Our flooring store first opened in 1971 so you could easily say that I was raised doing floors for my Dad. My first side gig came when some neighborhood guys decided to set up a recording studio and they called me asking what I thought, “Carpet or hard surface flooring for the recording studio?” These guys were infused with all the excitement that the music world has to offer but, funds were low. Carpet vs Hard Surface Flooring? What did I know about acoustics?, well nothing really and I told them that. So we put our heads together cut every corner we could, did what we first thought was best, used reclaimed materials and mostly I worked for “the cause,” ( ’cause they had little money to pay me! ). Within in a week we had gone from a rough idea to an actual recording studio.
Then the next 6 to 8 months afterwards found me changing the floors, walls even the ceilings numerous times with them trying to capture the sounds they were looking for. Step One,( or the first valiant attempt ) was for me to lay carpet on the floors and tack it to the walls. And we all pitched in gluing egg cartons to the ceiling. The carpeting, by the way, had musical notes inlay-ed on the floor and walls with contrasting textures and colors. This was my idea and had nothing to do with the acoustics. Money was short and my Dad let me use any materials that were left over from other jobs that our company did. Since my Father never over purchased for any job this left me with odds and ends that were barely big enough for a welcome mat that you might lay in front of your doorstep. But he taught me how to seam carpet together and rather than just produce some type of patch work piece I came up with the idea of music notes. ( This one creative action came into play in a big way for me later with a girl named Shelly but, I’ll go in to that in a bit.) The carpeting was mostly midnight blue, with the music notes in off white, and we painted the egg cartons black with day glo stars. They called the studio The Grotto and produced several records in a few weeks. I thought I’d learned a little about sound and what was required for a studio until the next month they called me again. “We need a hard surface for the recording studio floors.” The question was implicit, “Can we count on you?”
Of course they could. My creative act of putting in musical notes on the floors and walls got me a date with Shelly. She was two or three years older than I was, she played the french horn and wanted to be a rock and roll drummer. Shelly came by the Grotto the night of the opening party and just fell in love with the musical notes on the wall. Seems that I had unintentionally inlay-ed the opening stanza of her favorite piece of classical music. ( I didn’t, and don’t, read music. Wanting to get actual music notes I had gone to the public library and copied down something out of the first book I came to that had music in it! ) She spoke of Fate, of Kismet and after a couple glasses of spiked punch even I was convinced that I was the favored of the gods.. So if my buddies wanted a hard surface flooring I would provide it. Who knew what Kismet might have in mind for me next. Whoever he was!
Carpet or Hard Surface Flooring
Steps Two through Six had me removing carpet from the floors experimenting with everything from vinyl to laminate to plain old plywood and back again. The Grotto was making some money and they actually had it to spend on flooring materials. I spent hours on the phone and in person talking to Music Professors at the University, DJs at radio stations, and Rock Musicians getting input.
We had one visit from the Fire Marshall, and down came the carpet from the walls and the egg cartons from the ceiling. NEVER HANG CARPETING ON YOUR WALLS! This led to new discoveries of acoustical wall panels, foam products, bass traps, and other things, both useful and not.
They ended up back to their original concrete floors with area rugs of different sizes and thicknesses allowing them to actually change major portions of the studio to fit the needs of whatever artist they were recording. And I had built one section of raised flooring that tried to capture a stage like chamber underneath various instruments and musicians. This I covered first with laminate then vinyl was settled on, more for the look than the sound which was about the same.
The Grotto has closed it’s doors long ago, due to the guys graduating college and getting real jobs. I believe I learned a lot from that experience, mostly that whoever wants to open a recording studio has to do their own homework and discover what works for them.
There is lots of conflicting information out there so you’ll have to sort that out for yourself. I do recommend that you invest in some decent area rugs of different sizes and thicknesses though. Whatever you do finally decide on if it’s vinyl, or laminate, or even sticking with your concrete floor with some area rugs you can move around, then give me a call. I, and my crew are experts in flooring. I will do my best to help you achieve your dreams, or whatever Kismet has in store for you.