Solid Floor vs Wood Floor. Which is best?

We are on the move again, from East Sussex to Somerset and to an 18th Century farmhouse. The room that the HiFi will be set up in is 16’3” x 14’9” x 8’5”. Good dimensions, but my question is about flooring. Currently the room has beautiful original blue lias flagstones on the floor. These could possibly be moved to be used elsewhere in the house and be replaced with wooden flooring. My current bespoke built music room has carpeted, solid concrete floors. It sounds good, but is definitely a bit forward sounding ( walls are also very solid) and can be a bit bass prominent. It’s a riveting sound, but it could be a bit more subtle, relaxed and airy if I had the choice.
What do we think for Sound Quality? Keep the flagstones or go for a wood floor?

With NBLs a solid floor and walls work well, I don’t know about Obelisks.

To my mind, thickly carpeted solid floor is best - when it doesn’t really matter what the floor surface is beneath. If hard surface floors are unavoidable (though essential then for heavy rugs at near reflection points between listening position and speakers), I’d just probably go for wood rather than stone.

I can answer your question perfectly accurately. Solid stone/concrete floor. Everything else is a compromise.

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This is presumably a direct to earth solid floor, in which case I doubt you will get a significant change in acoustics by laying timber or engineered boards on it. Quite different to a suspended floor.
You may need to make significant changes to the subfloor if you are removing old flagstones (assuming they actually are old) as they will likely have no DPM underneath and you may need to dig it out and instal insulation to comply with building regs.

Thanks @ChrisSU . You’re right. The stones are the originals and near 250 years old. No DPC currently and as you suggest, a wood floor would just be laid on top of a new DPC, batons and perhaps some insulation dependent on the depth we find that we have to work with.
Another aspect in our minds is to help the room actually BE warmer (thermally) as well as sound slightly softer and warmer.
That’s the ideal result. Whether it will sound that way and the effort and expense would be worthwhile is what we will have to decide :face_with_monocle:

I wouldn’t worry about the sound first, and do as you feel first based on comfort, resale value, budget, and hassle. If you do go with wood, solid wood is best. The 3/4 oak over a new 1/2inch ply subfloor we put in our 100+ year old house made a huge difference with the sound vs the old bouncy, splintery wood that was in there before. I’d steer clear of engineered if budget allows.


I have springy wood floors that cause my LP 12 to break dance whenever our small cat walks past (slight exaggeration), it is not possible to have a shelf on the wall at present so the LP12 is in storage until we build our new house. I can’t wait for concrete floors!

There are more important things than marginal differences in sound quality (sorry everyone)…if you have beautiful blue flagstones then I’d say a beautiful listening (and living) environment should be your biggest concern


Having just read how you describe the old floor, removing them and replacing with a wooden floor, will be quite a big upheaval.
For sure digging down deeper, 100mm minimum insulation, concrete base or foundations to support the new wooden joists, etc.

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You might well have a few issues with replacing the floor: First off the conservation bods might have something to say. Next you will have to do a LOT of work to meet current building regs. i.e. substantial digging down with various layers!


A neighbour did much the same, replacing flags with concrete. He had to do some serious digging by hand to get the floor down deep enough before he could then start laying all the required layers needed to meet building regs. He was weeks doing it and several skips!


In not a fan of rough cold dusty floors. I would keep the flagstone floor but have it resurfaced and sealed.

…and once you start digging, you might need Tony Robinson and the Time Team as, IME, some of these stone floors have sub-floors.

Of course, some of these legacy stone floors can also ‘sweat’ quite a lot, so covering them with a DPC needs serious consideration.

My suggestion @KJC would be to retain the flagstones, and cover with a rug in parts (which would still let the 'stones breathe). After a time, you’ll know whether there are any issues with ‘sweat’.

If there are skirting boards in place and these overlap the slabs, a quick feel of the bottom edge of the skirting may indicate if there has been any ‘sweating’.

Of course, a nice pair of Townsend Podiums could do the trick? A mix of old and new :grinning:

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If the building is listed it would, fortunately, be very unlikely that permissions would be granted to remove an original floor. The installation of a DPM under an old floor is rarely necessary and is likely to cause more problems than it solves. The building will no longer be able to breath properly. Sealing limestone flags is again likely to cause problems with moisture. The typical result is that the salts will rise through the walls and chimney breasts leading to blowing of plaster especially if gypsum rather than lime has been used. A good article is on care for historic floors can be found on the SPAB website, search for “SPAB Floors”.

In terms of absolute sound I’d expect a solid floor with judicious use of rugs would be preferable to a wooden floor.

Enjoy your new home.


We did a similar exercise in our old house, kitchen in that case. It involved digging down about 1.5m and doing a lot of structural and insulation work, you also have to let the concrete floor dry out properly which took many weeks from memory.
Not least the conservation aspects, I’d be inclined to give it some serious thought and likely leave as it is and put a nice thick rug between you and the speakers.
Old houses are designed to breathe naturally of course so any modern heat trapping initiatives need specialist skills and use of appropriate materials, lime render as an example on walls, we did all that as well!


Thanks all for the many informed and informative responses. I think, on balance, that we’re leaning towards just adding rugs on top of the flagstones. Perhaps…
Townsend Podiums are an interesting thought for speaker isolation, but I struggle a bit with the spider-legged looks and I’m aware that it would go comprehensively against the Shahinian approach to speaker support, but i guess it remains an option if the system doesn’t sound good.
The flagstones are very smooth, even and level, look great and feel good underfoot. It will be fun finding out what works best.

As an aside:

Some friends of mine have an 18th century farmhouse in Dorset and if this is your first time in being a steward of such an elderly building (and as already flagged above), I would be very careful if you are considering making changes to the structure e.g. dedicated hi-fi room and/or contemplating material refurbishment.

These old houses not only have a character of their own but can also require legacy construction techniques, as they can react badly to modern building products e.g. gypsum plaster and anything which seals walls and alike. Be very careful with supposed damp proofing specialists - the words about my experiences with a couple not printable here.

There are some very informative vids on YT by Peter Ward, a surveyor and heritage adviser. OK, some of these show extreme examples of what can go wrong but I found them informative as to the signs that something isn’t 100% happy and how many cardinal mistakes can be made.

IIRC, one takeaway from PW’s vids is that damp detecting meters can give false positives for damp, when they are really detecting the presence of salts coming out of the building’s fabric.


What a lovely way to put it :slight_smile:

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