Decoupling of Materials

Decoupling of Materials

There are many things to consider with your acoustic design and construction, one of the first – and most important) is the decoupling of materials or also know as isolation of materials. Sound travels easily along direct construction pathways, i.e. if the construction is made up of a wooden wall frame with a layer of plasterboard fixed to either side, with this type of construction the sound has a solid mass of materials to travel across. If we “decouple the materials” it reduces the pathway for vibration and the sound levels drop accordingly.

When we design for acoustic partition construction we obviously want less sound vibration to travel from one side of the wall to the other. It is therefore hugely beneficial if we can decouple the partition framing in our walls and ceilings. Decoupling is a simple, inexpensive and highly effective way to improve the sound insulation results for Building Regulations Part E.  .

There are many types of decoupled construction that in turn offer varying degrees of separation of the drywall on one side from the drywall on the other side. For instance the image below shows a twin wall construction which is far superior to a single stud wall. if you require good sound test results, this is one of the best types of construction.

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By decoupling the wall studs limits by providing a cavity or break between the two walls reduces the vibration trying to conduct through the wall. although this will improves the airborne results, other improvements will still be required.  So although our decoupled framing system reduces a good deal of vibration, we need to continue to the other 3 elements, absorption, mass, and to damping to reduce the noise more effectively.

Our next blog will consider absorption and how it can make a  large difference to sound test results. If you would like more information to acoustic design and/or sound insulation testing please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call Darren on 07775623464.

Sound Transmission Though Windows

Sound Transmission Though Windows

One source of great annoyance is often due to sound transmission though windows, this can be down to a variety of factors. If the windows are operable types, the first thing to check is to see if the widows close properly against their seals and any weather stripping is continuous and in good order. If the window leaks air, then more often than not it will usually leak sound. If the window closes to form a tight seal and the weather-stripping seems adequate the next thing to check is the window frame.

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Windows are frequently installed in to the wall opening with plastic shims to insure the unit is plumb and level. The space between the frame and the wall should be insulated and sealed before the window casings are installed. If this was not done correctly you can probably detect the sound leakage by placing your ear close to the frame and listening.

Usually double pane windows have poor noise-stopping capabilities. This may be overcome by installing a layer of lamination. Many manufacturers offer this service but it can be quite costly. Although double pane windows do stop a bit more noise than single pane windows it is still not very effective. In a noisy environment, you would hardly notice the difference.

Part of the problem is down to the construction of double pane windows; this is because the two pieces of glass are coupled within the same frame and vibrate together, similar to a tuning fork. Sound insulation, however, is increased markedly by using a double pane system and replacing air by argon between the panes.

In some cases the thickness of the glass maybe the problem in which case it may be necessary to install another layer of glass on the inside of the existing frame making sure that the additional pane of glass is well sealed into the opening.

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 us directly on 07775623464.

Noise Flanking Can Lead to Sound Test Failure

Noise Flanking Can Lead to Sound Test Failure

Noise flanking can be a huge problem and one of the main causes of excessive sound transmission. If your project fails the sound testing, more often than not noise flanking will be the culprit.

To get an understanding for why the acoustic partitions are performing poorly a detailed diagnosis and invasive investigation, such as the removal of some of the wall and floor partitions will usually need to take place. In many cases a large amount of noise flanking is due to serious design faults such as the use of lightweight blocks in the construction of the walls in an apartment development, this allows the sound to travel along the walls and floors from dwelling to dwelling. In many cases a wall and/or floor partition may have a very good acoustic design and construction; however the partition will still fail as the sound is travelling along a noise flanking path.

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We often get asked what ate the main reasons noise flanking on new and existing dwellings, in our experience they are:

  1. Where lightweight blocks used in the inner envelope construction. This allows sound to travel along the lightweight blocks both vertically and horizontally from dwelling to dwelling.
  2. Through dividing floors if there is lack of mass or acoustic insulation has not been installed and/or or direct fixing of plasterboard and/or floorboards to joists without using a resilient ceiling construction and/or floating floor.
  3. Through Windows if they are no double glazed or have secondary glazing as a minimum
  4. Through Fixtures & fittings such as light switches, telephone outlets and TV cable ducts where they sit back to back against the adjoining property.
  5. Along structural joints along the perimeter wall and floor joint. These areas should be filled with acoustic mastic)
  6. Structural steels that run through one property to the other without material isolation, i.e. plasterboard is screwed directly to the steel offering little or no noise isolation.

There are many quick and simple solutions to improve the acoustic performance of dividing wall partitions. One of the easiest wall solutions is to install a met-sec partition in front of dividing partition.

If you have a project that’s needs acoustic design advice or needs sound insulation testing then please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk. We should be able to offer you an expedient acoustic solution to help you achieve practical completion.

SOUND TESTING FOR LONDON

SOUND TESTING FOR LONDON

London is a massive city containing in excess of 5 million dwellings, many sharing wall and floor partitions. In this noisy environment it is essential that good acoustic design and construction is incorporated into all new and refurbishment projects along with sound testing for London.

To try and help enforce good acoustic design principles, pre-completion sound testing was introduced in July 2003 to comply with new Approved Document E. The new building regulations required 10% of each party wall/floor construction type to be sound tested on all new build and conversion properties.

We have undertaken thousands of sound tests on converted properties in London and in our experience if the partitions haven’t received any acoustic upgrades the wall and floor partitions – as per the plate below) normally achieve approx. 30-35dB for airborne sound and 68-74dB for Impact Sound. Obviously these figures fall well short of the required 43dB & 64dB as stipulated in Approved Document E. Also, it’s worth taking into account that sound doubles every 10dB, so 30-35dB for airborne sound and 68-74dB for impact sound would be massive failures and careful acoustic design and construction upgrades would be required.

Detail 1: Existing Floor Partitions (rated at approx. 30-35dB)

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Using our many years’ experience in building acoustics, we are able to offer a total design and testing solutions for new and conversion projects. We help many architects and top 10 construction companies with their acoustic design requirements from the largest developments containing hundreds of units through a pair of semi-detached dwellings. We always endeavour to find the best solution, always taking build-ability and cost into consideration.

If it’s a conversion project and you are unsure of the floor/wall construction, we often recommend our ‘sample sound testing service. Firstly, we visit site and undertake sample sound testing to at least one floor and wall partition, is consists of at least one airborne and impact test to the proposed dividing floor and an airborne test to the dividing wall. Once the sound test results are established we can then offer a targeted acoustic design solution to achieve a successful sound test in London in compliance with Approve Document E.

Whatever the problem we can usually find an acoustic solution that will help you achieve Building Regulation compliance  If you have a project that’s needs acoustic design advice or needs sound insulation testing then please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk

Preparing Your Project For Sound Testing

Preparing Your Project For Sound Testing

There are many important things to remember as you near completion on your project, one of which is to adequately prepare your London project for Sound Testing. This means that the dwellings and the ‘habitable rooms’ i.e. living rooms and bedrooms should be the final finishing stage – usually a week or two prior to completion.

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To help our clients prepare for compliance with Approved Document Part E throughout London, we have provided a site preparation checklist – shown below. It’s worth noting that where items are not in place this will negatively affect the sound insulation performance of the dwellings:

  1. Internal & external doors and windows must be hung, glazed & close-able on the latch.
  2. Trickle vents and other ventilation systems should be fitted and closed.
  3. All wall, floors & ceiling constructions must be completed
  4. Skirting boards and cornice should all be completed
  5. Electrical sockets, TV Aerial sockets & light switches should be fitted
  6. Rooms must be clear of building materials, tools & unfurnished
  7. No cosmetic floor coverings should be fitted (i.e. laminate, carpet, vinyl, ceramics)
  8. No noisy operations such as drilling, cutting or ground-works to occur nearby during testing
  9. Provision of 240v 50Hz mains power is required within all the dwellings under test 110v cannot be used.

To attain compliance with Approved Document E one set of tests needs to be undertaken for every ten flats or houses provided the construction system is the same. A set means that the test should include two locations where the party element (wall or floor) is tested. This is equivalent to two individual tests when assessing the performance of a wall – airborne performance only) and four individual tests when assessing a floor (two airborne and two impact tests).

All sound insulation tests must be undertaken between habitable spaces (e.g. bedrooms, living rooms) and not to or from common spaces such as stairwells and corridors. Approved Document E 2003 states that a minimum of 10% of all party walls and floors is sound tested for every construction group or sub-group; however, where variations in the construction such as a different wall and/or floor type then further testing may be required.

APT Sound Testing provides a full range of Sound Testing in London in compliance with Approved Document E. if you would like more information please contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call me direct on 07775623464.

Successful Sound Testing in London

Successful Sound Testing in London 

From the offset careful consideration should be shown to the acoustic design detailing for both conversion and new build projects if you are to achieve a successful sound testing in London at the first attempt.

For instance many of the dwellings in London consist of flats converted from large Victorian houses. At the time of the original build some 100 years ago, designing for sound insulation was not a consideration and so many of the 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.

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There are ways to improve the airborne and impact performance by improving the wall/floor partitions ability to reduce the amount of sound transmission from one side of a construction element to the other and subsequently  from dwelling to dwelling. By adding isolation and  mass to the floors and wall construction compliance with Part E for conversion projects can be achieved.

To help our clients achieve successful sound testing we offer the following ‘3 step package’:

  1. Sample Sound Testing of the existing building. This offers an accurate overview of the acoustic performance of the existing partitions which enables us to offer a targeted acoustic design using the sound insulation performance of the existing construction.
  2. Acoustic Design Review of the proposed developments party walls and floors to ensure acoustic details with be sufficient to pass Building Regulations Part E
  3. Site Survey Visits to check that the onsite construction is being undertaken in-line with manufacturer’s guidelines.

In our experience if the acoustic design is taken into consideration from the offset of the project, then it usually results in compliance with Building Regulations Part E.  In many cases sound test failure is down to poor acoustic design and poor workmanship, that is why we offer the 3 step process to achieve successful sound testing on your London project.

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 us directly on 07775623464.

The Two Types of Floor Noise

The Two Types of Floor Noise

Under Building Regulations Part E there are two distinct types of floor noise to consider; they are:

  • Airborne Noise (for example speech and music)
  • Impact Noise (for example footsteps directly on the floor above)

By utilising our extensive knowledge of different materials and construction Even if both types of sound appear to be are excessive through the ceiling/floor, then there are some easy acoustic design upgrades that should reduce the sound levels and improve your sound test results. By utilising our extensive knowledge of different materials and construction we can forward a simple, cost effective solution for wall and/or floor upgrade. Where our clients have followed our advice they have achieved a 100% success rate for sound insulation testing – ensuring compliance with Part E of Building Regulations.

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The sound testing procedure is quite simple and our engineer will be happy to explain this on site. Essentially, for party walls there is one type of sound insulation test which is airborne sound test and for compartment floors there are two types of sound insulation tests which are airborne and impact sound insulation tests. The airborne sound insulation test is carried out by means of a loudspeaker emitting a steady source of noise on one side of the partition (wall or floor) to be measured. The corresponding sound level is measured on the other side of the partition. Impact sound insulation tests are carried out by means of a tapping machine placed on the floor sample to be measured and the noise measured in the room or space below

All our engineers carry out the sound test measurements in full accordance with the measurement procedures of BS EN ISO 140-4:1998[3] for field measurements with a single figure DnTw and LnTw in accordance with BS EN ISO 717. As per the new regulations the Spectrum Adaptation Ctr which is a correction factor calculated from the measured DnT.w and the corresponding third octave band DnT values.  It uses a set of weighting levels in third octave bands derived from a road traffic noise spectrum.  It is applied to airborne test results and is measured in dB.

We can carry out final pre-completion sound testing on all new build or conversion projects throughout London. If you would like advice on your acoustic design or sound testing please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call me now on 07775623464.

Sound Insulation Testing Terminology (3 of 3)

Sound Insulation Testing Terminology (3 of 3)

Often confusion can arise from the large amount of ‘terms’ used in conjunction with acoustic design and sound insulation testing. To help with this we have made a list of the following terms for clarity – this is the last blog in the series:

Isolation – This is a strategy to limit the number and type of rigid connections between elements of construction.

L’nT,w – This is the weighted standardized impact sound pressure level. A single-number quantity (weighted) to characterise the impact sound insulation of floors, in accordance with BS EN ISO 717-2: 1997.

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Mass – This is a physical quantity that expresses the amount of matter in a body. Walls and floors may be described in terms of the surface density (mass per unit area, kg/m2) of the wall face or the floor surface, which is the sum of the surface densities of each component of the construction. The density of materials is expressed as mass per unit volume, kg/m3, which can be provided via the core structure and linings such as in-situ concrete or solid dense block walls.

Mass per unit area (or surface density) – This is is expressed in terms of kilograms per square metre (kg/m2). This is often used to describe boards, panels, flooring and dry linings (see gypsum based board).

Resilience – This can reduce structural vibration transmission and still maintain material performance and overall dimensions, examples include floating floor treatments such as resilient battens or cradles, or resilient ceiling bars.

Resilient ceiling bars – This acoustic solution is generally metal based and vary in thickness from 11 mm to 30 mm. They are mounted perpendicular to the joist span direction and can increase both airborne and impact sound insulation. Care should be taken to ensure that the ceiling board fixings into the resilient bar do not come into contact with the joists and reduce the potential performance.

Resilient noggin – This is a small section of resilient ceiling bar which is used to assist in bracing non load bearing partitions.

Rw – This is a single-number quantity (weighted) which characterises the airborne sound insulation of a building element from measurements undertaken in a laboratory, in accordance with BS EN ISO 717-1: 1997

Sound Insulation Testing – Sound Insulation Testing is required near the end of a development to show that the performance of the party wall and floor partitions meet the standards as stipulated in Building Regulations Approved Document E. The testing methods for airborne and impact sound insulation is in full accordance with the suggested methods presented in BS EN ISO 140-parts 4 & 7: 1998.

Stiffness – This is can improve low frequency sound insulation, for example in floors, by reducing the potential for deflection or movement of the primary structure, therefore the correct spacing and depth of joists is important.

We hope the last blog in the Sound Insulation Testing Terminology series has been helpful. If you would like more information in regards to our acoustic design and sound insulation testing services, please contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk

Sound Test Terminology (1 of 3)

Sound Test Terminology (1 of 3)

Often confusion can arise from the large amount of ‘terms’ used in conjunction with acoustic design and sound insulation testing. To help with this we have made a list of the following terms for clarity – this is the first of three blogs:

Absorption – This is the conversion of sound energy into heat, often by the use of a porous material.

Absorbent Material – This is a material that absorbs sound energy, such as acoustic mineral wool.

Airborne sound – This is sound which is propagated from a noise source through the medium of air. Examples of these are speech and sound from a television

Airborne Sound Transmission – This is direct transmission of airborne sound through walls or floors. When sound energy is created in a room, for instance by conversation, some of the energy is reflected or absorbed by room surfaces but some may set up vibrations in the walls and floor. Depending on both the amount of energy and the type of construction, this can result in sound being transmitted to adjacent parts of the building.

Air Path – This is a void in construction elements, which adversely affects the performance of sound resisting construction. Examples of air paths include incomplete mortar joints, porous building materials, gaps around pipes and shrinkage cracks – this can also effect the air tightness results.

Bonded resilient cover – This is a thin resilient floor covering normally of minimum 3-5mm thickness, which is bonded to the isolated screed surface to reduce impact sound transmission such as footfall noise, however it has a lesser effect when it comes to airborne noise.

Cavity stop – This is a proprietary product or material such as mineral wool (fibre) used to close the gap in a cavity wall.

Composite Resilient Batten – This is composed of a timber batten with a pre-bonded resilient material to provide isolation between the flooring surface layers and floor base.

Cradle/Saddle – This is an intermediate support system (with a resilient layer base, either pre-bonded or already integral) using levelling packer pieces to support a timber batten, isolating it from the floor base.

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Decibel (dB) – This is the unit used for different acoustic quantities to indicate the level with respect to a reference level.

Density (kg/m3) – This is the mass per unit volume, expressed in kilograms per cubic metre (kg/m3). Blockwork is commonly referred to by industry in terms of strength (in Newtons). However, it is the density that has the important role in terms of sound insulation.

Direct transmission refers to the path of either airborne or impact sound through elements of construction.

DnT,w – This is the weighted standardized level difference. A single-number quantity (weighted) which characterises the airborne sound insulation between two rooms, in accordance with BS EN ISO 717-1:1997

We hope the above information in regards to Sound Test Terminology has been helpful. If you would like more information in regards to our acoustic design or sound insulation testing services, please contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk

GOOD ACOUSTIC DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

GOOD ACOUSTIC DESIGN AND CONSTRUCTION

Unfortunately there are many misconceptions when it comes to acoustic design and construction. Unfortunately by simply constructing a good separating wall or floor this may not in itself provide sufficient sound insulation to pass the sound testing for Part E as the junctions of each separating wall and/or floor with other parts of the building are equally as important. There may be other potential issues such as flanking sound transmission that can occur via construction components such as:

  1. the internal partitions
  2. the inner leaf of the external wall
  3. the external wall cavities
  4. the external façade or outer leaf
  5. the roof structure
  6. the foundations.

The overall design and construction system should therefore be considered and not just the separating wall or floor partitions.  Flanking sound transmission may in some cases be the dominant pathway between adjoining dwellings, especially in existing buildings where you are planning to convert offices/large houses into flats where there are large existing penetrations through the floors.

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Also, it is never safe to assume because the architect has specified high performance walls, windows and floor/ceiling assemblies that the materials and onsite workmanship will result in compliance with the anticipated results. You should usually reduce the acoustic target by 4-5dB due to onsite construction. When the construction assembly is tested in the lab, it is also certified and the installation techniques are described and undertaken in great detail.  Unfortunately it is not always possible to replicate the exact conditions on the site compared to the ideal conditions within in a lab setting, which is a far more controlled and scrutinised environment. This is the reason why a 5 point difference is allowed between the construction design on paper and the actual on site sound insulation performance.

APT Sound Testing can advise on all types of acoustic design, whether it’s accomplished during initial construction or during a refurbishment/renovation project.  We have the technical experience to help identify and rectify your soundproofing or noise control problem.

If you would like more information in regards to sound testing please follow our blog at: http://soundtestinguk.blogspot.co.uk or contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk