What is IIC rating. Noise pollution is a significant problem, and it is not limited to the outdoor environment. Many outdoor noises can penetrate into your home. Some noise problems are generated from your upstairs neighbors if you live in a condo. Even in a single-family home, kids playing, dogs barking, the TV blaring and other types of noises from upstairs can be bothersome on the lower level of your home. A noisy home can lead to stress and anxiety, difficulty sleeping, challenges with focus and concentration and more.
The noise level in your home or condo is affected partially by the types of flooring in your space and their specific properties. Some flooring material with a high IIC rating help to reduce sound transmissions to lower levels. In addition to the flooring material, the floor underlay, the floor’s thickness and even how the material is installed have an impact on noise reduction or control. If you have decided to replace your existing floor, a closer look at the best flooring materials for noise reduction can help you to make a decision that creates the most comfortable home environment possible.
Understanding How Sound Transmission Is Measured
The flooring material that you select may mitigate noise problems by absorbing sounds as they pass through a surface or by reducing sounds that are generated inside the room. Specifically, sound transmission in flowing is measured in these ways:
IIC rating or Impact Insulation Class: This describes how easily sound waves can penetrate through an upper floor to the floor below it. An IIC rating 50 means that the flooring material has minimal sound absorption capabilities. A midrange level is IIC rating 60, which includes some vinyl flooring as well as wood and laminate floors. The highest rating is IIC rating 65, which includes cork flooring and carpet.
NRC Rating or Noise Reduction Coefficient: This is measured on a scale between 0 and 1. A rating of 0 means that sound energy perfectly reflects off of a surface. This results in a louder environment. A rating of 1 indicates that the sound energy is perfectly absorbed by the material, which creates a quiet environment.
STC Rating or Sound Transmission Class: STC rating is a measurement that indicates how well the material can reduce noises generated in the room, including those from people speaking, a radio, a television and other types of noises.
Selecting IIC Rating Floors for Your Home
Each flooring material has unique noise reduction benefits, but the benefits begin under the surface. The quality and condition of floor joists can affect the sounds heard in the room below. For example, loose screws and joists can result in squeaking that can be heard below. Improving the condition of the floor joists can eliminate some unwanted noise, and the installation of floor joist isolators offers additional noise reduction benefit. Specifically, they improve the Impact Insulation Class and the Sound Transmission Class ratings. When floor joist isolators are installed on an upper level, sound transmission to the room below is stifled regardless of the flooring material installed on the upper floor.
In addition to updating and enhancing floor joints, the floor underlay plays a crucial role in noise control. Top soundproofing underlay materials to pair with hard floor materials include oriented strand board, cement board and medium-density fiberboard. There are various qualities and thicknesses of these materials, which affect sound transmission in the room and to the floor below. The thickness of carpet padding also impacts noise in the existing room and in the room below. A rubber mat is another smart floor underlay option to consider, and it is available in several thickness to give you control over the cost versus the benefits. Green glue is an adhesive that can be used to adhere the floor underlay to the subfloor material for additional benefit.
When selecting a flooring material for your home, numerous factors should be considered. These include the cost, the style, maintenance needs, longevity and noise reduction capabilities. While these are some of the leading flooring materials that offer noise-buffering benefits, all relevant factors should be taken into consideration when making a selection.
With an extensive range of carpet styles available, the IIC sound rating of these flooring materials vary dramatically. The type of material that the carpet is made out of as well as its thickness are critical factors, and the floor underlay also affects sound transmission. Consider that carpet that is installed directly over a concrete floor has a much lower NRC rating than carpet that is installed over a pad. The thickness of the underlying pad also contributes to the longevity of the carpet and your comfort as you walk across it. Therefore, if you choose carpet flooring for your home, the investment of a thicker pad provides exceptional noise reduction benefits.
Cork – Great IIC Rating and NRC Rating
When you think about cork, you may think about the stopper in a wine bottle. Cork flooring is derived from the same material, which is a product of the cork tree. The cork tree bark is used for wine bottle stoppers, and all remaining tree material is used to make cork flooring. Natural Eco-Friendly cork floors are comfortable to walk on and have attractive appeal. They are also known for being durable and hard wearing. More than that, the porous wood absorbs sound waves and reduce noise pollution indoors. Because cork has great IIC rating and NRC rating, this material is commonly found in recording studios.
Vinyl flooring has evolved dramatically in recent years. LVT vinyl flooring can mimic the look and feel of natural stone tile, hardwood floor or other materials. Because it is more affordable to install and more resilient that many other materials, it is preferred in many homes. You may assume that vinyl floor would not have excellent sound absorption or buffering properties because it is a hard surface. However, different types of vinyl flooring have NRC ratings that range from medium to excellent. Vinyl flooring is also easy to install and maintain, and it holds up well in high-traffic areas.
An alternative to vinyl flooring is a vinyl cork hybrid material. This flooring material provides you with the exceptional comfort level and sound absorption properties of cork floors, and it is available in the wide range of finish or style options offered by vinyl floors. Through this hybrid option, you can enjoy the best properties of both flooring materials.
Many people love the warmth and overall charm of laminate flooring. Wood laminates are a cost-effective alternative to hardwood floors. They are durable, easy to maintain and have excellent sound reduction properties as well. While the laminate material absorbs some sounds in the room and muffles sounds to the room below, a quality laminate flooring underlay material should be used with wood laminates to maximize sound reduction properties.
Solid or Engineered Wood
Solid hardwood and engineered wood may have the least IIC rating noise reduction properties out of all of the flooring materials listed. However, with variations between the thickness of the planks and the type of wood used, some solid and engineered wood flooring material are superior to others. The installation technique also impacts noise control. A floating floor installation method is superior when noise control is prioritized. The benefits of a floating floor installation method are enhanced when it is used in conjunction with a superior underlay material.
Finalizing Your IIC Rating Flooring Decision
Selecting the right flooring for your home is a major decision. As important as noise control is in your home, your selection will affect aesthetics and ambiance in your home for many years. The material that you select should be well-suited for the style of your home as well as the level of foot traffic in the space. Cleaning needs, maintenance and cost must be taken into account as well. Because the underlay material, joists and installation techniques impact noise control capabilities dramatically, all factors should be taken into account together when finalizing your decision.