Condo's & Hardwood, Marble, Laminate and Tile Floors Do Not Mix

If you live in a condo that lacks modern soundproofing construction, you want to make sure that your upstairs neighbor does not put in hard surface flooring. When older condos were built, the use of carpet with padding and linoleum was the main material used to reduce impact noise. However, if your neighbor decides to put in hardwood, laminate, marble or tile then your in for a real headache.

So make sure your homeowners association has a ban or restrictions on installing hard surface flooring in upper units. If they do not have restrictions you might want to inform them that extra noise caused by the installation of hard surface flooring could affect the value of your unit. It could also result in health problems for the owner or tenant. Not to mention having to live with constant noise coming from above.

The basic right for quiet can mean trouble for your association, because hard surface floors create unreasonable noise for the owners below. The Association must enforce its' governing documents, which should require all units to comply with local and state building codes. In addition your Association may already having flooring restrictions or rules against nuisance.

If your association fails to enforce these rules, then you may be able to sue your neighbor or association. You may have several claims: a reduction in the value of your home and health issues related to lack of sleep or stress created by the noisy floors.

So, if the condo above you already has hard surface floors and it is noisy, then you want do a little research. Was this the type of flooring installed when the unit was new? Did they get approval from the association? Does your association have restrictions on flooring? Does the floor conform to local and state building code? If you decide to file a complaint you can have your neighbors floor tested to see if it meets the building code.

Some informative links: Footstep/Impact Noise in Apartments, Condominiums and Other Multi-Family Dwellings PDF, When Buffalo Roam in the Homeowner Association, and Hardwood Floors Incite Real Estate Riot.

Tip: If your condo has wood subflooring. Your associations Architectural Guidelines should require homeowners to tighten down the subfloor with drywall screws to reduce or eliminate squeaks and caulk all seams to reduce the transmission of airborne noise. This should be required when installing new flooring.


  1. Anonymous7:03 AM

    The above is true but not complete. Neighbor above installed Pergo 8mm laminate, the HOA approved because the manager saw the attached underlay and a 2004 spec sheet and Pergo Max was not produced then. She also saw the 60IIC rating and approved the install. Now it is coming down to a tap test. This is 2008 condo with 8" post tension slabs. No one can decide on what the FIIC test should read to pass or fail. I am gambling on it failing and that seems to be the agreement of many experts. What should the FIIC read since they may drop 5 points right off the bat. THe condo requests 52 of greater and is specific in sound installation prior to hardwood installs. This was not done, they assume the 1mm attached underlay meets that requirement, I say no.

  2. Good Write-up! It's pleasant to learn to read that facts by another person that basically appreciates what exactly there're dealing with.
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