How to Improve a Building's Acoustics

A building's acoustics, or how materials and surfaces absorb noise rather than conduct it and bounce around sound waves, often takes a backseat to other design features when the building is being constructed. Architects and designers may be concerned about how big windows are so the building gets lots of natural light, or think about the overall appearance of certain surface materials without thinking of how those materials will conduct sound and make for a noisy atmosphere. If there are problems in your building with too much sound, note a few ways to improve its overall acoustics.

1. Foam

Foam is a good material for absorbing sound since the open design of the material allows it to capture sound waves in all the air pockets that make up foam. In an office, you might consider thicker foam padding for underneath the carpeting, or add foam padding to cubicle walls. In many cases you can have blown foam insulation added between the studs and drywall of interior walls, which can also increase sound absorption. Foam stripping around doors can also cut down on sound traveling, and this can be very important if you have a production or warehouse area next to the office; adding this foam around the doors can stop the noise from traveling through those gaps in the doorframe.

2. Film

Film on glass can also help to absorb sound, as glass may tend to vibrate and actually conduct sound or allow those sound waves to simply pass through. Offices with lots of glass walls such as for conference rooms may be very noisy overall. You can typically buy sound absorbing film in rolls and apply it yourself with a squeegee or other simple tool, or have a glass installer apply it for you. Adding film to the inside of exterior windows can also help to absorb sound in every space, and cut down on the sound that can come into the office from outside, such as from traffic, a nearby airport, and the like.

3. Pipe and duct insulation

Sound often travels through the ductwork of a building because the metal material of those ducts tends to vibrate and bounce those waves along. Insulating those pipes or ducts can help to stop this vibration, so sound waves stop at their source. Adding insulation to the ductwork of your building can also help to reduce the loss of heating and cooling, so you can save money on your utility bills as well as create a quieter office atmosphere.