Part 1: What is Flooring Acoustics and Why is it Important?

Put simply, noise is transmitted from upstairs to downstairs when there is impact, such as footsteps, jumping and dropping of objects. The issue of noise in multi-storey living, especially in Strata title schemes, has gained increasing significance in Australia in recent years. As people become more mindful of their "personal space" and quality of life, the impact of noise in multi-storey living has become a focus for specifiers, unit owners, and strata managers.

However innocent, noise can still travel downstairs through flooring.

Sound is generally measured in loudness with decibels (dB) i.e. how audible it is, and also how frequent.

Acoustic noise transmission to the floor underneath is important because sounds can cause impacts on residents health and wellbeing, especially in “multi-residential” buildings which means apartments and unit blocks. Strata and body corporates have identified this as a concern and often mandate a certain acoustic requirements to be achieved, in order for a floor to be installed or replaced.

When addressing noise and flooring systems in multi-storey buildings, the primary concern is impact noise, such as footfall, dropping, and thumping, rather than airborne noise like that from TVs or spoken voices. The selection of flooring systems significantly affects the impact noise transmitted to the unit below, while it has minimal influence on airborne noise transfer to neighboring dwellings.

However, this could equally apply to houses, especially multi-level houses where noise can travel to the rooms downstairs.

Loud footsteps and noises can be detrimental to health and wellbeing.

What is acoustic performance for flooring?

Through careful selection of a “flooring system”, which includes the flooring, underlay and other flooring-related products, we can minimise this noise transmission.

Traditionally, many apartments used carpet, and carpet combined with carpet underlay, provides superior acoustics due to its soft nature. However, over the last decade, there has been a large shift towards hard floor coverings e.g. timber flooring, hybrid flooring, laminate flooring and vinyl flooring, resulting in significant acoustic requirements that previously were of little concern.

Multi-layered systems, such as a quality EVERQUIET® underlay between your flooring and slab can make a large difference at a small cost.