This is another post from my genius Director of All Things Wonderful, Irene Hill. It’s been just over three years since she came into Terreeia’s and my life and we cannot imagine being without her.
“For those of you who have been following Maria’s fabulous blog for awhile, you probably read the Two Magic Words post I wrote in October of last year about the huge
renovation rebuild my husband and I are suffering through bonding together through.
Fast forward nine months and our two-bedroom, second-storey suite (the whole reason for the rebuild) is complete. And beautiful. We actually gave it a trial run by living there while we were completing the insidiously dusty job of drywalling the entire main house.
We loved living in this new 1,100 square foot suite! The space is light-filled, a nice breeze flows through the great room, it’s cheap to heat as the gas fire warmth from downstairs helps keep upstairs temperate. And, of course, it’s pretty because we made sure all the finishes followed Maria’s classic and timeless principles: mid-tone laminate flooring, subtle-patterned countertops, subway tile backsplash, etc.
Everything was going great. We found an ideal tenant – a single mom and her darling 3 1/2 year old son who want to stay put in our suite for several years.
And then it was less great. Not because of our tenant and her little boy, but for reasons that could have given this post a headline like this — The Trials and Tribulations of Floating Laminate Flooring, or What You Should Know, But No One Ever Tells You, About Floating Laminate Flooring.” I could go on and on, but you get the point.
To be clear, there’s an important distinction between hardwood flooring and laminate flooring. Hardwood is, obviously, made from real wood that grew on a real tree at some point in its lifetime.
Laminate flooring on the other hand is a “multi-layer synthetic flooring product fused together with a laminate process that simulates wood with a photographic appliqué layer under a clear protective layer. The inner core layer is usually composed of melamine resin and fiber board materials.” Thank you Wikipedia.
The floating part comes when the laminate floor doesn’t require glue to keep it adhered to the subfloor (that’s so old school). Nowadays, popular laminate simply “clicks” together and is kept in place by the locking system and the fact that all the boards are wedged together, never to part.
And therein lies the problem. Between the bottom of the laminate inner core and the top of the subfloor there is still enough of a space to create the most amazing echo. Amazing, that is, unless you are living below it. And this was coming from a 110-pound young woman and a 45-pound little boy who really like us and aren’t stomping around with any kind of bad mood.
Before you rush to
judgement leave a comment below, let me tell you how hard we worked to ensure there wouldn’t be any echo and we wouldn’t be able to track a sweet little boy’s footsteps as he enthusiastically runs from one end of their house to the other. A lot.
The first thing you’ll be told when you purchase a floating laminate floor is the thicker the laminate board, the quieter it will be. Ours is as thick as possible and 15 mm (which is the same type used in commercial application).
The next piece of advice you’ll get is to make sure you invest in an underlay padding. Unlike underlay for carpet, this particular type looks really thin but is specifically designed to cut the echo. We bought the best/highest quality/highest rated underlay in town. It was good.
Of course, what is between the floor above and the ceiling below will also affect any echo. If you have been following my rebuild story, you’ll remember that we took the roof off of our bungalow and built a brand-new second story. The mechanics of this were that we left the original ceiling joists in place, left an area that we stuffed with rockwall insulation (designed for soundproofing), built an entire new set of floor joists above this and even installed “rez bars” (resilient channels that run between the bottom of the joists and the top of your drywalled ceiling).
Did you follow all that? It really doesn’t matter – what matters is we did everything possible to be soundproofed but we still hear every footstep our tenants make!
You don’t need to send cards and letters— we’re working on a fix, but it got me interested in how other people deal with this. I found that this is becoming a hot new issue, especially in multi-storied apartments and condos. Home owners in these type of buildings are all getting the bug to rip out the ubiquitous wall-to-wall carpeting and install the look of a wood floor for a fraction of the price. Plus, any reasonably handy person can install it themselves. What’s not to love?
But, because of the echo (thudding, sound of a small herd of elephants) most floating laminates create, more and more strata board members find themselves writing new by-laws governing how and what and what needs to be in place before a homeowner may install floating laminate floors.
So, what are we doing to fix it? We haven’t settled on the final fix but one option is to provide serious area rugs throughout the entire main part of the suite. And not just dinky area rugs that only sit under the furniture. We need area rugs that cover all the traffic paths throughout the hallway and great room.
The actual size of rugs we’ll need to have for these areas are not standard sizes so that option is out. We’re left with buying carpet off a roll (maximum 12′ wide) and having each piece bound on all four sides. I’m concerned that won’t make enough of a difference as area rugs don’t usually come with underlay.
A second option we’re considering is taking out the “guts” of the laminate flooring and just leave a 14″ border of laminate around the edges. This will create a poor-man’s wood floor look as we’ll then install carpet tack strips in the centre and have 10-pound underlay and carpet installed.
Neither option is cheap. But perhaps that’s the price to quiet the lovable elephants that live overhead.
Over to you. Have you lived with noisy laminate flooring. What have you done or would you do to quiet down the noise from a laminate floor overhead?”
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