As part of my flat redecoration I wanted to add some floor sound proofing to reduce noise coming from below. I decided to use the ‘Gold Carpet System’ from Sound Service in Oxford.
This uses one layer of their SBM5 sound proofing mat (2mm) with a layer of their QuietFloor Plus (15mm) on top. The carpet goes over the top of this 17mm of sound proofing. No extra underlay is needed.
Ordering sound proofing from Sound Service
I placed my two orders via their online store. With the first order I got most of the sound proofing for the two rooms and corridor I was doing. The second order was for the remaining area of the final room. I placed a large initial >£1200 order so I could get free delivery. The second order was much smaller – as there was only a bit of floor space left I could order exactly the amount of materials I needed to finish off without wastage.
When placing the first order I got a “Microsoft VBScript runtime error ‘800a0009’ | Subscript out of range: ‘[number: 1]’ | /pc/customerOrderConfirmEmail.asp, line 237” error after making the payment which didn’t inspire confidence, but the order was listed in my online shopping account. Sound Service quickly confirmed that the order had gone through when I emailed them.
When I placed my second order over a month later their online shop was still giving the same error. If you get it just check your online account to make sure the order went though.
Sound proofing delivery
I chose next day delivery for a £12 surcharge and asked them to tell the delivery driver to call my mobile before arriving.
The next day the delivery man called me and I was able to meet him on the street. The order was on a standard wooden palette and he placed it in front of the door where I asked him to put it.
This first order weighed 620kg and I was lucky to have some help from the building’s porters to get the items into my flat.
At the bottom of the palette are the 120cm x 60cm QuietFloor Plus panels. They are each about 10.8kg so they can be carried in ones or twos.
On top of them are the 180cm x 120cm SBM5 mats. They are rolled together 2 or 3 at a time. Each mat also weighs about 10.8kg, so when there are 3 rolled together that can be 32.4kg to carry if you don’t separate them!
Above that you can see the wooden perimeter strips, then in the box are 25 tubes of their acoustic sealant. The object that looks like an electric guitar is actually the sealant gun wrapped in a black bag.
You might need to spend some time cutting up the wooden palette, or make arrangements to dispose of it.
This is what the first order looked like after it was unpacked.
Not shown is the ‘jointing tape’ which is inside the rolled up SBM5. It is in fact just plain electrical insulation tape.
Preparing the floor
Before installing the sound proofing there are quite a few things that I did to prepare the floor.
First I removed the carpet and underlay. Both of these could just be pulled off the floor. I used pliars to remove any remaining underlay staples that were sticking dangerously out of the floorboards. I didn’t bother to remove staples that were fairly flush with the floorboards as they won’t be noticed after the 17mm of sound proofing + carpet are added on top.
Then I removed the carpet grippers.
I spent some time fixing the floorboard squeaks as some of them were really bad and it would be impossible to do once the soundproofing + carpet was laid.
Sealing the floorboards
Although the Sound Service ‘Gold Carpet System’ information doesn’t mention this, elsewhere on the site they do recommend sealing your floorboards before adding sound proofing on top of it.
I bought 25 tubes of their 380ml acoustic sealant to this (you get a discount if you get 25). The tubes are just under 26cm long so you’ll need a sealant gun big enough to take these cartridges. You can buy a correctly sized sealant gun from them if you want.
Accoustic sealant is very similar to the white bathroom sealant that you see everywhere, except that it remains flexible for longer which makes it good for floorboards which have a bit of movement.
I found that each tube would fill the the gaps between floorboards in an area between 1x1m and 1×1.5m. It depends how large the gaps are, and how much you use. I went through the room doing a square at a time and then using a damp cloth to smooth the sealant down.
As you can see my application of the sealant was anything but neat but no one will see it later so don’t worry about small ridges or smears. After the sealant had dried I taped over all the joints with duct tape.
As well as sealing the floorboard gaps I also sealed around the edge of each room.
Laying the SBM5
The next thing to go down is the SBM5 mat. It is very thin – only 2mm, but it is very heavy. It is fortunately very easy to shape. At first I tried using a paper template around the doorways and then cut it with scisors, but then I realised that I didn’t really need to do this. I could just use a Stanley knife to trim it in place around the doorways.
I laid the SBM5 down from wall to wall, and taped the edges together with more duct tape.
Installing the perimeter strips
Because the QuietFloor Plus is 15mm high you need to put wooden perimeter strips around the edge of the room (on top of the SBM5) so that the carpet grippers will be at the correct height.
With my first order I got 40 perimeter strips and I got the remainder in the second order.
They are made of a variety of different woods. Some of the light coloured ones are made of very soft wood which is very easy to screw down. The darker coloured woods are harder and are more difficult to work with.
They are all 1m long but there is some noticeable difference (1-2mm) in the widths of these strips. Some of the strips are perfectly straight, but others are quite curved. There is enough flexibility in the perimeter strips to be able to screw the curvy ones down straight.
I’d recommend drilling pilot holes in all the strips before laying them so that they can be easily screwed down. I chose to drill holes roughly every 20 cm.
I then used a mix of 0.75 and 1 inch screws to secure the perimeter strips to the floor.
You can cut them with a hacksaw easily and a good tip is to use the harder wood stips whole and only cut the softer wood strips.
I sealed any gaps around the edge of the room with acoustic sealant.
Laying the QuietFloor Plus mats
The QuietFloor Plus mats consist of two layers of a rubber material (which in fact looks like it might be the same material as the SBM5 mat, with a layer of foam in between. On both sides of the rubber is some kind of coating. The raw SBM5 does smell very ‘rubbery’. The QuietFloor Plus mats don’t smell which is probably because of this extra thin coating.
Sandwiched in-between the two rubber layers is recycled foam. The colour of the foam seems to depend on what is being recycled. With my first order it was a yellow colour, and with the second it was a blue colour. It doesn’t matter though as you will never see this layer after it is installed!
Sound Service have a YouTube video where they show someone effortlessly laying the QuietFloor Plus panels in a perfectly square room. For me the installation of these mats was really hard work due to the amount of cutting required. My rooms aren’t perfectly square. They have doorways with wood trims, angled bay windows and support pillars on the edges.
My corridor was particularly difficult to do as there are 4 doorways on it which required a lot of QuietFloor Plus cutting.
I cut them using a Stanley knife. You can easily mark the cutting positions on the panels with a pencil. You’ll need to change your blades frequently if you want neat cuts. If the blades get a bit blunt then it catches on the foam in the middle of the QuietFloor Plus and drags. I swapped blades after cutting every 2-3 panels.
Sometimes you end up with slight gaps between the panels – it is impossible to cut them all perfectly. You can fill the gaps with any spare bits of foam, or acoustic sealant.
I didn’t stick any of the QuietFloor Plus panels to the floor using their spray adhesive but in most cases I did put a bead of acoustic sealant around the edges of the panels before butting them together to make sure the seals were air tight.
Finishing off the QuietFloor Plus install
To finish off the floor I sealed any remaining gaps around the panels with acoustic sealant, and then taped over the joins with duct tape. And I sealed any remaining gaps between the edging strips and the QuietFloor Plus panels with more acoustic sealant.
Because of the extra 17mm of height in the room I had to use a door trimming saw to get the bottoms of the doors to the correct height for the carpet. The install may affect electrical and telephone sockets which are positioned really close to the door.
And if you are only installing it in certain rooms you’ll have to think about how to manage the change in height of the flooring from the rooms that have it to the ones that don’t. You may well need to refit any door edgings or buy new ones.
The room was then ready for the carpet. You can see a before and after shot above.
The QuietFloor does make a very comfortable feeling underlay after the carpet has been laid. It will certainly reduce the noise from your footsteps a lot for your downstairs neighbours. An extra advantage is that the mats will smooth out small bumps or imperfections in the existing flooring.
It doesn’t stop all airbourne sound from the floor below, but it does reduce it a bit. Very quiet sounds disappear; other sounds are reduced in volume. It isn’t going to make much difference to louder sounds or loud bass noise. It is of course only going to reduce airbourne noise. Any noise which is flanking around via the structure of the building will still be heard.
However this is probably the best you are probably going to be able to do in terms of sound proofing without taking up all your floorboards, or building a completely isolated ‘room within a room’.
In total I think I used 43 QuietFloor Plus mats, 16 SBM5 panels, 45-50 edging strips, 27 tubes of acoustic sealant, many rolls of duct tape and a few hundred screws.
See the Sound Service website for more details of their ‘Gold Carpet System’ including prices and their installation guides.