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Did wonders for our sound problem
Los Angeles, CA
We recently added a partial second story to our house with a rooftop deck over our master bedroom. Our house is wood frame construction with stucco. Our contractor did not follow best practices for sound proofing during the build (despite our discussions) and as a result the noise from any use of the deck was terrible in the bedroom. Even an empty soda bottle rolling on the deck would echo so loudly downstairs that it could wake us up in the middle of the night. We met with another contractor that told us we needed to remove our ceiling, put soundproofing insulation, and then remount the drywall using special channels to isolate the noise. While trying to find an alternative to that approach I came across these deck tiles. Instead of ripping out our ceiling I laid these tiles with plastic dowels. The tiles took a little while to arrive and because of the weight shipping was a bit on the expensive side. Fortunately we live in Southern California which is where the tiles shipped from so it helped minimize the shipping costs. I purchased just over 90 tiles for the job. Each one weighs just over 20 pounds so carrying the up the stairs to the deck took a bit of work but was manageable. Laying the tiles was easy. Cutting them to size was also easy once I used the right tools. I used a very sharp utility knife to score the top layer and then used an old bread knife (as the instructions suggested) to do the rest of the work. Frankly, I found that I was able to rely mostly on the utility knife once I got good at things and a few passes went right through. At first I tried to use a hacksaw but the teeth just got caught on the rubber and made it impossible to cut. Don't bother using power tools either, that was a waste of time. The hardest part about the entire installation was using the plastic dowels (sold separately). The video shows them easily sliding into the predrilled holes and then the tiles pushing effortlessly together. That is NOT the case. In fact, it was virtually impossible for me to use the dowels at first. I tried using a rubber mallet to force the dowel into the hole of the first tile, and then tried using a mallet to hit the edge of the tile to press them together like the instructions said. This was still ineffective (rubber absorbs a lot of impact). It was also hard to do this while sitting on the floor of the deck. Finally my father had the idea to spray a little bit (VERY little) of WD40 into each hole to lubricate it. As soon as I did that the tiles slid right over the dowels and installation was a breeze. I don't know if WD40 is recommended by the manufacturer but it's what I used. Another point (although it's nitpicky) is that not all of the tiles have the exact same coloring. Some of the tiles look a little 'washed out' but overall it's not very noticeable or concerning. I can say that the results have been incredible. Not only does the deck look great with the tiles, but the sound reduction has been considerable. My father used to take his 80-pound dog out on the deck and the sound of her nails scratching was very loud inside the house. Now I can't even hear the dog scratching at all. Since our deck is just plywood covered with a thin layer of water-resistant cement, fiberglass, and a painted on waterproof coating, there will always be the sounds of the wood frame flexing while being walked on (just like the upstairs floors inside). But now that's mostly all I hear. If someone is walking heavily on the deck I can hear the impact noise of their footsteps but the loudness has been reduced by some 75% (that's an unscientific made up percentage, I didn't actually measure the decibels). I've had the tiles installed about 1 1/2 months now. I won't know how they stand up to the direct sunlight for a while and I won't know if I have any drainage issues until the winter when it rains again in Los Angeles.