I bought a condo in a triplex where I have all of the 2nd floor. Most rooms are on hardwood, while the rest is on laminate with a serious height difference of an inch and a half (hardwood being highest). This being a shared structure, beneath it all is a solid layer of maybe 6 inches of concrete.

I'm renovating a room and intend to level it with the rest and set it on hardwood. I've read other questions about hardwood in basements, but would the considerations need to be similar for a 2nd story floor? Would I need something like DRIcore?

And what about sound? What special considerations do I need to take, if any, to ensure I isolate my neighbour below against sound from walking around on hardwood? (I can make that a separate question if this gets too complex to answer).


The hardwood is already bought. Oak, non-engineered, 3/4" thick.

2 Answers 2


I'd go with either a layer of cork or polyiso rigid foam. Then a floating floor on top. A nearby residential tower actually requires the cork underlay. The rigid foam will work just as well at lower cost.

The float floor can be two layers of ply staggered and screwed to each other, or a engineered hardwood product.

See also the "Sound Isolation Store" for great technical details.

  • Great advice. Since moisture on the second floor is not a concern, basement techniques do not apply in this situation. Cork or foam are perfect for soundproofing and will support an engineered hardwood floor well. There are some great click-lock engineered real hardwood products out there now that don't require adhesive or nails. I have used a lot of prefinished veneers with a very stable plywood base, very flush tight seams.(not micro-groves). The top hardwood veneer is about 3/16" so it can be refinished once or twice if necessary and the total thickness is about 1/2 to 9/16" Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 10:20
  • I'm not downvoting, but this solution would not be acceptable in most condos. Check with the board/management company and get permission first! Condo Corporations have the power to make you rip it up if you don't do it right. Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 12:34
  • Would the float floor need to be screwed or nailed to the concrete, or just laid on top? I've actually seen a guide that promoted no fixtures...
    – MPelletier
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 14:14
  • I like the idea of the Quiet Ground, but my hardwood floor is already purchased and is non-engineered, it's standard "nail it or staple it" 3/4" thick hardwood (like the rest of the place. I'm trying to see what was used in other rooms, but having a tough time doing so). So it's down to cork or polyiso foam...
    – MPelletier
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 14:26
  • @MPelletier When I'm back from vacation I'll post a picture of a floating subfloor attached to nothing. No furring. No screws. No hammer drill noise putting it in! I'll even give you professional references to floor installers doing the same thing.
    – Bryce
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 15:01

You're going to need to check with the management company or board. Condo's have strict rules about this type of thing. But generally, the practice for flooring over concrete is to use a Laminate or Engineered wood over an acoustic foam.

Generally, a laminate is entirely manufactured product that has a wood look printed on the surface. Engineered wood is an HDF or ply product with 1 - 3 mm of real hardwood laminated to the top, giving a real hardwood look and feel. Engineered wood can be sanded and finished (once). Laminate can not.

When I did ours, in Toronto, Ontario, I was required to use a 3.2mm acoustic foam with attached vapour barrier over the concrete. Rules will differ by locale, but get your permission first. You don't want to be forced to rip it up again.

  • I'm 1/3 of the condo management myself, so I have a lot of weight in the decisions that pass. If I come up with a decent plan, it will pass. The rest of my condo is not on any particular engineered hardwood, and the hardwood is already bought, non-engineered.
    – MPelletier
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 13:28
  • Note 2nd floor application won't require the vapor barrier, though that said the poly foam would be a vapor barrier.
    – Bryce
    Commented Jul 17, 2012 at 15:03

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