Carpeted floors tend to be quieter than hardwood or laminate because the soft, squishy surface absorbs more vibrations, but they aren’t fully soundproof. If you want to make your carpeted floor soundproof, you’ll need to remove the carpet and install an underlay beneath it. This process can be time-consuming, but the results of having a soundproofed home are worth it.
Here are 7 steps to install a carpet underlay to soundproof your carpeted floor:
- Choose an underlay material.
- Clear the room you want to soundproof.
- Remove the old carpet.
- Clean the exposed subfloor.
- Place carpet grippers.
- Lay the carpet underlay.
- Lay the carpet.
If you’re not ready to commit to uprooting your existing carpet, you can always try layering rugs on top of your carpeted floors. This technique adds dimension and color to your room, but it won’t be nearly as effective as installing a carpet underlay. Keep reading for a deep dive into how to soundproof your carpeted floors with a carpet underlay.
Choose an Underlay Material
There are many kinds of carpet underlays. For maximum soundproofing, you want an underlay that is thick and dense.
The more mass the underlay has, the better it will dampen vibrations. Several carpet underlays are made from recycled material, so you can make an eco-friendly purchase while upgrading your flooring.
When choosing an underlay material, read carefully to ensure it is appropriate for use with carpet and your type of subfloor.
Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is a popular soundproofing material due to its high density. The only downside to using MLV as your carpet underlay is that this material is quite thin.
It’s effective at soundproofing, but it isn’t as comfortable to walk on as other underlay materials.
If you want the soundproofing capabilities of MLV and the comfort of a traditional underlay, you can combine the two. Lay MLV on your subfloor first and layer your underlay on top.
This 200 square foot roll of Soundsulate Mass Loaded Vinyl from Amazon.com is 1/16″ thick and is both flexible and durable. Also, it is made in the USA.
Commercial-Grade Soundproof Carpet Underlay
Almost all carpet underlays will reduce the noise level in your home because of the added layer of material. However, if you’re looking for a carpet-friendly underlay designed for soundproofing, you need to be prepared to spend some extra money.
Most carpet underlays that you can find at a hardware store are not designed for soundproofing. For an underlay that will make your floor soundproof, you can look at commercial-grade materials typically used at hotels.
Consider Soundproof Cow’s Impact Barrier QT Flooring Underlayment or Durafort 6.5 Rubber Underlay for Carpet. Both of these underlays are compatible with carpets and are used in hotels all over the world to provide guides with a quiet hotel experience.
This is also a great time to choose a new carpet to go on top of the underlay.
Though Forbes suggests that cut-pile carpet absorbs sound better than loop pile, all carpet is useful for soundproofing. Completely replacing your carpet is not inexpensive, but it is less hassle than installing and reinstalling the same carpet.
Check out my ultimate guide to the best flooring for home recording studios.
Clear the Room You Want To Soundproof
Remove all furniture from the room you’re going to soundproof. You should also take any doors off their hinges for ease of access.
Take this opportunity to measure your room. Take note of the square footage, so you know how much carpet and underlay you’ll need, and pay special attention to any areas that are not rectangular.
Remove the Old Carpet
There is no way to install underlay without pulling up your current carpet.
If you aren’t replacing your carpet, this step will take extra time and care. You’ll need to use a carpet stretcher to gently pull your carpet away from the grippers by the wall.
Your carpet is held in place by grippers or tack strips, pieces of wood with angled tacks that grab and stretch your carpet. With the help of a carpet stretcher, stretch your carpet toward the wall and lift it off the grippers.
The carpet should pull away from the grippers intact.
If you’re replacing your carpet, feel free to cut away any stubborn pieces with a utility knife. There’s no need to try to preserve the carpet if you’re not going to reinstall it.
You can refer to Home Depot’s guide for How to Remove carpet for detailed instructions.
Clean the Exposed Subfloor
The floor underneath your carpet is sometimes called the subfloor. It is very important to clean the subfloor before you start installing your underlay and carpet.
Sweep or vacuum the subfloor, and check to ensure no stray staples or nails from your old carpet. Stray objects or pieces of trash on the subfloor can make your carpet uneven and get in the way of your soundproofing.
Place Carpet Grippers
Carpet grippers are pieces of wood with tacks that help hold your carpet in place. You’ll want to form a perimeter of carpet grippers around your wall.
You may find that your current grippers are in good condition, but if you are replacing your carpet, consider replacing your grippers, too. The sharpness of the tacks wears down with time, and you don’t want your new carpet to come unstuck from the floor.
Place your grippers around 7 mm (5/16″) away from the wall. Be sure to place them so that the tacks point toward the wall, not the center of the room.
If your subfloor is wood, nail the grippers to the subfloor. If your subfloor is concrete, you can use epoxy or masonry tacks.
Lay the Carpet Underlay
Place your underlay on the subfloor in between the carpet grippers. Your underlay should not touch the tacks on the carpet grippers.
Roll out a length of underlay, cut it, and continue until the entire subfloor is covered. Trim any excess with a utility knife or shears.
If your underlay is not specifically designed for soundproofing, consider laying down a layer of MLV first. You can connect the pieces of MLV with duct tape or soundproofing tape. Then tape the MLV to your subfloor.
Adhere the underlay to the floor. There are many ways you can attach your underlay to the subfloor, from staples to tacks to glue.
The adhesive method you use should depend on the material of your underlay and subfloor. Pay attention to the packaging on your underlay to see if there are any specific instructions for adhering to the subfloor.
Check out which is better for soundproofing: Carpet vs. Laminate Flooring.
Lay the Carpet
Installing carpet is no small task, but anyone can do it with enough preparation and the right tools. The most important tools you’ll need are a knee kicker and a carpet stretcher.
Home Depot has a very detailed guide for How to Install carpet that you can reference. And if you feel out of your depth, you can always call a professional for help.
When cutting and measuring your carpet, give yourself a few extra inches. You can always trim the excess after the carpet is installed.
Lay the carpet across the entire floor, cutting pieces to fit your room as needed. Use seam tape to connect adjoining pieces of carpet, following the instructions on your tape.
After your carpet is laid, use a knee kicker to start affixing the carpet to the grippers. Push the edge of the carpet over the tacks and trim any excess along the baseboards. Continue along the entire wall until one side of your carpet is fully anchored to the grippers.
Use a carpet stretcher to stretch the other end of the carpet to the opposite wall. Smooth out any bumps or wrinkles, ensuring the carpet is pulled taut. Repeat this process on the remaining walls.
Trim away any excess carpet and tuck the edges beneath your baseboards or transition strips.
For more information, check out my guide to recording in a carpeted room.
Soundproofing requires installing additional layers to your floor to help absorb sound vibrations. Whether you accomplish this by stacking rugs on top of your carpet or installing an underlay beneath it, the extra padding will reduce the noise level in your house.
Soundproofing a carpeted floor takes some time and dedication, but the results are worth it. You’ll enjoy better sleep and peace of mind with reduced noise coming in and out of your soundproof room.
- Home Depot: How to Remove Carpet
- Home Depot: How to Install Carpet
- Sound Isolation Company: Soundproofing Carpet
- Soundproof Cow: How to Soundproof Carpeted Floors
- Soundproof Living: Soundproofing a Carpeted Floor
- Primelay: Installing a Carpet Underlay
- DIY Doctor: How to Lay Carpet Underlay
- Forbes: Quiet, Please! How to Cut Noise Pollution at Home