Sound Insulayment – Part 3

Howard Grundland here – I am an independent flooring specialist, certified nationally for Inspections and Consulting.  The series of articles I am writing 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.  Click here for Part 1 and click here for Part 2.

  • 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?

How can a Sound Insulayment system specified offer a safe haven against liability?  The solution, as I perceive it, is to specify a specific Sound Insulayment product(s).  This goes contrary to what many architects, designers and general contractors choose as their course of action.

Create a safe haven:

  1. Select a product based on a review of the laboratory testing (see Part 2).
  2. Seek an IIC test result which meets the minimum requirements for state code and the building’s construction specification documents.
  3. When specifying a specific product(s), incorporate in the specification a scope of work which directs adherence to the manufacturer’s recommendations for installation.  The manufacturer’s recommendations regarding the installation system may be critical for the system’s performance.  Please do not assume this will be done unless it is incorporated.
  4. Specify the use of a perimeter isolation barrier.

Sound Insulation material manufacturers include mention of adhesives to glue the Sound Insulation material to the substrate.  Incorporated, as well, are requirements for setting materials which act as a bond coat, thereby adhering flooring finishes to the Sound Insulation material.  Check the manufacturer’s literature and web site.  The manufacturers have done their due diligence, researching and testing appropriate products to be used in conjunction with the installation of their products.  Do not deviate without written documentation direct from the manufacturer’s technical department.  They must be willing to warranty the bonding of all materials to form a system.

Perimeter isolation barriers should always be used.  The perimeter isolation barrier is installed at the base of the wall in an upright position.  The barrier prevents setting materials and the flooring finish from making contact with the wall.  The transfer of sound from the flooring system through the wall system is minimized.  Lack of an isolation barrier will negate the manufacturer’s responsibility of its systems performance.

Specifying specific Sound Insulayment products which have been laboratory tested and whose testing specimen (see Part 2) meets the parameters of your structure, impacts your safe haven.   Accompanied with a scope of work which incorporates installation materials and procedures shifts the level of responsibility.  Addressing specifications in this fashion establishes a nonrefutable level of due diligence. This can shift the responsibility of performance for the Sound Insulation material to the manufacturer’s playing field.  The installation company should follow The Tile Council of North America’s installation recommendations.   Once the dynamics of this system is specified, it can become part of the construction or condominium documents.  This is recommended in order to close the door on deviations which may impact the Sound Insulation system’s performance.  This also provides safeguards for the responsible parties.  Check the manufacturer’s literature and web site.

Specification of Sound Insulayment materials can be represented by IIC numbers; however, this changes the paradigm.  The general contractor will allow the installation companies bidding the project to submit Sound Insulation materials for approval.  The process will now begin with the submittal information going back up the ladder.  It will be critical for each individual along the path to be knowledgeable in order to qualify the Sound Insulation material submitted.  It will be critical at the job site for construction supervisors to know which installation materials meet the manufacturer’s recommendations and what the acceptable installation process and installation materials should be.  There will now be many hands involved, qualifying determinations.

The situation becomes more complicated if the building in question has build outs to be completed at a later time.  Utilizing specifications based on IIC numbers now places qualifying Sound Insulation materials to be used in the hands of the management company.

I have seen many buildings where inappropriate Sound Insulation products have been installed.  These inappropriate products were approved based on submissions of inappropriate data.  The documents presented were accepted by the general contractor, the designers, the architects and the management company.  Any issues relating to the Sound Insulation system’s nonperformance might very well be justified.  Many of those inappropriate products would most likely fail a field test (see Part 2).

There are also buildings where inappropriate IIC numbers were specified in the construction documents and condominium bylaws.    The result in many situations is the installation of Sound Insulation materials which will fail to meet established requirements.  Requiring an IIC68 with tile or stone installation over an eight-inch concrete slab with no ceiling assembly system is not achievable and problematic.

Recently, a representative for a company which offered Sound Insulation materials and installation materials was courting the business of a developer.   They offered specifications to the developer for a sound-control material that they marketed.  The developer accepted the presentation.  Laboratory tests were not a part of that presentation.  The materials to be used, once installed, will not meet Florida building code.  Additionally, the installation system specified by the company’s representative is problematic and there could be installation issues with flooring failures.

The cleanest approach to Sound Insulation is being specific when specifying.

Do your homework.

Or just call me!


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.