Whether a school or university, acoustics is a major factor that must be considered in the design. Lewis Cooper explains how contractors can create sound flooring schemes that’ll improve acoustic performance, without compromising on interior aesthetics.
THE human ear can hear many sounds, but overexposure to a certain level can cause damage. In fact, in classrooms, where verbal communication (speaking and listening) is the primary mode of interaction, the recommended decibel level is 60dB.
Poor classroom acoustics can have a long-term effect on students and teachers, impacting on reading, spelling, behaviour, attention, and academic performance, not to mention the strain it places on teachers’ vocal cords.
Ensuring good levels of speech intelligibility and listening comfort is therefore essential and contractors can achieve this by using sound insulation solutions, such as acoustic flooring, to mask interfering noises. Acoustic flooring is specifically manufactured with a high-performance foam backing to enhance impact sound reduction.
Not only can it be installed as part of a newbuild, but it also offers a good retrofit solution when it comes to improving the acoustic performance of older buildings – which is ideal as many schools were built in the 20th century, an era where acoustic performance was not as well understood as it currently is.
Contractors can choose from a wide range of solutions. Acoustic vinyl, for example, has been designed and tested to maintain minimum residual indentation, offering between 15dB and 19dB sound reduction. When installed inside classrooms, it can help to dampen interfering noises transferring to classrooms below, helping to minimise disturbance, and in turn improving levels of speech intelligibility.
For quick turnaround times, there are even adhesive-free vinyl options available that can reduce downtime by over 50%. These floorcoverings can be installed over the weekend or even while the building is still in use, further reducing disruption to staff and pupils, but still offering the same enhanced acoustic performance.
While acoustic performance is key in education facilities, it’s well documented that the role of colour is pivotal in creating stimulating learning environments and much has been written about the impact of colour on the emotional and cognitive response of a building’s occupants.
Study spaces that will involve lively discussion and lateral thinking, for example, could benefit from the use of stimulating tones such as red, yellow, and orange, whereas classrooms dedicated to more artistic pursuits would suit softer, tranquil tones.
The good news is, contractors won’t need to feel restricted by style, as there are many specialist acoustic solutions available that combine appealing aesthetics with the required acoustic performance capabilities.
For example, Forbo Flooring Systems’ new Acoustic Collection offers a diverse portfolio of products available in adhesive free or traditional fully adhered formats in acoustic, compact, and compact acoustic versions. It consists of Forbo’s industry leading acoustic sheet vinyl Sarlon 19dB and Sarlon 15dB, and its innovative adhesive free vinyl solution Modul’up 19dB.
With 94 contemporary designs to choose from, which have been split into four design families: Wood, Material, Colour or Graphic, the aesthetics of an education interior no longer need to be compromised when it comes to acoustic performance.
Education facilities can pose something of a challenge when it comes to controlling noise, whilst achieving the desired design outcome. By teaming up with a reputable flooring manufacturer, contractors will be able to receive valuable advice on the areas and rooms that require sound insulation within a school or university, as well as detailed product information on the type of acoustic flooring that would be suitable for the different areas.
For more information about Forbo’s new Acoustic Collection, perfect for the education sector, visit www.forbo-flooring.co.uk/acousticsolutions
For more information on the importance of controlling noise in the built environment, please download Forbo’s new whitepaper.
Lewis Cooper is segment marketing manager for education, Forbo Flooring Systems