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Old 05-23-2012, 12:20 AM   #1
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Soundproof underlayment: 1/4 in cork, poly, and a brand underlayment on top?


Hey, I'm a young college kid looking to insulate my 2nd floor room from airborne sound (i.e. screaming, yelling) coming from the 1st floor. Footsteps are literally not a concern at all, and the house has no moisture issues. I plan to lay down some laminate flooring from Mohawk and found that cork is a widely recommended underlay for dampening airborne sound and is commonly used in condos for that reason (even though Ted White, a sound-proofer, indicates the exact opposite here).

There are some other alternatives like MLV (mass loaded vinyl) and rubber, but they seem much more costly and less warranty-compliant. I'm also skeptical that the standard noiseguard underlayments (like SoundBloc) will do anything at all for dampening airborne sound in contrast to cork. Various sources (contractors forum, soundproofing forums) seem to disagree about what works and what doesn't, with some claiming that a basic underlay will only dampen foot-steps and won't impede airborne sound.

Anyway, I contacted Mohawk about my cork plan and they told me to do cork, 6 mil poly, and then their brand of underlayment. The subfloor itself is plywood with several layers of deck paint on it (don't ask).

Does anyone know if this adds up or if I'm going in the wrong direction with my plans? I can do as Mohawk says (1/4in cork > poly > their underlay) but am concerned that this may create a really mushy-feeling floor and also don't know how high it will end up being. It is very costly, as well (about $280 just for 3-layer underlayment), so I'm also concerned about whether this is even the right approach to sound insulating the room.

Any ideas for this chaotic DIY project? Thank you.

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Old 05-23-2012, 11:21 AM   #2
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Soundproof underlayment: 1/4 in cork, poly, and a brand underlayment on top?


Most of the flooring underlayments that claim to be noise-reducers are created in with the goal of reducing the noise of your footsteps or you dropping something on the floor. Coming from someone with a bit of audio-engineering experience, I'll tell you that mass is the #1 way to reduce sound transmission. So, whichever underlayment provides the greatest total mass will be your best performer. Cork underlayment will not likely meet your needs. Rubber would be a better choice, MLV would be the best choice.


Last edited by Seattle2k; 05-23-2012 at 11:23 AM.
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Old 05-23-2012, 12:32 PM   #3
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Soundproof underlayment: 1/4 in cork, poly, and a brand underlayment on top?


sound travels thru solids more then air...saw a Mike Holmes HGTV show with a sound problem between condos. he built the walls back on both sides but left a space between the 2 seperate 2x4s frames. instead of 1 wall of 2x4s for sheet rock going in to from boh condos
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