

IIC 50 refers to the least absorption quality for sound impact. Even though this might be appropriate for ground floors, this would be unsatisfactory for many especially on a higher floor without enough insulation in the space between the ceiling and the floor. Most tile and stone will fall into this rating category.

IIC 60 has a medium sound impact absorption quality as well as encompasses floorings like laminates, wood, and some vinyl.

IIC 65 indicates a high level of sound impact transmission absorption as well as includes superior sound reduction materials such as cork and carpet.

IIC is most influenced by the areas and surfaces under the floor and the rating can be enhanced by adding insulation, underlayment, or by floating the floor. The tile or stone laid directly over the concrete is considered the loudest floor. The IIC rate doesn’t account for joist sounds such as rattling or squeaking.

Noise reduction coefficient or NRC measures the noise amount, which is absorbed by the material but not reflected. A room that has a high NCR rating can be able to eliminate echoes and background noise that can help in clarifying speech. For example, theaters should be constructed in such a way that it can possess a high NRC rating. If the room or are has low NRC rating, the sound waves will just bounce off the walls and might crash into each other. It will then create a continuous sound, making each word impossible to understand. Carpet that has a .40-.50 rating is the most efficient and effective absorptive material. Cork, rubber, and vinyl have a high NRC rating, with bamboo, hardwood, stone, or tile at the bottom in order for it to have a better sound absorption.

Flooring Types for Sound Reduction


Number one most common flooring for sound reduction is carpeting. Carpet is defined as the antithesis of echoing, hard surfaces. Carpet can effectively absorb and deflect sound waves. With the help of the carpet padding, the sound absorption level can be enhanced with the use of a thicker pad. Usually, carpet is the most affordable option in the short run. However, it has issues in terms of allergy aggravation, durability and cleaning since it tends to trap dust and allergens. If you choose to install carpet flooring, you will need to have it maintained by a qualified professional carpet cleaning service provider such as


Cork is also a great option for sound reduction. It absorbs sound creating a blissful peach, which everyone can be able to appreciate, including your neighbors downstairs. Cork is really an effective material for sound reduction as it is used on walls in order to soundproof most recording studios, letting the recorders have clear soundtracks without any background noise. The reason is because cork has a porous structure. Sound waves sink into the cork’s cellular structure and are broken up, rather than bounce around.


Quality vinyl flooring, which is cushioned and backed with foam, and also has a flexible surface, is a good option for sound reduction. While you can be able to install tile flooring over an existing floor, the floor’s material will affect the qualities of sound absorption. High quality vinyl will help eliminate that factor and may provide a nearly soundless floor, while giving you enough comfort.



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