Stop Apartment Noise Disturbances Before They Begin

From luxury suites to affordable complexes, one of the main factors to consider when building apartment homes is sound. Living wall-to-wall with your neighbors can make for plenty of noise disturbances so it comes as no surprise that a quiet and private living space is of value to most apartment dwellers, and they’re willing to pay for it. Yet many apartment buildings overlook this fact when designing their buildings and end up with dissatisfied tenants upset about excessive noise seeping in from neighboring apartments.

If soundproofing is considered during development these issues can be avoided, making the building a more compelling living space for potential renters.

There are many ways for developers to include soundproofing in the design of their apartment complexes. Below are 4 ways to protect an apartment from noise disturbances during the building process.

Insulation

Installing insulation is already a necessary aspect of building a living space, so why not use it to combat noise disturbances? This high-quality insulation is designed specifically with soundproofing in mind and can be used in both interior and exterior walls, ceilings, and attics. By replacing typical insulation with this soundproofing version, the building will become a much more desirable living location.

Sound Barriers

Another soundproofing option is to install a sound barrier below the surface of an exposed wall or ceiling during construction. High-quality noise barriers are able to reduce noise by up to 75%, keeping tenants from hearing their neighbors and their neighbors from hearing them. It also helps protect against unwanted moisture and improves HVAC efficiency, making it an extremely useful addition to any apartment building construction project.

Sound Dampening

One of the most common noise complaints from apartment home tenants involves their upstairs neighbors’ every movement. To stop this issue in its tracks, consider sound dampening during initial construction. The Floor Blokker can be placed onto bare floor surfaces and then covered with carpeting, reducing ceiling noise flow between apartments.

Decoupling

To greatly reduce sound in high-cost environments like luxury apartment complexes, decoupling is an option to consider. This system can be used to reduce noise and vibrations carried from one apartment to the next via walls or ceiling.

If precautions are taken early on, soundproofing can be seamlessly woven into the construction process. The reduced noise disturbances and increased privacy will not go unnoticed by tenants.

Have a question about one of these products? Leave a comment below and let us help!

Soundproofing Walls and Ceilings in Your Gym

gym soundproofing tips

From SoulCycle to Barre to Zumba, it seems like there’s a new workout craze every week these days, and with all these fitness classes come new gyms on every corner.

Blaring music, loud equipment and stamping feet may pump you up while you work out but for the daycare center and office building next door, the constant noise can be problematic to say the least.

So what can these gyms do to combat noise complaints and keep their neighbors happy? Soundproof, of course!

Floors

Gyms are typically built with hard flooring to fight against damage from heavy equipment. This type of flooring may be great for protecting against dropped weights, but sound easily echoes off of these hard surfaces, creating a lot of extra noise, especially for your downstairs neighbors.

To muffle sound without sacrificing tough flooring, install sound dampening composites directly onto bare floors for an overall quieter structure.

Walls

Many gyms are located in places with thin walls, like strip malls, which do nothing to stop noise from traveling between facilities.

To stop noise from seeping through the walls and into your neighbors’ space, consider hanging “acoustical wallpaper,” which will suppress sound from moving through even the thinest of walls. This one is easy to install and can even be primed and painted over, so you don’t have to sacrifice style when soundproofing.

Ceilings

If you’re gym is located in a multi-story facility, you’re likely irritating your upstairs neighbor with every class you offer.

By installing these noise-blocking panels to your ceiling, you will stop noise from escaping through to the floors above you.

If your gym is constantly fielding noise complaints from angry neighbors looking for some peace and quiet, it may be time to start soundproofing. By following these easy tips, you’ll be able to easily trap noise in and keep your bothered neighbors at bay.

The Salvador – Multifamily

When developing luxury hotel and condo units, sound transmission and privacy are a top concern.

During the design of luxury spaces the target STC for demising walls are typically above the STC 50 minimum, and are closer to 53-58 depending on location and luxury standards.

Instead of adding multiple layers of drywall to the assembly or using double studs to improve sound transmission, The Salvador in St. Petersburg chose to use Commercial Acoustics Wall Blokker sound membrane.

The Salvador is a 13-story green certified building which houses 74 luxury condo units and is located in the heart of downtown St. Pete.

Stadium Soundproofing – Atlanta, GA

Commercial Acoustics works with a variety of entertainment venues and sporting arenas nationwide, most recently assisting the Atlanta Falcon’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium in their stunning $1.5 billion stadium (complete with solar panels, fan plaza and retractable roof).

Inside the stadium in the premier seating will be ‘Super Suites’, private and personal boxes to accommodate fans looking for priority game day access and extensive catering and wet bar options. With all the perks and VIP access within the Super Suites, enhancing the game day experience by reducing sound transfer into the space was a top priority. During construction the architect and contractors researched sound-dampening options, choosing Commercial Acoustics Wall Blokker soundproofing membrane to be hung on the ceiling of the suites above the Acoustical Ceiling Tiles to deflect soundwaves and create privacy.

Using soundproofing membranes and techniques is becoming a more common feature in high-end venues when privacy is highly-sought.

Orlando Condominiums

The Cayman Condominiums were undergoing a renovation, its first in 20 years. While the existing structure and design were acceptable from an aesthetic and functional perspective, the contractor felt that they needed to address the one major complaint they were receiving – noise.

Metal stud walls helped reach STCs in high 40’s and low 50’s, but the residents at this luxury location had higher expectations. During the renovation, they called Commercial Acoustics to review the existing design and as-builts, and bring some new ideas to the table.

While implementing a soundproofing membrane in the walls allowed a significant increase in attenuation between units, we also worked with the architect to re-specify doors that would not allow weak-link propagation paths from room to room (a major complaint that previous tenants had).

While the flooring contractor was already familiar with our attenuation underlayment, we still had a technical rep out on site to ensure flanking paths were addressed and installation quality met our standards.

By implementing additional soundproofing materials and auditing installation techniques, our team was able to achieve STC and IIC ratings in the unit at 58 and 60, respectively.

Student Housing – Case Study

CA Ventures is known for developing well-built, high-performing student housing complexes nationwide. When they were looking to develop a multifamily project close to Auburn University, comfort, aesthetics and amenities were a top priority. Located in the heart of downtown Auburn, Evolve Student Apartments stands 9 stories high, fully furnished with the highest level of amenities for residents.

The desire for a high level of tenant comfort and privacy began early in the design phase when the architectural firm contacted Commercial Acoustics to discuss wall and flooring assembly treatments. Unlike other student housing and mixed-use projects we’ve worked on such as The Village Promenade and 9 on Canal at Ball State University, Evolve’s sound concerns were from adjacent apartment dwellers, not external noise entering through windows from bars, street noise or shopping plazas. Consulting on the project we provided technical data, modeling out various assemblies and costs to ensure a target STC of 50+ would be achieved.

Instead of hanging multiple layers of drywall where you get diminishing returns and a longer installation time, our 1/8” Wall Blokker sound membrane was installed directly on the wood studs easily and fast with no seam taping required. By having the ability to consult and discuss with the architectural team we were able to increase the STC of the demising walls, reduce cost and achieve a quality living environment for tenants.

Residential Bathroom Case Study – Tampa, FL

One of the problems that many homeowners face which not too many people think about is all the noise that can come from a bathroom, such as a toilet flushing or water running through the drain.

This was a big problem one of our residential clients in Tampa, FL had. During their family dinner, they could hear the water running from the toilet as well as some of the drainage coming from the kitchen. This was clearly very disrupting when they were trying to spend quality time together. The noise would also distract them while having guests which became embarrassing and quite bothersome.

After our team came in and did an acoustical analysis, we decided that the best solution for our clients was to surround the plumbing with a thick lagging which is made up of 2 parts, mass loaded vinyl (MLV) and batting. The MLV provides a layer of soundproofing which deflects the sound coming from the plumbing. The batting adds an extra layer of soundproofing as well as absorption for any resonation caused by the kitchen and bathroom plumbing.

The whole installation took approximately 3 hours. We applied lagging to over 50’ of pipe. This entire process dramatically decreased the sound of water above and the family was finally able to enjoy their home, free of distractions.

Wall Blokker vs Acoustically Enhanced Gypsum Board

 

Acoustically enhanced gypsum board, such as Quiet Rock or SoundBreak, is commonly used in the construction of high STC (sound transmission class) wall and ceiling assemblies. It contains a viscoelastic gel layer in the center which is sandwiched between two thin drywall layers. Uses include but are not limited to educational, healthcare, commercial and multifamily projects.

 

While they are ideal if space constraints are critical, there are other products that achieve a higher STC at a fraction of the cost if small footprint concessions can be made.

Soundbreak and QuietRock Alternatives

SoundBreak and Quiet Rock drywall does have its pros. They get hung like traditional drywall for a ‘fool-proof’ installation every time, unlike resilient channel which has very challenging installation requirements. The material cost, however, is 5x more expensive than traditional drywall, and due to the core density, the weight of the product often causes increased labor costs from contractors. Whereas acoustical drywall is approximately 2 lbs per square foot, many EVA membranes are approximately 1 lb per square foot, and therefore much more easily maneuvered at height.

When analyzing cost and effectiveness, a strong VE (cost-saving value engineering) option for this product is a soundproofing membrane which would get hung on metal or wood studs underneath traditional drywall. Instead of paying a premium for a gel barrier within the drywall, installing both pieces separately will save substantial cost. The Wall Blokker soundproofing membrane combined with traditional 5/8” drywall will outperform acoustically-enhanced drywall by 3-5 STC points on the same assembly, roughly saving $1.70/sf vs. Sound Break XP. See data below:

Residence Inn Highway Soundproofing

A Residence Inn location was having problems with their guests complaining about highway noise in their rooms. The hotel had not done any acoustical testing nor treatment in the past, so it was not surprising that car noise would enter the rooms and disturb guests. This is often an overlooked problem by many hotels, including ones that are high-end. Since there are not many acoustical consultants offering either proper testing nor proper materials, most hotel managers are forced to tell their guests there is nothing that can be done to reduce noise in their room. However, there are simple solutions that are not only effective but also affordable for all types of hotels.

When we arrived at the location, we asked what rooms had the most noise complaints. We made our way to that area and started testing the acoustics. After we tested the sound coming into the room, we made our final analysis and came up with a solution for our client.

We realized the main problem for this hotel was the sound leaking through the windows. Our team recommended they hang soundproofing curtains over their windows to seal any noise “leaking” through cracks or small openings in the windows. Soundproofing curtains are made up of MLV (mass-loaded vinyl) which is designed to block unwanted noise by up to 75%.

After installing the soundproofing curtains, the noise coming in from the highway as well as noise complaints from guests were significantly reduced. By teaming with the client’s engineering and maintenance team, we were able to deliver a cost-effective solution within budget that has solved the majority of noise complaints that the hotel previously encountered.

 

Soundproof Your Smart Home

As the amount of technology and automation grows in new “Smart Homes” across America, there is another silent, growing problem – soundproofing. These homes are outfitted with 7.1 speaker systems, entertainment centers, in-home theaters, and even music studios. However, all of this technology integration can create a noisy environment that installation firms don’t always know how to address.

In these cases, a systematic approach to acoustics and soundproofing should be considered. Often-times there are 1-2 “critical” areas in the home that must be addressed above all others. Whether it is the source room (outlined above), receiving room (such as a Home Office or Master Bedroom), or flanking paths (outlets, ducts, etc.), the designer should consider the cost and schedule impacts of improving the STC or IIC ratings of the systems.

All acoustical designs begin with the Source-Path-Receiver approach to determine how best to treat the problem. It can be very cost-effective to soundproof a theater room with soundproofing membranes, for instance, but a shared ducting system between the two may limit the effectiveness of this approach. By beginning with a general approach, the designer may find multiple solutions, then down-select to the one that is most cost-effective.

Options available to designers include:

  • Improving STC performance of walls – all walls do not need to be treated equally. If the theater and master bedroom are completely isolated, then utilize more cost-effective approaches in other locations.
    • Staggered or double-stud walls
    • Soundproofing Membranes
    • Fiberglass or Mineral Wool insulation
    • Locating buffer areas (closets, pantries) around louder areas (AC units)
  • Improving IIC performance of floors
    • Using higher-IIC top floors, especially plush carpet
    • Using underlayments, especially under poor performers, such as hardwood or tile
    • Resiliently-mounted ceilings where possible
  • Treating Flanking Paths – perhaps most critical, especially in smart homes
    • Caulk all wall penetrations (ducting, pipes, etc.)
    • Use putty pads and caulk heavily around outlets on critical partitions
    • Use solid core doors with tight seals around the threshold and jamb
    • Use branch ducting that separates vents going to and from studios or other loud locations to other critical locations in the home

An experienced soundproofing designer and installation team will consider all soundproofing options, and implement the one that is most cost-effective and beneficial to the home owner.