Impact sound insulation for hardwood floors: An overview of the most important information

If the decision has been made in favour of parquet as a floor covering, it is not only the design and decor of the parquet that is important. The necessary attention should also be paid to the appropriate footfall sound insulation.

In this article we have summarised why this is so important, what its tasks are and what is important when choosing the best impact sound insulation for hardwood flooring. We have already written an article elsewhere on the subject of impact sound insulation for vinyl floors.

Why is footfall sound insulation so important for parquet?

The most important task of footfall sound insulation in parquet is primarily an acoustic one, because every strain on the parquet causes a noise.

A distinction is made between walking sound and impact sound. While walking sound is only perceived in the room itself, footfall sound is also transmitted over walls and floor to surrounding premises.

Whether steps, armchair backs or the vibration of the washing machine – without appropriate footfall sound insulation, any use of the parquet would also be heard in rooms adjacent to the respective room with hardwood flooring by the way, above or below.

For this reason, footfall sound insulation as a minimum requirement for sound insulation is now also mandatory.

Regulated in the DIN 4109 “Noise insulation in building construction”, the regulations on impact sound insulation serve to protect people in surrounding living and working spaces from unacceptable sound transmission.

However, this regulation only applies to new buildings, old buildings are currently excluded from the requirements for sound insulation.

However, footfall sound insulation is useful in all rooms, so that not every step can be heard throughout the house.

Above all floating parquet vibrates with every movement and thus behaves like a resonance body that transmits the impact sound to the screed underneath and thus amplifies it even further.

However, even without any clearance between the parquet and the subfloor – as is the case with parquet glued over the entire surface parquet – a noise is generated which can be counteracted with impact sound insulation.

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Other functions of impact sound insulation under parquet

In addition to sound insulation, footfall sound insulation under parquet fulfils other tasks.

Depending on the material used, unevenness in the subfloor can thus be compensated to a certain extent, which ultimately ensures a more even result when laying parquet.

Furthermore, parquet insulation also protects against rising cold from the subfloor and therefore has an additional thermal insulation effect, although impact sound insulation cannot replace adequate insulation .

What materials are available for parquet footfall sound insulation?

In the search for impact sound insulation for hardwood flooring, there are various solutions that are often referred to in the trade as impact sound insulation mats or parquet underlays .

All products have in common that the parquet is protected by the impact sound insulation and that it can be laid floating without any problems.

Although a full-surface bonding of the parquet is accordingly not required, the footfall sound insulation in the parquet, however, further reduces the sound unwinding.

Commercially available footfall sound insulation for parquet can be different materials.


Plastic impact sound insulation is made of PE foam (polyethylene foam) and is available in sheets or films in different thicknesses and finishes.

In principle, a footfall sound insulation made of PE foam can be used under all floors, the differences lie in the thickness of the insulation material as well as in its insulation value.

For hard, noisy parquet, the use of stronger PE foam panels is recommended, as they better insulate the impact sound, while for softer and quieter floors, thinner aluminium films with glued-on PE layer also serve good.

Not to be confused is a footfall sound insulation made of PE film with the conventional PE film, which is used for the insertion of vapour barriers.

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The natural product cork not only has tread-sound-insulating properties, but is also known for its thermally insulating effect.

A footfall sound insulation made of cork is available as panels or on rolls and can be cut easily and individually, which makes the laying work much easier.

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Wood fibre

Panels made of debarked and crushed into wood fibres residual wood are also well suited as footfall sound insulation for parquet.

Due to the size of the panels, a fast, comprehensive installation is possible. Footfall sound insulation made of wood fibre panels not only has a sound proofing effect, but also heat insulating and moisture-regulating.

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Hemp felt

Available as different widths and long rolls, hemp felt offers not only protection against noise, but also from cold.

In addition, the material properties make it easy to compensate for unevenness in the soil.

Otherwise, alternative materials such as:

  • Styrofoam (EPS)
  • Ripple board
  • Coconut fibre
  • Expanded clay spill

What is the best footfall sound insulation for parquet?

Which footfall sound insulation is the best depends on the underbody.

Whereas in the case of impact sound insulation the principle used to apply, the denser or thicker, the better, the differences between the different materials in terms of sound insulation are relatively small nowadays.

In contrast to most products used in building and living, there is no published test for impact sound insulation.

In order to be able to compare the different impact sound insulations, certain characteristic values and standardized test methods have been developed, which are based on the different requirements for impact sound insulation.

Constructive requirements

The design requirements for footfall sound insulation for Parquet essentially comprises three factors:

Moisture protection

If parquet is laid on a mineral substrate such as screed, the moisture protection of the impact sound insulation plays a decisive role.

In order to be able to block residual moisture from the substrate, a steam barrier or steam brake is necessary. Modern impact sound insulation is now often already equipped with an integrated moisture film, so that no additional film has to be laid. The key figure is the SD value, which should be at least 75 m.

It is important that impact sound insulation with an integrated steam barrier must not be used if it is a wooden substrate.

Any residual moisture would then remain trapped in the substructure and could not escape upwards, resulting in permanent damage to the substructure.

Compensation of unevenness

The PC value defines the balancing capacity of the impact sound insulation – i.e. how high spot bumps in the underbody can be. Since the subsurfaces erected in accordance with the norm have a maximum of 1 mm high spot unevenness, a PC value of 0.5 mm is usually sufficient for the impact sound insulation for parquet.

Coarser unevenness of more than 3 mm must in any case be levelled out in advance by grinding or filling with levelling compound.

Thermal insulation value or heat flow behaviour

The thermal insulation value is particularly important if the parquet footfall sound insulation is laid on underfloor heating systems with parquet.

This is because the floor is heated – or cooled – the material should have as little thermal insulation as possible, while unheated floors should have the highest possible heat transfer resistance.

The recommended thermal insulation values for impact sound insulation for Parquet are:

  • 0,06 m2K/W bei Böden mit Fußbodenheizung
  • 0.04m2K/W for cooled floors
  • 0.075m2K/W for unheated floors

However, the decisive factor for impact sound insulation on parquet with underfloor heating is that the thermal resistance for the entire floor structure must not exceed 0.15 m2K/W. Accordingly, not only the value of the footfall sound insulation alone is decisive, but must always be considered in combination with the value of the floor covering.

Requirements for resilience

The degree of stress on the floor also plays a role in the selection of the footfall sound insulation for parquet is a role. Because the parquet underlay must be can withstand different loads described by means of key figures. to become.

Dynamic loads

These recurring loads, such as walking the parquet or moving armchairs or other pieces of furniture, are expressed in cycles – the longer the characteristics of the impact sound insulation remain unchanged under load, the higher the specified value.

The minimum requirement at normal level of stress, as is the case in residential areas, is 10,000 cycles.

Permanent / temporary loads

Heavy pieces of furniture lead to permanent or temporary Impact sound insulation loads for parquet. While the minimum requirement of 10kPA (1t/m2) for temporary loads mostly absolute is sufficient, the value of 2kPA (200 kg/m2) can be used for permanent loads from kitchen furniture or large cabinets, for example, can be reached quickly, which is primarily important for thin footfall sound insulation.

Protection against heavy falling objects

The RLB value indicates the height from which an item is floor may fall without damaging the impact sound insulation Suffers. The minimum requirement here is 50 cm, but the value should be significantly higher.

Acoustic requirements

As already mentioned, a distinction is made between walking sound and footfall sound when making noises.

The acoustic requirements for impact sound insulation for parquet basically cover both. However, there are still no concrete reference values with regard to the reduction of walking noise .

However, the situation is different when it comes to impact sound minimization: For example, the volume of impact sound with appropriate parquet insulation should be at least 14 db lower by than without, with good impact sound insulation achieving values of 20 db and more.

* Last updated on  2024-07-13 / We are using affiliate links / All images are served from the Amazon Product Advertising API.

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