BUILDING SUPPLY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION- July/August 2018 - 15
The Key to Finding the Proper Acoustic Solution
evelopers, architects and
builders are looking for
products to meet building
code guidelines in new construction.
Property managers and board of
directors in condominiums are looking
to solve or prevent problems in
existing buildings. Owners are simply
trying to follow their condo regulation
chart when renovating floors. They
do that by looking at soundproofing
ratings, which can often become a
nightmare. Being able to understand
the basics of sound insulation in
multi-storey buildings will allow you
to compare apples with apples and
choose the proper solution for your
Noise transmission problems
come mainly from the floor/ceiling
assemblies (complete structure
between floor and ceiling of the
unit above) and through the party
walls, that is to say between adjacent
units. The noise problems associated
with these assemblies come mainly
from the transmission of airborne or
impact noises. Airborne noises are
caused by televisions, voice and music,
while impact noises are caused by
moving furniture or walking occupants.
These are all noises that, when the
unit is poorly soundproofed, disrupt
the comfort of occupants, but we are
going to focus on impact noises here.
What does AIIC 60 Mean?
Condo owners often wonder what
does AIIC 60 means. Is it normal
to hear my upstairs neighbor? Yes
it is normal to hear some noises,
depending on the sound insulation
quality of the building. On the other
hand, when living in multi-housing,
we live in a micro society in which one
must learn to cohabit with the others
in the respect of each other. Based
on our experience and depending on
your auditory acuity and tolerance
towards noise, here is how you could
expect noise to be below AIIC 55, you
can clearly hear every step through
the assembly and easily trace the
person's movements. Between AIIC 55
and AIIC 60, you can hear the steps
when it's calmer (low background
noises, ex: late evening). You can also
trace a person's movements when
it's calm but mainly don't notice it.
Between AIIC 60 and 65, you can
hardly hear someone walking unless
he is not cautious at all. It is very
hard to trace a person's movements.
Over AIIC 65, unless it is the wish of
the person to be heard or he is not
cautious at all, you can't hear him.
What to Look for When
Purchasing or Specifying an
Some acoustic membranes
available on the market advertise very
high acoustic ratings. Some will truly
deliver decent acoustic efficiency in
your building although others will rate
below your expectations and even
below the National Building Code
recommendation. The same product
can perform at AIIC 70, 60 or even 42.
Here's why the acoustic performance
of a membrane can vary significantly.
The building structure, quality
of construction and installation
methods, type of flooring to be
installed overtop, room volume, etc.
are all elements that play a significant
role in the acoustic efficiency of the
building. The membrane does not do
all the work of attenuating noise; it
is actually a small contributor to the
overall rating of an assembly.
Each building is a little different.
No acoustical barrier on the market
place can arbitrarily claim to provide
every home with the same sound
absorbance. In fact they don't. What
they are claiming though is that
under very specific test situations the
product and substrate, when tested
together, achieved certain IIC levels.
If in doubt ask, how was this product
tested when it achieved an IIC of 72.
Only by knowing the test parameters
can you understand what it is that you
are actually buying or specifying and
make sure this is the proper solution to
respect your requirements.
Example of comparison:
Analysis & Facts:
* Product A is tested in a controlled
lab, without windows, furniture and
all materials are installed in perfect
conditions. A suspended ceiling,
including acoustic insulation, wires
and gypsum board ceiling was
added to the assembly.
* Product B is tested in a real life
environment and takes the flanking
into consideration. There is no
* Most condominiums made of
concrete don't have a suspended
ceiling (they have a gypsum ceiling
finish or visible concrete).
* A suspended ceiling can add up to
14 points more to the performance.
* Buyers think that product A
is better and will meet their
* Boards of directors and property
managers often require to reach
IIC 70+ for the replacement of floor
covering, without knowing the
efficiency of their structure and
* The available space/thickness
between baseboards and the
structure is neglected. For instance,
some products or combination
of products can really bring your
ceramic tiles to AIIC 70 but with
the consequence of cutting doors,
baseboards and even cabinets.
This is something that usually can't
CONCLUSION: When purchasing
an acoustical membrane, Product
"A" appears to be more efficient than
Product "B". But after comparing
the results, Product "B" is actually
more efficient and more reliable to
JULY/AUGUST 2018 | BCFCA NEWS | NEWS MAGAZINE
Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of BUILDING SUPPLY INDUSTRY ASSOCIATION- July/August 2018