National Floor Covering Association

Promoting industry standards for resilient, carpet, hardwood, laminate, cork and bamboo floor covering installations.

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Frequently Asked Questions

1. What is the best underlay on the market?

The short answer is that the best acoustical underlay is the one that works for you, considering your budget, your substrate, the type of floor you’re installing over top, and of course, your strata.

2. How do I test the amount of noise in a suite?

Testing for sound is a complicated process. To produce meaningful results, you will need the services of an acoustical engineer.

3. What are the best ways to reduce the possibility of sound transmission at the design stage of a new build?

Construction / Renovation recommendations

  1. Make sure that the building design meets the recognized design principals of acoustics. Hire a qualified acoustician who can guide you throughout the project to help avoid the significant costs of demolition and reconstruction later on.
  2. Determine, with the help of the acoustician, realistic expectations and achievable acoustical values that can be obtained for the building.
  3. Limit the use of ceramics in kitchens and bathrooms. Otherwise, take specific measures to reduce sound for the benefit of neighbors.
  4. Require the use of a door sweep seal at the bottom of corridor doors. Use an appropriate seal around the door to minimize sound transference.
  5. Seal any openings where the sound could infiltrate, especially in and around the plumbing, electrical outlets and ventilation.
  6. Seal all cracks and openings in the building’s envelope. If air can pass, sound can too.
  7. Whenever possible, avoid opening/perforating the gypsum ceiling with recessed lighting or other systems that reduce the integrity and seal of the ceiling.
  8. Wherever possible, disconnect the dense elements of the building such as floors, baseboards, walls, pipes, etc.
  9. Don’t limit the use of an acoustical underlayment/membrane to only hardwood, laminate or vinyl floor coverings but also with ceramic, marble, stone floors and wall coverings.

4. What are the best ways to reduce noise transfer in an existing building?

There are no magic solutions to prevent noise transfer. Quieter living habits are not easily regulated outside of noise curfews. Carpet floor coverings used to muffle noise are an obvious solution. This solution still will not eliminate all sounds such as creaking subfloor in old wood frame construction buildings.


  1. Choose a carpet floor covering.
  2. Add area rugs to high traffic / activity rooms.
  3. Buyer beware – set expectations and do the research before you purchase a property. When buying a new home, our attention is not drawn to potential sound issues when visiting a showroom or while viewing a existing property. Will a quiet showroom mean a quiet living space, not necessarily. Ask questions.

5. What does the National Building Code say?

What are the standards of the National Building Code (NBC)? 
​The National Building Code (NBC) sets out technical provisions prepared by the Canadian National Research Council (CNRC) to describe the construction minimum standards in Canada. The NBC describes the types of materials, their specifications and minimum performances they must deliver when used in construction.
In the case of acoustics for a multi family building of more than one floor, or in co-ownership, the NBC REGULATION for airborne noise as of 2015 was STC 50 for separating partitions.  Since 2018, the ASTC 47 standards, which take flanking into consideration, are also accepted as a REGULATION measurement.

Impact noise (IIC) is not yet regulated.  There is a RECOMMENDATION of an IIC 55.
​This recommendation leaves a significant gap for performance and interpretation in the field.

Despite there being no requirements in the National Building Code about mitigation of impact noises, a certain level is necessary for the occupants’ comfort and satisfaction. Although it is impossible to build a condominium unit thoroughly soundproofed, it is possible to design and build a certain acoustical comfort that allows the occupants to live comfortably without the concern of disturbing neighbors or being bothered by them.

Click here for the National Building Code and go to Division B Section 5.8 Sound Transmission.

6. If our bylaws allow the change of carpet flooring to hardwood, vinyl or laminate flooring, will this lead to noise complaints between occupants?

Yes. Common sense says dropping something or stepping on a soft surface will generate less noise than doing the same on a hard surface. In acoustics, carpet will always be a superior material for mitigating sound transference. Engineered hardwood, laminate, vinyl plank and ceramic/stone flooring installed over an acoustical membrane/underlayment all provide similar noise transference characteristics and do not compare to carpet. Carpet is often replaced by a hard surface flooring after a home sale and/or during renovations. Switching from soft to hard surface will dramatically change the noise levels of many normal lifestyle activities such as moving chairs, placing/dropping objects, talking and watching TV. Changing an existing floor covering should be carefully considered before going ahead or granting approval as it is important to research effective acoustical solutions specific to each building to ensure optimal performance for occupants and neighbours.

7. What information do I get out of a delta measurement?

Delta IIC is another way to present a product’s performance. Ultimately, the number presented represents the product’s contribution in an assembly in a lab test. This value is obtained when tested in laboratory according to ASTM E2179 testing standards.

8. My building is concrete, do I really need to take acoustics seriously?

Yes, although concrete buildings have a great reputation for acoustic performances, they need specific attention also to ensure that flooring renovations are done properly and the right products are used to mitigate sound transmission.

9. Everyone in our building wants to go from carpet to hard surface flooring. Is this possible?

Yes you can but beware. Making the transition from carpet flooring to hard surface flooring will have an impact on the acoustic performance of your building. Make sure you get help from experts to help you understand the implications and how to set a bylaw and standards.