Sun. Dec 10th, 2023

We detect sound at all times. There will always be background noise, even in what we consider complete silence; it’s just not audible to the human ear. One of the common sounds we hear is structure-borne noise. Here is a quick run-through on structure-borne noise:

What Is Structure-borne Noise, and How Does It Differ From Other Types of Noise?

Structure-borne noise, also known as structure-borne sound, is described as noise produced by an object striking a surface, such as heavy footsteps on a floor. Both sides of the injured surface shake and emit sound waves as a result of the impact. If your upstairs neighbor drops a book on the floor, for example, the collision will vibrate from the floor up into their room as well as down the other side, through your area’s ceiling.

This can be quite disturbing especially if you’re trying to have some peace and calm. Luckily, you can reduce it. The key to decreasing structure-borne noise is to dampen the vibrations caused by the source of the noise. While it is hard to completely eradicate structure-borne noise, there are several strategies to significantly reduce it. If you have ever wondered what is acoustics in architecture is then see here.

Structure-Borne Sound Types

  • Footfall

It’s the most common sort of structure-borne sound that annoys. Footfall noise is all too familiar for some of us, especially if we live in a multi-level apartment complex or house. It may appear like your upstairs neighbors are stamping their feet as loudly as they can, but they’re most likely strolling around normally, and the floor assembly wasn’t designed to properly attenuate structure-borne noise.

  • Home Remodelling Noises

Slamming doors or home remodeling activities such as hammering or drilling are other examples of structure-borne sound. The vibrations travel from other structures through to the floor where they are transmitted into space below.

  • Airborne Noise

As sound waves move through the air, some airborne noise can become structure-borne. For example, sound such as music or speech goes through a wall as airborne sound before hitting the wall. From here, it travels through the wall cavity as airborne noise and structure-borne. The structure-borne potion will pass through the drywall, into the studs, and out the other end.

Other Sources of Structure-borne Noise

  • Rigidly mounted rooftop air conditioning units
    • Garbage being emptied into a garbage chute
    • Noisy pipes and HVAC systems

How Can I Reduce Structure-borne Noise?

If your structure-borne sound problem is severe, or if it is caused by pipes or other mechanical noise sources inside the building, it may necessitate a complex solution. For this, you need an ECA-based Mass Loaded Vinyl like Wall Blokker and Wall Blokker Pro. They are developed to reduce a wide range of frequencies for greater noise reduction.

These sound-absorbing materials can be installed behind a finished wall during construction or between an existing wall and a new layer of drywall during restorations. If you can’t get rid of the existing drywall to install Mass Loaded Vinyl, try constructing a second wall in front of the existing one. When you install MLV on existing drywall with an extra layer, it only adds 2-3 STC points, however, adding another wall would add roughly 11 points to your STC.

How To Do It

Simply place metal furring strips in front of your current wall with an inch of air space, attach Wall Blokker to the furring strips, and finish with a fresh layer of drywall. You’ll lose a few inches of floor space, but you’ll gain some peace and quiet in your room.

A similar product is available for your floor if your structure-borne sound problem is coming from above. The best method for minimizing footfall noise from the floor above is the Floor Blokker or another 5mm thick sound underlayment. Just like Wall Blokker PRO and Wall Blokker, Floor Blokker acts to separate the final floor from the subfloor, which helps to block sound transmission.

Pipe Lagging can be used to reduce mechanically-generated structure-borne noise. Pipe lagging is made up of a layer of mass-loaded vinyl and a layer of 3 PCF fibreglass that is wrapped around pipes or AC vents to assist reduce noise.


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