Expert Advice

How to Choose Products That Meet Jobsite Sound Specifications

17 Nov

Posted by
Tom Plaskota
Technical Support Manager

How to Choose Products That Meet Jobsite Sound

Most people have experienced the frustration of someone speaking or walking loudly overhead. This type of noise transmission in multi-unit residential buildings is actually often regulated by local building codes, and installed floors must adhere to those regulations. Thoughtful product selection will ensure that your installations meet local standards, while also meeting other practical needs. Read on to learn how to select products to meet jobsite sound specifications.



There are two types of sound ratings, reflecting the types of sounds that can bother other occupants of a building. Sound Transmission Class (STC) is used to rate airborne sound – like speaking or watching television. Impact Insulation Class (IIC) refers to sound transferred through the floor – like walking or dropping objects. IIC is most relevant to flooring and tile installers and is measured and stated in accordance with ASTM C634 and E989.

ASTM E2179 is an additional testing protocol for IIC. ASTM E2179 provides a contribution number for individual product assemblies – rather than total systems. This test is useful for determining how a certain product may contribute to sound reduction. The TCNA handbook outlines the IIC of various concrete slab thicknesses, so you can see how much IIC your surface preparation products, mortar and tile should contribute to an installation to meet building code standards.

More information about these tests is available in your TCNA Handbook and ANSI Specifications for the Installation of Ceramic Tile.


Building Codes and Ratings

Many multi-unit buildings must meet minimum IIC and STC values to comply with building code standards. According to the TCNA handbook, “Most common are the ICC/BOCA U.B.C. Uniform Building Code and International Building Code (IBC), which call for a minimum 50 IIC and 50 STC value.” The higher the IIC or STC value, the more effectively sound is blocked. Your local Building Department can let you know the exact requirements in your area.


Product Selection - Tile

In 2010, a new standard called ASTM A118.13 was created for “Bonded Sound Reduction Membranes for Thin-Set Ceramic Tile Installation.” This standard applies to trowel applied, liquid, and flexible sheet membranes bonded to the substrate, which must have an ASTM E2179 “Sound Transmission Reduction testing” Delta IIC rating of 10 or greater, meaning that the product will cause the IIC rating to increase by 10.

TEC® Crack Isolation Sheet Membrane is a peel-and-stick underlayment that can both reduce surface cracking and contribute to sound suppression on interior floors.

It has a Delta IIC Rating 16 dB per ASTM E2179-03 “Effectiveness of Floor Coverings in Reducing Impact Sound Transmission through Concrete Floors” and also meets or exceeds ANSI A118.12 “Crack Isolation Membranes for Thin-Set Ceramic Tile and Dimension Stone Installation”. TEC® also supplies a number of other Crack Isolation and Waterproofing products that can provide sound reduction for interior and exterior installations.


Product Installation – Wood

For a successful installation that meets your jobsite sound specifications, wood flooring adhesives should provide strong bonding strength, moisture control and sound reduction at the same time.

The latest wood flooring innovation from TEC®, TEC® WoodPerfect™ delivers one-step moisture control, strong initial grab, crack bridging capabilities and sound deadening in one easy-to-apply product. It has Delta IIC 22 dB Sound reduction contribution, reducing sound transmission through concrete subfloors in excess of building code requirements.

Download the WoodPerfect™ Installation Guide to learn how to install that product. 

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