The Pathway to Good Acoustic Design

The Pathway to Good Acoustic Design 

There are many important acoustic design considerations when designing for apartment blocks, which require both airborne wall and floor and impact floor testing. here are a few of the main considerations:

  • 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.

Sound_Testing_Flats

By simply constructing a good separating wall or floor this may not in itself provide sufficient sound insulation to comply with Building Regulations Part E as the junctions of each separating wall and/or floor with other parts of the building are as equally important. One of the main problems with partition failure is down to noise flanking, this can occur via construction components such as:

  • The internal partitions
  • The inner leaf of the external wall
  • The external wall cavities
  • The external façade or outer leaf
  • The roof structure
  • 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.

architect drafting a house blueprint

architect drafting a house blueprint

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 Some cases, sound test failure can also be down to the poor workmanship rather than the acoustic design, that is why we offer a full acoustic package which includes for site survey visits; that way we have the acoustic design and onsite construction covered, reducing the chance of sound test failure.

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

Acoustic Terminology M-S

Acoustic Terminology M-S

Our previous blog explained the  of acoustic terminology, this blog covers  M-S.

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.

If your project requires some acoustic design input and/or sound insulation testing please don’t hesitate to contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call Darren direct on 07775623464 or visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk

Acoustic Terminology F – L

Acoustic Terminology F – L 

Our previous blog explained the C-F of acoustic terminology, this blog further covers F – L.

Following on from our previous blogs which gave a brief description of

Flanking strip or edge strip

This is a resilient strip using foamed polyethylene normally 5 mm thick, which is located at the perimeter of a floor to isolate the floor boards from the walls and skirtings.

Flanking transmission

This is airborne or impact transmission between rooms that is transmitted via flanking elements and/or flanking elements in conjunction with the main separating elements. An example of a flanking element is the inner leaf of an external wall that connects to the separating ‘core’ of a wall or floor.

Flexible closer

This is a flexible cavity stop or cavity barrier which seals the air path in cavities linking adjoining dwellings.

Floating floor treatment (FFT)

This is a timber floating floor system which may use battens, cradles or platform base, all of which use a resilient layer to provide isolation from the base floor and adjacent wall elements.

Gypsum based plasterboard

This is a dry lining board applied to walls, ceilings and within floating floor treatments which has gypsum content. It may also have fibre reinforcement within the board.

Impact sound

This is sound which is propagated from a noise source through a direct

medium. An example of this is footfall on a floor.

Impact sound transmission

This is sound which is spread from an impact noise source in direct contact with a building element.

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.

If you have a project that requires our acoustic design service and/or sound insulation testing please contact us at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or youhone Darren Direct on 07775623464. You can also visit our website at: www.aptsoundtesting.co.uk

 

Our Acoustic Services

Our Acoustic Services

APT Sound Testing offers a full turnkey solution for all your acoustic requirements to ensure compliance with Building Regulations Part E and achieve building control sign off for the acoustic elements of the project. This ensures your company receives professional advice every step of the way, with an on-going continual consideration of cost.

Our acoustic services consist of the following elements:

Sample Sound Insulation Testing

We visit site to undertake sample sound testing to the existing buildings walls and floors to check the sound insulation performance of the existing dividing partitions. Thereafter, once the sound levels have been established and targeted acoustic design can be undertaken to ensure compliance with Building Regulations Part E.

sound testing equipment

Acoustic Design Service

We can help develop the acoustic design of the project from the initial design scheme stage through to the precompletion sound testing. In particular we review the acoustic details to take into account the mass, isolation and absorption elements of the construction.

Site Survey Visits

We offer site survey visits which allow you (the client) and your contractor to feel confident about the outcome of testing at the end of the build. The site visits let us check that the installation teams are installing the acoustic materials as per manufacturers avoiding crucial onsite mistakes. You can often have a compliant design which still fails due to poor workmanship; the site survey visits negate the risk of sound test failure.

Acoustic_Site_Survey

Sound Test Failures

If your building fails the sound testing, we can use our experience in building construction and acoustics to firstly diagnose the reasons for the sound test failure and thereafter recommend a cost-effective solution to allow you to achieve building regulation compliance.

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

Good Acoustic Design Considerations

Good Acoustic Design Considerations

In our experience careful consideration to acoustic design should be undertaken from the start of the project, if this process is followed it usually results in successful precompletion sound testing in compliance with Building Regulations Part E.

In many cases sound test failure can be down to the poor workmanship rather than acoustic design, that is why we offer a full acoustic package which includes for site survey visits; that way we you can be safe in the knowledge that you have the acoustic design and onsite construction covered, reducing the chance of sound test failure.

sound testing equipment

Here are some simple acoustic design tips:

  • Ensure all penetrations are fully sealed where they terminate through floors and they are adequately boxed with acoustic quilt and two layers of plasterboard.
  • Use resilient acoustic hangers within the ceiling design to provide isolation between materials.
  • Avoid the use of lightweight blocks in the inner envelope construction as sound will travel both vertically and horizontally from dwelling to dwelling.
  • 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.

In our experience by simply designing and constructing a good separating wall or floor it may not provide sufficient sound insulation to comply with Building Regulations Part E as the junctions of each separating wall and/or floor with other parts of the building are as equally important. One of the main problems with partition failure is down to noise flanking, this can occur via construction components such as:

  • The internal partitions
  • The inner leaf of the external wall
  • The external wall cavities
  • The external façade or outer leaf
  • The roof structure
  • The foundations.

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 and lightweight materials have been used in the wall construction. If the acoustic consultant has not been made aware of the existing construction it may increase the chance of sound testing failures.

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

Sound Testing for Leasehold Agreements

Sound Testing for Leasehold Agreements

One of the main reasons for neighbour disputes is down to the fact that floor modifications may have taken place without the flat owner, first consulting his/her leasehold agreement. In many cases the lease agreement contains something similar to the following conditions:

Sound Testing through Floors

Part-E-Sound-Testing

‘If the tenant wants to change the floor construction within his dwelling he shall’:

  • Commission an independent acoustic consultant to carry out a pre installation test, design the new acoustic installation and carry out a post installation test and provide the results to the landlord’s surveyors for approval; and
  • Invite the Landlord’s surveyor to inspect the acoustic insulation before it is concealed; and
  • Accept that the Landlord, whilst granting this Licence, does not accept any responsibility for the design or performance of the insulation provided and that if any issues arise the Tenant will address these immediately. In the event of reasonable complaint being upheld by the Landlord or his agent concerning noise affecting other Tenants within The Building, the Tenant will arrange for carpeting (the provision of which shall be determined by the Landlord) to be positioned and maintained at the Tenant’s sole cost;

We offer a comprehensive acoustic service to let our clients comply with their leasehold agreements.

  • Pre-works Sound Testing of the existing construction. This offers an accurate overview of the acoustic performance of the existing floor partition/s prior to the commencement of construction works. It also enables us to offer a targeted acoustic design using the sound insulation performance of the existing construction.
  • Acoustic design review – once we have the performance figures from the sample sound testing have been established, we can forward a design that should improve the performance of the existing floor partition – even if you are changing the floor from a carpet to engineered timber floor finish!
  • Site Survey Visit – This allows us to check that the installation team is installing the acoustic materials as per manufacturer’s guidelines.
  • Final Precompletion Sound Testing in-line with Approved Document E. This provides an accurate overview of the acoustic performance of the upgraded partition/s, the results of which can be handed over to the relevant person for sign off.

If you are about to make changes to your apartment floor, and you require acoustic design advice, then please contact us now at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk  or phone me directly on 07775623464.

 

Sound Testing to Office Conversions

Sound Testing to Office Conversions 

When it comes to refurbishment projects such as office block conversions or large houses subdivided into dwellings, we can undertake a sample sound test of the existing wall and floor construction. 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 targeted way to formulate a more cost effective and accurate acoustic  design as we know the sound insulation performance of the existing partitions.

sound testing equipment

The sound insulation levels required to pass Part E are usually 45dB for airborne wall and floors and 62dB for Impact Sound Testing on new build, however sometimes a higher target may be required in-line with the Code for Sustainable Homes; this is usually in defined in the following figures +3, 5 & 8dB, this means if its plus 5dB you will need to achieve 50dB for airborne and 57dB for impact sound testing.  Obviously if you need to comply with the Code for Sustainable Homes then special attention must be shown to the acoustic design from the offset to reduce the chance of sound testing failure.

architect drafting a house blueprint

architect drafting a house blueprint

The amount of sound testing you require depends on the size of the development. All new build properties and conversions require 10% of each party wall/floor construction type to be tested, i.e. if you have built a pair of semi-detached houses you would be required to undertake 2 airborne wall tests. If you have up to 10 flats you would require 1 x 6 pack, consisting of 2 airborne wall, 2 airborne floor & 2 Impact sound tests – known as a 6 pack)  However if you have 11 units this would rise to 12 Sound Tests or 2 x 6 pack. Also, if you have many different wall or floor types you will be required to undertake more tests to satisfy Building Regulations Part E.

There are many ways to improve the chances of passing your sound test at the first attempt, they are:

  • 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.

Due to the overwhelming variety of material designs and combinations due to varying constructions, it is impossible to cover all problems in a short article such as this; however in our experience if the acoustic design is taken into consideration from the offset of the project, then it usually results in a successful sound testing and compliance with Building Regulations Part E.

If you have a project that requires sound testing in London then contact us now, we can propose a sound testing schedule that should comply with Part E. Please contact us at: info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk or call us at 07775623464

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.

The Two Types of Sound Insulation Test

The Two Types of Sound Insulation Test

There are two types of sound insulation testing, Airborne and Impact.

Airborne sound testing is undertaken to walls & floors. Firstly a controlled noise is generated by an amplifier and loudspeaker across a broad range of frequencies. The generated noise is very loud and is often in excess of 100dB. Initial measurements are taken using a class 1 sound level meter within the ‘source room’ followed by further measurements in the ‘receiver room’ on the other side of the wall or floor under investigation. The source room speaker position is then changed and the measurements repeated either side of the partition under test.

Sound_Insulation_Testing_Equipment

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 absorptive characteristics of the room.

The difference in the two airborne noise levels (for walls and floors), corrected for background and reverberation characteristics determines the airborne sound insulation performance of the wall, or floor. A greater airborne noise difference between the source room and the receiver room determines a higher airborne sound insulation performance.

The time taken to undertake sound testing varies from project to project as no site is exactly the same. Taking into account standard site conditions a set of tests on houses -two airborne walls will take one to two hours. A six pack of tests on flats – 2 airborne wall tests will usually take between one and two 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, or acoustic design advice then please contact us now at info@aptsoundtesting.co.uk  or phone me (Darren) directly on 07775623464.