What is an Acoustic Underlay and How Does it Work?

Learn about what an acoustic underlay is and how it works in order to reduce impact noise in any type of building. Find out what components are necessary for reducing sound and which products are best for your application.

What is an Acoustic Underlay and How Does it Work?

The only purpose of an acoustic underlay is to reduce the amount of impact noise that passes through the floor due to falling objects, footsteps, and furniture movement in any type of building. The subfloor, the layer between the floor covering and the subfloor, adds value to commercial flooring systems in many ways. It provides cushioning to reduce foot fatigue, the necessary dimensional stability to install the floor over small subsurface imperfections, and in many cases, the high R-value needed to contribute to the thermal insulation of the building.

The main way to reduce floor noise is through the use of an acoustic base layer.

Installers must place rolls or sheets of subfloor above the subfloor before installing floating boards on top.

Think of it as a layer of foam or rubber material that cushions any impact and blocks loud noises. Because soundproof floor coverings are made of high-density materials, they provide the same barrier to aerial sound as to the sound of impacts. The same principle can also be applied to soundproofing a door. Acoustic counterfloors add enough mass and density to prevent sounds from music, television, and conversations from disturbing those below.

If reducing floor noise is important to you, choosing a soundproof floor subfloor is a simple and affordable way to add comfort to your entire home. This, combined with the MuteMat range, provides the combination of highest-performing acoustic bases while keeping the build-up as thin as possible. Marvel hybrid floors can be installed almost anywhere, as they have the highest acoustic certification without needing an additional base layer. The science behind acoustic underlying layers can be complicated, but the main factors for reducing sound come down to three components: mass, density, and stiffness.

If you are installing a new floor in your home or office, building codes will require you to use an acoustic subfloor. Acoustic subfloors (for hard surface floors) and carpet cushions (for soft surface floors) are essential for meeting these strict codes. You can work with your flooring contractor to choose the acoustic paving system that best meets your application's specific needs, including the floor itself, its subfloor, and installation accessories. The acoustic subfloor for vinyl floors must have enough dimensional stability to avoid crevices and enough thickness to absorb sound.

By having several layers of varying thicknesses and densities, you can smooth out this drop in performance and achieve better soundproofing with your acoustic base layer. An acoustic base made of cork, rubber or foam can further dampen noise and prevent sound transmission. This combination of acoustic bases allows you to get much better results with thinner soundproofing products. In the case of carpets, you need a product that is soft but doesn't touch bottom - something most acoustic bases on the market provide.

Now that we have explained how acoustic underlying layers work, it's time to decide which one is best for your acoustic treatment application. For example, FloorVenue sells a Marvel SPC hybrid floor that comes pre-installed with a 6-star acoustic base. The MuteMat 3 is also a great option for meeting construction regulations of part E without needing any other material.

Cyril Price
Cyril Price

Proud bacon scholar. Proud reader. Hardcore social media trailblazer. Professional travel expert. Freelance pop culture geek.