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What is Structure Borne Sound? And how can it be reduced?

Posted on Nov 21, 2018

When considering the installation of sound insulation in new buildings, one factor that must be taken into account is structure-borne sound. So, what is structure-borne sound and what steps can be taken to mitigate its effects?

What is structure-borne sound?

Sound itself is created by pulses that are transferred through a medium to a detection device or to the human ear. In buildings, sound is generally either airborne or structure-borne. According to the British Regulations Approved Document E, structure-borne sound is defined as:‘sound that is carried via the structure of a building’. For example, the noise of footsteps across an upper floor that are audible in the room below or adjacent is classified as structure-borne sound. In technical terms, structure-borne sound can be divided into five distinct processes: 

1. Generation: the actual originating source of the oscillation. 

2. Transmission: the movement of the oscillation’s energy to the building from its originating source. 

3. Propagation: the mechanism that distributes that energy across the entire structure. 

4. Attenuation: refers to the reflection of sound waves as they bounce off surfaces within the structure, effectively reducing their energy and diminishing the sound. 

5. Radiation: the production of vibrations from an unprotected surface. Airborne and structure-borne sound are intrinsically linked. The vibrations that rebound from a hard structure within a building create airborne sound. 

In turn, the airborne sound can cause some constituent of the building to vibrate when it comes into contact with an unprotected surface.

How can structure-borne sound be reduced?

The effects of structure-borne sound can be mitigated in a number of ways: 

• Carpets and padding can be installed to absorb sound waves. 

• In some environments, the use of resilient underlay made from foam, recycled rubber, and rigid fibreglass can provide an effective solution to structure-borne sound. 

• Spring ceiling hangers, sound clips, and resilient mounts can be installed where appropriate. 

• In areas of the structure such as subflooring, soundproofing compounds can be applied between the two rigid elements. The compound works by disseminating vibrations that are generated by sound saves as they travel around the structure. 

• Structure-borne sound can be diminished through the use of a suspended ceiling system, a secondary wall structure, and raised floors. 

• High-mass structures that incorporate cavities or offset construction can be utilised in order to prevent the passage of vibrations. 

Although structure-borne sound can be mitigated through appropriate building design features, the subject is very complex. The nature of structure-borne sound is dependent on a number of factors, including structural composition, the nature and fabrication of the receiving spaces, and the radiating surface. The design of sensitive buildings may benefit from consultation with a specialist acoustic consultant.

Minimum expected impact sound insulation standard

The Building Regulations Approved Document E (referenced above) defines the lowest acceptable standard for noise insulation. Impact sound transmission should be measured in the structure, using a tapping machine to strike a test surface in order to produce sound in an adjacent area. The structure-borne sound impact is then measured and monitored.

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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

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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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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...

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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

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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

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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

- Allan Proctor

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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!

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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

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7th Sep, 2017

Fantastic service very quick and punctual highly recommended.

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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.

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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

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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...

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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

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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...

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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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