More people than ever live in apartments, condos, and other forms of high density housing. Many others live in older homes with lower standards of insulation, not to mention all the creaks and groans older homes may have. One of the issues so many people face today is noise pollution. Noise is defined as unwanted and obtrusive sound, and can include anything from traffic to creaky pipes to noisy neighbours. Noise pollution is inescapable and recurring noise; while it may seem trivial, noise pollution ranks as the second-most dangerous form of pollution to human health, after air pollution. With so many people living in high-risk areas for noise pollution, it’s important to find ways to reduce its impact on your life. Fortunately, a variety of simple methods exist for reducing noise in your home, including updating your flooring!
The Health Impact of Noise
As mentioned earlier, noise pollution is the second-most dangerous form of pollution to human health. But what makes it so dangerous? While the health impact of loud, sustained noise is obvious — hearing loss — ceaseless background noise can have more subtle health effects, even when it’s relatively quiet. Inescapable noise can raise stress hormone levels in the human body, straining the cardiovascular system and raising blood pressure. Many people find it difficult to sleep in noisy environments. Reduced duration and quality of sleep have major impacts on work performance and the ability to perform complex tasks like driving or operating machinery safely. An increasingly sleepless population may be at higher risk for fatal or injurious accidents.
These physical effects don’t take into account the mental strain noise can have on a person. Studies suggest that anxiety can be significantly worsened by noise. Others point to a higher incidence of dementia in older individuals living near busy roads. In any case, the effects of noise on human health are clear and substantial.
What You Can Do About It
Recently, there’s been a lot of talk about sleep hygiene — committing to behaviours and making lifestyle adjustments to address sleep problems holistically. For instance, limiting screen time before bed and practicing relaxation techniques are two examples of sleep hygiene. Sometimes, adopting good sleep hygiene means making changes to your bedroom, like installing blackout curtains to reduce distractions while you try to fall asleep. Similar steps can be taken to reduce noise pollution. Sound dampening curtains are a recent product innovation to reduce ambient noise from outside your home. For many individuals, distracting noise comes from within your home or building complex. It may be loud neighbours or roommates, family members with different schedules, squeaky floors, groaning pipes, or any number of other noises. For these internal problems, flooring is one of your best bets to reduce noise.
Flooring for Noise Reduction
Carpet is arguably the best choice for reducing ambient noise in a room, particularly for apartments and multi-storey dwellings. Not only does it reduce noise from foot traffic, but it also reduces ambient noise within the room. The texture of carpeting, particularly its density and pile height, can help determine how effective it is as a sound barrier. Thick, high pile carpet better reduces and disperses sound. For a more affordable alternative, an area rug can be put over your existing flooring and offer similar levels of sound blocking.
If you want to address noise issues without carpeting, a variety of underlaying materials exist that may be used with laminate, vinyl, or hardwood floors. These materials consist of specialized insulation that significantly reduces noise coming up through the floor — and serves to dampen footsteps on upper-level floors. Our flooring professionals can help answer your questions about soundproofing, underlaying materials, and noise insulating flooring materials.