Can you hear your neighbour moving around beneath you?
Is their TV and conversation audible? Do you hear doors closing and taps running?
The separating floor in most London homes will be the weakest plane between dwellings.
Is there any insulation in your floor cavities?
Are there gaps between your floorboards and holes around your service pipes?
Installing soundproofing will dramatically reduce a lot of unwanted noise.
What type of floor structure do you have?
Traditional Timber Frame Separating Floor
A timber joist floor construction supports the ceiling below and the floorboards or floor panels above. This is a light weight, yet flexible surface with low mass and very poor noise and vibration insulation.
A cavity space exists between the structural joists where electrical cables and plumbing pipes are located. The cavity space in many London homes is often unfilled and can potentially act like a sound box, amplifying noise from either above or below. Stripped pine floorboards with gaps between them open up this cavity space to the overlying property. If you add into this the current desire for multiple recessed lights in the ceiling below, you have a situation where there is nothing but air between two separate dwellings. TV, phones ringing, radios, normal conversation and even cooking smells will drift unchecked up and down.
The solution is to fill up the floor cavity with insulation, plug all the holes, add mass to the separating floor structure, provide compression with a quality acoustic board and or underlay and install fitted carpets.
A fitted carpet will potentially absorb up to 20% of the incident sound created within a space. Incident sound is that which is directly received from the noise source, as distinguished from sound that is reflected from a hard surface. Sound waves repeatedly bounce off surfaces until finally being absorbed into those surfaces. All that sound energy will be turned into heat or will agitate the air molecules on the other side of the surface and sound will be transmitted.
Modern residential buildings and commercial floor spaces are often constructed using steel and concrete. The separating floors are either poured reinforced concrete or beam and block with concrete screed. The floor mass is generally good with better sound insulation than traditional timber floors. It is important to understand however that services ( water,gas, electricity and waste pipes) often run in service ducts hidden from view and these ducts connect between the separating floors and this is the path that sound can filter between seemingly solid enclosed spaces.
Concrete and steel can still transmit and radiate sound waves, this is called structural borne sound. By installing soundproofing linings to floors, walls and ceilings it is possible to effectively contain noise within a space or assist in reducing the effect of noise transmission from adjacent spaces.