Debbie Travis: Carpet tiles a colourful way to muffle noise

Dear Debbie: We live on the fifth floor of a condo and have been receiving complaints from our neighbours below us that they hear “every step we take.” Our suite has beautiful hardwood floors that were here when we bought and we don’t want to cover them up. What would you do?


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When you live in an apartment, condo, or any living space that is attached to another, you can expect to hear your neighbours. Sounds travel, especially if there is little or no proper insulation and/or soundproofing barriers.

However, there’s a limit to how much noise you should be making or putting up with. New builds generally lay down wall-to-wall carpeting throughout. Put down over a subfloor, this is more economical than applying wood or laminate floors or tiles.

Carpeting does a good job of muffling footsteps and dropped items. However, the trend back to bare floors has been growing for the last decade. Even though most condo bylaws insist on a percentage of your living space being covered with carpeting, it’s not always enforced.

And following the “bare floor” trend appears to be the popular option when renovation time rolls around.

It is a challenge, but an easy fix. Once you realize that you are causing discomfort for those who live below or beside you, start by softening your footsteps. Wear socks or soft-soled slippers or go barefoot when you are inside.

Hard-soled shoes, especially high heels, are not only irritatingly noisy but can harm your wood floors.

For high-traffic areas such as hallways, why not purchase a runner? There are many designs and colours available in varying price ranges depending on the quality.

If you have ceramic tile in the kitchen, a small rug in front of the sink or around the breakfast table will help soften the blow of dropped utensils.

Carpet tiles are a great option, as you can build a rug any size you wish. Flor has a huge selection of about 1,000 carpet tiles. Its website offers information and videos to guide you on what to pick and how to create a unique design, as well as notes on care. A video shows how to build a carpet using their adhesive dots to secure and join each tile. (

In order to enjoy the look of your hardwood floors, you can assemble a pathway down your hall or along a busy traffic area as shown here. Called “Be Cool” in copper, this tile design can be placed in random directions to make up the look you like. These modular carpet tiles can be added to at any time and cut to fit your space. They are made of saturated dyed nylon, durable and easy to clean.

Busy living areas get a major style lift with a one-of-a-kind carpet. Flor’s “Boardwalk” in kale has been built to complement a contemporary living space. It stretches in front of the balcony door to unify the area and is bordered by the wood floor.

When you’re redecorating, carpet tiles can be reassembled for another room or mixed with tiles that have a fresh colour or design. You and your neighbours will both be happy.

Written by Debbie Travis and Barbara Dingle. Please email decorating questions to Follow Debbie on Instagram, Facebook, or at

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