Navigation Menu+
Commercial Flooring News

Balance Between Acoustics & Durability

Paul Rogers, technical specification manager, at Forbo Flooring Systems, explains what contractors should look for when selecting acoustic floorcoverings: 

IN a world full of noise, acoustic performance is essential in modern building design. And in education clients demand an unprecedented combination of high quality, sound reduction properties and sophisticated design choice.

Noise pollution can adversely effect the human body, including sleep disorders, stress, headaches and difficulty concentrating, especially for young children. Impact sound from day to day activities, such as heavy foot traffic in corridors and chairs moving across classroom floors can significantly contribute to sound levels within a room or space.

The most efficient way to reduce impact sound is at its source, why acoustic floors are important in schools, colleges and education facilities.

Along with doors, wall and ceiling panels, acoustic flooring can help control noise pollution. Effective acoustic flooring should maximise impact sound reduction whilst meeting the needs of heavy traffic areas.

Carpet is a natural sound absorber, offering good acoustic properties and creating a quieter and calmer atmosphere. However, carpeting is not always a practical option and in heavier or wheeled traffic areas other flooring such as acoustic vinyl or linoleum are good alternatives.

Where flooring selection is led by the acoustic requirements it is important not to lose sight of other key performance considerations.

For example, floorcoverings for high traffic areas, such as corridors and communal spaces must be durable enough to withstand a daily onslaught, while classroom areas where furniture is moved around regularly require floorcoverings with good indentation resistance and dimensional stability.

Achieving the right balance between acoustic performance and durability is key in product selection. Look for a resilient finish with a heavy duty wearlayer, making the product extremely hard wearing and resistant to scratches while offering optimal protection to the design as well as superior residual indentation performance.

There is also a duty of care to ensure that the floor’s slip resistance is appropriate for the area of use.

Acoustics should be included in adjoining eating areas. School canteens can be noisy and minimising this disturbance for neighbouring classrooms or study areas, helps create the right ambience for pupils. But there is still a need for increased slip protection, primarily from wet spillages.

Appearance is also important for contractors and the variety of designs available from suppliers. Forbo’s Sarlon collection includes products offering impact sound reduction values of 15, 17 and 19dB – as well as fresh and inspiring colourways.

Lastly, correct installation is crucial for the optimum performance of acoustic flooring. Seal any gaps around protrusions through the floor, such as pipes, to avoid sound being transmitted through to the space below. Reputable manufacturers will offer technical advice if required. Contractors ought to be aware of the latest legislative requirements and the wide variety of products available.

This article has been reproduced from the Contract Flooring Journal website. You can find them at