A room’s acoustic quality is an important factor to consider when setting up a home studio. We need to make sure that everything, from the ceiling to the walls and the floor, can contribute to the best sound quality possible. When it comes to your home studio’s flooring, which is better, carpet or hardwood floor?
Hardwood is better for a home studio flooring than carpet. While a carpet can absorb sound, it only eliminates high-frequency waves, making things sound muffled. To ensure your hardwood floor reflects sound nicely, you must ensure your ceiling and walls are treated acoustically.
In this article, I’ll talk in-depth about how a hardwood floor and a carpeted floor would affect sounds and why a hardwood floor is the better option between the two.
What You Need To Know About Studio Flooring
A combination of good quality flooring and the proper acoustic treatment in your studio will allow sound to flow naturally, with minimum sound reflections and weird echoes. And when it comes to the best kind of studio flooring, most experts would agree that a hard and heavy surface like one made of concrete is the most ideal.
Typically, acoustic treatments are given to walls and ceilings, and hard floor surfaces are preferred because they provide a proper balance between sound absorption and reflection. The common approach is to balance treated walls and ceiling with a reflective surface, which, in this case, would be the floor. This way, the room will sound more natural but also more controlled.
Why Is Hardwood Flooring Good for a Home Studio?
Hard flooring, including hardwood, is an excellent choice for a home recording studio because it has good acoustic properties. A hardwood flooring provides the heavy and solid surface needed to produce a more natural sound great for recording.
And while soundwaves will bounce off the wooden surface, it’ll be easier to control them. You just need to install absorbers and diffusers on your walls and ceiling. As such, the kind of acoustic treatment you give your walls and ceiling will influence the overall quality of sound you produce in your studio.
The Caveat of Installing Hardwood Flooring
One major consideration for installing hardwood flooring is the cost. Engineered hardwood can be quite expensive, even more so if you add in the installation costs.
The materials for hardwood flooring alone can cost from $3 to $7 per square foot, while the labor cost is around $3 to $5 per square foot. Installing hardwood flooring for your home studio can set you back an average of $6 to $12 per square foot. This is relatively higher than laminate flooring, for example, which costs an average of $2.70 to $10 per square foot.
Of course, the cost of the acoustic treatment you would need for your walls and ceiling is another matter. Keep in mind that you cannot achieve good sound quality if you don’t treat your walls and ceiling.
The Pros of Hardwood Flooring
Even if hardwood flooring is initially expensive, it is cost-effective in the long run. For one, it’s durable and long-lasting. You can count on your hardwood floors to look great for a hundred years on, especially with constant waxing and polishing.
A hardwood floor is also low-maintenance as it’s easy to clean and doesn’t need regular replacement or repair. Even if you drop something hard and heavy on your floor, the floor won’t sustain cracks or peel off. If you spill something on it, you can quickly and easily wipe it off with a mop.
But since your home studio will house several types of equipment and music instruments, and you’ll likely be moving them around, you may want to get some rugs.
Setting up your equipment and instruments on a rug will protect your floor surface. They’ll also keep your equipment from moving along with the vibrations.
Why Is a Carpet Bad for Your Home Studio?
A carpet is bad for your home studio because it’s a kind of soft flooring, meaning it has poor acoustic properties. Materials that are soft and less dense, such as fabric and insulation, absorb sound instead of reflecting it.
Moreover, a carpet is relatively thin, and a thin absorptive material absorbs high-frequency and medium-frequency soundwaves while reflecting low frequencies.
Because of this, carpet flooring serves as a low-pass filter, and the room will have a booming acoustic quality, which can be a bad thing if you are recording, producing, or mixing music. Plus, a carpet tends to wear out quickly with foot traffic in a studio.
What’s more, a carpet holds a lot of dust, dirt, and debris. And this makes it difficult, costly, or time-consuming to clean and maintain. Let’s not even talk about what you need to do when you spill coffee or any drink or liquid on it.
How To Use Hardwood Floors To Reduce Echoes
If you have hardwood flooring but no acoustic treatment on your walls or ceiling yet, you can use everyday items to reduce the echo in your studio — there’s no need to spend money! The most crucial thing is to cover up some of the reflective surfaces with soft and thick materials.
Below are tips on how to reduce echoes in your home studio using hardwood floors and everyday items:
- Use rugs to cover some portions of your hardwood floor. Considering that some portions would already be covered up by music equipment and furniture, you don’t really need to cover the entire floor.
- Protect bare walls. You can hang thick curtains so that sounds don’t bounce from one hard surface to another. Also, you can hang soft and sound-absorbing decorative materials on the wall, like canvas paintings, macramé wall art, and tapestries.
- Bring in a bookshelf (if any) and set it against a wall. It is also recommended that you put in some books to act as sound diffusers and arrange them in a zig-zag manner on the shelf so that the soundwaves would bounce off towards different directions.
- Throw in some big cushions and pillows if other people love to hang out in your studio. Friends can sit on these cushions and feel at home while you’re recording or just playing some music.
- Use dedicated sound-absorbing materials like acoustic foam panels, foam mats, diffusers, and foams and install them yourself. It’s best to put up acoustic foam panels or even just foam mats on opposite walls to keep the soundwaves from reverberating.
Once you’ve taken all the steps to reduce echoes in your studio, it’s time to make sure you’ve put up or installed the sound-absorbing materials correctly in place. You must do a soundcheck to find out.
Shout hello or clap your hands loudly and see whether the echo is gone. If it’s still there, you either need to add more sound diffusers and sound absorbers, or you just need to reposition them.
You can do the soundcheck again and make some changes, then repeat the process until you are satisfied with the sound quality.
A hardwood flooring is way better for your studio than a carpet one because it provides a reflective surface for your sound. This doesn’t mean that a hardwood floor is all your studio will need for the best acoustics. You’ll need to treat your walls and ceiling to balance sound reflection and absorption.
While a carpet absorbs sound and should provide this balance if your walls and ceiling are bare, it’s still relatively thin and would only absorb middle- and high-frequency soundwaves. As such, using a carpet would make things sound muffled.