Noisy Dance Studio Next to An Office

We are interested in getting more information on your product for a customer who has asked us if we could help in sound proofing a newly constructed dance studio.

The wall is 50′ x 10′ and has a business office on the other side. Even though the noise heard in the office is minimal, they want to make sure it does not increase.

The wall is a fire wall with thick insulation. Double 5/8 drywall on each side.

The owner has tried the acoustical panels at his house and swears by them.

Please contact us concerning your product and your ideas on decreasing the sound being heard in the adjoining office.

Dance Studio

There are likely a few ways to approach a situation like this. I would recommend starting out reading our article on sound blocking vs sound absorbing to help understand the basics of what you’re trying to accomplish here. I have had a fair amount of other inquiries for dance studios and business offices and it is generally a challenging situation for a few reasons, which I can explain further if you would like.
Acoustical panels are typically intended as a way to absorb echo within the room they are installed.  They do not block sound from passing through the wall. In fact, most products that do a good job absorption are going to allow the sound to pass right through them. The owner may have used them in a situation where there was now less echo and sound pressure in the room. This reduces the energy hitting the wall, creating the perception of a reduction of noise. 90% of acoustical panels on the market do not have any kind of STC rating, which is a measure of sound transmission loss, which is what you would want in this particular situation.

What you are going to want to do here is block the sound. Blocking sound is done in one of two ways. You can add mass/density to the wall assembly or you can decouple the wall assembly. Basically, decoupling is going to make it so that one side of the wall does not have a hard surface contact with the other. The most effective of these two would be to decouple the wall assembly. Most commonly this is achieved with a Resilient Channel Isolation Clip (RSIC-1 clip).  Without getting too detailed with the installation, these clips are installed onto the studs and a hat or furring channel is snapped into the clips.  Additional layers of sheetrock are then installed on the face of the hat channel.

The other challenge here is the going to be the type of noise being generated by the dance studio. Physics say that the lower the frequency of the noise, the more difficult it become to block, or even reduce. I would expect the music in the dance studio to generate a good amount of lower frequency noise (bass). So all of the low frequency noise may not be blocked when this is completed. Blocking the bass completely would take a fairly significant re-engineering of the wall assembly.

With that said, just remember that every situation is going to be different.  To treat the noise problem of an office next to a dance studio will require a completely different approach than if the dance studio were next to a manufacturing plant. The office environment typically will start out with a low level of background noise, which makes it easier for the occupants in the office to hear the noise from the dance studio. If you were in a manufacturing area where the background noise is going to be a lot higher to begin with, the dance studio’s noise may be at the same level as the background noise. Just like it is a lot harder to hear someone whispering in a noisy cafeteria vs a quiet library.

Have you been in a similar situation? What would you do differently?


6 Comments

  1. Leslie Mechanic-Lind

    Hi Ted, We have a very similar problem with a second floor ballet studio next door to psychotherapist’ offices. I just sent you an email laying out the problem. Thanks so much, Leslie

  2. Ted W

    Leslie, thanks for the comment!

    Just in case other readers also have a similar problem, I’m going to post a bit of what I answered in our e-mails.

    To sum up your situation for those interested, you are having a problem with a dance studio in a 2 story commercial building with the studio being one of 5 tenants on the second floor. The dance studio shares the southern wing of the second floor with therapists’ offices. The shared wall was built with soundproofing in mind and was treated when constructed. The problem comes in when the studio installed its own flooring. The problem is that the therapists are hearing all the percussive sound whenever there is any jumping, leaping or landing on the floor. Obviously you want to remedy the situation so that both tenants can peacefully remain.

    Impact energy (walking, running, landing, etc.) is an extremely violent type of energy and can be transmitted really well by a structure. If this is really the energy you are dealing with, it only leaves a few options.

    The first involves tearing out and re-installing the floor of the dance studio to try and limit the amount of energy getting into the subfloor. The challenge here is that if the structure was engineered for people walking, rather than people landing from a few feet in the air, the problem because an inadequacy with the structure and there may not be an underlayment system in the world that will effectively reduce the problem.

    The other option is to move the therapists’ offices. The problem is that these offices are generally VERY quiet environments and can be distured by even normal, everday types of noises. With someone jumping, landing, and shaking the joists and concrete slab, it is really impossible to eliminate that energy from traveling through the floor and shaking the floor and walls in an adjacent space.

    But, if you do want to try the underlayment route, the product that I would feel the most comfortable recommending is Acoustik Underlayment. This is a product made from recycled rubber and offers some of the best IIC numbers when added to the construction of a floor/ceiling assembly. I am a bit hesitant to recommend this, however, simply due to the amount of energy being introduced into the structure by a landing person.

  3. jessi

    Ted,

    I am having an issue with bass vibrations caused by loud music with one of my tenants. the tenant in question runs a dance studio and is located on an outside unit. Beside it is a Yoga studio.

    Recent renovations to both places have included blowing in insulation into the previously empty wall, adding resilient channel and 2 sheets of 5/8 drywall (for sound and required fireproofing), and building a 2×4 wall on the dance studio side with “soundproofing” insulation and 5/8 drywall on both sides.

    The bass continues to be a nuisance to the abutting tenant, and is easily heard/felt when music plays. Normal movement and dancing/jumping from the tenants is not a heard at all.

    Any ideas/suggestions?

    • Ted W

      Unfortunately, my news isn’t going to be good. You will need to replace one of the studios. Bass/low frequency is going to disturb people in a yoga studio regardless of what is done to the construction.

      Sorry,
      Ted

  4. Mary Flash

    I have a basement apartment with hardwood upstairs. It was designed to have a home theatre down here but every step and word spoken upstairs is transmitted right through the whole basement. I think I can even hear them chopping vegetables in the kitchen on the other side of the house.

    I’m going to install a sheet of cork on the inside door of the closet where all the plumbing sounds come from and I want to put some acoustic panels up in my bedroom to help stop some of the echo factor from the sounds of foot falls and talking upstairs.

    This new place is a nightmare.

    I think stopping the echoon the tile floors down here will help but since it’s a rental I can’t do any real renovations. Can you recommend anything at all to help with all this noise?

    I’ll take half a**ed and only partially effective at this point and I’ve only lived here officially for 2 days.

    The #1 way voices are echoing down is through the long stairway down directly to the bedroom. Would cork on that door help? How thin is too thin for cork to help?

    Thanks in advance for your help.

    • Kyle Berg

      Hi Mary,

      I’m sorry to hear that you are having all of these issues at your new place! I have also lived in apartments with the same trouble. Unfortunately the only way to stop the floor noise from people walking above you, would be to stop the noise at the source, by putting an underlayment beneath the flooring. The reason for this is because when they are walking, the vibrations travel from their feet on the floor to the structure of the building. This vibrates the walls, ceilings, etc. Our Acoustik would be the best fix for this, but again, would need to be placed under the current flooring upstairs. This can be installed under any type of finished flooring, carpet, hardwood floors, tiles, etc.

      As for the echo coming down the stairs through the doorway, the best option to stop this would be a solid core door, which you can pick up at any local hardware store, and our Door Seal Kit. The key to soundproofing is based off of mass and density. This means the denser something is, or the more mass something has, the better it is at blocking sound. With the addition of the Door Seal Kit around the perimeter of the door, this will allow the doorway to be air tight and not allow the noise to flank the solid door by traveling around the door. (A 1% gap will allow 30% more sound through, and a 5% gap will allow 90% sound through.)

      If you have any other questions, feel free to let me know.

      Cheers!
      Kyle

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