How Sound is Your Flooring Installation? (Part 1)

Howard Grundland here – I am an independent flooring specialist, certified nationally for inspections and consulting.  The series of articles I am writing for Construction Connection are with the intent to improve the quality of both flooring installation and selection.  It is my desire to mitigate installation failures which are, at the least, a pain. Tile, natural stone, wood, laminate and vinyl will be covered in my series of articles, and I am always available to help if you have questions.


An introduction to Sound Insulayment                

Many states have incorporated Sound Transmission into the building code.  States have selected individual levels of enforcement for this code.   The origin of this code is the International Build Code.  Florida (my home state) incorporated sound transmission requirements into Florida State Building Code (1207.1-1207.3) in 2001.  Since the Florida introduction in 2001, the only change to date in Florida has been the introduction into the Building Code making note of ASTM E492 and ASTM E90.  These are testing procedures, established in an endeavor to create a level playing field during the testing process.  ASTM E492 indicates testing for Impact Insulation Classification (IIC).   IIC is the sound heard when walking or dropping an object on the floor – thus, impact with the floor.  ASTM E90 indicates testing for Sound Transmission Classification (STC).  STC is the sound created when sound is transmitted through the air and walls – loud talking, music, etc.

Florida State Building Code calls for a minimum IIC and STC of 50.  This number is representative of laboratory testing.  The Code also allows for a minimum IIC and STC of 45 when a sound insulation system is tested in the field.  (When administering a field test at a job site, the criteria established by ASTM E492 & E90 should be met.)  It is important to note that the results of a field test are indicated by FIIC AND FSTC.

Seems simple enough?  Not quite!

Building Departments in different townships may interpret the Building Code differently.  They may also elect to enforce the Code to varying degrees.  The application of the Building Code will vary, as well, with developers, architects, designers, general contractors and installation companies.  Some questions to ask while qualifying a Sound Insulayment product and establishing specifications might be:

  • What is the source of the specifications?
  • Do the established specifications meet the Building Code?
  • Are the established specifications realistically achieved?
  • Has the selected product for Sound Insulation had its documentation qualified and reviewed?
  • Does the product selected meet both Building Code and the specifications established?
  • What is the legal liability in the product selection and specification process?
  • Who is liable?
  • Where does the responsibility for selection of Sound Insulation material start and where does it end?

In Part 2 of my series I will address more of the above questions.  If you have any questions in the meantime, you can reach me at:

Howard Grundland
Flooring Specialist
Consultant/Forensic Inspections

Howard has worked in the flooring industry more than twenty-five years.  His background includes both commercial and residential applications.  He has worked with all surfaces of flooring including carpet, vinyl, wood, tile, natural stone, laminates and a variety of concrete applications. In 2002 he began focusing on the installation process and the appropriateness of product selection. Howard has worked with importers, distributors, dealers of tile, natural stone, hardwood and laminates.   He has an extensive background of installation practices, installation materials, product familiarity as well as flooring sound insulation and water proofing. He received his certification from the Flooring Consultants and Inspectors Training Services (FCITS) and is nationally certified as a flooring consultant and inspector of hard surfaces and commercial applications. Crossville, Laticrete, Jamo, Tec Industries, Bonsal, Congoleum, Armstrong, Tarkett, Custom Building Products, Ardex, Schluter, Noble, Proflex, Dodge Regupol, Schluter, Bruce Hardwoods and Wilson Art have been part of his educational background. Howard has developed various educational programs for flooring which have been presented to architects, developers, general contractors and installation companies.  He has also offered training and consulting for various building departments in the southeast Florida region. Howard’s Education includes Temple University, The New York Institute of Technology, and The Kushi Institute.