Construction methods are constantly evolving as we find better ways to save energy. This evolution has often revolved around the use of lighter more thermally efficient materials, which over the decades has had the unfortunate affect in many cases of lowering the sound proofing capabilities of buildings. This is why in 1991 the first standards for acoustic treatment of rooms for residential properties was introduced as part of the building regulations entitled Approved Document E.
During this thermal evolution many soundproofing counter measures have also surfaced using mass layers and exercising decoupling systems in an effort to distort and block the sound energy from passing through different structures.
Irrespective of your building’s age (pre-war, single or double brick wall, or post-war, clicker block or metal/timber frame), all these structures will have their own unique issues which has led to further progress in the development of ways to improve their sound proofing properties. Sound test performance criteria within the building regulations was also found to be helpful because for the first time it set a target and level of expectation. Further it helped the growing DIY market by creating a performance bar for comparison within dwellings and so a new market was conceived in proprietary acoustic systems for buildings. It is for this reason that Isomass Ltd offer a free advice/design service, because we recognise that the average home owner/occupier could not hope to recognise or appreciate what impact any small change in the detail could have to the acoustic performance of a wall.
We now rely on the testing criteria to qualify acoustically the quality of our homes and many of the acoustic products available today. It did not stop there though, because inevitably we needed to create different methods to carry out those tests, and those tests are postfixed with different letter and or symbols combinations that are recognised amongst the acoustic fraternity. What is not obvious to the layman is that these combinations should not be compared unless the letters and symbols match exactly like with like. So 50dB Dntw+Ctr would probably be equal to something like a 58dB Dntw and to further illustrate in the context of a wall test to just quote 50dB would really be meaningless, and so should be challenged. It is true however that every material has acoustic properties and that it can vary depending on how it is incorporated within a design, so it is all about being as well informed as you can be before making a selection.