Growing demand for both domestic and commercial properties is creating tightly packed neighbourhoods and business communities that edge closer to busy roads and public areas, making noise pollution an increasingly dominant part of everyday life. Annemarie Shotton, Category Manager for Insulation at CCF, discusses the importance of acoustics.
Sources of noise, whether airborne from traffic or voices or from impact such as people walking around upstairs, can be distracting for office workers, a problem for hotel occupants, and detrimental to the well-being of hospital patients. Most people would probably blame it on “paper-thin walls”, but the reality is that modern building methods are creating environments which retain and reflect noise. Better soundproofing of the outer-building shell, lightweight construction inside, and a requirement for airtightness, all combine to exclude external noise and contain internal noise. This is where an intelligent insulation choice can make a real difference.
The accurate specification and installation of insulation can greatly minimise noise disturbance. Acoustic solutions vary from specialist ceiling tiles, insulation within walls / partitions, or floors. Insulation requirements will vary depending on application and construction type.
Part E of Building Regulations proves just how important good acoustics are. The legislation applies to any building used as a dwelling, or rooms used for residential purposes such as student apartments, nursing homes, and hotels. It is also applicable for converted buildings. The regulation outlines the minimum value of airborne sound insulation and impact sound insulation which needs to be achieved by each building type.
The robustdetails® scheme was launched in 2003 and has been successful at providing an alternative to pre-completion sound testing. A number of random checks are completed on registered newly adjoined building sites. To meet the requirements, the property must be capable of consistently exceeding the performance standards, be practical to build, and be reasonably tolerant to workmanship.
However, the prevalence of residences constructed before the introduction of Part E has meant acoustic issues remain a common challenge. The first step for a retrofit solution, before any products are even purchased, is to ascertain the source of the sound and ultimately where the insulation needs to be installed.
The best way to make an assessment is to turn everything off in the building and listen for external sounds at different times of the day. It is worth taking note of comparative noise levels to not only give a considered outcome, but to provide supporting data for the Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings that are used during product specification. All noises above a 25 decibel level (dB) will generally be noticed by an individual with normal hearing and in general people require a sound level below this to sleep. The range 35-85 dB is regarded as intrusive and restrictive for intellectual work.
Once the source of the noise has been identified, the most suitable product for achieving a sound solution must be determined. Standard drywall can be quite thin so walls themselves will often let in the majority of neighbouring noise.
A cost effective way to achieve acoustic performance in both domestic and commercial situations is to use acoustic stud with built-in discontinuity which results in improved sound insulation.
Acoustic stud, such as that offered through Tradeline which is exclusive to CCF, is designed to offer better sound insulation in the key speech frequency bands (250 to 1000 Hz), whilst maintaining structural strength and integrity. This enables slimmer partitions to be constructed which maximise floor space whilst still satisfying high acoustic requirements.
Navigating the hundreds of different insulation products and applications can be difficult. It is always worth getting advice from experts, which is more valuable if you choose a distributor that specialises in insulation such as CCF. This approach will make it much easier to ensure you consider all sources of external and internal noise, whilst following Part E regulations should ensure that the right insulation provides a sound solution to any disruption.
CCF is a leading interiors, building products, and insulation distributor, with specialist knowledge and availability of insulation products. To promote its ‘know how’ in the insulation market, CCF has partnered with Celotex, Knauf Insulation, and Kingspan to provide additional support and customer offers throughout 2015. For further information on the specialist insulation products offered by CCF or to locate your nearest branch visit www.ccfltd.co.uk