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A QUIET LIFE Andy Davies, Main Contractor Business Development Consultant, Altro discusses

how acoustic flooring solutions can enhance the performance of a building as well as the wellbeing of those who use it.

When it comes to interiors for major refurbishments, specifiers often overlook valuable opportunities to improve the acoustic performance of buildings through their choice of flooring.

Acoustic flooring is often only considered for specialist zones, such as hospital operating theatres, or those which are compliance driven but the latest generation of floorcoverings are capable of reducing surface generated noise in an extremely wide range of spaces and buildings. These products overcome the problems that specifiers might associate with traditional sound-absorbing floorcoverings. For example, they are more resistant to wear and tear, making it possible to install them in high traffic areas. There are also options suitable for areas subjected to rolling loads, such as luggage, hospital beds or trolleys, making it possible to fit acoustic flooring in areas where only standard vinyl flooring could be used in the past.

As acoustic ranges can now be considered alongside all other mainstream options when specifying floorcoverings for buildings, the specifier can enhance the wellbeing of everyone who enters into and occupies any space, at any time of day. And, as the process of installing acoustic flooring is the same as for ordinary vinyl flooring, the performance of buildings can be improved significantly, simply by opting for flooring options which reduce the ambient noise inside a room and sound transmission between spaces.

So how can the flooring specifier best exploit the advantages of the latest acoustic flooring options to enhance the performance of buildings? Here are our top five suggestions.

Tip 1


Floorcoverings featuring the textures and colours of the natural world have been a design ‘must-have’ for decades. The warmth and soft shades of wood are perfect for establishing a comfortable environment where people can feel at home. The disadvantages of real wood as a flooring material are another matter, however, especially where important safeguards such as slip resistance and the reduction of noise need to be taken into consideration. Transit of shoes across wood surfaces can cause noise to escalate rapidly, and it is particularly difficult to contain sound in buildings where architectural features and interior design choices incorporate materials with minimal sound absorbing capability, such as glass and metal.

Acoustic flooring provides the ideal alternative in this situation. Altro Wood Safety Comfort, for example, provides a wide range of wood-look options in contemporary shades, with wide plank classic and rustic designs to achieve the aesthetic impact for the space. But it also has the advantage of being a 2.85mm thick acoustic flooring product delivering a 14dB sound reduction, making it ideal for areas where


noise can be a problem. As its name suggests, Altro Wood Safety Comfort also offers all the performance and slip resistance you would expect from an Altro safety floor (PTV >36), reducing the risk of slipping on water to one in a million. As it is durable and stain resistant, and comes with a lifetime sustained slip resistance guarantee, it also makes it possible to bring enhanced acoustic performance to high traffic areas.

Tip 2


The acoustic performance of buildings is governed by a raft of regulatory requirements, such as the Building Regulations Part E: Resistance to the passage of sound, and BS EN ISO standards, impacting on numerous elements of the construction, including the walls, ceilings, floors and subfloors.

In many zones, for example in hospitals and schools, it can be a tough challenge to achieve the required standards. Recent research carried out by John Hopkins University demonstrated that average daytime noise levels in hospitals have increased from around 57 dB(A) in the 1960s to 72 dB(A) today. Average night-time noise levels have also increased, from 42 db(A) in the 1960s, to 60 dB (A) in today’s hospitals.

Acoustic flooring products can provide a valuable means by which to achieve the required standards (which are set as a ‘minimum’ requirement) in conjunction with other sound absorption features of the building’s construction. There are two key ways of driving enhanced acoustic performance via the choice of floor covering. Firstly, as mentioned above, ranges of acoustic flooring products are available with different sound absorption characteristics. In addition to Altro Wood Safety Comfort (offering a 14dB sound reduction), Altro Orchestra is a 2.85mm thick floor with 15dB sound reduction, whilst Altro Serenade delivers a 19dB sound reduction, and is a 3.9mm thick option. Secondly, there is the option of fitting existing Altro ranges with Impact Sound Reduction underlays. The Altro 1101 and Altro Everlay B materials offer sound reductions of 18dB and 20dB respectively.

Tip 3


In multi-storey buildings, the fashion for wood and laminate flooring in recent years has brought a significant increase in nuisance noise, from storeys above and adjacent rooms. Busy estates managers, private landlords, and social housing providers can reduce complaints considerably by offering tenants the home comforts of wood or laminate, without the associated transmission of noise between floors. The latest generation of acoustic flooring options are also suitable for high traffic communal areas such as stairs, landings and corridors, where high footfall in outdoor shoes makes noise a particular problem.

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