By Megan Salzano
Flooring underlayments don’t often get their due when it comes to the successful completion of a flooring installation. However, without these sundry products consumer needs can often be left unmet, including the need for sound abatement. Sound abatement is not often top of mind for consumers when looking to install or upgrade their flooring, but it should be a key selling point for retailers.
According to Deanna Summers, marketing manager, MP Global Products, sound abatement brings noticeable comfort and privacy to precious living spaces. “Shoring up every part of the home is important to ensure pesky noises from neighbors or guests are non-existent. Choosing quality materials for underneath flooring that reduce footfalls or airborne noises are strong pieces to the puzzle of increasing comfortable living within the home.”
Several factors have led to the increased need for sound abatement in recent years, including the growth of multi-story dwellings. “Increasingly our society is living in multi- story buildings—apartments and condos where a pin drop can cause a neighborly dispute,” said Ann Wicander, president, We Cork. “Where fences made good neighbors in the suburbs, good sound control makes good neighbors in the city.”
Shifting consumer preferences in terms of flooring type is another major factor adding to the need for sound abatement within the home. The trend toward hard surface flooring styles, for example, is one main factor contributing to the need for sound-abatement products in today’s living environments. “It’s easy to understand the appeal of a beautiful, waterproof flooring product like LVT or ceramic tile, but owners have unintentionally created noisier living spaces for their families,” said Andy Stafford, marketing director, Healthier Choice. “Hard surface flooring systems are more prone to noise transmission compared to carpeted flooring installations.”
In addition, while today’s hard surface flooring—particularly newly launched resilient products such as LVT—often include attached pads, manufacturers agree they’re not up to snuff. “Although the attached-back resilient flooring category has grown exponentially, the sound control value of these products has been greatly diminished due to inferior-grade pad utilization,” said Wade Verble, vice president of business development, underlayment division, DriTac Flooring Products. “Flooring underlayment used independent of the flooring provides a much more enhanced sound-abatement solution. Recent trends have indicated the use of an independent underlayment in combination with attached-back pad on resilient flooring products has produced superior sound abatement results.”
In order for retailers to provide a complete solution for their customers, sound abating underlayment is key. Manufacturers noted, however, underlayments must perform and meet stringent in-home requirements.
“A product must be able to retain its thickness over time to continue to deliver results,” said Randy Dye, product/marketing manager, Leggett & Platt. “Many products, we found, simply compress and/or collapse under the weight of the installed floor or soon after under the weight of furniture as the family begins enjoying their new flooring.”
Following is a curated selection of top-quality, sound-abating underlayments to help any retailer complete the sale.
DriTac 8501 RecycUL is a sound- and moisture-control felt underlayment for glue-down, floating and nail-down wood and laminate flooring installations. Made from 100% recycled fibers, the thick plastic moisture barrier provides enhanced acoustical abatement and can be used for the installation of laminate flooring, multi-ply engineered plank, solid plank, bamboo and more.
We Cork’s Silently+ offers sound control under floating floors and includes an attached moisture barrier. Silently+ will meet typical building codes under laminate and hardwood flooring using a low-profile, sound-dampening cork and rubber combination.
Leggett and Platt
Whisper Step underlayment is made of high-density rubber and is suitable for use under most flooring types. “Not only will Whisper Step fully support the floor as time goes on, but it will provide the long-lasting benefits of reducing sound heard between floors as well as in- room noise,” said Randy Dye, product/marketing manager.
Sound Solution is GreenGuard Gold certified and suitable for installation under laminate, engineered wood or hardwood flooring.
“This shift toward hard surface flooring has created a major challenge for building owners to achieve the building code requirements for IIC & STC ratings,” said Andy Stafford, marketing director. “Products like Sound Solution acoustical underlayment were created to allow architects and acoustical engineers to overcome the challenges of unwanted noise.”
Silencer LVT is suitable for all LVT, WPC, SPC, EVP vinyl planks for both floating or glue-down installations and is GreenGuard Gold certified. It also meets the IIC/STC sound requirements by multi-story and single-story residences.
Ultra-Set SingleStep2 is a high-performance adhesive, moisture control and sound-reduction membrane in one. It contains 1% recycled rubber material, has zero VOCs and does not contain water. It also provides a premium sound-reduction barrier over the substrate.
The Renotex 3D System comprises three products: AP Rapid Plus; Renotex 3D (a multi-dimensional glass fiber fabric); and a sound insulation sheet (a light, flexible, mineral wool layer).
“With the increased interest and development in multi-family living, the demand for better sound control grows daily,” said Doug Young, executive vice president. “Schönox is in the solutions business, so naturally we developed a system to meet the demand.”
QuietWalk underlayments utilize a recycled fiber blend formulated through a patented process while offering a host of benefits to the underside of flooring materials. QuietWalk offers a unique, dense composition, blanketing the underside of the floor to provide a sound-dampening layer that dissipates sound from traveling to other rooms.