The list of acoustic suspects is a long one.
Hardwood floors. High ceilings. Two-story foyers. Expansive windows. Dishwashers. Range hoods. High-wattage video and music sound systems. Oh, and a lively, chatting family.
Outside, there is a panoply of noise, from lawn mowers and barking dogs to squealing children. Combine that sound with an open floor plan and what do you have?
A raucous mash-up of noise … lots and lots of noise. For guests and family members nearly anywhere in the home, it can mean an acoustic headache.
T. Jeffery Clarke, a Princeton, N.J.-based residential architect, says the push to design open, airy, bright home interiors means acoustics “often gets ignored.”
It shouldn’t be.
The new home should gratify all senses, including hearing. What can a homebuilder do to deliver a delightful whole-house experience with minimal “I’m-sorry-what-did-you-say?” disruption?
Some sound-calming strategies for a big open area are expected, such as incorporating large area rugs, fabric drapes, bookcases, and tapestries into the home. Other ways to absorb sound or break up large reflective surfaces—for instance, irregular ceilings or fabric-covered furniture (not leather)—can help.
Gliding, stackable floor-to-ceiling panels offer a way to subdivide large open spaces, creating on-the-fly zones within an open floor plan for more intimate gatherings, such as a dinner party.
To help suppress the din from the “great room” to adjacent rooms, some home builders borrow techniques multifamily builders use to mitigate sound between apartment units. Home offices, studies, bedrooms, and home theatres all benefit from more aggressive sound management. For example, home builders can double-up gypsum board or sandwich absorption materials, such as insulation, between wall panels as a way to block intrusive sound coming in or going out.
Another option is a wall construction solution that shuts out noise without the extra labor demands and materials cost of traditional noise abatement. SilentFX® QuickCut Noise-Reducing Gypsum Board from CertainTeed reduces sound transmission between rooms by up to 90 percent. The new gypsum board technology scores and cuts exactly like regular gypsum board, meaning no special training, tools, or installation time is required.
Now taking a conference call in the home office doesn’t mean everyone has to quiet down in the kitchen. Or, no more worries about the latest super hero video in the home theatre will drown-out conversations elsewhere.
Today’s open style is the new normal for so many good reasons. Now home builders have options to turn what could be an acoustic headache into a home that pleases all of the senses.