Guides & Advice Soundproofing

Introduction

We recognise the complexity of soundproofing when it comes to understanding the vast array of available noise reduction solutions. For this reason we’ve created a simple (and short) soundproofing guide to provide you with knowledge to support your decision making. 

If you’re still not sure about which products are right for you, please don’t worry. Our friendly and knowledgeable customer service and acoustician team are on hand to help.

Any Queries? Call us on 01484 411888

What is Soundproofing?

Soundproofing is an umbrella term for processes in which sound pressure is reduced, in order to keep noise levels to a minimum from a specified source. There are many methods that can be used to reduce sound levels and our product range offers suitable solutions for all soundproofing requirements. Generally our soundproofing options revolve around noise barriers, which in basic terms are materials with diverse properties to reflect and absorb sound wave energy, or to dampen impacts which result in excess noise transfer.

Before we can offer a suitable solution that works for you, you’ll need to assess what type of noise you need to reduce Impact Noise or Airborne Noise:

Impact Noise

In short, impact noise is a form of structure borne sound that happens when one object impacts another. This impact generates and transmitts sound, which can often lead to vibrations when the sound generated is transferred to adjoining structures. Examples of this type of noise are footsteps in a bedroom causing sound in the rooms below, a hammer hitting a nail or other domestic occurances like children banging toys on floors or running up and down stairs.

There are many different products to reduce impact noise levels and we appreciate this can often lead to confusion about what could be right for your requirements. 

 The key questions to ask before proceeding with any product decisions are:

Is it a refurb project (retrofit) or a new building?
If it is a refurb project, your options will be more limited but that doesn’t mean the problem can’t be solved. You’ll need something that works for your current floor build-up, most likely over the top of an existing subfloor. You can see our range of retrofit solutions for impact sound reduction HERE. If it is a new build / extention, then you’re most likely working in line with Robust Details or Part E requirements. If you are, then skip to their respective sections below. Alternatively you can take a look at our most popular new build options HERE.
What will the final floor finish be?

If you are working to Robust Details or Part E, skip to their respective sections below.

Your final floor finish is an important consideration for several reasons. For instance if you are installing a laminate, wood or engineered floor from what is currently carpet, then current impact levels will increase by adding a layer which is dense without any compression.

If you’re installing carpet in place of a laminate or wood flooring, then the current impact levels will be reduced through the carpet’s natural compression attributes.

Wood, Laminate & Engineered Wood
Some basic acoustic underlays may suffice for your impact reduction needs, however we’ve found that due to the added density of wood/laminate options, you’re likely to need something more substantial. For better reduction capabilities for use with solid floors such as wood and laminate, it’s wise to consider a more heavy-duty resiliant layer, which can be viewed HERE. Some of these products may require an additional stiffening layer before you can install the final floor finish, such as a tongue and groove chipboard, ply or MDF. Further information on this is available on each product page, but if you’re still not sure, please contact us.
Carpet
If you are installing a carpet, then an acoustic underlay may be best for your impact reduction requirements. These are used in place of standard underlays and are designed for their impact reduction capabilities, you can view the range HERE.
Tiles
A lot of impact reduction options for use with tiles require an additional layer before the tiles can be installed and often this is determined by whether you are using porcelain or ceramic tiles. For porcelain tiles, all options will require an additional stiffening layer, this is because although poreclain is a stronger material, it has less give and so can be more brittle. You can view the full range HERE. Ceramic tiles have a few more viable options for impact reduction. We have some products which can be tiled directly on top of, you can view them HERE.

Airborne Noise

Airborne sound (or airborne noise) is a type of sound which is transferred through air. Typically in domestic settings this type of sound is caused by music, televisions or speech.

There are various options available to you to reduce airborne sound, which can often make choosing the right solution a daunting task. To understand airborne sound in greater detail and which options are suitable for you, you need to address the following questions:

Is it a refurb project (retrofit) or a new building?

If it is a refurb project, your options will be more limited but that doesn’t mean the problem can’t be solved. You’ll need something that works for your current floor build-up, most likely over the top of an existing subfloor. You can see our range of retrofit solutions for airborne sound reduction HERE.

If it is a new build / extention, then you’re most likely working in line with Robust Details or Part E requirements. If you are, then skip to their respective sections below. Alternatively you can take a look at our most popular new build airborne reduction options HERE.

What will the final floor finish be?

If you are working to Robust Details or Part E, skip to their respective sections below.

Your final floor finish is an important consideration for several reasons. For instance if you are installing a laminate, wood or engineered floor from what is currently carpet, then current airborne levels will increase by adding a solid layer.

If you’re installing carpet in place of a laminate or wood flooring, then the current airborne levels will be reduced through the carpet’s natural absorption attributes.

Wood, Laminate & Engineered Wood

For better airborne reduction capabilities for use with solid floors such as wood and laminate, it’s wise to consider a dense acoustic layer, which can be viewed HERE. Some of these products may require an additional stiffening layer before you can install the final floor finish, such as a tongue and groove chipboard, ply or MDF. Further information on this is available on each product page, but if you’re still not sure, please contact us.

Carpet
What will the final floor finish be?
If you are installing a carpet, then a dense acoustic layer will be ideal for reducing airborne noise. The benefit to a carpet floor finish means you can install the soundproofing without the need for additional stiffening layers. You might even get away without an underlay, depending on your chosen solution. View the range HERE.
Tiles

Whilst there are a lot of options for airborne reduction, generally with tiles you will have to add a stiffening layer before tiling can begin. This is because a lot of airborne reduction materials are not completely solid, meaning over time tile joins can be stressed and break down. A stiffening layer could be one of several options, such as a tongue and groove join ply, MDF or chipboard. Altnerative options would be concrete over the top of underscreed airborne products. You can view the range of airborne soundproofing options for tiling HERE.

Part-E Sound Regulations

Part E is an approved UK government document, detailing the official regulations for the passage of sound within buildings. We recommend familiarising yourself with the document, as it does contain complex regulations. This section of our website contains only our interpretation of Part E and so should only be used to guide, not to advise.

The document is broken down into four sections, our guide focuses around the first three sections:

E1 – Protection against sound from other parts of the building and adjoining buildings.

E2 – Protection against sound within a dwelling house.

E3 – Reverberation in common internal parts of buildings containing flats or rooms for residential purposes.

Testing
How are these regulations tested?

There are two findemental ways that Part E is achieved, by the use of either Robust Details or by pre-completion sound testing.

Pre-Completion Sound Testing

This method (the most popular) involves on-site sound testing (by a UKAS accredited provider) of walls and ceilings, upon completion of building works but before decoration or soft furnishings (carpets/flooring) are installed. The test involves an impact or airborne noise of 100dB to be generated in a room and then, the level of sound tranferred to adjoining rooms is tested. As long as the sound trasnferred into adjoining rooms is equal to or lower than the dB volume regulatons stated below, then Part E requirements are met.

Robust Details

Robust Details are used to achieve Part E without the need for pre-completion testing. This process includes following strict guidelines on a floor/wall build up, with specified products and installation methods to use, in order to achieve Part E compliance on the given wall or floor build up.  This method cannot be used with any conversions, home extensions or building refurbishments.

What does Part E require for a dwelling house?

A dwelling house includes any self-contained free standing building used for residency.

For these types of purpose built domestic accomodation, Part E regulations require a 45dB airborne sound insulation for floors, walls and stairs.

For impact sound insulation, Part E requires 62dB of impact sound insulation for floors and stairs.

What does Part E require for a non-purpose built dwelling?

For buildings not purposely built for accomodation but are now used for a dwelling, such as a mill or warehouse converted into flats need to meet the following:

43dB of airborne sound insulation for floor, walls and stairs and 63dB of impact sound reduction on floors and stairs.

What does Part E Require for reverberation in common internal parts of buildings containing flats or hotel rooms?

Internal rooms desigined for accomodation within multi-purpose or occupancy buildings, such as flats or hotels, must adhere to the below Part E requirements:

An airborne sound insulation level of 43dB and an impact insulation level of 63dB. 

What do these dB figures mean to me?

Whether you are using a pre-completion test or working to robust detail, these levels need to be achieved to comply with Part E.

The Part E dB figures stated are not the reduction that any given soundproofing product needs to reduce by, but are the levels that sound must be reduced to in a room above, below or adjacent to a soundsource.

For example when using pre-completion testing, a 100dB impact noise is generated in a room, the noise levels are then tested in the room below, above or adjacent. The noise level when tested in the room below, above or adjacent must be equal to or less than the impact insulation level required by Part E, for the type of property in question.

In basic terms, this means that the full floor, wall or ceiling build up is taken into account, as well as any chosen soundproofing product installed. The full combination of all the materials used, needs to meet part E dB requirements.

If you’re not sure about which products will work for you, then please contact our customer service team today.

Any Queries? Call us on 01484 411888

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