laminate_flooringHave a laminate noise issue or thinking of laying laminate flooring?

Laminate flooring looks nice and is often a highly sought after and modernly available option. It’s easy to clean and is a joy to watch as your dog slides and begins skidding across the floor to reach the post man!

However, laminate flooring can also cause unnecessary noise and distress to neighbours within many kinds of properties, which in turn can negatively impact on overall quality of life.

If you are living in a detached property there is often no problem with laminate or real wood flooring as your neighbours will hopefully be far enough away not to be disturbed. But have you thought about how your neighbours may be affected if you’re living in an attached property or even more so if you live in a flat or apartment block?

The type of flooring you have directly influences the way noise can be carried in your home, especially if it is ill fitted or has a thin underlay in place. If wooden or laminate flooring is in an upstairs location every ‘thundering’ foot fall can be heard by neighbouring properties.

Those who suffer with laminate flooring noise problems might often have cause to comment on noise nuisance from the floors. Indeed, many NFHiB members who live with this kind of flooring noise problem have often commented using such phrases as:

“Every time they move it sounds like a herd of elephants!”

“Even at night I can hear them walking to the toilet and they have told me they wear slippers.”

“You should hear her when she wears heels. The sound goes right through me; I dread it when they are due home from work.”

These are just some examples of comments that those who live with laminate flooring issues have made.

So, is there a law?

Well of course the noise laws are in existence, but there is also that lovely little ‘get out of jail’ card for those neighbours who just don’t care and say “surely, it is normal daily living noise?!”

Wait though, there’s more!

Under the Housing Act 2004, living in contact with an unusually loud or continuous noise inside a dwelling or within its cartilage is deemed to be a threat to the physical and mental health of the occupants.

Laminate flooring and wooden flooring should be laid only after considerable thought has gone into the decision and all other available options have been carefully examined.

Before you lay such a flooring type please ask yourself certain questions first:

  • Is the room where I will be laying the laminate flooring attached to a neighbour’s party/adjoining wall?
  • Is the flooring above a neighbour and is it likely to cause an annoyance or nuisance?
  • Are there any gaps I need to fill between the floor boards and the skirting boards before I lay any flooring? (Reduces noise nuisance).
  • What type of underlay will I be using?
  • Is wooden flooring the best option or would carpet be a better solution?

Before laying a laminate floor that is a finally decided route of choice or necessity, carefully take time to prepare first in order to minimise any resulting and potential impact of the flooring to your neighbours.

Talk to your neighbours and let them know you will be doing some work to your home and there might be some noise while you are doing it, this is called courtesy!

  • Check your floor. Are there gaps between the skirting boards and the pre-existing floor boards? If yes then please deal with these first, a smallest gap or crack can carry sound into your neighbour’s home. Strangely enough if you follow these steps you can also help to stop things like tobacco smoke and other smells or vapours from entering your neighbours property.
  • Visit the local DIY store and purchase some “flexible caulking”, then squeeze this into any gaps or cracks with a “gun” along the base of all skirting boards. It will stop a small percentage of noise from impregnating your neighbour’s property.

If your floorboards squeak, this is the time to resolve the issue.

Some people believe that the cheapest and most simple solution to prevent any ‘squeak’ is to sprinkle talcum powder or corn flour into the gaps between floor boards. The fine powder somehow acts as a “dry lubricant” and eases friction between the flat boards, thus softening any squeaks.

Please always choose the right type of underlay! This is the biggest cause of complaints concerning laminate floors. If underlay is incorrectly laid, poorly fitted or of insufficient quality and thickness, it can lead to noisy flooring. The cheapest solution is not always the best and paying a little more to be a polite neighbour is well worth the additional expense.

Thicker underlay will cause your home to be more energy efficient and also directly result in happier neighbours all round!

Not every property is allowed to have laminate or wooden flooring so beware and check this first if in any doubt! Council properties and Housing Associations will have guidelines concerning the type of works you may undertake to their buildings and the types of floors that can be laid.

Don’t break the rules and always read your tenancy conditions first. If you break a tenancy agreement you could find yourself with no floor, let alone a laminate one!

Whilst Laminate floors are a joy to some but a nightmare for others, please always think before you lay this type of flooring to hopefully prevent any future potential neighbour disputes or problems.