Sound Control During Design

07/13/2010 by Rob Sommers

In an attempt to maintain sound control within a building, architects employ the use of various means of attenuation or vibration control. Most of these methods can be incorporated during the design phase of the building’s life. Incorporating them at this time saves valuable construction dollars.

Commonly used methods include staggered structural supports that break the path of sound transmission, resilient metal channels that soften vibrations, and attenuation blankets that absorb sound waves.

Acoustical wall panels and acoustical ceiling tiles/ systems have been used regularly, and there are new techniques and products now available that cover a larger range of sound problems.

The sound attenuation clip, a device that separates the gypsum wall covering from the metal or wood stud, provides a reduction in vibration through the wall. The clip has a rubber insulator that absorbs and dampens sound waves.

Spray-on soundproofing also doubles as fire retardant. It is sprayed onto structural members, open web joists, metal decking, and support girders during construction. This product is used in open ceiling, warehouse, or retail construction where conventional soundproofing is not applicable.

Duct wrap or duct insulation helps reduce noise by dampening sound transfer through ductwork. The vibrations created by the system’s fan motor or compressors can be reduced using this method.

A short piece of flexible duct located before supply or return vents also helps interrupt the path of mechanical vibration from the HVAC system. Acting similar to a thermal break, this flexible ductwork will interrupt the path followed by sound.

These techniques can be used separately to accomplish a certain problem or can be used in conjunction with other methods to provide overall sound reduction.