Designing for Sound Insulation

Designing for Sound Insulation

Many of the dwellings in throughout the UK consist of large houses or office blocks that have been converted into flats. Unfortunately during the design stage of the project designing for sound insulation is not always shown the highest priority, so many converted dwellings fail their precompletion testing.

Acoustic_Design_Service

We have helped many of our clients achieve compliance with Part E, by undertaking some simple steps. We can undertake an initial sample sound test of the existing wall and floor construction to ascertain the existing sound insulation levels. Once we have established the sound levels for the existing construction, we can then look at extent of the acoustic upgrades to attain Part E Compliance. This is much more effective than just forwarding an acoustic design that may be to excessive and expensive, especially if the existing floor and/or wall only needs to improve by a minimal amount such as 1-3dB. By having the existing sound levels of the partitions we can recommend targeted, acoustic upgrades to comply with Building Regulations Part E.

Even though the sound insulation levels required to pass Part E for refurbishment projects are less stringent than new build projects – instead of 45dB for airborne its 43dB (2dB less), and for instead of 62dB for Impact Sound Testing its 64dB on new build (2dB more) it is still essential that the acoustic design is shown the highest priory from the start of the project.

Noise_Problems_Failed_Sound_Testing

In our experience, refurbishment projects usually achieve 30-35dB for airborne sound and 70dB for Impact Sound during the sample sound test – if the existing construction has not been acoustically upgraded. These figures do not meet the required 43dB & 64dB as stipulated in Part E of Building Regulations. As sound double every 10dB this is a massive failure and major acoustic improvements must be made.

On all new or converted developments, is it essential that good acoustic design is addressed right from the start of the refurbishment project, so the building passes the sound testing at the first attempt and prevents delays in handover.

If you would like advice on your acoustic design or require sound testing in London, please contact us now on 07775623464 or contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk.

How are Plots Selected for Sound Testing?

How are plots selected for sound testing?

APT usually specifies the amount of sound insulation tests that are required. Firstly we look through the floor plans to work out a testing schedule taking into account the positioning of habitable rooms, the room and partitions sizes. We always tests through ‘habitable rooms’ partitions i.e. lounges & bedrooms wherever possible – as per the details shown below). We will also try and undertake testing across walls and floors in different areas of the building and through different partition types i.e. if one wall is made of masonry and the other met-sec partitioning.  Once we have specified the sound testing schedule, the client should show building control to seek their approval before the commencement of the sound testing.

Detail A – Sound Testing through Walls

Plan_Sound_Test_Through_Walls

Detail B – Sound Testing through Floors

Plan_Sound_Test_Through_Floor

What are the minimum requirements for separating party walls and floors?

The minimum requirements of ADE can depend on a variety of factors such as if the development is new build or refurbished, whether the development is intended to be a permanent dwelling, or classified as “rooms of residential purposes” (e.g. hotels, student accommodation, etc). A brief summary of the minimum requirements can be found below:

DWELLING HOUSES AND FLATS Airborne standard

DnTw,w+Ctr dB

Impact Standard

L’nT,w dB

 

Purpose built dwellings

Walls at least 45 N/A
Floors and Stairs at least 45 up to 62
 

Dwelling formed by material change of use

Walls at least 43 N/A
Floors and Stairs at least 43 up to 64

 

ROOMS FOR RESIDENTAIL PPOSES Airborne standard

DnTw,w+Ctr dB

Airborne standard

L’nT,w dB

 

Purpose-built rooms

Walls at least 43 N/A
Floors and Stairs at least 45 up to 62
 

Rooms formed by material change of use

Walls at least 43 N/A
Floor and Stairs at least 43 up to 64

If you have a project that requires acoustic design advice or sound insulation testing, then please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or phone me directly on 07775623464.

Approved Document E: Frequently Asked Questions

Approved Document E: Frequently Asked Questions

Why am I required to undertake sound insulation testing?  

Sound insulation and speech privacy are critical for a variety of reasons. Inadequate sound insulation can be extremely distressing to those affected by it and may lead no major noise disputes and legal actions. For example, in an apartment block, your upstairs neighbour may like playing loud music. However, the downstairs occupant may be working nights and sleeping throughout the day, thus any inadequate sound insulation between these two flats would cause great disturbance and distress to the downstairs occupants.

Noise_Problems_Failed_Sound_Testing

 What is precompletion sound insulation testing?

Precompletion sound testing is a building regulation requirement for all new build and dwellings formed by ‘material change of use”, i.e. conversion projects. It has been a requirement that you undertake sound testing on dwellings since 2003. Sound testing should be undertaken to 10% of properties in each development to ensure that the separating walls & floors between habitable rooms of neighbouring properties meet the minimum requirements as defined by Approved Document E, commonly referred to as Approved Document E; for instance:

  • For a pair of semi-detached Houses – a set of tests would usually comprise two airborne sound insulation tests of a separating wall.
  • For Flats (up to 10 units) – a six pack would normally be required, this comprises of: two airborne wall tests, two airborne floor tests and two impact floor sound tests. The easiest way to work out the number of tests required is to multiply 1 x 6 packs for every 10 flats, i.e. if you have 22 flats you will require 3 x 6 packs which equals 18 sound tests in total.
  • For Rooms for Residential Purposes (up to 10 rooms) (student accommodation, hotel rooms, care homes etc.) – a set of tests would usually comprise: one airborne sound insulation tests of a separating wall; one airborne sound insulation test of a separating floor; one impact sound transmission test of a separating floor.

Sound_Testing_Flats

If you would like more information on our full range of our acoustic services, including sound testing, acoustic design and noise surveys, please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call Darren direct on 07775 623464.

Upgrading Floor Partitions to Pass Sound Testing

Upgrading Floor Partitions to Pass Sound Testing

In our experience of undertaking hundreds of sample of sound tests throughout London and the Home Counties, refurbishment projects usually achieve 30-35dB for airborne sound and 70dB for Impact Sound, if the existing construction has not been acoustically upgraded. Unfortunately, the aforementioned figures do not meet the required 43dB & 64dB as stipulated in Part E of Building Regulations. As sound double every 10dB this is a massive failure and acoustic improvements must be made. Many existing construction consist of a similar construction as shown in as detail 1 below.

Detail 1: Existing Floor Partitions Rated at Approx. 30dB

Failed_sound_Testing_Due_to_existing_floor_Construction_

Improving Existing Floor Partitions

To reduce airborne and impact sound transmission this usually means adding density and isolation to the floor construction. This can be as simple as adding a drop ceiling consisting of 125mm timber frame. The top of the frame must be a minimum of 25mm below the existing ceiling finish – such as lathe and plaster. Then, to the inside of the timber frame add 100mm of Acoustic Wool and two layers of sound-board tacked to the bottom of the timber frame – all boards to be lapped. This should improve your sound test results by approx. 10-15dB depending on the existing site conditions and quality of the installation – as per Detail 2 below:

Detail 2: Acoustic Flooring Partition Upgrade

ceiling_upgrade_to_pass_sound_test

Taking the above into account is it essential that good acoustic design is addressed right from the start of the refurbishment project, so it prevents delays in handover, i.e. to prevent the dwelling failing the sound testing at building control signoff stage.– a common problem.

If you would like advice on your acoustic design or require sound insulation testing in London, please contact us now on 07775623464 or contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk.

 

Improving Sound Insulation on Conversion Projects

Improving Sound Insulation on Conversion Projects

In cities throughout the UK there are a huge amount of conversion projects where large Victorian or Georgian houses – or more recently office blocks) have been converted into flats or rooms for residential purposes. Unfortunately designing for sound insulation is not always shown the highest priority on these types of projects, so many converted dwellings suffer from adverse noise transference between the floor and wall partitions. This can be extremely stressful to the occupant’s well-being is a major cause for concern.

architect drafting a house blueprint

architect drafting a house blueprint

We have helped many of our clients achieve compliance with Part E, by undertaking some simple steps. We can undertake an initial sample sound test of the existing wall and floor construction to ascertain the existing sound insulation levels. Once we have established the sound levels for the existing construction, we can then look at extent of the acoustic upgrades to attain Part E Compliance. This is much more effective than just forwarding an acoustic design that may be to excessive and expensive, especially if the existing floor and/or wall only needs to improve by a minimal amount such as 1-3dB. By having the existing sound levels of the partitions we can recommend targeted, acoustic upgrades to comply with Building Regulations Part E.

Sound_Insulation_Testing_Equipment

=The sound insulation levels required to pass Part E for refurbishment projects are less stringent than new build projects. Instead of 45dB for airborne its 43dB (2 dB less), and for instead of 62dB for Impact Sound Testing its 64dB on new build (2 dB more).

Taking the above into account is it essential that good acoustic design is addressed right from the start of the refurbishment project, so it prevents delays in handover, i.e. to prevent the dwelling failing the sound testing at building control sign off stage.– a common problem.

We have offered design advice on hundreds of conversion projects, so we have the experience to help you comply with Building Regulation Part E and achive a sucsessful sound test. If you would like advice on your acoustic design or require sound insulation testing in London, please contact us now on 07775623464 or contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk.

 

Noise Flanking Paths

Noise Flanking Paths

To reduce the chance of sound testing failure, it is imperative that flanking transmission is considered at the design stage to reduce potential noise flanking paths. Good detailing at the design stage will minimise this effect and optimise the overall levels of acoustic privacy achieved. If designing for residential units, design advice on flanking details must be followed to maximise the possibility of achieving the specified acoustic performance. It is imperative that the design advice is followed, otherwise the site sound insulation values may not meet the performance criteria required and subsequent expensive remedial treatment may be required.

sound_transmission_through_floors

Flanking sound is defined as sound from a source room that is not transmitted via the separating building element e.g. the wall or floor partition. The sound is transmitted indirectly via paths such as external walls, windows, doors and internal corridors. One of the easiest ways of dealing with sound flanking issues is to use isolation strips around the perimeter of the partitions at the edges of floors and walls, this should be finished with acoustic sealant

One of the main reasons for flanking sound test failures is when the inner leaf of the perimeter wall is built with light weight blocks. This acts like a large snare drum and the sound simple travels straight up the wall from one flat to the flat above and/or below. Even if you have used a acoustically robust wall and/or floor partition the sound insulation testing may still fail. If you have used lightweight blocks in your onsite construction and the building fails the sound test you may need to construction independent internal plasterboard lining throughout the inner perimeter wall, this should isolate the lightweight blocks and ensure the flanking path is minimized.

If the onsite construction has gaps, cracks or holes it will conduct airborne sounds and can significantly reduce the sound insulation of a construction. For optimum sound insulation a construction must be airtight. Most small gaps can be sealed at the finishing stage using Gyproc jointing compounds. Small gaps or air paths around perimeter Gypframe framework can be sealed with sealant. At the base of the partition, gaps will occur which can be filled with acoustic mastic.

If you would like more information in regards to sound insulation testing and or acoustic design advice, then please call us now at info@airpressuretesting.net or call me (Darren) direct on 07775623464.

Sound Testing Rating Methods

Sound Testing Rating Methods

Sound tests are broken down into various sound testing rating methods. The sound insulation definition and terms are as follows:

Rating Method – RW

This single figure rating method is the rating used for laboratory airborne sound insulation tests. The figure indicates the amount of sound energy being stopped by a separating building element when tested in isolation in the absence of any flanking paths.

Acoustic_Design_Service

Rating Method – DnTw

The single figure rating method that gives the airborne sound insulation performance between two adjacent rooms within a building as measured within site conditions. The result achieved is affected not only by the separating element also by the surrounding structure and junction details.

Rating Method – Ctr

The Ctr adaptation term is a correction that can be added to either the RW (laboratory) or DnTw (site) airborne rating. The Ctr term is used because it targets the low frequency performance of a building element and in particular the performance achieved in the 100 – 315 Hz frequency range. This term was originally developed to describe how a building element would perform if subject to excessive low frequency sound sources, such as traffic and railway noise. This rating is expressed as RW + Ctr and allows the acoustic designer to critically compare performances. The rating method has not been universally welcomed. Some acoustician believe that the method is too crude as it only considers the low frequency performance, and because site measurements at low frequencies are prone to difficulties, which can lead to a lack of confidence in the results achieved.

Rating Method – Lnw

This single figure rating method is the rating used for laboratory impact sound insulation tests on separating floors. The figure indicates the amount of sound energy being transmitted through the floor tested in isolation, in the absence of any flanking paths. With impact sound insulation, the lower the figure the better the performance.

Rating Method – LnTw

The single figure rating method that is used for impact sound insulation tests for floors. The figure indicates the sound insulation performance between two adjacent rooms within a building as measured on site. The result achieved is affected not only by the separating floor but also by the surrounding structure, e.g. flanking walls and associated junction details.

Rating Method – Dncw

This is a single figure laboratory rating method, which is used for evaluating the airborne sound insulation performance of suspended ceilings. Laboratory tests simulate the room-to-room performance of the suspended ceiling when a partition is built up to the underside of the ceiling with sound transmitted via the plenum.

If you have a project that’s needs acoustic design advice or sound insulation testing, then please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or phone me (Darren) directly on 07775623464.

Sound Testing Definitions and Terms (1 of 2)

Sound Testing Definitions and Terms (1 of 2) 

Sound testing is usually undertaken near the end of a project to show that the party wall and floor partitions meet the standards shown in Building Regulations Approved Document E.  The method for testing for airborne and impact sound insulation is in full accordance with: the suggested methods presented in BS EN ISO 140-parts 4 & 7: 1998. Sound tests are broken down into various rating methods. The sound insulation definition and terms are as follows:

What is Sound Insulation?

Sound is transmitted through most walls and floors by setting the entire structure into vibration. The higher the transmission loss of a wall, the better it functions as a barrier to the passage of unwanted noise. There are two types of sound insulation testing in buildings: airborne and impact.

Airborne Sound

This is sound caused by vibrations which transmit through a medium and reach the ear or some other form of detecting device. Sound is measured in loudness (decibels (dB)) and frequency (Hertz (Hz)). Airborne sound (or airborne noise) is sound that is transmitted through the air.

Noise_Problems_Failed_Sound_Testing

Impact sound

This is sound arising from the impact of an object on a building element – wall, floor, or ceiling. Typical sources are footsteps, jumping, and dropped objects. Impact sound transmission occurs because the impact causes both sides of the building element to vibrate, which generates sound waves.

Flanking Noise Transmission

Flanking is the transmission of sound from a source room to a receiving room by paths other than straight through the separating wall and/or floor partition. For example, impact sound may be transmitted from one room to another through a common timber floor. Other common mechanisms for flanking transmission include suspended ceilings, pipework, ducting, etc. Flanking sound is always present, except in the ‘ideal’ acoustics laboratory. In practice the sound insulation is often limited by the flanking transmission.

If you have a project that’s needs acoustic design advice or sound insulation testing, then please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or phone me (Darren) directly on 07775623464.

 

Impact Sound Insulation Testing

Impact Sound Insulation Testing

Impact sound transmission testing is undertaken to floors only. This test is different, a calibrated Norsonic ‘tapping machine’ which comprises of five ‘hammers’ driven up and down by a cam and electric motor is used to “tap” the floor surface by applying a known force on the floor structure. The machine is placed in several pre-determined positions. The resulting noise is measured in the dwelling below, using a sound level meter.

Impact Sound Testing

Thereafter, background noise measurements are made using a class 1 sound level meter in the receiving room and are used to apply appropriate corrections for external sound such as traffic noise. Similarly the reverberation time (the time taken for sound to decay by 60dB) is measured within the receiving room using the sound source and a sound level meter to determine the corrections that must be applied to account for the characteristics and absorptiveness of the room.

The measured noise levels in the receiving room are corrected for background and reverberation characteristics determine the impact sound insulation performance of the floor. For the impact noise the lower the measured level, the better the performance as less sound is being transmitted into the dwelling below.

The time taken to undertake sound testing varies from project to project as no site is exactly the same. Taking into account the standard site conditions impact testing is usually undertaken as part fo a 6 pack test, consisting of  2 airborne wall, 2 airborne floor and 2 impact sound tests. A standard 6 pack test will usually take between two  and three hours, although this is dependent on our engineers having full free uninterrupted access between all the units/rooms under investigation.

If you require sound insulation testing, and/or acoustic design advice then please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk  or phone me (Darren) directly on 07775623464.

Tips to Pass your Sound Insulation Test

Tips to Pass your Sound Insulation Test

Our clients often get asked for tips in regards to passing their sound testing; here are a few tips to help you pass Building regulations Part E:

  • Ensure all penetrations are fully sealed where they terminate through floors and they are adequately boxed with acoustic quilt and two layers of plasterboard.
  • Avoid the use of lightweight blocks in the inner envelope construction as sound will travel both vertically and horizontally from dwelling to dwelling.
  • The use of resilient suspended ceilings will help improve the performance of the floor partition.
  • Ensure all support steels/timbers are carefully boxed out where they travel from flat to flat vertically and horizontally.
  • Use a high quality resilient acoustic membrane on top of the floor to improve the impact performance of a floor.
  • Ensure that you don’t position sockets back to back in acoustic partitions walls.

architect drafting a house blueprint

There are many factors to consider when considering good acoustic design, and they are usually split up into five key factors. If used together or in various combinations they will improve sound insulation properties over a wide range of frequencies. The main factors are:

  1. Mass
  2. Isolation
  3. Absorption
  4. Resilience
  5. Stiffness

Another potential problem can also be down to noise flanking transmission, especially in existing buildings where you are planning to convert offices/large houses into flats. Here are just a few of the potential noise flanking areas:

  1. Structural Steels
  2. Windows built very close to Internal partitions
  3. Inner leaf of the external wall
  4. External wall cavities
  5. External façade or outer leaf
  6. Roof structure

If you click on this link: http://blogyourbusiness.co.uk/designing-for-sound-testing-in-london/ it will take you to the corresponding article which should help explain this in more detail. Here is a link to our website www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk which shows you our full range of services in compliance with the latest Building Regulations. 🙂

If you would like more information on our acoustic services, please don’t hesitate to contact me at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call me (Darren) direct on 07775623464.