People shopping for flooring or looking at flooring have never and will never have to be concerned with sound ratings in regards to flooring. But as more and more multi-family units (condos and apartments) are being replaced, the more often we as flooring manufacturers are asked for sound ratings or acoustical friendly flooring choices to meet sound requirements from design and HOA regulations. Claims of noiseproof floors and low sound transmissions are thrown around with rating numbers and promises. However, most people do not understand what the ratings mean or even understand what information to be asking for. Sound ratings are complicated and can be misleading.
Fact One: there are two different types of sound ratings; STC and IIC. They are not interchangeable because they measure different types of sound transfer.
STC – refers to airborne sound that transfers through walls
IIC – refers to sound that transfers through the floor to the area below
Fact Two: Not all IIC or STC testing is done the same way. There are variables that can be adjusted or changed.
Example – in regards to the floor assembly under the flooring being tested; was it a concrete slab or a wood floor? What type of wood? 2x10” or 2x12” joists? Was there any gypcrete? How thick was the floor? Did the room have a drop ceiling?
When reviewing the IIC or STC ratings provided for the flooring you are considering make sure that you also get the testing details so you can compare apples to apples instead of apples to oranges.
Fact Three: Not all flooring types or flooring products have sound transfer testing data.
Example – many laminate floors are not tested for sound ratings because they are not typically used in applications where sound transfer is a problem.
If sounds ratings are important to you, make sure you do your homework and understand what you are looking at. But know that sounds ratings are just one of many factors that make a floor perfect or not perfect for you.