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Acoustic Underlay Requirements for Condos

Acoustic Underlay Requirements for Strata and Condos

Noise is often a contentious issue in multi-unit residences, as any condo dweller can attest to. When owners want to install hardwood or laminate flooring, strata bylaws often require the use of an underlay with acoustic properties to reduce to the sound transmission to the unit below. Here are a few commonly asked questions about the acoustic underlay required.

Which underlay should I buy to use in my building?
Each strata has different rules about the flooring and underlay allowed in their building. Some may require council approval of the materials before installation. Check with your strata before purchasing your flooring. If your strata requires approval before installation, your flooring provider can provide you with product specifications and documented test results to give to your strata council.

My strata requires an underlay with a certain STC and IIC rating. What does this mean?
These are sound-control ratings often used in building codes and strata guidelines. The higher the rating, the better the underlay is at sound reduction. Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings measure transmission of airborne sounds such as neighbours talking or playing music. Impact Isolation Class (IIC) measures impact sounds transferred from the floor to the unit below. Impact sounds are foot steps, objects falling on the floor etc. Manufacturers have their products tested in a lab according to ASTM International standards to determine the STC and IIC ratings.

Does an acoustic underlay reduce all noises for my neighbours below?
No. An acoustic underlay with good IIC and STC ratings will reduce noise transfer but will not eliminate all noise. The effectiveness of the underlay depends on your lifestyle and the construction of the building. If your lifestyle is noisier, your neighbours will be more likely to hear you. Active kids, walking in heavy shoes or high heels and dropping things may create noise that cannot be entirely quieted by any acoustic underlay.

The settings of the underlay lab tests may be different from the construction of the subfloor and ceiling of your building. Most underlay is tested on concrete slabs. IIC and STC ratings increase when the concrete slab thickness increases or when a drop or suspended ceiling is present in the unit below. Ask your flooring provider for testing results that specify the subfloor and ceiling assembly used during lab testing.

The ratings will be decreased for buildings with wood frames and plywood substrates since these materials are bad at preventing sound transference. If you do not have a concrete subfloor or acoustic concrete topping between floors, it’s highly recommended to look into additional sound barrier options. Your downstairs neighbours will thank you.

Is there anything else I can do reduce noise?

Adding a few area rugs to your decor will help reduce noise in areas where the rugs have been placed.

Can I do a nail down installation with acoustic underlay underneath?

No. The sound travels through the nails and negates the effectiveness of the underlay.

Is there a specific underlay you recommend?

We recommend using Shaw Silent Step Ultra. The 72 dB IIC and STC ratings satisfy most strata council requirements about flooring and acoustic underlay. Full testing data from a reputable third party lab is available upon request.

For more information we recommend reading:
Hardwood Floors – The Magazine of the National Wood Flooring Association. “The Lowdown on Wood Flooring Underlayments
Master Floor Covering Standards Institute. “Noise Problems and Acoustical Barriers”

MIRA Wine Review: Holiday crowd pleasers

Winter 2014 WinesDecember marks the beginning of a holiday season calendar filled with work parties, drinks with friends and quality time with family. We have picked two wines to be your go-to’s during the busy holiday season. Our criteria for picking great holiday wines was that they had to be:

a) BC VQA wines to support our local businesses

b) Worthy of serving to friends and family over the holidays

c) Budget friendly to be a last minute gift for the party host

d) Delicious, of course.

Here are the two wines that checked our boxes. Our team tasted them last week during lunch at our annual sales planning meeting.

Grey Monk 2012 Latitude 50 Red

The name Latitude 50 is a nod to Grey Monk’s location in the Okanagan, where latitude 50 and Lake Okanagan meet. Grey Monk keeps us guessing which grapes were used in this stunning blend since the composition is not listed on the bottle or online. From our tasting, we think it’s a blend of gamay and pinot noir grapes. The medium-bodied Latitude 50 is a great table wine, the kind that goes well with a variety of different foods or even none at all. It beckons you with floral, spicy aromas and just a touch of herbal notes. The nose reflects the flavours of raspberry, pepper, spice and a light black cherry finish. This would be especially delicious with a holiday party pot roast or late-night pizza to celebrate the end of holiday gift shopping.

Backyard Vineyards 2013 Nosey Neighbour White

The name Backyard Vineyards is apt since they are located  in Vancouver’s metaphorical backyard at 30 Ave at 232 Street in Langley. The Nosey Neighbour blend is a best seller at the local wine store we purchased it at. From the first taste, it is clear why this wine sells so well. This blend of pinot gris, riseling and gewurztraminer is a pleasant and easy drinking crowd pleaser with just a hint of complexity. Bright citrus and herb aromas greets you before hitting the palette with a fruity blend of stone fruits, pineapple and mango. A refreshing and clean acidity follows you from first taste to the finish. This wine is not available at BC Liquor Stores but you can purchase it direct from the winery or at your local independent wine store. View the full list of stores that carry Backyard Vineyards.

Update – November 19

Some carpet base has yet to be installed. The remaining carpet base will arrive on Monday December 8th and we will likely install on December 9th. Once the carpet base has been installed, the job will be 100% complete.

Update – November 13

Shoebase in the lobby has been installed and Bernie is working on painting. The remaining carpet for the stairwells will arrive this Friday with the installation starting again on Monday. Our hope is to complete the installation by the end of the day on Tuesday.
Thank you for your patience.

Best Wood Look Tiles

Wood look tile floors are one of the newest trends in the flooring industry. We love the look of hardwood but it’s not always practical for wet or high traffic areas like tile is. Advancements in the tile manufacturing process allow manufacturers to create highly detailed and realistic wood look tiles. With the increased popularity in wood look tiles, there are now options to fit with every style. We have rounded up a few of our favourite wood look tiles to show off their versatility.

Grey Hues

Contrast modern decor with a vintage inspired wood look tile. This grey-toned wide plank is designed to look like aged wood barrels.

Grey wood look tile plank

Ames Barrique Series colour Birch matte full body porcelain tile 10″x30″

Digital technology is used to produce a detailed pattern of weathering and knots on this replica of the rustic European Larch.

Grey distressed wood look tile

Olympia Tile Larix Series colour Shade porcelain tile 6″x30″


Natural raw-wood feel

The Scandinavian design trend is still going strong. Glossy, dark stained hardwood floors are being replaced with raw, natural looking woods. Tile manufacturers are jumping on the band wagon by creating simple wood look tiles inspired by the beauty of unstained wood.

Wood look tile light natural colour

Casa Roma National Parks Series colour Yellowstone. Available in random strips, 12″x24″ and 6″x24

Keep the natural look from being too simple by installing the tiles in a herringbone pattern.

Wood look tile plank herringbone

Olympia Tile Misingi Series. Available in 8″x32″ and 5.3″x32″


Feature Walls

Wood look tiles are perfect for creating unique feature walls and backsplashes. Create texture and a cozy feel with this multi-coloured distressed option from Ames Tile.

Wood look tile feature wall

Ames Tile E&S Series Boardwalk 2″x18″

Be bold by installing wide plank wood look tile from the floor to the ceiling.

Wood look tile plank feature wall

Ames Tile Barrique Series porcelain tile 10″x30″



This wood look tile imitates the natural colour variation of a hickory hardwood floor. Installing the tiles in a herringbone pattern adds even more visual interest to this amazing floor.

C&S Tile wood look tile

C&S Tile Over Series colour Red Sand. Available in 8″x40″ and 4″x40″

Make your flooring the centre of attention with this highly variegated wood look tile inspired by reclaimed wood.

Olympia tile reclaimed wood look plank

Olympia Tile Wow Series colour Winter porcelain tile 6″x36″


For even more wood-look tile options, take a look at our Pinterest.

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