Hot Tips (Acoustics)

Flooring's Affect on Noise Levels

When it comes to improving in-class student learning and teacher instruction, multiple factors must be considered. One important factor that should not be overlooked is acoustics.

A number of studies show there is a direct correlation between acoustics and improved student performance. In fact, research shows products with high Noise Reduction Coefficients (NRC) and Impact Insulation Classifications (IIC) promote better voice recognition. Inappropriate levels of background noise and reverberations can hinder reading ability, affect behavior and attention, and affect concentration and academic performance.

Laboratories typically use two tests to measure the acoustic properties of interior surfaces and finishes: airborne noise reduction and structure-borne noise reduction.

The airborne noise reduction test, ASTM C423-02a, measures a surface’s ability to absorb airborne sounds, which contribute to ambient (background) noise. These sounds can range from a human voice to mechanical systems. A floor covering’s measure of effectiveness in absorbing airborne sound is expressed as a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC). The greater the NRC, the better that product is at absorbing airborne sounds.

The structure-borne noise reduction test most used for flooring is ASTM E492-09. This test measures the material’s ability to reduce impact sound transmission into the space below. Footsteps and objects dropping on the floor are examples of impact noises. Flooring products undergoing this test are expressed as a whole number, the Impact Insulation Class (IIC). The higher the rating the greater the sound insulation.

Soft floor covering materials are excellent solutions for reducing both airborne and structureborne noise. They have the ability to absorb more sound and transmit less sound than other types of surfaces. This contributes to a quieter and more conducive learning environment.

This article originally appeared in the April 2017 issue of School Planning & Management.

About the Author

Bob Bethel is the director of Business Development, Education, for J+J Flooring Group. J+J offers an online calculator, floorlifecost.com. Bob can be reached at bob.bethel@jjflooringgroup.com or 800/241-4586.

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