Soundproofing and Acoustic Treatments in the Workplace: Luxury or Sound Investment?
Soundproofing and acoustical treatments are often neglected in the planning phase of commercial buildings and workplaces. Architects and design professionals focus on structural integrity and spatial function, but it’s only when people start to work in those spaces that acoustic problems are revealed. Always looking to trim budgets, business owners may question whether investing in soundproofing and acoustical treatments is really necessary.
There’s plenty of research, however, that shows that unwanted noise impacts workers’ health and productivity, and this will hit you where it really hurts — your bottom line. The World Health Organization calculates that excessive noise levels cost Europe annual losses in the range of $52 billion!
Soundproofing: Blocking External Noise and Ensuring Privacy
If you’ve ever worked in an office close to a railway, a densely populated urban center, or an industrial area, you can probably relate to the frustration and stress you feel when you’re forced to pause a conversation or meeting while a mile-long train clangs by, honking traffic and fire trucks screech past your window, or heavy machinery whines, crashes, and hammers all day.
Blocking external noise is crucial to workers’ mental and physical health, so it’s closely tied to the success of your enterprise. In fact, WHO has said that traffic noise alone is harmful to the health of almost every third person in Europe, and researchers in Hong Kong have found that “noise is probably the most prevalent source of annoyance in offices.”
Beyond that, most people would simply prefer their private conversations to stay private, but even more importantly, speech privacy and confidentiality is an absolute requirement in medical, legal, and business settings. Discussions behind closed doors are meant to remain behind closed doors, and they require protection from external noise and distractions — whether from the outside or inside of a building.
Soundproofing vs Acoustic Treatments
Soundproofing blocks sound from entering or leaving a space by changing structural elements to acoustically isolate one space from another.
Acoustic treatments, on the other hand, improve sound quality within a given space by controlling the way sound is reflected, absorbed, or diffused by walls, floors, and ceilings.
Soundproofing Offices and Conference Rooms
So, what’s the best approach to blocking external noise? Likewise, what’s the best way to keep sound inside a room — for privacy and confidentiality?
Start with the weakest points: windows and doors.
Windows and doors
Standard windows usually fall short in noise-blocking quality –– depending on the glaze and number of panes. Generally, solid-core doors are fairly good at blocking sound, but interior doors are often hollow-core and thinner, so they don’t block sound as well. The critical thing in both cases, however, is how well you seal the gaps between the doors or windows and the frames they’re in.
Sound is like water; if there’s somewhere for it to go, sound will find it. It can pass through, under, and around doors that haven’t been acoustically sealed. According to an article on Forbes, a 1 percent opening in a wall or doorway will reduce the effectiveness of that barrier by 50 percent.
Depending on the type of building you’re in, the external walls may or may not provide enough soundproofing from the outside — it’s a function of their thickness and density. Often, internal walls with no insulation and that share studs also transmit sound easily. Various approaches exist — from de-coupling internal surfaces to doubling-up on the sheetrock — that serve to both increase walls’ density and isolate them from external noise that may transmit through the building’s infrastructure.
Finally, sound can transmit to adjacent spaces via ceiling spaces and/or ventilation ducts, so you need to seal those spaces as well.
Cost-effective Soundproofing and Acoustic Treatments for Private Offices
Use our Door Seal Kits for the simplest way to begin soundproofing your commercial building or office space. They’re easy to install, and they offer the most effective solution for the price.
For home or professional recording studios, use our Studio 3D™ Soundproof Interior Doors. They are customizable to any size specification and come with ratings as high as 56 STC.
Products like, Noise S.T.O.P.™ Sound Barrier Acoustical Ceiling Tiles, combine soundproofing and acoustical treatment by incorporating a noise barrier on the back of the tile to help block sound from entering or leaving while also providing sound absorption on the front that helps control echo and reverberation within a space. You can also use Wood Wool Ceiling Tiles. These ceiling tiles reduce echo and reverberation through sound absorption.
Soundproofing and acoustical treatments should not be overlooked in planning office spaces. They represent more than “mere comfort or luxury”; they should be seen as an essential investment in the health and productivity of employees and business professionals alike and, indeed, the bottom line.
Compared to the potential losses from not addressing noise problems, soundproofing and acoustical treatments are one of the best and most affordable investments you can make.