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Across a number of studies, researchers have demonstrated that people who live and work in noisy environments tend to be more likely to develop harmful health conditions, such as heart disease and high blood pressure. Specifically, within office spaces, poor acoustic performance has also been shown to adversely affect productivity, increase the likelihood of distractions and reduce speech intelligibility.
A study by Udemy for Business found that 70% of employees cited office noise as a workplace distraction. The same report also found that over half of the surveyed workers believed distractions like office noise and chatty coworkers caused them to perform poorer in their roles, with roughly the same amount agreeing that such distractions made them ‘significantly less’ productive.
In order to improve productivity and wellbeing, specifiers and designers are increasingly encouraged to develop an understanding of acoustic performance and how best to control it. Recognising the different forms of noise is important, as each comes with its own specific set of challenges.
Sound can take one of two forms: airborne sound, or impact sound. Impact noise occurs following a physical impact on a building, or solid material. For example: footfall, banging doors and furniture moving. When impact sound occurs, both sides of the building element vibrate, generating sound waves. As such, impact noises are often hardest to isolate as impact vibrations are stronger and travel further through dense materials.
Airborne noise applies to things like TV noise and people talking. This form of noise travels through the air and will either reflect off building elements when it hits them, be absorbed into acoustic dense materials or travel through building structures and be radiated out to the other side. When reflected, the noise level can increase, and when absorbed or allowed to travel through structures, the volume can be reduced.
There are various ways that sound can be controlled. The most well-suited insulation solution when dealing with impact sound (also proving effective in minimising airborne sound) is through the use of acoustic flooring. Acoustic flooring is specifically manufactured with a high-performance foam backing to enhance impact sound reduction – and acoustic vinyl is continuing to prove a popular option.
Forbo’s industry-leading acoustic sheet vinyl range, Sarlon, has been developed and tested to maximise impact sound reduction and is ideal for heavy traffic areas, whilst retaining a minimum residual indentation. For projects that require a ‘fast fit’ solution in order to reduce disruption and downtime, adhesive free vinyl with acoustic properties is perfect. Not only can it be installed quickly, but it can also be walked on immediately after installation.
The Sarlon range is available in two levels of sound reduction: 15 dB and 19 dB, and the award-winning Modul’up adhesive free sheet vinyl is also offered in an enhanced acoustic version too – Modul’up 19 dB. All of these solutions form Forbo’s new Acoustic Collection and come in a choice of 94 designs, split into the following design families: Wood, Material, Colour and Graphic.
Within the Materials range, there is a selection of concrete, textile and stone aesthetics and in the Wood collection, specifiers will find a brand-new Hybrid Wood design, which fuses together wood and stone textures in a large-scale chevron design, creating a link between the two natural materials. For those that want to add the ‘wow’ factor to a space, the Graphics range consists of a variety of contemporary designs, such as Terrazzo and Graphito. The Colours range features a compendium of solid shades and stardust designs, with the latter containing particles to create a ‘strass’ effect.
The continuous development of acoustic flooring solutions makes it easier for specifiers and designers to cut down on unwanted noise in commercial buildings. With the wide array of colours and aesthetics now on offer, combining acoustic control, residual indentation and even speed of installation need not be compromised. By developing an understanding of the different types of sound and how best to control it, we can create quieter and more comfortable spaces in which we live and work.
Click here to learn more about Forbo’s new Acoustic Collection, and download their brand new white paper The Importance of Controlling Noise in the Built Environment.
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