Party wall sound insulation building regulations: How to pass Part E Building Regulations

How to pass Part E Building Regulations

Anyone who has experienced noisy neighbours and the associated stress which can come hand in hand with unwanted noise within their own home, will appreciate the importance of Part E in its aim to reduce noise transmission between neighbouring homes as well as between internal spaces. This article will highlight the most effective soundproofing solutions for walls, floors and ceilings which all pass soundproofing building regulations Part E. 

The building regulations Approved Document E, Resistance to the passage of sound (England and Wales only) sets out the soundproofing standards for new homes and those undergoing refurbishment or conversion from a different use. Applicable to all dwellings, attached houses, flats and rooms for residential use, along with also looking at the passage of sound within common areas such as flats and schools.

The Regulations also divide sound into airborne sound and impact sound:

The aim of the regulation is to protect residents from the noise of activities in other rooms or adjoining properties. This has been highlighted as a major cause of tension between residents.

Once buildings or conversions are completed you have to provide building control with proof of meeting part E building regulation or the building will not be pass building regulations, so it always best to plan soundproofing at the start of the project.

What are Building Regulations Part E?

Noise control in buildings for residential use in England and Wales is regulated using Approved Document E. This Building Regulation now applies to any kind of building used as a dwelling, including houses and apartments; and rooms for residential purposes, such as students and nurses accommodation, nursing homes and hotels. It also applies to dwellings that have been created as a result of a conversion or material change of use. 

The aim of the regulation is to protect residents from the noise of activities in other rooms or adjoining properties. This has been highlighted as a major cause of tension between residents.

Performance ratings for Internal Constructions

The onus is on the builders of the constructions to demonstrate that the required levels of sound insulation have been achieved through executing Pre-Completion Testing of the built constructions on site. Approved Document E requires that 1 in 10 constructions be tested.

Control of Sound Reverberation

Approved Document E also makes provisions for ensuring that common circulation areas of residential buildings, e.g. corridors and stairwells in apartment buildings and hotels must have sound absorptive treatments to control noise reverberation

Part E Building Regulations

Download the full guide here

You may also need to consider Part E2 and Part E3 Requirements

Part E 1 – Provides protection against sound from separating walls and floors from other parts of the same building and adjoining buildings.

Part E 2 – Provides protection against sound internally within a dwelling-house, for example internal walls between a bedroom or a room containing a water closet and other rooms, and internal floors.

Part E 3 – Provides protection against reverberation sound in the common internal parts of buildings containing flats or rooms for residential purposes.

England and Wales Target Figures

Part E building regulation tests can be carried out in two ways. Via Pre-completion testing and Robust Details.

Pre-completion testing has applied to rooms for residential purposes, houses and flats formed by conversion of other buildings since 1st July 2003 and to new houses and flats from 1st July 2004. Also introduced as of the 1st July 2004, was Robust Details in new houses and flats as an alternative to Pre-completion testing.

What is Pre-completion testing (PCT)?

Pre-completion testing (PCT) is the usual way of showing how soundproof a building is by testing for sound insulation as a means of complying to Part E Building Regs. 

To pass, sound insulation tests must meet the required airborne and impact noise insulation levels. Sound tests are carried out on both airborne noise (sounds transmitted through the air, such as talking and TV noise) and impact noise on floors (structurally borne noise, such a footsteps and moving furniture). To read more about airborne and impact noise,
click here .

Failure to meet Part E building regulations can be extremely costly and will result in any sound insulation needing to be improved and re-tested. Test failure is an area we will discuss later within the article.

The following video comes from Adrian James Acoustics providing an introduction to sound insulation testing and demonstrating compliance with Part E of the Building Regulations (Resistance to the Passage of Sound):

What are Part E Robust Details?

Robust Details Ltd  was formed in response to the housebuilding industry and their request for an alternative to pre-completion sound testing to meet Part E building regulations. The Robust Details scheme is used for new adjoined dwellings, (not for conversions, home extensions, or building refurbishments).

Robust details are high performance separating wall and floor constructions (with associated construction details) that are expected to be sufficiently reliable not to need the check provided by pre-completion testing.

Developers choose details from The Robust Details handbook, register their plots prior to starting work on site and build by following their specifications.

Visit Robust details website

How to pass Part E soundproofing building regs

Property type and construction can vary dramatically from building to building, therefore it would be virtually impossible to write an article covering off every single variation of build and every possible Part E building regs pass solution for every scenario.
This article covers examples of the most effective soundproofing products in passing Part E building regs for walls, floors and ceilings based on the most common build of brick party walls, timber stud walls and timber and concrete floors.

The Soundproofing Store offer expert advice across all types of construction and how to pass soundproofing building regulations (Part E). It is always recommended to speak to a professional, (like
The Soundproofing Store ) before any Part E regs work is undertaken. Failing Part E can be very expensive and in our experience, avoidable had the right advice been sought at the start. 

How to pass Part E building Regulations

How to pass Part E building regulations for party walls? 

Highlighted below are three wall soundproofing solutions all of which pass Part E Building Regulations based on a brick party wall and timber stud wall.  The key to effective soundproofing against airborne noise is all about adding mass to block any unwanted noise. Effective soundproofing solutions also contain different types of materials. Simply adding more of the same material results in less efficient soundproofing than a combination of different materials. This is because different materials offer different soundproofing capabilities against different types of sounds.

Solid Wall Soundproofing: ProSound™ SoundBoard3 

The ProSound™ SoundBoard3 is a direct to wall soundproofing solution made up of 3 layers of high mass soundproofing materials and ideal for low levels of noise. At only 27mm thick, this is The Soundproofing Store’s thinnest direct to wall soundproofing solution to pass Part E building regulations. 

Using soundproofing acoustic boards direct to a brick party wall will ensure that separating walls meet the required sound levels, without compromising living space. When using soundproofing boards on stud walls, (separating walls between rooms and walls between dwellings and communal areas) a combination of the soundboards with acoustic plasterboard and acoustic insulation is required (see below).

Brick party wall

Direct to wall


Timber stud wall

Build-up of: 50mm stud frame with 15mm
acoustic plasterboard on both sides and 50mm
acoustic mineral wool and
SoundBoard3 on one side only.


All results data has come from independent laboratory tests and therefore it’s important to be aware that performance will vary with different structural make-ups.

Passing soundproofing building regulations (Part E) for walls with SoundBoard3 

Solid Wall Soundproofing: ProSound™ SoundBoard4 

ProSound™ Soundboard4 
is also a direct to wall soundproofing solution, but made up of 4 layers of different high pass soundproofing materials and ideal for medium levels of noise such as normal conversation, music and TV noise. The SoundBoard4 can be easily applied to a brick or timber stud wall, with minimal loss of space to pass Part E Building Regulations. For timber stud walls, using the SoundBoard4 would also result in a pass for Part E Building Regulations (with the following build-up).

Brick party wall  

Direct to wall


Timber stud wall

Build-up of: 50mm stud frame with 15mm
acoustic plasterboard on both sides and 50mm
acoustic mineral wool and
SoundBoard4 on one side only.


Performance and product overview of the SoundBoard 4™

Passing Part E building regulations for walls with SoundBoard4

How to soundproof a wall using SoundBoard 3 or SoundBoard 4 

Wall Soundproofing for Stud walls: ReductoClip System

The ReductoClip system
is the highest performing wall soundproofing solution. Used in domestic solutions to achieve exceptional performance against noisy neighbours and as the perfect solution for soundproofing music studios. The ReductoClip system creates a room within a room which is then isolated from the existing structure. Outperforming resilient bars by up to 7dB and not only meeting Part E Building Regulations, but exceeding them. More and more often we are receiving calls from contractors whereby local councils are insisting on higher airborne dB levels (up to 55dB) and the most effective way for this to be achieved is by using the ReductoClip system for walls.

Brick party wall

65dB results (as shown below) are based on a solid wall, 10mm air gap, timber stud frame,
Acoustic Mineral Wool between studs,
furring channels, 2 layers of
15mm acoustic grade plasterboard
Tecsound SY100 sandwiched between boards. It’s worth noting, as previously mentioned, that performance will vary with different structural make-ups.

Timber stud wall

60dB results (as shown below) are based on a stud wall, with 15mm acoustic grade plasterboard on one side, timber stud frame, 50mm Acoustic Mineral Wool, ReductoClips, furring channels, 2 layers of 15mm acoustic grade plasterboard and Tecsound SY100 sandwiched between boards.

(Independently tested at a WAS certified acoustic test laboratory)

Learn more about the exceptional performance of the ReductoClip™ System

Passing soundproofing building regulations (Part E) for walls with the ReductoClip system

Highlighted above are 3 different wall soundproofing solutions which all pass Part E Building Regulations (when used with the build-ups specified). Next we will discuss the best performing soundproofing solutions for floors in order to pass soundproofing Part E Building regulations.

See our full range of wall solutions

How to pass soundproofing Part E building regulations for floors

The two most common floor types when soundproofing floors to meet Part E Building Regulations are wooden timber beams and concrete floors. As with walls, the most effective way of soundproofing a floor is by improving the mass of the floor by adding high density soundproofing mats on top (to combat airborne noise) and by improving the ability of the floor to absorb sound energy and vibration (to combat impact noise).

ProSound™ SoundMat™ 3 Plus floor soundproofing

Unlike alternative soundproofing mats, the
SoundMat 3 Plus
features an innovative 3 layer design of soundproofing technology, making it the highest performing soundproofing mat in the industry. With direct to floor installation (no adhesive) SoundMat3 Plus is easy to work with (cut) and install. Offering soundproof insulation by blocking impact and airborne noise whilst exceeding Part E Building Regulations. The SoundMat 3 Plus is ideal for loud levels of noise from above, such as clear conversation, TV noise and heavy footsteps.

SoundMat™ 3 Plus Product Overview

Passing soundproofing building regulations (Part E) for floors with the ProSound™ SoundMat™ 3 Plus

How to soundproof a floor with SoundMat 3 Plus

SoundMat 3 Plus delivers a pass for Part E building regulations against impact and airborne noise with the correct build-up (as highlighted above). An alternative soundproofing solution used to pass Part E building regulations for impact and airborne noise on timber floors is the Reverso SoundMat™ which is discussed in more detail below.

ProSound™ Reverso SoundMat™ floor soundproofing

An alternative sound insulation option when soundproofing a floor to pass Part E building regs, is to use the
Reverso SoundMat. This high performing acoustic floor panel offers an exceptional performance to height ratio of only 18mm thick.

With a similar performance to the SoundMat 3 Plus, but with the added benefit of being reversible. Soft side up for soft carpet final floor finishes and hard side up for hard floor final finishes. No underlay is required when installing carpet and uniquely, unlike other floor soundproofing solutions, there is no over boarding layer required prior to most hard floor finishes. (Which would be the case with other soundmats on the market). This unique, dual purpose soundproofing solution means soft and hard floor finishes are at the exact same height. Perfect for soundproofing floors with multiple final floor finishes throughout.

Reverso SoundMat™ Product Overview and Benefits

Passing Part E building regulations for floors with the Reverso SoundMat

How to soundproof a floor with the Reverso SoundMat™

Timber Floor Soundproofing: ImpactoMat 5mm (Impact noise only)

Another floor solution when looking to pass Part E building regs is ImpactoMat 5mm. A cost effective choice in reducing noise at the source and particularly suited to reducing impact noise from travelling down through the floor to the room below (on timber joisted floors). Where space is at a premium and where part E building regulations need to be met. At only 5mm thick ImpactoMat 5mm offers the ideal solution (Must also be used with a resilient bar and two layers of plasterboard on the ceiling below).

ImpactoMat™ Product Overview

Passing Part E building regulations for timber floors with ImpactoMat 5mm

ImpactoMat is a high performance material that has been acoustically tested at a WAS certified independent acoustic test laboratory and passes Part E building regulations with the following build-up:

Example build up on a timber floor:

18mm subfloor, 100mm acoustic mineral wool and two layers of acoustic grade plasterboard on resilient bars on the ceiling.

50dB for impact noise (Pass for Part E building regulations).

See our full range of timber floor soundproofing

Concrete Floor Soundproofing: ImpactoMat (Impact noise only)

See our concrete floor solutions here

How to pass Part E building regulations for ceilings 

When looking to pass Part E for ceilings, this usually falls under the flooring umbrella. As mentioned above when passing soundproofing building regulations Part E for floors, the
SoundMat 3 Plus, resilient bars and two layers of acoustic plasterboard on the ceiling below and the 100mm 60kg Acoustic Mineral Wool between the joists would result in a soundproofing regulations Part E pass.

This is because absorbing impact noise at the source, (before it has chance to enter the structure of a building) is much more effective. Soundproofing the floor to pass Part E would always be our recommendation, rather than trying to absorb the vibration from the ceiling below.

However, occasionally there are circumstances when the ceiling itself needs to be soundproofed to pass Part E. For example, a flat above a shop, whereby the flat has already been converted and doesn’t need to comply to Part E building regulations. To convert the shop below into a dwelling means that it will need to pass Part E building regulations. To learn more about how to soundproof a ceiling to pass Part E by using the ReductoClip System for soundproofing ceilings,
click here

Causes of test failure in meeting Part E building regulations?

One of the common causes of Part E building regulation failures comes down to a poor system. Often not enough money has been spent on an effective soundproofing system in the first place. Soundproofing is very similar to waterproofing and sound will always look for the weakest point in order to make its escape and limit the acoustic performance of the products. In our experience, if an effective soundproofing system has been successfully installed and the building still doesn’t pass Part E building regulations, then this can be due to flanking sound transmission.

Speak to an expert and book a FREE 45 min telephone consultation

How does flanking sound effect Part E building regs sound insulation?

Sound doesn’t always travel through the building element you are looking to soundproof. If the wall or floor has effective sound reducing capabilities, then similarly to the water example above, sound will find an alternative path. This is called flanking and occurs when sound travels along materials shared by adjacent structures. If sound can’t go through the e. g. wall, then it will travel up, over, or around the side. Flanking is a common cause of sound test failure in meeting Part E building regulations. 

Sound can travel through air pockets, within the likes of stud and ceiling joist cavities and also along rigid surfaces like pipes, concrete and glass. Think of the films you have watched where inmates communicate with each other by banging pipes in non-adjoining cells.

How to combat flanking sound

Flanking sounds can be dealt with by using the likes of
isolation strips
around the perimeter edge of floors and walls and beneath all types of wall partitions and on top of timber joists to provide a very simple and effective way to reduce structure borne flanking noise. In refurbishment projects isolation strips are typically used to isolate the partition / floating floor from the sub-base / joists below. 

The use of
soundproof acoustic sealant is also effective in helping to seal perimeter gaps where sound can escape and in dampening vibration around perimeters to reduce flanking vibration. It can also be used to fill and seal any holes during installation.


Highlighted in this article are The Soundproofing Stores recommendations for passing Part E for walls and floors, based on common build up examples. Ceilings have also been included, (should the situation arise where the floor can’t be soundproofed to pass Part E).

As previously mentioned, every situation and building make up is different when looking to pass Part E, so our best advice would be to always speak to a professional. Our specialist team are available from Monday – Friday, 9am-5pm to advise on any Part E building regulation questions you might have.

Book a FREE Part E Telephone Consultation

Designing Party Walls to pass Sound Insulation Testing

Designing Party Walls to pass Sound Insulation Testing

This article focuses on the basics of good acoustic design for improving the soundproofing in party walls in dwellings, to pass the Precompletion Sound Testing for Building Regulations Part E


The importance of adequate sound proofing in Party Walls.

Undertaking adequate soundproofing to party walls to ensure your development meets the requirements of Part E of the Building Regulations and passes the precompletion sound testing, is an essential part of modern construction. Achieving good soundproofing on house party-walls and flat separating floors is essential to ensure that future residents are not adversely affected by excess noise from neighbouring residents.

Unfortunately, poor sound insulation is an issue that affects many attached houses and flats and has been made worse in recent years due to high powered television sets with sound bars, speakers, gaming stations and modern music production equipment.



Excess noise through shared walls can be debilitating for all residents and nobody wants to pay for a new property (or rental unit) only to hear their neighbour’s speech, television or music through poorly soundproofed walls.

When undertaking a new build development or conversion project, it is important to be aware of the sound insulation requirements of Part E of the Building Regulations for party walls, and achieve the required sound insulation levels are required to show compliance with the regulations.

To comply with Part E of the Building Regulations, soundproofing measures should not be designed merely to ‘pass a party wall sound test’, because if a development just passes, then this means that the properties separating party-wall is only acceptable, but not great soundproofing. This can be a huge problem if you a renting out your property, as your new resident may be noise sensitive and because of the excess noise, may only rent for a short period. Also, with the advent of social media you may also receive negative reviews of the property, which may affect future rentals of the property.


We can help with your party wall design.

APT Sound Testing works with hundreds of builders, architects and property developers helping them with the acoustic design of their developments. Consequently, we are well placed to understand the challenges that sound proofing party-walls poses to new build and/or conversion projects.  Therefore, we thought we would produce an acoustic design article to assist those responsible for designing or constructing party-walls or separating floors.


Reason for party wall sound test failure

There are hundreds of reasons why party walls fail to meet the standards of approved document E. One of the most common reasons we see for sound test failure, is due to insufficient mass within the construction of the party wall. One way to improve the mass of a party wall is to construct the walls out of masonry i.e., brick and/or blockwork. If you construct the walls out of timber or metal, it is always best to build a twin wall with cavity, with two layers of 15mm SoundBloc to each side of the wall and high mass RW60 acoustic insulation (minimum pass of 60kg/m3) within the wall frames.

The second method of improving the party walls to pass Approved Document E, is by introducing decoupling to the wall construction. This can be done by decoupling the wall structure from the plasterboard linings by the introduction of a resilient bar system to the wall frames.



On plasterboard walls we recommend staggered or double stud walls wherever possible – you could also use resilient bars in the wall construction. Staggered walls, double stud walls and walls formed with resilient bars are three construction methods which minimise the spread of sound waves, dampen vibrations, and reduce noise levels through the party walls. Also ensure that sockets are not placed back-to-back in party walls but are staggered by a minimum of 450mm and acoustic pads are also installed wherever possible. Our acoustic design reviews have lots of useful information on how to prepare your project to pass the precompletion sound testing.


Watch out for Flanking transmission through Party Walls.

Flanking sound transmission occurs when sound is transmitted from one space to another indirectly, through adjoining parts of the structure. For example, impact sound may be transmitted from one room to another through a timber floor, but also through the supporting wall. This can be as simple as the wall has been built straight off the top of the timber floor finish, so the noise travellers along the timber floor and under the party wall from unit to unit.

Flanking noise transmission is always a potential problem within any structure buildings being converted and depending on the intensity of the acoustic energy received via flanking transmission paths, the effectiveness of sound insulation of separating partitions can be much lower than expected from their construction. We often carried out precompletion sound testing to wall partitions that should have achieved around 50dB, but only achieved 40dB, resulting in sound insulation test failure.

Therefore, careful consideration must be given to the effect of flanking noise transmission within all party walls within new and conversion projects, and all potential flanking paths must be identified and eliminated prior to the installation of any sound insulation system.

Another common issue that often get overlooked is the filling of air leakage paths. If air can escape through gaps, sound will follow the same path. Therefore, providing an air-tight seal should be given high priority, so sealing all air gaps is important and should be carried out whenever possible.


We can help with the acoustic design and sound testing to your party walls.

APT Sound Testing can provide telephone advice, quote to undertake an acoustic design review of your architect’s drawings to help the likelihood of passing the sound insulation test at the first attempt, reducing the risk of costly remedial works to your project prior to handover. If you require sound insulation testing to party walls, or you need an acoustic design review on your development, please contact us now or visit our acoustic design page.



For further advice on Sound Insulation Testing across the London and the UK, contact APT Sound Testing. Call our expert acoustic consultants today on 01525 303905 or email us at [email protected] for friendly advice about building party walls and floors and/or sound insulation testing on your construction project.

Soundproofing in a monolithic house

Buying an apartment in a new house, you have to analyze the advantages and disadvantages of the proposed options in the desire to choose the most worthy among them. Most of the characteristics of housing are visible to the naked eye: the location and type of the house, the layout of the apartment, the number of elevators and the presence of double-glazed windows. However, in addition to this, there are factors invisible at first glance that can further have a serious impact on the comfort of living in a new apartment. The name of one of the most serious factors is soundproofing.

Our clients often ask the question: what type of residential buildings have the best sound insulation? Unfortunately, we have to state that it is not possible to single out any type of residential buildings that would clearly outperform the others in terms of sound insulation quality. The fact is that their “thin” places exist both in brick houses and in monolithic ones, not to mention panel and block houses. At the same time, in an attempt to answer the question posed, it was found that almost all known types of residential buildings are united by one common problem of insufficient sound insulation. We are talking about soundproofing interfloor ceilings.

Noise propagating through floors can be divided into two categories: “impact” noise and “airborne” noise . These categories got their name depending on the method of acoustic impact on the ceiling.

Impact noise occurs when objects are mechanically impacted directly on the floor slab. This noise is caused by simply walking people on the floor or moving pets around the apartment, moving objects (chairs, sliding sofas, etc.) – in general, completely natural and legal actions, the production of which cannot be regulated by the time of day or by the level of noise generated.

Turning on the TV loudly or playing a musical instrument is already a source of airborne noise . The sound from the speaker or from the surface of the instrument through the air enters the ceiling, causing it, in turn, to oscillate and re-emit noise into the neighboring apartment. And if during transmission through the air a certain amount of sound energy is dissipated, then in the case of impact noise, the floor slab excited by the impact directly radiates noise into the adjacent room, and also transfers it to the neighboring building structures of the building. It is precisely because of the high intensity of impact-type noise that the percentage of complaints about “the sound of heels from upstairs neighbors” is much higher than about TV noises or children’s screams. At the same time, the total impact of airborne and impact noise from one surface (ceiling) leads to the fact that complaints about “noise from upstairs neighbors” account for more than 70% of the total number of complaints about increased noise levels in residential buildings.

The reason for the widespread problem of insufficient impact sound insulation lies in the very physics of the process. From the point of view of building codes, the amount of airborne sound insulation is sufficient if the thickness of the reinforced concrete floor is at least 160 mm. With a floor thickness of 200 – 250 mm, made of monolithic reinforced concrete, the airborne sound insulation index already exceeds the standard value by a margin. It is with ceilings of similar thickness that the majority of frame-monolithic residential buildings are currently being built. At the same time, despite such a thick and massive overlap, the regulatory requirements for the level of impact noise are not fulfilled! To meet even the minimum permissible requirements of building codes, an additional construction of a soundproof floor is required on top of a monolithic reinforced concrete slab with a thickness of 250 mm.

Since the practice of selling flats “unfurnished” has become widespread in the practice of commercial housing construction, the construction of an additional soundproof floor, as a rule, remains only on the paper of the working design of the building. At the same time, it is assumed that the design of the soundproof floor, necessary from the point of view of building codes, must be carried out by the owner of the apartment during the repair. Bypassing the requirements of regulatory documents, a tacit agreement is concluded: the developer does not spend money on additional soundproofing of impact noise, and the buyer, in turn, has no complaints, since the absence of such a design saves him up to 80 mm of room height. At the same time, the buyer believes that in his apartment he has the right to do whatever he pleases, forgetting that the upstairs neighbor can perform similar actions. As a result, there is a kitchen above the bedroom of the apartment below, and a bathroom above the living room. But the most unpleasant thing is that all this is without any soundproofing. In the case when ceramic tiles, rigidly glued to the floor slab without a soundproof layer, are used as a finishing floor covering in the apartment from above, the life of the neighbors from below turns into a nightmare. So if the upstairs neighbor gets out of bed at night and goes to the kitchen to drink water, you get up with him to drink sleeping pills.

In fairness, it should be noted that there are conscientious builders who, even when the house is handed over “without finishing”, carry out the constructions of soundproof floors provided for by the project in all apartments of the house. However, even here there are owners who, in pursuit of the desired height of the ceilings, hollow out and throw out “extra” centimeters of the floor, thereby depriving the neighbors below of the well-deserved rest. Nevertheless, guided by the theory of probability, it is better to buy an apartment in a house with soundproofing of the floor than where it (soundproofing) was indicated only on paper.

If it so happened that in your house only a reinforced concrete floor slab performs the functions of a subfloor, the most important and effective measure to increase sound insulation is to negotiate with a neighbor from above about the use of elastic pads by him when installing his leveling screed or clean floor. In addition, it is advisable to find out the proposed layout of the apartment from above and, if possible, move your bedroom beyond the projection of the neighbor’s noisy premises.

As a rule, a slab of almost any interfloor flooring by itself, in terms of impact sound insulation, “does not live up” to building standards of the order of 20 dB. At the same time, the zone of true acoustic comfort begins when the efficiency of the soundproof floor construction is at least 25 dB. The use of soundproofing material “Shumostop-S2” with a thickness of 20 mm under a screed weighing 120 kg/m2 provides a reduction in impact noise by 42 dB (!) with a total thickness of the structure of 80 mm. Here it is important to realize that additional sound insulation of the ceiling from the side of the apartment below, with a similar thickness of the structure (70 mm), increases the sound insulation index by only 10 dB, and this despite the fact that the most modern and effective materials are used! This fully complies with the physical laws of acoustics, and, unfortunately, it is not possible to do something more effective from the side of the apartment below. Therefore, as you can see, there is something to try and negotiate with neighbors from above!

It should be noted that the choice of the last floor as a means of solving the problem of poor sound insulation does not always bring the desired result. One can imagine the bitter disappointment of one of our clients, who specially chose an apartment on the top floor, but settled above the apartment of a family of professional musicians…

above the last residential floor. Therefore, if you still decide to buy an apartment on the top floor in order to save yourself from the presence of neighbors from above, you need to make sure that the elevator will not be a source of noise, the fight against which is as intense as the problem of impact noise.

Second on the list of the most pressing soundproofing problems in residential buildings is the issue of increased audibility between apartments located on the same floor (ie along a common wall). If you do not pay attention to this in a timely manner, the level of noise penetrating from a neighbor can, in absolute terms, cover all other acoustic flaws. This is especially true in cases with a free layout of housing: in your apartment, a bedroom adjoins the inter-apartment wall, and behind the wall in the neighbor’s apartment is a living room with a bathroom.

However, from the point of view of possible solutions, this issue does not seem particularly difficult (of course, if it is addressed at the repair stage). Quite often, in monolithic-frame houses, the inter-apartment walls are not load-bearing and therefore can be made of anything – both from solid brick, 250 mm thick (which is very good), and from lightweight foam concrete blocks of small thickness (which is very bad). Considering that, except for sound insulation, the thickness and massiveness of the inter-apartment walls do not affect anything, it is easy to imagine what material such partitions are made of even in very expensive and prestigious buildings.

However, when all building structures adjacent to the inter-apartment wall turn out to be much larger in mass (thick reinforced concrete floors, external walls), in order to increase the sound insulation between neighboring apartments, it is enough to additionally insulate only this very common wall. Such a statement may seem somewhat strange: as if there are cases when, to reduce noise from neighbors on the side, increasing the sound insulation of one common wall is not enough. … There are! And very often. But it is for the case under consideration that the construction of additional sound insulation on a common inter-apartment wall really allows solving this problem. As a material for additional soundproofing of walls, it is recommended to use ZIPS-7-4 sandwich panels with a thickness of 70 mm, which have unconditionally proven their worth and effectiveness over five years of use (since the invention).

In addition, quite often there are gaps or cracks in the walls between apartments, which can significantly reduce the amount of airborne sound insulation between apartments. This is especially true for panel houses. Sometimes, outwardly, the wall does not have through holes or cracks, but due to poor-quality sealing at the joints of the panels (internal cavities), its sound insulation is significantly lower than expected. There are two solutions here: break all the seams and conscientiously fill them with mortar again (which is inexpensive in terms of costs, but not always possible) or additionally insulate the entire wall using ZIPS panels.

Other soundproofing problems in new homes are the result of poor architectural or design decisions made by the buyer of the apartment. For apartments with a free layout, the developer’s area of ​​responsibility is limited to the delivery of a “box” of an apartment with external walls and communications. How quiet and comfortable it will be in the apartment largely depends on where, where and how these communications will be routed. In particular, the widespread practice of arranging bathrooms through the wall with sleeping rooms leads to the fact that the noise of water flowing and passing through pipes interferes with sleep and rest. One of the reasons for this is the use of materials that conduct well and emit structural noise as interior partitions. If we add to this the rigid fastening of the pipes for supplying and draining water, troubles in the form of a good audibility of plumbing noise are guaranteed.

Very often the landlord himself, busy with other problems, deprives himself of the necessary acoustic protection. The fact is that a good (in terms of sound insulation) partition between the bathroom and the living room turns out to be quite thick. It can be made of gypsum-fiber sheets on two independent frames (210 mm) filled with sound-absorbing Shumanet-BM cotton wool or lined with 120 mm bricks and lined with ZIPS-7-4 panels (190 mm) from the side of the room. But one way or another, its thickness will fluctuate around 20 cm. At the same time, the cost of housing breaks all records. Therefore, the natural desire to preserve the acquired square meters makes the owner of a new apartment go to reduce the thickness of interior partitions to 80 – 100 mm. And if it comes to partitions made of gypsum blocks with a thickness of 80 mm, it is no longer necessary to talk about good sound insulation at all.

Another problem with soundproofing apartments is related to interior design. A minimum of soft materials in the walls, floor and ceiling and a large amount of painted drywall lead to the fact that even the quietest sound that enters the room is amplified by multiple reflections from hard surfaces. A particularly “honorable” place here is occupied by a suspended plasterboard ceiling with an air gap between the floor slab and the GKL sheets, unfilled with sound-absorbing material. This is a kind of “noise amplifier”, primarily from a neighbor upstairs. Sometimes it turns out to be sufficient to dismantle such a structure so that the noise from above has already decreased somewhat. A similar situation arises in cases where plasterboard wall claddings or partitions are arranged with empty internal cavities.

If the presence of noise in dining rooms or living rooms is unpleasant, but not critical, then extraneous sounds penetrating into the bedroom are already a problem. To reduce the noise level and minimize the consequences of its penetration, it is recommended to introduce a certain amount of soft sound-absorbing surfaces into the interior design of “quiet” rooms. Unfortunately, quite often designers who are called upon to create an original and comfortable atmosphere in an apartment work exclusively on the principle of a free artist: “this is how I see it, but I don’t see it in any other way and therefore it shouldn’t be.” This does not take into account that the bedroom is not only a work of design art, but also a place of rest, in which, at least, it should be quiet. As a result, as always, the customer suffers, but since this becomes clear only after the settlement, it becomes even more difficult to organically solve the problem that has arisen.

Clipso stretch ceiling (Switzerland) is one of the modern finishing materials with high sound-absorbing properties. The surface of the ceiling has a classic white matte color and looks absolutely even and solid. Not knowing about the presence of a special design overhead, it can be mistaken for a perfectly “bred out” and painted ceiling. Due to the presence of microperforations, already invisible from a distance of half a meter, the sound absorption coefficient of the Clipso ceiling approaches ? = 0.7, which provides a good acoustic effect without compromising the aesthetics of the room.

Alexander Boganik

Soundproofing in construction: public buildings

Currently, an increasing number of premises on the first floors of residential buildings are planned, built or converted as non-residential. And if in the city center, with the exception of the main streets, mainly office premises have an advantage, then in the sleeping areas on the first floors, as a rule, there are various kinds of shops, cafes, sports and entertainment facilities. Since, compared to an ordinary apartment, such premises are certainly noisier, the current regulatory documents have long prescribed the corresponding requirements for the sound insulation indices of building structures that share these premises with apartments. Table 1 shows the values ​​of the required airborne sound insulation indices for cases where residential premises are adjacent to shops, gyms, cafes and restaurants. Also, for comparison, this table contains normative sound insulation indices for walls and floors between the apartments themselves. As can be seen from the table, the difference in the amount of required sound insulation, for example, for floors between apartments, and between an apartment and a restaurant, is on average 10 dB. And this is a very serious value, sometimes difficult to achieve. But the saddest thing is that in practice, during construction, no fundamental differences were made between inter-apartment floors and floors above non-residential premises in terms of sound insulation, as they are not provided for to this day.

A common solution, when reinforced concrete hollow core slabs with a thickness of 220 mm are used as floor slabs between the first non-residential floor and apartments on the second floor, provides a calculated airborne sound insulation index Rw = 52 dB. The installation of a clean floor from the side of the apartment according to typical schemes can add (according to the calculation) a maximum of 4 dB. Thus, under the condition of high-quality sealing of all slots and technological holes, the maximum sound insulation value of such a ceiling design is a maximum of Rw = 56 dB. But even for buildings of the lowest category of comfort, for the most “quiet” option in terms of building codes (when the store is adjacent to the apartment), the airborne sound insulation index by the ceiling must be at least Rw = 57 dB. That is, even with a fairly favorable version of the flooring device, non-compliance with building codes is obvious. If hollow-core reinforced concrete slabs 140 mm are used as interfloor ceilings above the first floor, the difference between the required sound insulation and the actual one turns out to be even greater, and as always, not for the better.

However, in contrast to the chronically hopeless situation with a “neighbor always quarreling behind the wall”, in cases related to ensuring proper soundproofing of public premises, the Sanitary and Epidemiological Supervision authorities come to the aid of residents, which control the maximum permissible noise levels. It is no secret that the vast majority of residential buildings were built with obvious violations of certain soundproofing standards. It is also obvious that, as a rule, there is really no one to make claims on this matter, and even more so to demand the elimination of shortcomings. Even in the case of a newly built house, when the developer still bears warranty obligations, the questions of insufficient sound insulation still remain unanswered. At least, reliable facts of the satisfaction of such claims are not known.

Against this background, the presence of a real owner or tenant who has a strong desire to turn the former laundry room into a cafe is a very good reason for presenting requirements to him to bring the soundproofing indicators of walls and ceilings of this room to current standards. At the same time, it should be noted that if a grocery store has been located in this room for decades, this in no way guarantees that the sound insulation of this interfloor floor will meet the requirements of the SNiP that has been in force all this time and will be at least Rw = 57 dB.

The situation is no better when, for example, a restaurant on the ground floor of a building was originally planned during construction. The hassle of bringing the soundproof characteristics of the premises to the normative values ​​in the end still falls on the shoulders of the owner of this institution after the construction of the building itself is completed. Unfortunately, builders with designers are still producing semi-finished products here.

Nevertheless, the issue of providing the required sound insulation between public and residential premises is distinguished by more stringent control by inspecting organizations. There are numerous cases when not only small restaurants, but also quite large entertainment complexes faced the threat of closure by the municipal authorities due to increased noise. The formal reason for this was the excess of the maximum permissible noise levels in residential premises located in the same building.

In addition, it is useful to look at this problem from another angle. As has been repeatedly noted, the values ​​​​of the maximum permissible noise levels in residential premises and well-audible sounds are not the same things. For residential premises, the permissible noise level at night is 25 dBA, and this is the limit value for buildings of the highest comfort category (category A). The vast majority of the housing stock has comfort categories B and C, and accordingly, in such residential premises, the norms for maximum noise levels can only be softer – no higher than 30 dBA. However, a clearly distinguishable noise level, which, especially at night, can cause certain psychological inconveniences, does not exceed 20 dBA. Unlike the neighbors behind the wall, who may not show signs of life for several months after a big and noisy holiday, a well-functioning fitness center or restaurant with its daily show programs does not allow you to forget about yourself. Albeit within the permitted noise level, but constantly present. Then, not being able to directly demand a radical solution to this problem from the restless neighbor, the tenants indirectly try to influence the mode of operation and the functioning of the entire institution as a whole. To do this, the activities of various inspection commissions are inspired, drawing the attention of other competent authorities to this institution. And although formally no violations may be revealed, this inevitably creates a nervous atmosphere around such an institution in some way not conducive to the prosperity of business.

Therefore, when the issue of providing soundproofing of public premises is solved, the task is as follows: at least – to ensure compliance with the requirements of regulatory documents, as a maximum – to make the process of functioning of this institution almost inaudible to neighbors. If you set this task in a timely manner (preferably at the stage of designing or redevelopment of the premises), the chances of solving it to the maximum become much greater.

In the previous issue of the magazine in the article “Sound insulation of interfloor ceilings” the construction of additional sound insulation of the floor from the side of the lower room was considered in detail. Once again, I would like to note that the design of the suspended ceiling made of gypsum-fiber sheets with the filling of the internal space with sound-absorbing boards “Shumanet-BM” and the installation of an additional acoustic ceiling “Akusto” described there is, of course, one of the most effective at the moment. The use of this design allows you to actually increase the sound insulation index of the ceiling by up to 14 dB. However, the main and very significant drawback of the above design is its significant thickness (from 500 to 800 mm). If the initial height of the ceilings of the premises of the first floor does not exceed 3 meters, the use of such a design becomes almost impossible.

An effective solution to the problem of additional sound insulation of ceilings in case of restrictions associated with insufficient ceiling height is the use of additional sound insulation panels ZIPS. ZIPS panels are sandwich panels, which have a thickness of 40 to 130 mm and are frameless mounted to the floor slab from the side of the lower room. For example, the value of additional sound insulation of ZIPS-7-4 panels with a thickness of 70 mm is Rw = 9 dB. Thus, the ceiling structure, consisting of a multi-hollow reinforced concrete slab 220 mm thick and ZIPS-7-4 panels mounted on it from the side of the lower room, provides an airborne sound insulation index Rw = 61 dB. This satisfies the requirements for the amount of sound insulation of the ceiling between the premises of the apartment and the shop in buildings of any comfort category. When arranging a fairly simple design of a clean floor from the side of the apartment, the floor insulation index can be increased to 62 dB, which already meets the maximum existing SNiP requirements for building envelopes of public premises bordering apartments.

When carrying out soundproofing measures in relation to public premises, as well as any other objects, an integrated approach to solving the problem is required. There is a widespread error, which is a direct consequence of the blind execution of the formal requirements of SNiP. If the entire first floor of a residential building is occupied by non-residential premises, then with regard to soundproofing measures, the main attention is paid to ensuring the required soundproofing of the floor between this room and the apartment located on the floor above. Indeed, in this case, all the requirements of building codes come down to ensuring proper sound insulation of only one floor, since there are no residential premises behind the walls on the same floor. However, the influence of indirect noise transmission in buildings of different types can be very different from each other. For example, in a pre-revolutionary building, the thickness of almost all the walls on the ground floor exceeds a meter of brickwork, and the ceilings can be made on metal beams and sheathed with wooden flooring. In this case, it is possible with a high degree of certainty to predict a favorable result of soundproofing measures when working with only one floor. A fundamentally different example is a residential building of the P-44 series, where the first floor, occupied by non-residential premises, is no different from residential floors, and the walls have an equal thickness with ceilings – 140 mm. Additional sound insulation of the floor slab between the first and second floors will not provide the desired result here, and the noise will not decrease in the apartments on the second floor. The reason for this is the sound vibrations that will still penetrate the apartments through the walls, even if the ceiling on the first floor is completely soundproofed. For the same reason, there are complaints from neighbors from the second floor about the sounds of furniture being moved across the floor of the first floor – for example, chairs in a cafe. Despite the fact that this seems to be a classic example of “impact” noise and the neighbors below should suffer from it first of all, due to the good indirect sound transmission, the noise of a moving chair (especially on ceramic tiles) is transmitted through the floor from the cafe to the walls and gets into the apartments through them. In this case, the problem is solved not only by additional insulation of the walls and ceiling of the cafe, but also by the construction of the so-called “floating” floor in the service hall.

All of the above is absolutely true in relation to bowling alleys, entertainment establishments, on the playing paths of which it is proposed to knock down rather heavy pins with rather heavy balls. Throwing the ball and hitting the ball on the pins are the main points of the game, during which a strong impact noise is produced. The vast majority of bowling alleys located in residential buildings are located in built-in and attached premises. At the same time, some buildings have intermediate technical floors in front of the apartments. However, many of these entertainment centers have huge problems with residents due to the increased noise that occurs during the game. Moreover, residents of apartments located not only on the second floors, but also much higher suffer. The reason for this is insufficient or no impact sound insulation at all under the bases of the lanes and the pin collection mechanisms. As a result of this, due to the structural distribution of noise through the structural elements of the building, the residents of the house, regardless of the time of year, regularly hear sounds similar to distant thunder. And the closer the apartment is located to the bowling alley, the louder. All this could have been avoided at the design stage by laying down technically competent solutions to sound insulation issues.

A few words about the relationship between interior design solutions for public spaces and the issue of providing the required sound insulation. Unfortunately, the vast majority of architects in their decisions prefer a maximum of hard and smooth finishing surfaces. Such as plasterboard, glass, marble, ceramic tiles, painted plaster, etc. I’m not going to discuss how justified this is from the point of view of design, but to provide the required sound insulation and create acoustic comfort in rooms, the use of a large number of sound-reflecting surfaces is not the best option. It is worth mentioning only one fact. By adjusting the design solutions for the decorative decoration of the ceiling and walls in the restaurant hall, taking into account the use of special sound-absorbing materials, it was possible to reduce the noise level in the apartments located on the floor above by 8 dBA. Moreover, without carrying out additional work to increase the sound insulation of walls and ceilings.

When constructing a false ceiling in rooms where it is important to ensure the required sound insulation, instead of purely decorative ceilings, it is recommended to use models with a high sound absorption coefficient. Almost every major manufacturer of suspended ceilings has such products in its assortment. Among the companies that specialize only in acoustic ceilings are Akusto-Ecophon and Rockfon.

Sound-absorbing wall panels can also be used to solve the problems of noise reduction in rooms and indirectly increase the sound insulation of their enclosing structures.