How To Reduce Floor Vibrations? 2 Different Solutions That Works!

Best ways to reduce floor vibrations

One of the biggest things I hated most about staying in apartments is the quality of soundproofing. Why aren’t apartments better soundproofed is a mystery, as it can prevent a lot of problems from happening down the road. 

how to reduce floor vibrations pinterest

The sounds I hate most: are stomping sounds from the neighbor upstairs, which likely result from floor vibrations while walking. 

Even back then, we used to work from home very often, which meant that we needed a quiet space so that we can concentrate (listening to music like this helps too). What would you know then, when we got shocked by sudden stomping as if velociraptors were raiding the upstairs unit for chocolate. 

Turns out it was just the kids playing catch in their home. A stern feedback to the parents resulted in lesser noise, but it still went on now and then. 

It was time to take action.

In this article, I am going to share what are some problems with floor vibrations, how to reduce floor vibrations, and how you can be a good neighbor whether you live in an apartment or a house!

Let’s jump right in!

Related: Floor soundproofing

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Floor vibrates when someone walks. What causes floor vibrations?

A floor that vibrates even with the slightest movement can be really annoying. Not only for you but for the people living downstairs too. So what causes these vibrations? Let’s see.

The cause of floor vibrations can either be the quality of the material of your floor or how it’s set up. And in rare cases, both.

These days, engineers make use of high-strength material and leave wide column gaps in floors.

The material may be strong but the slabs used are thinner and lighter than it used to be. Though it does help in making the floor flexible, it is also a reason for vibrating and bouncy floors. 

Another reason is due to lack of furniture or heavy objects in the room.  Removing all the heavy stuff means reducing the damping, which leads to the floor being more prone to vibration.

And if you have a wooden floor, the floor itself is responsible for your problem. 

Whenever there is a movement on the floor, joists are continuously loaded and unloaded leading to small diversions up and down. That simply means that there will be much higher amount of apartment floor vibration.

There won’t be much problem if your home is recently constructed as engineers have now come up with solutions to your problem. 

They install the floor with construction adhesive and wooden screws which will stabilize the floor. Joists are also specifically designed to minimize vibrations.

What Are The Sources Of Floor Vibration?

Before knowing the solution we first need to find the source. It may differ in each case but generally, it is one of the three sources listed below :

  • Human activities: Daily life activities such as walking, foot tapping, jumping, etc. Can be causing the problem. This is the most common source of all. No matter how lightly you put your steps forward, if your floor vibrates, it will. And in this case, we can’t even help it!
  • Machines/Appliances: You might be having some heavy machinery or appliances placed on your floor. It could be a washing machine, dishwasher or anything that vibrates even slightly while working. The easiest and most effective approach to tackle this situation could be placing motion arrest pads or anti-vibration pads under them. You can also use a bed vibration absorber (vibration absorbing mat under your bed)  to have some privacy.
  • Your surroundings: You could be living nearby railway tracks, factories, an airport or simply where some construction work is going on. All these produce massive shaking of the ground that can travel to your floor.

Hey, quick one. If you intend to start a soundproofing project soon, check out our Best Materials for Soundproofing post to get a headstart. Most projects require similar materials, so this post will save you a ton of time researching.

How Do Vibrations Travel?

Every sound travels through a hard surface in form of vibrations. 

The sound energy is converted into waves (vibration) when the sound passes through the floor. 

Then it comes out in form of airborne noise downstairs. 

Even slight quivering can be perceived as very loud by us. This is because our ears are very sensitive in perceiving motion.

Treating airborne noises is much easier than treating impact noises. 

This is because impact noise produces much more energy per square area than airborne noise.

how to reduce floor vibrations

How To Reduce Floor Vibrations?

So how do I stop my floor from vibrating? 

The short answer is you will need professional help, but there are lots of DIY ways you can try out to reduce most issues. If the problem is severe and you cannot fix them after trying these steps out, then consider engaging a contractor.

Now we can move to our main concern- how to stop the floor from vibrating? 

Here’s the step-by-step process which you need to follow in order to reduce your floor vibrations in a house:

  • Walk around the room and determine the spots that need to be fixed. Mark them with a chalk
  • Now go to the underfloor where fixing will take place. Mark the exposed floor joists or you can locate them using a stud finder for a plaster or drywall ceiling. You have to also mark two neighboring joists
  • Cut out support blocks that can fit between these joists
  • Install the blocks in between the neighboring joists. You can also install additional blocks when a large enough area is once covered

Note: you can also consider adding a layer of MLV (Mass loaded vinyl) in between the floorboards for a more comprehensive solution.

second skin damplifier pro mass loaded vinyl

Some other tips you may follow which can be used in an apartment and a house:

  • Add a damping solution to your floor such rubber mats, interlocking floor mats etc
  • Lay down carpets and put up cork tiles on your wall
  • Decouple the source by using rubber mounts in the case of machinery
  • Make your floor stiffer and heavier by adding a few pieces of large furniture

If your house is under construction, then you can ask your builder for a floor analysis system, one of these that is commonly used is TJ Pro Rating System

It will allow you to customize the floor vibrations according to you (since it is a subjective matter).

The builder will then use the data to adjust the joists and floor thickness.

How do I strengthen my floor joists with plywood?

Plywood is made up of several layers of heavy wood glued and compressed together, so it is obviously much stronger than just a single piece of wood. 

If you think that your floor joists are cracking up, fix it immediately. 

If not, you can end up having a sagging wall as well!

To fix this, find the bouncy joists and install 2 layers of plywood on each side. 

If you find that you need to change the floor altogether, then add a 0.75-inch layer of plywood. 

This solution also works when you are unable to access the joists through the ceiling downstairs. 

When doing this, you will have a new floor height. 

So, take note of how much clearance you will need to have your door cut from below.

How do I stop noise from upstairs floors?

Now, on to my pet peeve.

To dampen the upstairs noise, the most practical way is to add mass and density to your ceiling so that the noise is absorbed. 

One way to do this is by adding blow-in insulation

This will make your ceiling denser and dampen the sound. It is most effective in eliminating airborne noises.

To add mass to your ceiling, you can also add an additional layer of drywall to your existing drywall ceiling. 

For even better results, go for a layer of Mass Loaded Vinyl. Even a thin layer will give you much relief.

Another way can be a drop ceiling or a false ceiling. It is a secondary ceiling that attaches to the existing one. 

The air column in between will capture the sound. Choose this only if you are willing to spend some extra pennies.

In the end, if you have the access to the room above then try fixing its floor instead of your ceiling (if you find it easier) to stop your apartment floor vibration.

Another solution could be to talk to your neighbors kindly, and if they refuse, you may seek other methods like this and check out the video below.

Just don’t tell anyone that you found them here.

Does concrete absorb vibration?

There are often preconceptions about what products or materials are good for soundproofing, and whether concrete helps you in sound absorption is one of them.

If you are planning to get a concrete floor/ceiling thinking that it will absorb the noise then I advise you to drop the idea right now. 

Yes, it does absorb a portion of sound but that’s not the complete picture. 

It reflects back most of the sound which will cause you to suffer from echo problem. 

If your primary concern is to reduce noise exchange between neighbors, then you may give it a try. 

But also keep the echo problem in mind before making a decision.

Are bouncy floors normal?

Having a bouncy floor is not much of a problem and not very unusual. 

It could happen especially if you living in a fairly older home. 

Joists in older homes are placed farther apart which can make your floor bouncy. 

But worry not if your house is a new one too. This can also happen in new homes when joists are separated by a greater distance considering the weight supported by them.

If your floor is just a little bouncy with no other warning signs then there’s no need to fret. 

Only in some severe cases where it can be a sign of structural issue in which you consult with an expert.

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Conclusion: How to stop vibrations in your house?

I really hope the methods here can work for you and that you can figure out how to reduce floor vibrations. 

I know too well how annoying vibrations and noises can be. 

In some serious cases, some people have actually developed mental illnesses, so don’t take this too lightly.

What are you gonna do? Take action or leave it as it is? 

Leave a comment down below and let us know how it works out for you!

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Bryant Littlewood is the Chief Editor behind SoundproofingHacks. He shares all the lessons he has learned in turning his home and office into quiet sanctuaries across the blog posts here. Bryant is also a part-time audiophile, and some of the posts here will reflect that passion of his too. Connect with him on LinkedIn or read more on the about page.