We have been having problems with noise between flats in our converted house. It's not an issue of noisy neighbours, because it's just day-to-day living noise. Basically there is no sound proofing between the floorboards or on the floors. Has anyone else had this problem and discovered a good solution to it?
None on the floors? Two things. Underlay and carpet will massively improve things if you currently have bare floorboards.
Try acoustilay it's effective better than underlay but expensive
I did get soundproofing material put into floorboards in one of the rooms and made a massive difference. When I go into bathroom (which sits over same room downstairs as bedroom with soundproofing) I can hear so much more so can tell its making a big difference (but nothing eliminates all sound - maybe lead?). Also double glazing windows helps a lot. I don't have details of people who did soundproofing as it was a while back but I had other soundproofing put in to another place more recently and should be able to dig out his details if you want. I agree carpet with heavy underlay helps a lot with footstep sounds and acoustic underlay must therefore be even better. Think the neighbours should also be told - that makes a lot of difference because they are probably unaware - I told people upstairs about footsteps being heard by me and now its so quiet I never even know whether they are in or not!
A friend of mine used to live in New Southgate in the top flat in a converted house. Quiet chap, out most of the time, no parties etc. The people downstairs literally hounded this poor guy into having a breakdown by their constant barrage of abuse because they could hear his television, footsteps, shower etc, even though he had gone to great expense to put in special soundproofing lino or whatever and carpets. I was round one night just having a bottle of wine and listening to quiet music and they started banging on the ceiling with broomshanks and giving him abusive phonecalls. I actually had enough at one point and went down to have a chat with the horrid people and their justification for their behaviour was that 'he does it on purpose'. I think the only solution is if you want absolute peace and quite don't live in a flat in the middle of a big city.
The grumpy neighbours should try living on SGR especially when it's hot Summer., delivery truck, buses, car alarms, sirens, shouting all dayI..................wish all I could hear were people's doors slamming and footsteps. We feel we're lucky if we get a bit of quiet punctuated by buses and cars past 11 pm. That's heaven to us. Agree, if people want complete silence move to the countryside.
You have my full sympathy. We live on the ground floor of a converted
terrace house. The constant day-to-day noises coming through from the flat
above, from footsteps, to the TV to conversations, was really wearing. Day in, day
out disturbance like this can have quite a detrimental effect on one’s health.
After quite a lot of research, we did some fairly major work
to our flat to improve matters, and the difference has really benefitted our
quality of living. You can certainly improve things short of moving out of
I’m not an expert but here’s a summary of what I’ve found
during my work. Whisper me if you want to go into more detail but I’ll try and
cover the basics. This covers noise transfer from a flat above so may not be
entirely useful if you are suffering noise from below.
It’s worth noting the difference between airborne and impact
noise. Airborne noise is as you’d expect, noise such as that which comes from
the TV, radio and speech which travels via the air.
Impact noise is that transferred to the building structure
by footfall, or furniture moving across the floor etc. There is generally more
energy transferred by impact noise and it is much harder to deal with.
First priority is to deal with the noise at source where
possible. Our upstairs neighbours had installed a laminate floor in breach of
the lease which calls for a ‘reasonable’ floor covering to mitigate noise
travel. Luckily they moved out and our new neighbours were told by Homes-for-Islington
(they are tenants of HFI) that only carpet was reasonable for rooms other than
Kitchen and bathrooms. We offered to contribute to the underlay in order that
they could buy the most effective product for absorbing impact noise. We were
lucky that we didn’t have to get into an argument about the lease and what a
reasonable floor covering is.
Next you need to look at improving the noise insulation of floors/ceilings
and walls between apartments. This is quite of a can of worms. To take out airborne
noise you need as much mass as possible between apartments. Without taking down
the current ceiling you can apply additional layers of extra dense acoustic plasterboard
with loads of mastic to fill all joints. If you take down the existing ceiling first
then you can also add special heavyweight acoustic mineral wool between the
Adding mass absorbs airborne noise but doesn’t do much to
help with impact or structural borne noise. This is harder to tackle. You need
to try and limit the amount of energy that gets transferred from the floor through
to the ceiling below. The most straightforward
and most effective way to do this is to build an independent ceiling so that
the plasterboard layers you add are supported by their own joists fixed back to
the walls. But this reduces the ceiling height significantly (the joists alone
are likely to be 150-200mm thick) and in our case it wasn’t workable.
The next best thing to an independent ceiling is a sprung
ceiling. This involves supporting the extra layers of plasterboard from the
existing joists using a spring system or so called ‘resilient channels’. There
are various products on the market which vary in effectiveness.
All these options require a significant amount of disruption
and cost. We ended up doing work to our bedroom and the adjacent hallway only.
I took down the ceiling plasterboard (very messy!!), inserting acoustic mineral
wool between the joists (with absolutely no gaps), and then using a spring
system (Kinetic Noise Wave hangers) to suspend two layers of 15mm acoustic
plasterboard (using plenty of mastic between all joints). I also used a product
called Green Glue between the two layers of plasterboards.
I did the work myself over many, many weekends and holidays
and it was really tough (on me and my other half who was heavily pregnant and
having to live with my parents for most of it!) If I had the money I would have
loved to pay someone else to do it!
The key with all these options is attention to detail. Their
effectiveness relies on consistency to avoid weak points. I wouldn’t have felt
comfortable getting a normal builder in to do the work unless I thought they
were particularly competent and diligent. I would probably have gone for a
If its noise from a flat below that’s the problem then in
theory it should be easier to deal with as you won’t be experiencing much
impact noise. You could lift the floor boards to insert acoustic mineral wool
between the joists and then add some extra layers on top of the boards: possibly
a rubber membrane first with tongue-and-groove chipboard over, then carpet with
a dense underlay.
With these old houses no remedy will be 100% effective.
Whatever you do to floors/ceilings there will be noise that travels down/up the
walls (flanking noise) which is pretty impossible to deal with without major
intervention. None the less you can make quite a difference with a bit of effort.
I should say that some of these options require engagement with
Building Control to ensure you are abiding by Building Regs, especially for
fire rating if removing and adding new plasterboard, and structural integrity
if you are adding joists for an independent ceiling.
Best of luck if you do go ahead with any improvements.
Thanks for all the advice. I'm not planning to move to the country just yet. We live in a very friendly building, as we own the freehold together, and we've all learnt that communication is vital to resolve these issues. Some noise is unavoidable and the lovely stripped wooden floors we inherited when we bought the flat are a disaster from a sound perspective. I'm going to go for the acoustic mineral wool between the floor boards, and then a rubber matting made from recycled car tyres (http://www.noisestopsystems.co.uk/) with carpet on top. Should do the trick, i hope.
Brilliant advice Rich, you should write a book mate. Chang
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