Which Of These 3 Acoustic Underlays Is Best For Your Floor?

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Which Of These 3 Acoustic Underlays Is Best For Your Floor?

So you have decided that you need acoustic underlay under the floor in the project you are building, designing or renovating. What next?


Understanding the different materials used to make acoustic flooring underlay will allow you to select a product that matches your floor type, performance requirements, budget and eco credentials.


At SOL RUBBER, we manufacture and sell acoustic flooring underlay made from re-bonded recycled rubber (predominantly recycled car tires) but the truth of the matter is an acoustic underlay made from recycled rubber may not be the best choice for you and your project.


However, we can educate you on what is available on the market so you can make an informed decision that is best for your project.

What flooring will you be installing over your acoustic underlay?

The flooring you intend to specifying or install over the acoustic underlay mat effects the choice you make. Some underlays are not suitable for use under some flooring types so in this section will provide a few details on things to look out for with the most common flooring types.


Vinyl Plank/Tile Floors

Vinyl flooring is definitely not new, but it is certainly the new kid on the block on this list in its latest tile and plank format. It has become increasing popular in all building types for its ease and speed of installation as well as its vast array of colour and pattern formats.


Like with the original sheet vinyl format, the quality and price vary greatly. The two main things to check are the overall thickness of the plank/tiler and the thickness of the upper wear layer. Remember less raw material may equal lower cost but this may have an impact on the longevity further down the line.


Now you are probably asking what does this have to do with acoustic underlay? Well as you might expect the thinner the vinyl tile/plank product, the more flexible it is likely to be and therefore the more likely it is to flex and indent under furniture feet point loads AND if you have a soft underlay (like foam on felt) beneath it you will likely feel the vinyl floor move when you walk across it. Now some people like this “comfort” feel but it is not to everyones taste.


A good way to assess this to check if the underlay has a test to ASTM F924 (puncture testing), ASTM F1265 (resistance to impact) and ASTM F2753 (rolling load indentation). The last one is particularly important if you intend to use a desk chair on the floor!


It is therefore recommended that a firmer underlay like cork or recycled rubber is used beneath vinyl plank/tile floors if you want to avoid that bouncy feel or are worried about indentation.

Ceramic/Marble/Porcelain Tiled Floors

Masonry flooring is extremely rigid and can be hugely expensive. It does not like being installed on uneven or soft surfaces and the last thing you want is your beautiful marble floor cracking!


Therefore it is not normally recommend to specify or use a masonry tile floor over a foam or other overly soft acoustic underlay (<500 kg/m3) as the foam or other soft type of underlay will compress over time which will cause the tile to move and eventually crack.


If you are unsure, request an ASTM C627 test from the underlay supplier or manufacturer. A rating of light commercial or higher is recommended which will provide you with confidence that your floor will play happily with your floor underlay and you can avoid cracking tiles!


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