How Underlayment Enhances Soundproofing in Malaysian Buildings

May 11, 2023

In Malaysia, the rise of urban development has led to the construction of more multi-family residential buildings and commercial spaces. As a result, noise pollution has become a significant issue for both occupants and neighbours, particularly in densely populated areas. One effective solution to this problem is using underlayment to improve soundproofing in these buildings. This article will discuss the benefits of underlayment, how it absorbs and dampens sound, and how it can enhance the overall acoustic performance of Malaysian buildings.


The Importance of Soundproofing in Buildings

In Malaysia, the rapid growth of urbanization and the construction of high-rise buildings have intensified noise pollution in cities. With more people living and working in close proximity, soundproofing has become a necessary aspect of building design, particularly in multi-family residential buildings and commercial spaces, where noise from neighbouring units and external sources can significantly affect the quality of life and productivity of occupants.


Understanding Underlayment and its Role in Soundproofing

Underlayment is a layer of material installed between the subfloor and the finished floor surface. It serves multiple purposes, including providing a smooth and level surface for the finished floor, enhancing thermal insulation, and improving soundproofing. In terms of soundproofing, underlayment plays a critical role in absorbing and dampening sound, reducing both impact and airborne noise.

Impact noise, or structure-borne noise, is generated when an object strikes the floor, such as footsteps or items being dropped. Airborne noise refers to sounds transmitted through the air, such as conversations, music, or traffic. Underlayment helps to reduce the transmission of these noises, improving the overall acoustic performance of the building.


Types of Underlayment for Soundproofing

Various types of underlayment materials are available in the market, each with unique properties that cater to different soundproofing needs. Some of the most common types of underlayment materials used for soundproofing are:

  • Rubber Underlayment: Rubber underlayment has excellent impact noise reduction properties. It is made from recycled rubber or a combination of rubber and other materials, such as cork or foam. Rubber underlayment is highly resilient, durable, and resistant to moisture and mould.
  • Foam Underlayment: Foam underlayment is a lightweight and cost-effective option made from polythene or polyurethane foam. While not as effective at reducing impact noise as rubber, foam underlayment is still popular due to its affordability and ease of installation. It is commonly used in residential buildings and commercial spaces with moderate soundproofing requirements.


How Underlayment Enhances Soundproofing in Buildings

  • Absorbing and Dampening Sound: Underlayment materials work by absorbing and dampening sound waves. The porous structure of materials like foam allows them to absorb sound energy, reducing the transmission of airborne noise. On the other hand, rubber underlayment is highly effective in dampening impact noise, as it dissipates the vibrations caused by impact through its resilient structure. Underlayment can significantly reduce the transmission of impact and airborne noise between floors and neighbouring units, creating a quieter and more comfortable living and working environment.
  • Improving Overall Acoustic Performance: Underlayment can also improve the overall acoustic performance of a building by decoupling the finished floor from the subfloor. This separation helps to prevent the transmission of vibrations and sound energy between the two surfaces. Moreover, the added mass provided by underlayment materials can further enhance soundproofing by reducing the resonance of floor assemblies.
  • Addressing the Unique Challenges of Malaysian Buildings: Malaysian buildings face unique challenges regarding soundproofing, such as the prevalence of tiled and hard flooring materials, which are known to transmit sound more efficiently than carpeted surfaces. Underlayment materials like rubber and foam can be particularly effective in addressing these challenges, as they help to dampen impact noise and reduce the sound transmission associated with hard flooring. Furthermore, Malaysia's tropical climate and high humidity levels can lead to increased moisture and mould issues in buildings. Many underlayment materials, such as rubber, are resistant to moisture and mould, making them ideal choices for soundproofing applications in the country.


Installation and Cost Considerations

Proper installation of underlayment is crucial to ensure optimal soundproofing performance. Follow the manufacturer's guidelines and recommendations for installation, which may include using specific adhesives, tapes, or other materials. It is also vital to ensure that the underlayment is installed with no gaps or overlaps, as these can compromise the effectiveness of the soundproofing.

The cost of underlayment materials can vary widely depending on the type and quality of the product. While foam underlayment is generally the most affordable option, it may not provide the same level of soundproofing as rubber. Weigh the benefits of each material against its cost to make an informed decision that best meets the soundproofing requirements of a particular building.



By absorbing and dampening sound and improving overall acoustic performance, underlayment materials like rubber and foam can significantly enhance the comfort and quality of life for occupants in buildings and create more peaceful living and working environments.