How to improve the sound insulation of a wall

Introduction

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.

Improving the sound insulation of a wall

When contemplating the upgrading or enhancement of a wall, it would be helpful to try and establish an accurate description of the existing walls composition together with surrounding elements such as the floor and ceiling construction. This will help Isomass Ltd to try to qualify the level of improvement that can be achieved and how close we can come to meeting the enquirers expectations.

It is also worth remembering that an airborne performance figure quoted across a wall treatment will also include the wall itself which may differ greatly in mass and composition. Therefore, the same product could look substantially better in one test but only because the wall to which it was applied was heavier or possesses other favourable characteristics.

Isomass Ltd can apply their decades of experience to your application, just simply message via our contact page by clicking here and we will be happy to respond.

For those of you who have a little knowledge or perhaps a preconceived idea of what you were hoping to do, we have three options illustrated that can be modified to varying degrees and are as follows.

This by no means exhausts our portfolio of solutions as more complicated constructions would be assessed and specific details drawn up if necessary.

Option 1:
Highest airborne improvement.

Depth varies from as little as 100mm.

Key to diagram right (scroll through for close up views):
1) Brick wall.
2) Metal stud frame with 10mm min. air gap.
3) Isocheck Isowave 23.
4) Single layer of plasterboard.
5) Isocheck Acoustic FR Sealant to seal gaps.
6) Isocheck Isolation Strip.

Click here to download a technical detail sheet of this option.

Option 2:
Secured to the wall with isolation blocks and supporting rails.

Depth 70mm.

Key to diagram right (scroll through for close up views):
1) Brick wall.
2) Isocheck Isoblock and Isobar system.
3) Isocheck Isowave 23.
4) Single layer of plasterboard.
5) Isocheck Acoustic FR Sealant to seal gaps.

Click here to download a technical detail sheet of this option.

Option 3:
Bonded to the wall

Depth 33mm.

Key to diagram right (scroll through for close up views):
1) Brick wall with plaster layer.
2) Single or double layer of Isocheck Re-Mat M20.
3) Single layer of plasterboard.
4) Isocheck Acoustic FR Sealant to seal gaps.

Click here to download a technical detail sheet of this option.

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