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The Basics of Soundproofing: Sound Insulation & Sound Testing for Part E of the Building Regulations

Posted in Soundproofing & Sound Testing on Feb 10, 2018

Soundproofing to ensure you meet the requirements of Part E of the Building Regulations should not be seen as an arduous task. Achieving good soundproofing between houses and flats is essential for our growing cities, nobody wants to hear their neighbours through a poorly soundproofed wall or hear the flat above you walking to and fro. Poor Sound Insulation is an issue that plagues many houses both small and large, through the development of noisy hobbies such as gaming systems, drum kits or food processors, or simply poorly soundproofed properties.

A lot of homeowners aren’t aware of the sound insulation requirements of Part E of the Building Regulations and further to this most won’t necessarily understand the importance of Sound Testing to show compliance with the regulations. Soundproofing to achieve compliance with Part E, should not be just about ‘Passing’ because if you ‘Just Pass’ or have a ‘Marginal Pass’ this means the property passes the required test but has poor soundproofing. This will have a knock-on effect for the owner renting the property for an extended period or the purchaser feeling they have purchased their dream home.

NOVA Acoustics Ltd deals with builders, architects, developers and specifiers on a day to day basis and the challenges behind soundproofing are very apparent. This series of articles aims to provide a baseline of knowledge for those suffering from a noise issue or designing or engineering a solution to a noise issue. Firstly we look at the Basic Principles of Soundproofing…..


Decoupling

We’ve all been in homes or flats where you can hear a person walking across the floor in the room directly above. This is particularly noticeable in buildings which have hardwood or marble floors and apartment buildings which have not been converted to a particularly high standard.

One of the best ways to reduce the sound of people walking on the floor above is to decouple the ceiling structure from the floor joists. This can be done using a Genie Clip System, a Resilient Bar System, A suspended MF Ceiling or an Independent Ceiling to decouple of the SoundBloc plasterboard linings from the joists above. Second to this decoupling the floor and creating a floating floor creates a suspension in the floor and decouples the cosmetic floor finish from the sub floor and minimise impact sound transference.

The same kind of system can also be used on the walls by creating a staggered or double stud wall which helps to reduce the spread of sound waves and vibration through the partition wall. Ideally, two layers of studwork should be installed with a good quality and high density acoustic mineral wool between the studs to reduce sound transmission even further.

Acoustic Mineral Wool

To ensure your partition floor or wall achieves a good degree of sound insulation, you will need to install a good quality mineral wool between the joists or studwork. This needs to be tightly fitted between the framework to ensure a ‘snug’ fit and not have any gaps or voids. ALOT of soundproofing and building supplies companies will call any mineral wool ‘Acoustic Mineral Wool’ but to ensure you are getting the best product there is one simple rule. If it comes in a roll it is not acoustic! (Even if its got acoustic written on it!). We specify good quality Acoustic Slab Insulation, such as Rockwool RW45, Rockwool Flexi or Rockwool RW3. These mineral wool products come in varying slab sizes and whilst having a higher mass per cubic metre, improving the sound insulation, they are also easy to install and sit snuggly between you joists or studwork.

Mass

One of the key ways to improve the sound insulation of a party floor or wall is to ensure there is adequate mass, this can be done by using one of the higher mass mineral wool products mentioned above. There are also a number of Mass Loaded Vinyl products which can be used to apply to floors or walls. Finally, using SoundBloc, Duraline or SoundPlank ensures that your plasterboard linings also have the optimum mass. It is very challenging to achieve the requirements of Part E of the Building Regulations when using standard 12.5mm plasterboard on your ceiling.

For sound to travel through a wall, it actually has to move, hence the vibration. By making the walls heavy and a lot more rigid, they become harder to move, meaning the vibrations will be reduced. Some cost-effective choices for making walls heavier include plywood, OSB, and cement board. Though a heavy wall will still vibrate somewhat and you will still hear low frequencies, the sound will be reduced dramatically.

Air Tight Seal

One of the key areas to guarantee the sound insulation performance you are aiming for is by achieving an air tight seal. Air is like water, if there is any gaps, holes or cracks it will find a way through. Poor sealing is one of the most common reason for Sound Test Failures and is so easy to overcome. For example, with a timber floor construction take the following steps:

  • Insulate between the joists with Rockwool RW45 and ensure this is tightly fitted between the timbers. Cut the insulation slightly proud of the joist spacing so that it holds itself in place.
  • Ensure you leave an air cavity of 25 – 50% of the joist, this significantly improves the floors performance, never overfill with mineral wool and NEVER use Kingspan.
  • On the underside of the ceiling, Install your ceiling system, Resilient Bars or Genie Clips. When installing your first layer of SoundBloc plasterboard affix this to the Resilient Bar or Furring Channel with no mechanical fixings (screws) to the joists. Finish the plasterboard with a 3mm gap around the perimeter. At this stage silicone the perimeter and joints. Now apply your second layer of SoundBloc plasterboard, stagger the joints, and follow the same process of finishing with a 3mm gap and silicone the perimeter and joints.
  • From above apply your subfloor layer of 22mm Chipboard, if you are wanting a higher performing floor use a Cement Particle Board, this layer will need to be screwed into the joists. At this stage seal the perimeter and junctions within the room to ensure there are no gaps or holes.
  • Finally lay your Composite rubber floor layer, Mutemat 2, over the top.

Add Damping

Finally adding damping to your wall and ceiling can help to dissipate the vibrations caused by sound waves. One of the easiest ways to add damping is to apply a layer of Tecsound between the plasterboard layers. Damping can be applied to all of the above soundproofing methods so long as two layers of board or drywall are being installed. When combined with a hot or resilient channel this results in a particularly effective soundproofing method.

NOVA Acoustics Ltd have a published a huge amount of Free Sound Insulation Design Advice here, including soundproofing floor and wall systems, as well as how to approach acoustic detailing and flanking sound. Click through to our Sound Insulation Design Advice section. Or if you need Sound Testing or Consultancy...Give us a Call to chat with one of our friendly consultants.

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- Paul Hastings

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

30th May, 2017

I engaged Nova at the outset of my project (which I recommend you do) to assist with providing a detailed material specification and installation guidance. There was always someone available to help with practical enquiries and advice...

- C.G. Henry

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29th Nov, 2017

I had Adam come round to a property which i thought was beyond repair. He gave sound advice with exact details of what needed to be carried out in the most cost effective manner. Once the works were carried out he returned, tested it...

- Andrew Youngson

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

6th Dec, 2017

I have worked with the team at nova on a number of projects and have always been very helpful and competitively priced. Highly recommend this company for any sound test and report.

- Carol Chaplin

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14th Jun, 2017

Excellent service, engineer was very informative and helpful.  Good customer service being able to speak to knowledgeable people on the telephone when making inquires about the procedure involved for the sound testing of our property...

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★ ★ ★ ★ ★

2nd Dec, 2015

Good efficient service. Recommend it to all.

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- Gavin Boby

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9th Nov, 2015

Very attentive and friendly service, keen to serve the client, and absolutely not about dragging the case out for fees - will work to save the client fees, and understand the practicalities of the case and the opposition that applications...

- Ejaz Shah

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9th Nov, 2016

Adam was very attentive and very professional answered all my questions and returned all calls the engineer arrived at the time agreed and again explained everything before carrying out the test , and we received our report within couple...

- Charles OKell

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

23rd Feb, 2017

Its a tricky area and you need the right support, Paul Robinson  brought Adam's team to the table and we'll be working together again in future for sure.

- Ainsley Black

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

14th Dec, 2016

Although we had followed the building reg, in terms of sound insulation the property conversion still failed the sound Test. Adam was very helpful and professional and guided us to the point that when it was retested again we passed. Would...

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19th Jun, 2017

Friendly efficient and cost effective service, without complication

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26th Oct, 2017

Very quick service, would recommend to others

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20th Dec, 2016

Excellent service and communication with all the members of staff we had dealings with.  A very professional approach and attitude by all.  An experience that is refreshing within the building sector and a company I could recommend...

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2nd Oct, 2017

Fast turn around and great service, recommended

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21st Sep, 2016

Excellent service by Adam and the team at Nova. The service they delivered was efficient, competitive and I would highly recommend them!

- Carol Richards

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20th Jul, 2016

Having selected Nova Accoustics to perform a sound test on my latest project, I found the whole process completely professional, prompt & efficient .

The phone contact to set up the appointment was extremely  helpful...

- Michael Dickinson

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1st Mar, 2017

Having used Nova Acoustics on several projects, I would not hesitate in recommending this company.

- Steph Openshaw

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7th Sep, 2017

Fantastic service very quick and punctual highly recommended.

- Chris Bullerwell

★ ★ ★ ★ ★

22nd Nov, 2016

Used Nova Acoustics to sound test a property we'd converted in the Newcastle area.

Excellent service from start to finish. Professional, helpful & reliable throughout...highly recommended.

- Andrew Holmes

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23rd Mar, 2017

Really helpful team of people and very quick service, which was greatly appreciated.

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17th Aug, 2016

We are a small design firm and NOVA Acoustics provided very sufficient services to our clients with reasonable price. And they are quick to respond too.  Highly recommended.

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24th Apr, 2017

Very good company, communicated all the way through.  Competitive pricing, I will be using them again in the near future.

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6th Jul, 2017

First Class, prompt professional service. I will recommend to other clients.

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5th Oct, 2017

Excellent  service so far and will be contacting them again for their services.

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26th Jul, 2017

Fantastic service from this company at a very reasonable price, would definitely recomend....

- Robert Myers

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27th Apr, 2017

I used Nova acoustics to sound test my basement flat conversion for the building control certificate

And found them to be professional and friendly. The test was done mid afternoon and I had received by six o'clock the same...

- Stephen Shaw

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13th Jul, 2017

Excellent service. Would recommend to anyone needing assistance with matters arising from acoustics and noise.

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29th Jun, 2017

iKoustic have worked with Nova Acoustics for some time now and they are constantly thorough, professional and super helpful in everything they do ... They are certainly our partner of choice ... Rick

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10th Aug, 2017

Prompt, friendly, efficient, professional... would recommend and use again.

- Gary Oliver

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20th Mar, 2017

As most of you reading this message are now probably aware  the difficulty of finding guidance and compliance of the part E building regulations is an arduous task. Well search no more! Adam at Nova Acoustics not only talked me through...

- Kate Whitehead

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27th Jul, 2017

Speedy quote, arranging the testing & report! Seb was really friendly & efficient onsite. Highly recommend!

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26th Sep, 2017

Came promptly at the requested time. Did the work professionally and in good time and provided the required reports so no issues or problems to report.

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27th Jul, 2017

NOVA provided a fast and efficient service. They came to carry out the sound tests on my 8 Bed HMO, which was a change of use from 4 flats. Very friendly and professional service. Mark (Hull)

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4th Oct, 2017

Excellent company, providing a professional service at a competitive price and a quick, hassle free  experience. I would recommend them to anyone.

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31st Aug, 2017

Excellent service from start to finish.

Highly professional team who where very accommodating to the team on site and worked exceptional well with everyone.

Having worked with other companies within the same...

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31st Oct, 2017

Excellent speedy service, Luigi was very proficient and professional at carrying out his job, a real asset to the company. Thank you Luigi. Kind Regards, Ant Mason

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