PARTITIONS SOUNDPROOFING

In this article we will discuss the materials for building the walls inside the apartment and the ways for high quality soundproofing of the existing partitions.

Modern apartments with a free layout often have no interior walls and the residents have to build the walls themselves during the repair. On the one hand, this is good since it makes possible to lay out the location and the size of the rooms in an optimal way. On the other hand, such freedom of choice entails the errors in choice of building materials for partitions and often - the improper mounting as well.

PARTITIONS FROM FOAM CONCRETE BLOCKS AND GYPSUM PARTITION BLOCK

The most common version of the interior walls is the partitions made of foam concrete blocks and gypsum partition blocks. Simple installation and low cost made this type of walls very popular among the workers. However, the soundproofing properties of such partitions are catastrophically low! 

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EXAMPLE OF PARTITION MADE FROM FOAM CONCRETE BLOCKS (AERATED CONCRETE BLOCKS)

In practice, the comfortable living conditions mean that the sound insulation index between the rooms should be at least 50-52 dB. The standard 10 cm thick partition made of foam concrete blocks or gypsum partition blocks provides the sound insulation level of 38-41 dB. It is clear that a wall like this provides no soundproofing even against the ordinary noises (for example, TV or children's laughter), not to mention the more serious sources of noise like a stereo system or a home theater.

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EXAMPLE OF PARTITION MADE FROM GYPSUM PARTITION BLOCKS

Such poor soundproofing of partitions is attributable to the low density of the materials they are made of. In particular, the density of foam concrete of the standard grades D400 and D500 is only 400 and 500 kg/m3, respectively. For comparison, the density of a solid brick is 1900-2000 kg/m3, i.e. several times greater!

The light porous concretes (foam concrete blocks, aerated concrete blocks) have the another unpleasant feature reducing the partition soundproofing: too low internal losses. To put it simply, the partitions made of aerated concrete blocks or foam concrete blocks are very sonorous and the unwanted resonant phenomena increase the noise transmission at some frequencies.

But the main problem of such partitions is not even the low sound insulation between the rooms (high audibility brings certain inconveniences but we can always agree between ourselves not to disturb each other within our apartment). The main trouble of standard partitions is strong re-emission of noise from the apartments of the downstairs and the upstairs neighbors! The noise is easily transmitted from the massive ceilings to the light partitions acting as re-emitters of the noise from the neighbors. It is extremely difficult to achieve the good vibration insulation of such walls since they must be rigidly fixed to the building to be stable (for prevention from easy falling) but each rigid constraint serves as an acoustic bridge for the noise transmission.

All the above-said concerns (more or less) the hollow or calcium-silicate bricks made partitions:

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HOLLOW BRICKS MADE PARTITION

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CALCIUM-SILICATE BRICKS MADE PARTITION

The conclusion is as follows: never use the above-said materials in construction of interior walls if soundproofing comes first for you!

HOW TO IMPROVE THE SOUNDPROOFING OF THE EXISTING PARTITIONS?

If you already have the existing partitions in your apartment then the simplest solution is to demolish them. The experience shows that the noise in the apartment can be reduced by about two times by dismantling of partitions!

Soundproofing of existing partitions will lead to the additional financial costs and the reduction of the apartment area. If dismantling is impossible the partitions should be necessarily isolated from the ceiling. This will significantly reduce the transmission of noise from the upstairs to the inner walls of the apartment and allow to save on soundproofing!

When building the non-bearing walls, the brickwork should not be mounted up to the level of the floor slab as per the building regulations. Otherwise, the movement of the slab can easily damage such internal walls. In practice, however, this rule is commonly violated! If the rigid constraint actually presents, then the grooves should be made in the walls along the ceiling. The gap between the wall and the ceiling is foamed sometimes. The solidified foam is firm, so it also transmits the vibrations. In this case, the ordinary construction foam should be removed and replaced with a special elastic foam - for example, with Maxforte SoundFLEX. Soundproofing foams are of a high density for high-quality airborne noise insulation and they do not solidify after drying. These properties are important for effective isolation of impact noise/vibration! The gap between the wall and the ceiling can also be filled with the small pieces of MaxForte-ECOslab MaxForte-ECOslab, and the resulting joint can be packed with the non-shrinking plaster or filled with the sealant. In so doing, the high rates of vibration insulation and soundproofing of the seam will also be ensured.

Such a measure cannot remove completely the noise from the upstairs and certainly cannot increase the sound insulation between the rooms but it will make the living conditions much more comfortable.

SOUNDPROOF PARTITIONS ON METAL FRAME

The multi-layer partitions made of metal frame have been and remain the best solution for domestic noise insulation. In fact, there are only three layers in the partition: weight No.1 - resilient element - weight No.2, where:

Weight No.1 is the cladding sheets on the left (gypsum plasterboard, drywall).

Resilient element is the layer of MaxForte sound-absorbing materials inside the metal frame.

Weight No.2 is the cladding sheets on the right.

The combination of layers allows to achieve very high levels of soundproofing with low weight and thickness of the partition. For example, even a standard partition with a total thickness of 10 cm has the airborne sound insulation index Rw = 52 dB. Such value meets the requirements for any housing comfort category including class "A" (the luxury housing)!

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EXAMPLE OF STANDARD DRYWALL PARTITION

However, the main advantage of the framed partitions, due to their design, is the almost zero re-emission of noise from the downstairs and the upstairs! Light framed walls should be mounted in the last turn, later than the sound insulation of the floor and the ceiling. That’s why the light framed walls will be mounted to the already vibroinsulated surfaces.

Correctly built partition will have the smooth surface, high strength and high carrying capacity! High-quality soundproofing systems have nothing to do with slimsy claddings laid over the cheap Chinese-made profiles and covered with a single layer of a thin drywall. High-quality soundproofing partition cladding should be massive and tight. That’s why each side of profile should be faced with strong and heavy gypsum plasterboard sheets and the drywall sheets in addition. Moreover, the cladding sheets are fastened in a staggered order so that the seams of the first and the second layers do not coincide!

Our experience shows that such partitions can bear almost everything, from the decorative shelves and the air conditioner to the TV and the kitchen cabinets:

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SOLID BRICKS MADE PARTITIONS

Another way to achieve the high sound insulation between the rooms is to build the partitions of red solid bricks. This is a quite massive building material with high internal losses. Half a brick (12 cm) thick partition plastered on both sides provides soundproofing of Rw = 48–50 dB.

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SOLID BRICKS MADE PARTITION

Compared to the framed systems, the brick partitions provide better sound insulation at low frequencies (for example, a subwoofer) but lower sound insulation at medium frequencies (voices, TV, barking dog). Therefore, it is desirable to have an understanding of the planned noise (the frequency content and the expected loudness) when choosing a structure design. It is also important that the carrying capacity of the floor structure was taken into account. The brick partitions are heavy so the possibility of installing them should be discussed with the engineer.