Carpet that’s seen but not heard


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Sharni Verity, Marketing Executive at Heckmondwike FB, discusses how specifying carpet can address acoustic issues in offices.

“One of the most common complaints in office environments is the inability to work due to high levels of noise pollution.  Hard flooring, such as timber, tile or laminates can contribute to the problem, especially where an office is open plan or has several storeys.

Specifiers have recognised the problem for many years, particularly with the advent of the open plan office. The April 2006 ‘Noise at Work’ regulations were brought in to protect employees’ hearing in office environments.  The law states that employers must implement safety measures to keep daily average sound exposure below 85Db for employees, in order to ensure a healthy and productive workforce.

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To keep noise disturbance to a minimum, it is important to understand how sound works.

Sound is a vibration that is transmitted through solid materials, liquid or air in waves of compressions and expansions, these are commonly known as sound waves.   There are two main ways that sound travels round a room – airborne sound and impact sound.

Airborne sound is sound that moves around within a space, bouncing off walls and floors causing vibrations on those surfaces, which then transmits to other sides of the room.

Impact sound starts with an incident, such as a door slamming or heavy footsteps, which then creates vibrations through the walls and floors of a building and the sound travels from one room to another.  Hard floors are, generally, not good airborne sound insulators, unless a sound barrier is installed within the floor.

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There are two main ways to reduce and control noise in a building – firstly by increasing the mass of a floor or wall, the more mass, the less sound will make it vibrate.  The second way is by adding layers to the floor or wall made of soundproofed material.  Carpet is widely recognised as a better soundproofing material than hard surfaces.  The characteristics of carpet mean it is good at absorbing sound and the conduction of impact noise can be reduced by up to 30dB just by the choice of carpet. Some of our fibre bonded carpet ranges, such as Array and Montage, offer enhanced acoustic properties. The comparative valves for some hard floorcoverings is between 5-15Db.

Take for example an office with a solid floor surface, such as wood or laminate, without a noise barrier underlay, the sound waves will transmit easily through and will therefore be louder in the rooms underneath.  This noise can be disruptive to employees and prevent them from being able to concentrate and communicate effectively.

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Elevated noise levels can create stress, increase workplace accident rates and stimulate aggression and other anti-social behaviour. Open plan offices can become prone to sound reverberation, caused by loud voices, especially when they have floors or walls that absorb very little sound and so sound waves bounce back across a room.  Use of fibre bonded carpet and a well sound proofed wall can ease the situation.

We have enhanced the acoustic properties of our fibre bonded carpet in order to reduce the amount of noise that is transmitted through the floor. This has a damping effect on the sound waves which transmit from an office above to one below.

Our Array carpet is a great example of this.  Its fibres have a high surface area and therefore offer good levels of sound attenuation. To achieve best results, the carpet must also be tightly fitted to the wall.

The sheer amount of legislation covering noise in buildings shows how important it is to get this right.  Getting it wrong can have a huge impact on the productivity and stress levels of employees, leading to low morale and high staff turnover. We have helped public and private sector workplaces all over the country to address this.

It is little wonder that our fibre bonded carpets continue to play an essential role in reducing noise transmittance within a building.

For more information contact Heckmondwike FB on 01924 406 161 or visit the website www.heckmondwike-fb.co.uk.

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