How to Soundproof a Floor: 11 Tips to Try

Are you struggling with noises transmitting between floors? Do you want to soundproof floors in your house?

I’ve been there. In fact, there was one time when I found myself so infuriated with my house. 

We hosted a dinner party a few years ago. Nothing fancy, just a handful of friends and us.  As we were having a lovely chat (and food, of course) in the dining room, the kids went to play upstairs. 

And then, it started. 

We could hear their every word, every giggle, and fighting over who should be playing with this or that toy. The sound of every dropped Lego brick or another toy resonated downstairs. Their running around sounded like a drum festival to us.

The kids weren’t doing anything wrong, of course. But because of the way the house was built, the sound carried downstairs to where we were. It was a cacophony and at some point, we could hardly hear each other. 

I know I had to do something. Dinner parties like this would not happen again. 

So I did. I researched all the ways to soundproof the floor and managed to reduce the amount of noise bleeding downstairs. 

Below I share with you what I’ve learned. But let’s start by getting something out of the way.

Can you actually soundproof a floor?

Short answer, yes, absolutely. 

(And before you ask, no, there is no “but” coming.)

You can soundproof a floor and reduce the different types of noises that typically bleed through – foot noise, moving things around, and even conversations. Full stop. 

Before you dive into this soundproofing project excitedly, though, we need to discuss how the noise gets to the rooms below. The reason for that is simple: once you know how the noise gets in, you’ll be able to know how to stop it in its tracks. 

Your biggest challenge with floor soundproofing

Two words – foot noise. 

In most cases, airborne sounds – conversations, music or TV, etc. – do not travel to the room below through the floor. 

They do when moving the opposite way, though. Often people upstairs can hear your conversations below and some of that sound reaches them through the floor. 

However, when it comes to hearing noises downstairs, most of the airborne noise gets downstairs through other pathways. Airborne sound can reach you from upstairs through open doors, etc. You may think they hear a conversation through the floor but if you listen to it carefully, you’ll notice that the sound bounces off walls and other structures, and actually enters the room through the door or windows. 

The situation is quite different with foot noise and other impact noises, though. 

The sound of moving furniture upstairs, the clank of dropping something on the floor, or the noise of dropping something heavy on the floor all bleed from the room upstairs because the floor structure turns those sounds into vibrations and passes the energy to the room underneath.

It works like this:

Notice how the point where the dropped ball hits the floor. See how its vibrations stem in all directions and travel through the structure of the floor. Now, some of this sound will reflect in the room where the noise is coming from, of course. But observe something interesting on this graph:

Most of the vibrations travel elsewhere!

And most of it ends up in the environment below the source of the noise. 

What does that tell us about soundproofing a floor? 

For one, the physics of sound transmission through the floor tells us that noise pollution can be reduced. And also, to do it, we need to block those vibrations from reaching us. 

Luckily, there is a process for that. 

How to soundproof a floor – a 3-step process

A quick note before we dive into the process.

What I’m describing in this section aren’t the actual steps to soundproof a floor. Usually, you have to do far more than just three things to block or absorb those noises from above. 

What this section covers are the stages of the process. I like to think of those as objectives you need to achieve with different floor soundproofing methods to block the sound from coming through existing floors. 

So, without any further ado, here is what you need to do to soundproof a floor properly.

Objective 1. Separation

Take a look again at the visual showing how sound travels through the floor. Notice that it’s the tight connection between the upstairs and downstairs that allows sound vibration to travel through. 

So, the first objective of a floor soundproofing project is to sever that connection. There are several ways to do this. You can either raise the floor surface upstairs and create something like a floated floor. The other option is to lower the ceiling below. The objective is to have at least one surface disconnected from the structure of the building.

NOTE – In this case, separation doesn’t mean detachment. As you’ll see shortly, adding underlays or mass-loaded vinyl below the carpet or floorboards will help you achieve that separation, even though, technically, all surfaces will lie on top of each other.

But of course, you can also do it by adding another layer to the floor (or ceiling, for that matter) and create an actual separation. This is often the most effective method to soundproof anything. But it’s also the most costly and ridiculously time-consuming. 

Why is achieving this separation so important? Well, that separation will cause the noise vibration to die rather than continue through. Again, refer to the visual above. See that the sound travels only on joists and beams, not the air. That is the nature of impact sounds, and the best way to stop them is to remove a means for the vibration to travel. 


Objective 2. Reducing the vibration with floor treatment 

Next, you need to reduce the level of vibration at the source. 

I know; it sounds very technical but it’s actually quite a simple concept. By placing elements that can either absorb the sound or stop it in its tracks, you reduce the amount of vibration entering the building’s structure. 

I’ll show you several methods to do this shortly. But in general, completing this step involves laying out some soundproofing underlayment. In some cases, the underlayment can also work as a way to raise the flooring surface (but again, that depends on the soundproofing materials and method you’ll use – more on this shortly.)

Objective 3. Blocking means for the airborne sound to pass through

Now, I know that I called impact noise your biggest challenge. But that doesn’t mean that some airborne sounds can’t get through. Cracks, even tiny ones on the floor or around the walls can transmit sound vibration to the environment below.   

Luckily, as you’ll see shortly, preventing that isn’t actually that difficult, and many soundproofing materials can help you block sounds from passing through. 

So how do you do it all? 

What to do to soundproof a floor: 11 methods

Disclaimer: Most of the advice I’m going to give you below relates to achieving the 2nd objective I described above. Naturally, raising a floor or lowering the ceiling requires a different approach, and most likely, it’s a bigger project. You might need to consult your builder about achieving that objective. 

That said – Some of the floor soundproofing methods below will also help you achieve that separation. It might not be as effective as if you’d really raise the floor but it might be enough. 

So, in no particular order, here are the best methods to soundproof a floor

#1. Lay out interlocking floor mats

I admit it; those puzzle-style, interlocking floor mats don’t look spectacular. They are not something you’d use in a bedroom. But if you’re soundproofing the floor in a kid’s room, an upstairs gym, or a similar room you use casually, they’re perfect. 

You see – interlocking mats absorb impact sounds like crazy!

Interlocking mats are usually made of rubber material. You’ve probably noticed that although they are sturdy surfaces to walk on, they also feel much softer than hardwood floors, for example. 

That’s also one reason why you see them laid out in gyms and sports halls. These mats can protect you and minimize the impact when you fall. 

And for the same reason, they can also help you soundproof a floor. Their rubber structure will absorb and reduce the amount of vibration generated by impact – footsteps, running, thumping, etc. 

That, coupled with a combination of tile colors that you can get them in, and even different designs, makes interlocking floor mats perfect for soundproofing kids’ rooms, gyms, and any other room where you might not be bothered by their design but need to significantly reduce the impact noise on the floor. 

#2. Use thick rugs or carpets to reduce sound vibrations

This is by far the easiest way to soundproof a floor. Thick and soft carpets can soften the sound of your footsteps and reduce the amount of vibrations that’s reaching the floor. 

In this case, these carpets will also create a separation between the sound source (your feet!) and the floor. Now, they won’t eliminate the vibration completely. However, by softening the impact of your footsteps, they will reduce the amount of vibration that will hit the floor and transmit further through its structure. 

Carpets were also one of the methods I used to reduce that noise from kids playing upstairs. You see, at the time of that dinner party, we just had panel flooring laid out. This means that 100% of the impact noise vibration was entering the floor structure. 

I laid out carpets in some rooms and used colorful rubber interlocking floor mats (like these ones) in my kids’ room. The difference was clearly noticeable. Far less impact noise was bleeding downstairs. 

TIP: If you don’t have the carpet in the room upstairs already, and will be considering getting one, go for something tightly-woven. Such carpet will absorb far more vibration and prevent it from resonating on the floor structure. 

#3. Put a rug underlay under the carpet

You know that carpets can soften impact sounds, and reduce the amount of vibration resonating through the floor surface. We’ve discussed how, in many cases, a thick, tightly-woven carpet might even be enough to reduce the noise from the rooms upstairs. 

But you can strengthen that effect by placing a rug underlay under the carpet. 

By spending just a little extra, you can get a soundproofing carpet underlay that will significantly improve the carpet’s ability to absorb and deaden footsteps and other impact noises. The underlay, as the name suggests, goes under your carpet, and creates another barrier for the impact sound vibrations to go through. 

You have several options when choosing the underlay. You can use PU (Polyurethane) foam, crumb, sponge rubber, or even an underlay made of combination of all those materials. 

However, it’s the PU foam that offers the biggest benefits for soundproofing a floor. It is made from recycled foam off-cuts. It looks like this. 


You can get it in a roll to roll out under the carpet or in sheets. Many recording studios use those underlays to deaden sound and add an extra layer of soundproofing to floors but also walls and ceilings!

#4. Use rubber mats instead of carpet underlay

One disadvantage of a carpet underlay is that it can be quite thick. In fact, the thicker the underlay, the stronger its soundproofing capabilities.

But of course, it might be too thick to have in the room. Luckily, there is another option – a rubber mat that you can use instead of a carpet underlay. 

Putting a rubber mat under the carpet will generate a similar result to the underlay. It will absorb some of the sounds of footsteps and other impact noises, also by adding mass to the floor (in a similar way as the mass-loaded vinyl would – more on this floor soundproofing material in just a second.)

But the rubber mat itself is much thinner and will be less noticeable. 

Another benefit of using a rubber mat is that it also makes the carpet slip less or not at all. Most rubber mats are non-slip, and therefore will prevent the carpet from moving and sliding on the floor. 

TIP: If you want to create a super thick separation from the floor, use both a rubber mat and an underlay under the carpet.

Recommended product:

Lazy Dog Warehouse Neoprene Sponge Foam Rubber Sheet Rolls

#5. Add soundproof underlayment under laminate or another flooring

This is an option for you if you don’t want to roll out a carpet upstairs and prefer the look of laminate or hardwood flooring. The premise of this method is similar to what we just discussed above when talking about rubber mats and carpet underlays – to create a seal that will block impact sound vibrations from reaching the structure of the floor. 

In this case, however, you place that seal under the flooring. 

Products like FloorMuffler go directly onto floorboards. Their job is to absorb any vibrations and stop them from resonating further into the floor structure. What’s more, these products often also act as a vapor barrier, preventing moisture from penetrating through your floor.

There’s one thing to keep in mind here – Laminate or hardwood floors will generate a substantial amount of vibrations. There is nothing that would soften the impact, after all. Your feet will hit the floor directly.

#6. Use cork tiles above or below the floorboards

Now, this is a more invasive method but one that can deliver incredible results. 

Cork is a natural sound dampener. The material has excellent sound absorption properties that can prevent sound vibration from traveling through its surface, and reduce the amount of noise that can reach you downstairs. 

Cork also has sound reduction properties, meaning that, much like carpet underlays, it can reduce the amount of vibration entering the floor structure. 

In fact, some sources say that using a cork floating floor and cork underlay, coupled with the floor’s natural structure can reduce the noise to up to 99db. And that’s the level of noise generated by factory machinery.

Cork usually comes in square tiles that you lay down on the floorboards. However, you can also get hexagonal tiles that could look nice without any other layer of flooring on top of them. 

One word of warning if you want to use cork tiles exposed. These tiles aren’t fully waterproof. So, it’s always a good idea to use them as an underlayer, rather than a final layer of flooring. 

#7. Add mass-loaded vinyl under the carpet or the floor

Mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) is a super heavy material made of vinyl impregnated with metal particles to increase its mass. It’s one of the most popular and effective soundproofing materials, and you can use it to soundproof a floor but also to block the sound coming through the wall

You can use MLV as a carpet underlay. No one will see it after all, and the added mass of MLV will provide even more vibrations from getting into the floor structure. 

But you can also use it as a floor underlayment, and put it under your flooring. In either case, it will work in the exact same way, stopping much of the impact vibrations from getting any further.

#8. Insulate the space between floor joists

Joists are the floor equivalent of studs you find in your walls. These joists support the upstairs flooring as well as the ceiling below. 

But often, that’s it. There is nothing else around those joists. 

Now, most of the sound vibration will travel on the joists. The very first objective in soundproofing a floor, if you remember, aimed to disconnect those joists from either the floor above or the ceiling so that the vibration would collapse. 

But you need to also insulate that hollow space between the floor and the ceiling. Otherwise, it will only amplify the noise, much like an acoustic guitar’s body. 

This video explains the principles of acoustics in the guitar’s body but similar rules apply to that hollow space in your floor.

The simplest way to eliminate that problem is by filling in the space with dense acoustic insulation. It looks like this, and you can cut it to the width of the space between your joists. 

#9. Add joists isolators

If you’re adding the acoustic insulation foam between the joists, then I recommend you add isolators on top of them. These strips of rubber glue onto joists and separate them from the subfloor above. Their job is simple – to eliminate the vibration of the subfloor from reaching a joist. Because if the vibration never gets there, there is nothing for the joist to transmit further down the structure. 

[Primedeal merchants]

#10. Use Green Glue and Plywood technique

Green Glue is, probably, the most well-known soundproofing material out there. There is a good reason for that too. Not only is Green Glue versatile, it’s also effective. 

You can use Green Glue to fill in any cracks and prevent airborne sounds from getting in. But you can also add it between two hard surfaces, like your floorboards and cork tiles, for example, to further strengthen the structure’s soundproofing capabilities. 

Or you could attach a layer of plywood, which is ideal to lay down on the floor and provide sound-dampening capabilities to your floor. 

How does Green Glue help soundproof a floor? 

Most of the time when we talk about Green Glue, we focus on using it to soundproof a wall. But in this case, the vibration of the plywood when you walk on it (note – your plywood can be covered with a carpet or any other flooring material) will heat up the Green Glue. This, in turn, will convert that sound vibration into thermal energy, deadening it in the process. 

Green Glue is super easy to handle and apply. You just need a caulking gun and enough of the Green Glue to cover the surface, and you’re good to go. 

Just remember that you’ll need a substantial amount of the compound to cover the floor, so make sure you order it accordingly. 

#11. Add a new layer of flooring

There are several scenarios in which you might want to add a new layer of flooring to the existing floor. 

First of all, that’s one of the best ways to achieve the separation we’ve talked about above. 

Also, adding a new layer of flooring might help you increase the overall thickness (or the mass) of the floor, and improve its soundproofing qualities. The logic behind this is that the thicker the surface sound vibration needs to pass, the less of those vibrations will get through.

But there are drawbacks to this method too. For example, if you floor is hollow, with only joists there, then adding a new layer of flooring won’t change much. Your empty floor will still resonate, much like the acoustic guitar we covered earlier. 

In that case, you should first fill in the hollow area with acoustic insulation, and only then proceed to add a layer of flooring. 

When it comes to your options, you can lay out a new layer of laminate or tiles. You can also add a layer of corkboard since it has a natural sound-dampening quality.

Also, make sure to research expert recommendations for adding a new layer of laminate or another flooring. For example, one thing most experts always recommend is tearing the existing floor down to the subfloor, and adding new layers from there. The reason is that by opening the floor right to the subfloor, you get a chance to address any other soundproofing issues. One of them is filling the floor with acoustic insulations. You can also add the joist isolators we talked about earlier, fix some moving joists to reduce squeaks, and so on.

One last thing – Here’s what to do if you live in a rented apartment and need to soundproof a floor

So far, I’ve been showing you how to soundproof a floor in a house, since that’s where I had the noise issue. But I know that many of my readers live in apartments, and they often rent their accommodation. 

I admit it; this makes it more difficult to implement some of the floor soundproofing ideas I’ve shared.

Not impossible, though. 

In fact, at least several of the methods to soundproof a floor I listed will work in a rented apartment too. 

Just think about it – You probably can lift the carpet and install an underlay or a rubber carpet mat. 

You can also roll out thick carpets. I don’t think the landlord would have anything against that, since the carpet will not require amending the structure of the floor in any way. 

I think you should also be able to lay down mass-loaded vinyl. Although, since it needs to be glued to the floor, ideally with Green Glue compound, in this case, you might need to get permission from whoever owns the apartment.

Best of luck with your floor soundproofing project!