Sound insulation for stairs | Part 2: Insulating wooden stairs
A wooden staircase can cause noise problems in various ways: by means of contact noise, dull walking noise (usually bothering the neighbours), or airborne noise (travelling through the risers and audible in the room behind or under the stairs). On this tips page you can read how to insulate a wooden staircase and what products to use.
In case the staircase already exists
The walking sounds of a staircase that is already in use cannot be insulated, because the stairs are already connected to the floors and the partition wall with the neighbours, rendering contact noise inevitable. In this case the only solution is to upholster the stairs, because thick carpet reduces some contact noise and reverberation in the hallway.
Light contact noise, for example due to the tapping of heels, can be reduced by covering the steps with Agglomer D200 and gluing new steps on top of it. These steps should be seperated from the stairs and the wall in order to avoid contact noise and to make sure the new steps won't creak. Please note that this solution results in higher steps.
Acoustically insulate the wooden staircase
You can acoustically insulate a wooden staircase in order for sound from walking and talking to be less audible in the space behind the staircase or in the hallway. With Noise Shield you can insulate the back of the steps while hiding the stairs, and with Isomat KE you can insulate the risers. A combination of both products is not necessarily needed, but remains a possibility. The two products explained in more detail:
Utilising this package, you mount a floating 'shield' against the bottom of the stairs, which insulates both contact and airborne noise.
The package includes flexible battens that are to be mounted against the back of the stairs. The Akoesti wool filling is to be put in the cavity inbetween the battens. Cover with a double layer of plasterboard (plasterboard and mounting materials to be taken care of yourself).
• Insulating with Isomat KE
If you do not have space for a product like Noise Shield (which takes up ± 7 cm, excluding a finishing layer) Isomat KE is an excellent alternative.
Isomat insulation boards are made from recycled aircraft tires and contain both rubber and steel. There are two variants of Isomat available, but we advise to use the heaviest variant. This mat weighs 14 kg/m², and is about 5 mm thick. By putting Isomat inbetween two plates of plasterboard or wood, the insulation value of the material is significantly increased.
What does Isomat do?
Isomat ensures that a light surface will offer more resistance to airborne noise. The heavy weight doesn't allow sheet material to resonate, which improves the insulation value. The risers of a wooden staircase should therefore ideally be insulated with Isomat KE (gluing and then finishing with a wooden plate, by screwing through the Isomat). If part of the stairs simultaneously forms a wall, you can also insulate it with Isomat. A step-by-step plan called "Sound Insulation for Light Walls” can be found on our tips page. This step-by-step plan can also be used for insulating the risers.
If you live in a shared house, you probably have to deal with a shared hall or entrance as well. In many situations, your door will open onto this hall and perhaps allow sound produced by talking to travel through. We also have a step-by-step plan for this called "Step-by-step Plan for Insulating Doors".