Question: I live in a conversion flat. Recently my downstairs neighbours have complained about the noise from my polished timber floors. There is nothing in our leases to say I have to put down special floor coverings, however, I want to be a good neighbour. What can I do to reduce noise without having to lay nasty fitted carpets?
Answer: This is a common question from Londoners. If you can't or won't install a carpet, one way of improving the sound insulation performance of a timber floor is to install an acoustic underlay. If the existing floorboards are not very good or your budget is tight, you can add the acoustic underlay on top of the existing floor and finish it with new timber floorboards.
If there is any movement of the existing floorboards it would be advisable to take them up and repair any possible damage to the boards or floor joists.
Then lay a layer of chipboard, the acoustic layer and finally the finished timber boards. To ensure you use a quality product, check that it is a proprietary product — something with a trademark or patent.
There are lots of companies and different products to choose from but you should expect to pay about £50 a square metre. Three companies to look at are: soundreduction.co.uk; soundstop.co.uk and acoustic-supplies.com/blog/category/soundproofing.
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Peter Morris is an architect and interior designer and a director of Peter Morris Architects, which specialises in modern, innovative and practical designs (petermorrisarchitects.com).