how to reduce noise from upstairs floors

Impact noises are one of the most significant issues for people living in apartment buildings. These noises are especially noticeable when you have neighbors living upstairs. But problems can occur even within your household when someone drops something or starts running on the floor above.

Because of their specific nature, impact noises are hard to prevent. To do so, you must incorporate many different techniques and measures.

Here are the six ways of reducing the impact of noise from the floor above:

  • Use Carpets and paddings
  • Use Resilient Underlayments
  • Use Soundproofing compound
  • Soundproof the floor (and ceiling)
  • Make a drop ceiling
  • Soundproof the walls

If you have a larger budget and do not mind structural changes, you can also check out the best ways to soundproof ceilings.

If you are dealing with slight issues with impact noises from the floor above, you can take some straightforward steps to reduce them. On the other hand, if impact noises are a huge problem, you can always hire a professional to help you deal with it.

We will list the six most common ways of reducing impact noises from the floor above. By incorporating some of these methods, you will either slightly or more significantly deal with the impact noises you are struggling with.

What are impact noises?

Impact noises are sounds that are caused by an object contacting a surface within a room. The surface afterward vibrates, travels through the building’s structure.

The vibrations will eventually reach your ceiling and walls, causing them to vibrate. These vibrations create sound waves that go directly into your ears.

Impact noises represent a big issue in structures made from wood framings, as these framings make it much easier for the vibrations to go through. This is because the drywall ceiling within your room is rigidly connected to this framing. And with no insulation in between, the impact noises will have no obstacles to prevent them from entering.

Now that we have described how impact noises work, it’s essential to know the most common causes of such sounds. Impact noises are caused by:

  • Walking (running)
  • Moving furniture
  • Dropping objects
  • Any other objects that can cause the surface to vibrate

As we can see, such sounds are especially frequent when living in an apartment building. The biggest problem is that you can’t stop them from happening. You can only perform some prevention measures to decrease the noise levels entering your room.

Impact noises can cause a form of noise nuisance that can even impact your health condition. These health issues include:

  • Anxiety
  • Lower concentration levels
  • Worse productivity levels
  • Eardrum damage
  • Increased blood pressure
  • Others

When dealing with impact noises, it’s essential to be aware of the four elements of soundproofing, Decoupling, Damping, Absorption, and Mass. These elements can significantly influence the amount of impact noise levels you are receiving from the floor above. The more elements you incorporate, the better.

When an impact noise is created, it acts as an epicenter of an earthquake. The epicenter is the contact point between an object and the surface. For these reasons, it’s evident that the floor will be impacted the most. However, this doesn’t mean that other parts can’t be affected.

Most people believe that impact noises can only be transmitted through the ceiling, and this is where the issues begin. They insulate their ceiling but overlook other key impact noise transmitters like walls and doors. For this reason, it’s essential to recognize all vulnerable parts of your room and sound-insulate them properly.

However, it’s also important to know that the amount of impact noise received significantly depends on your home structure.

As said above, if your home is built using wooden studs, it is very easy for impact noises to travel through. While on the other side, metal studs do a much better job of stopping these noises from transiting to other parts of your room.

Dealing with impact sounds is best done using proper materials during construction, as you have the freedom to incorporate any insulating measures. However, when dealing with an already made room, you must compromise and detect the exact weaknesses that are causing problems.

Further, we will provide you a list of measures you can perform when dealing with impact noises from the floor above. Keep in mind that some of these measures might require additional funds, and others might be suitable for DIY. It all depends on your specific needs.

Ways of reducing impact noise from the floor above

The 6 measures we will list will provide you excellent results when dealing with impact noises. However, if you want to reduce the impact noises to a bare minimum, you might have to incorporate as many measures listed below.

However, don’t forget to target the most vulnerable areas within your household. Place your hand on the surface you feel is most likely to vibrate when an impact noise is created. Afterward, ask someone to start running on the floor above, and if you feel slight vibrations on the surface, you will most likely have to sound-insulate it properly.

1. Use Carpets and paddings

Using carpets and paddings is extremely effective when dealing with impact noises. The reason being that they represent the first line of defense for absorbing the vibrations a falling object will cause. They also provide the right Damping and absorption elements to your floor to reduce impact noise massively.

Adding carpeting is especially useful if you are dealing with impact noises created upstairs within your household. Focus on the areas you feel are most likely to receive significant impacts that can cause the flooring to vibrate.

A better option is to use rugs. They are much thicker than regular carpets and can provide even more absorption ability to your floor. Adding rugs will be especially effective in reducing middle to high-level frequencies.

However, it could do even better if you laid adequate padding underneath your carpeting. This combination is considered one of the most simple yet best ways of reducing impact noises from the floor above.

These paddings can be made from a variety of materials. Some of the most common ones include polyurethane foam, rubber crumb, felt, sponge, memory foam, etc. However, for soundproofing purposes, many recommend using polyurethane foam padding. Of course, the thicker the padding, the better job it will do with reducing impact noises.

In case you are planning on renovating your floor, you may want to install carpeting on your entire floor above. By doing so, you will make sure that your floor has adequate sound absorption ability throughout the whole upstairs floor. However, this method may require more funds and the help of professionals.

In case you decide to cover your entire floor with carpeting, it would be best if you added resilient underlayments underneath as well. They will significantly improve the performance of your floors sound reduction ability. However, we will explain the options in the next section.

As we can see, adding carpeting to the floor above is a fundamental part of your project to reduce the impact noise from the floor above. It can be simple, cheap, and, most importantly, it will fulfill your needs.

2. Use Resilient Underlayments

In case you are thinking of going one step further when insulating your floor, consider using resilient underlayments. Using these underlayments is the perfect solution if you are not looking to renovate your flooring completely, but still require a decent noise reduction level.

The best thing about these underlayments is that they can be used throughout your entire upstairs flooring and also allow you to add carpeting and pads on top. By doing so, you will add thickness and mass to your flooring, which can even help you with airborne noises.

These underlayments can be made from recycled rubber mats, rigid fiberglass, foam, cork, and other materials similar to the carpet padding. However, many professionals recommend using Mass Loaded Vinyl.

This specific material has exceptional damping capabilities because of its unique components, vinyl and barium sulfate. It’s also popular because it’s non-toxic. However, Mass loaded vinyl is mostly used for blocking airborne noises because of its density.

If you are explicitly looking for impact noise reduction, we recommend using thicker materials with higher absorption abilities, such as acoustic underlayment. In case you are dealing with neighbors above, you can always offer them to pay for the placement of the underlayments.

Adding underlayment to your floor can also be performed by removing your current flooring and placing it on the subflooring underneath. However, this is an option if you are planning on renovating. In addition, you can also add another underlayment under your carpeting for even better results.

This method is the right choice if you are working on a budget. It will provide you decent impact sound reduction from the floor above. However, when working with resilient underlayments, it’s also important to use other quality materials to make no room for error.

3. Use Soundproofing compound

Soundproofing compounds are an effective material that provides dampening ability to a specific surface; by doing so, they also reduce the levels of impact sounds.

These compounds are often used between two rigid materials(usually subflooring). It works by dissipating the sound vibrations. Apart from this, these compounds also effectively reduce all sound frequencies.

Soundproof compounds are used very frequently by professionals when creating a soundproof environment. However, if you are planning to DIY this project, you can use soundproof compounds as well. There are many soundproof compounds on the market, and they are usually very affordable.

One of the most popular soundproof compounds is Green Glue Company  (see it on Amazon). Also, check out my review.

 

Green glue is one of the best options when dealing with airborne sounds, and might not have the same effects with structure-borne sounds. The compound alone might not be enough to deal with impact noises; however, it can provide you a tremendous soundproof experience when combined with other materials.

Using these compounds is something you don’t want to ignore. When adding additional layers of drywall to your ceiling or wall, you might as well add Green Glue in between, to add an extra layer of insulation. You will undoubtedly notice a difference with the amount of impact noises you will experience afterward. Green Glue is also a great option because it’s affordable for most individuals.

4. Soundproof the floor (and ceiling)

Check out my guide to soundproofing floors.

Soundproofing the floor above might be a task you would, most likely, want to hire a professional to do for you, unless you are familiar with such work. Keep in mind that this method requires a significant budget to do it properly.

All Professionals have their own ways of insulating the floor and ceiling, especially if they offer their own soundproofing products. However, we will explain how it’s usually done by incorporating the four soundproofing elements.

When soundproofing your floor above within your own house, it might be worth it to also soundproof the ceiling below before soundproofing the floor.

By doing so, you will significantly reduce the impact noises you are experiencing from the floor above. However, such a method might not be possible for people living in apartments. Anyway, we will explain the basic way of doing this.

Remove the drywall from your ceiling. Afterward, use soundproofing clips to grasp the hat channels apart from the stud and drywall.

These soundproofing clips play an essential part in reducing impact noises from the floor above. They create tight air pockets that dampen the noise. It’s vital to attach the hat channels with the soundproof clips. This will prevent vibrations from going through screws.

After you finish the decoupling process, install a double layer of drywall with a soundproof compound in between. Replacing your ceiling might not be a possibility for everyone, but it’s worth mentioning since it does a fantastic job reducing impact noises.

Soundproofing your floor will be a much easier task if you have already decoupled your ceiling below. However, impact noises can be reduced significantly just by soundproofing the floor above.

First, you will have to remove the current flooring from the floor above, reveal the subflooring, and then remove the existing subflooring. In case if there isn’t any already, add fiberglass insulation in between. Fiberglass will have a more significant effect on airborne noises, but will also help you with impact noises.

Afterward, Place a layer of drywall with Green Glue on top. If you want to improve this method, you can add another layer of drywall on top and then another damping compound layer. After this, it’s preferable to replace the old subflooring.

By either soundproofing the floor or ceiling, you will significantly reduce the impact of noises from the floor above. However, you will experience STC (sound transmission class) levels of over seventy by doing both.

Going one step further would be adding resilient underlayments and carpeting to top it off. This method is expensive, and some may not have the possibility to insulate the floor above. In that case, creating a drop ceiling can significantly help you.

5. Make a drop ceiling

Check out my article on Soundproof Drop Ceilings.

Creating a drop ceiling is an excellent option if you’re living in an apartment. It’s done by creating an additional ceiling layer underneath your existing ceiling. In case you are handy, you could DIY such a project. Sometimes help from a friend can make the work much more comfortable.

This method is effective because the air in the area between the ceilings will act as a soundproofing material. This is because the air trapped in between is extremely compressed, which allows it to replicate a soundproof material.

There are ways even further to improve this method of reducing impact noises from the floor above. Many people add specific soundproof dense tiles or plates to the drop ceiling. This adds mass, which will make it even harder for impact noises to penetrate through.

Adding fiberglass insulation is also a practice some individuals use. Even though the air between the ceilings should be enough to block sounds, you will only improve the soundproofing ability by adding fiberglass in between.

Even though you’re dealing with impact noises, it’s essential to seal any potential air gaps within your dropped ceiling. This step won’t be too difficult, but will even further improve your overall soundproof experience. For this purpose, consider using a soundproof caulk.

This method is considered extremely effective when dealing with impact noise and usually leads to footsteps and other impact noises to barely be heard. However, this method is expensive and will require time to do.

If you are looking for a similar effect, you can consider using an acoustic ceiling and clouds. Using such won’t require much renovation work.

6. Soundproof the walls

Read my guide on soundproofing walls.

In case the methods above were not enough to reduce the impact noises you are experiencing, consider checking the walls, as they are usually overlooked.

In case you can feel vibrations on your walls when an impact noise is created, you will most likely have to soundproof the walls. There are simple techniques you can attempt to soundproof your walls. However, if you want it done correctly, you might have to hire a professional.

If you are looking for an easy fix to these problems, acoustic panels can help you absorb the impact noises transferred through the wall, creating an extra insulation layer. However, acoustic panels alone might not be enough to reduce the impact sounds entirely.

A DIY project could be to add an additional drywall layer, mixed with a soundproof compound, to your wall. Adding these layers will positively impact your impact noise problems, but it’s certainly not the best way to deal with them.

The most efficient way to soundproof your walls is to open your existing walls and add proper fiberglass insulation and add resilient clips, similarly as you would do with your floor and ceilings. Afterward, close up your wall with a drywall and Green Glue sandwich.

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Author S Krone

A lawyer never retires. So I would just say that I am not as active as I used to be. Now I simply dedicate myself to fishing, my hobby, and my grandchildren. For Business Finance News I write about legal aspects of mortgage policies, mostly regarding the rights of policyholders. I also have articles about personal injuries.

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