A soundproof rug is a thick floor covering capable of reducing noises in the room and improving the overall acoustics of the home, apartment, hotel, meeting room, or any other applicabMle space. It is a critical part of interior design if you seek to maintain tranquility by addressing undesirable distractions from telephone conversations, loud electronics, footsteps, or furniture being pulled back and forth. It stands out from other acoustic materials because its functionality extends beyond noise pollution management.
This article is about the qualities of soundproof rugs that differentiate them from regular rugs and carpets. We break down how each feature contributes to noise transmission management and how they complement each other. Stick around to the end and demystify how a soundproof rug works, along with some basic soundproofing knowledge from our experts that will help optimize the rugs’ utility.
It is important to identify the exact sources of the noises you want to deal with before taking any measures to focus your efforts objectively. In soundproofing, unwanted noise is classified according to how sound is produced and transmitted. These things inform the actions you take to manage and regulate it. Determine whether the source is in the room or outside and if you need to block it from coming in or getting out or simply reduce its intensity.
There are 2 main classes of sound that are treated with soundproofing.
Airborne noise is sound relayed through the atmosphere, like meowing cats, barking dogs, voices, television audio, blenders, vacuum cleaners, among others. It is noise transmission through the vibration of air molecules. Empty spaces amplify the sound, and hard surfaces, like wood floors, reflect it. Soft surfaces absorb sound, which is where soundproofing rugs come in.
It is structure-borne and created through physical contact. It could be footfalls from people walking, falling objects, slamming doors, or moving furniture. This causes vibrations within the structures, creating soundwaves transmitted through the vibration of the same structure. They can spread through the floor and pass to the ceiling of the room below. Soft surfaces can absorb the impact and reduce these vibrations as well.
These two types of noise are closely related as impact noise becomes airborne noise and airborne noise is also transmittable through physical structures. This means the best approach to unwanted noise reduction is to use a medium that covers both noise classes.
How Does a Soundproof Rug Work?
This is where you add surfaces that absorb or dampen the sound, preventing the noise from resonating, echoing, or amplifying within the room and reducing its intensity before it reaches the ears. Hard surfaces increase ambient sound levels because they reflect or echo every sound wave back into the room. Rugs are the opposite. They are effective absorbers of both airborne and impact sound.
Their uneven soft material comprises numerous individual tufts, fibers, and underlay with varying diameters, crimps, lengths, and spirality. This diversity lets them handle varying resonant frequencies from all directions, diffusing and absorbing sounds. The uneven soft material splits and scatters the sound waves, dampening their intensity and reducing the overall sound level.
Soundproof rugs also cushion impact and provide a soft landing for footsteps, dropping items, and moving furniture, which dampens vibration, significantly reducing the sound intensity and taking the edge off impact noises.
Soundproofing is using things to block sound, whether it’s isolating a room or confining its internal sounds to within the room, and the reverse, preventing external sounds from getting into the room. The goal is to avoid transference through floors, ceilings, walls, windows, and doors in and out of a room.
Rugs absorb both internal and external sound waves, which on its own reduces the rate of transference and intensity of sounds. The density of the material also functions as a barrier to the sound waves going through the floor. They reduce the number of reverberations and, by extension, the mechanical resonance of the room and the items in the room, dampening impact noises, so they can’t be heard through different floors.
Before settling on a rug that will satisfy these requirements, we should know how to differentiate them from each other in terms of functionality. Soundproofing professionals use different ratings to rank efficiency that you should be aware of:
Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC)
This figure represents the amount of sound that a soundproof product can reduce. The higher the figure, the more sound the item can reduce. This term is common when rugs are being described and on their labels.
Impact Insulation Class (IIC)
IIC measures the amount of impact sound insulation provided by an acoustic material; its ability to block structure-borne noise from transmitting to the space below it. In this context, IIC refers to how well the soundproof rug isolates noises in the room by preventing sound vibrations from traveling through the floor. A higher rating means better soundproofing capabilities.
Sound Transmission Class (STC)
STC is determined by how much the medium can dampen airborne sounds, so they are not reflected or amplified. The higher the rating, the better the performance. It addresses the ambient noises within the room.
What Makes a Soundproof Rug Effective?
Some features make a rug effective in soundproofing that are unique for individual rugs and influence their ratings. Let’s take a look at the fundamentals.
This term is used about the fiber or fabric loops that are woven onto the rug’s backing, essentially forming the rug. These fibers influence how efficient the rug will be in soundproofing in many ways:
- Rug Pile Height
High pile rugs have loose, long fibers and loops, measured from the surface to the backing. They are also referred to as shag rugs. They give more and feel softer than lower pile rugs. They have a larger surface area to absorb sound and will therefore absorb more sound than low pile rugs. The higher the pile height, the more noise it can absorb.
- Rug Pile Density
It refers to how close the fibers are to each other at the base of the carpet or how densely they are packed per cubic yard of carpet. This ultimately determines the total number of fibers the rug has. The more fibers a rug has, the better it is at deadening sound due to a combined increase in surface area and density.
- Cut Pile Versus Loop Pile Rugs
Cut pile is thick and multi-frayed and true to its name, the tips of its fiber loops are cut, leaving a fuzzy top. The open nature of these fuzzy top traps sounds better than loop pile rugs. Cut piles, therefore, produce a higher NRC than loop pile rugs with identical specifications.
Looping fiber tips enhances durability as they are less likely to fray and have a lower memory for furniture markings. Loop pile rugs are also soft and sound absorbent, but the looping means the tops are not open, limiting their noise absorption.
The backing is the underside of the rug that keeps the woven fibers together, provides strength and stability, and prevents the rug from slipping on the floor. Many carpets have double backing. The primary backing is where the fiber loops are woven into and a secondary backing, forming the base for stability.
The backing material also affects the NRC. Permeable backing allows more sound energy to penetrate it, resulting in a higher NRC. The higher its weight and thickness, the better the NRC.
Backing should, however, not be mistaken for a rug pad.
You can enhance the performance of your rug by adding padding underneath, providing an extra layer of insulation for sound absorption and noise isolation. The thicker the padding, the better its damping and absorption capabilities. Its density will significantly cut down the amount of noise that can penetrate between floors.
They attach easily under the rug and can be cut to size to fit in your space. A significant number are anti-skid and designed to prevent area rugs from slipping, so you can use them to soundproof high traffic areas without worrying about injuries. Rug pads without this property can be secured to the floor using double-sided carpet tape to achieve the same outcome.
Our pick for the day is the Mohawk Home premium all surface felt rug pad which is easily customizable and permeable enough to absorb sound without compromising stability.
The more area of your floor covered by the rug, the more effective the soundproofing is. It is, however, not practical to cover the entire house with soundproofing rugs so you need to be tactical about it.
Place the rug in an open space on a hard floor, so it can intercept the sound waves before they reflect on the floor. Ensure it covers the open parts of the room where the noise will be reflecting off the floor. Other pieces of furniture with soft parts like cushions will take care of the rest of the room.
Cover the areas with high traffic or footfalls so you can also take care of impact noises from footfalls and other objects.
This rug has just the right combination of the features we have listed above for soundproofing your home or apartment. Besides the lush cut pile, it comes with a durable rubber backing, it is fade resistant and machine washable for easy maintenance.
Our Final Thoughts
The ability to absorb sound and mute noise levels makes soundproof rugs the perfect flooring option for a wide range of circumstances from standalone homes, multi-floor apartments, hotels to auditoriums.
They deliver heat insulation while making the floor cozy and provide a soft cushion option for kids’ safety. You can also enhance the appeal of the room by experimenting with sizes, colors, patterns, weaves, and materials that complement your home.
They give access to all these benefits without modifying the structure of the building, which is supportive where modifications aren’t allowed or are too taxing and expensive. You can simply place your soundproofing rag on top of your standard carpet or any floor, whether you have cork tiles, vinyl, hardwood, or cement.
They come in various styles and sizes and have different features. They are also rated in different categories to make it easier to determine which one suits your purposes. Understanding these ratings and the qualities that enables them makes selection easier.