Church flooring



I’m glad I ran across this forum. I sit on the board of trustees of my church and have been entrusted with making some upcoming flooring decisions. I am a registered architect and worked in the field for 15 years, but moved on to a different occupation around 10 years ago. With my lack of recent experience, this is a little out of my acoustical comfort zone, especially since we have some members voicing strong opinions as to what they’d like to have installed. 

The existing sanctuary (c.1910) is 45’x75’ with vaulted ceiling. The organ is located in a choir loft which has seating for the chancel choir. There are 2 organ chambers located behind the choir loft. The chancel (opposite end from loft) is part of a 3 step platform. 

The existing floor finishes consist of a pile carpet throughout the sanctuary and chancel with hardwood beneath the pews. All wall and ceiling surfaces are plaster, drywall or wood. The pews do have seat cushions. 

The original thought brought before the trustees by the music director and pastor was to replace the carpet immediately in front of the chancel, and the chancel itself, with hardwood. However, we have a very elaborate (and loud) organ system, with a somewhat zealous organ player, and some members of the congregation are concerned with how much louder the sanctuary will become if we remove any carpet. 

My recommendation has been to keep the chancel platform and steps carpeted, and install wood in front of the chancel (10’x45’ +/-), but I have been getting some push back from another trustee on how loud this will still be. Can anyone with church experience (or otherwise) offer any advice or personal experience with reverb or noise reduction? I’m at a point of just saying, ok, just carpet it, but I think functionally (a grand piano is occasionally rolled across this area, unfortunately) and aesthetically, wood would be more pleasing. 

Thank you!

Oct 1, 19 10:33 am

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Get some Db levels of the existing carpeted space and then put in the wood flooring and get some Db levels afterwards.  If you don't like it and/or the Db levels are too high, you can leave the flooring and put carpet over that, problem solved.

That or hire somebody for their expertise in acoustics.  Up to  you.

Oct 1, 19 11:19 am  · 
Non Sequitur

On principle, I do not work with anything related to any church.  Second to this, hire an acoustic consultant and pay them for their services.  

Oct 1, 19 12:44 pm  · 

You should do a micro-kerfed wood to diffuse sound waves. Problem solved.

Oct 1, 19 4:08 pm  · 

Micro-kerfed wood flooring? Wouldn't the kerfs just fill up with dirt and gunk? Are there companies manufacturing this?


No idea about the practicality but i suggest a vacuum for cleaning floors. Seems like an 3/8 dado/ kerf would clear dirt fine but diffuse lots of sound
Not everything has to be a product...


3/8” is hardly what I’d consider a micro kerf. Make sure no one walks across your wood floor in heels. 1/4” - 5/16” is generally considered the maximum gap size for “heel-proof” gratings.


Just throwing this out there and it may be a dud, but who knows - have you looked into cork flooring?

Oct 1, 19 5:21 pm  · 
Featured Comment

I did suggest to the group hiring an acoustics consultant, but they were not into it. After much discussion tonight, we’ve reached an agreement to carpet most of the sanctuary, with a hardwood inlay in a much smaller area in front of the chancel. Pretty much a “this will please no one” solution, but that’s how it goes. Thanks for any input provided; it was appreciated. 

Oct 1, 19 10:11 pm  · 

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