Navigation Menu+
Commercial Flooring News

Carpets Make Sound Sense For Schools

The choice of floorcovering can make a dramatic difference in the acoustics of classrooms, says Heckmondwike marketing manager Abby Chandler:

THE acoustic performance of classrooms is often cited as a major influence on the learning process. Research shows that when classroom noise levels are above 35 decibels, students can struggle to understand speech even if the speaker is only a few yards away.

A classroom full of children or adults all talking can generate this noise level, especially if there is hard flooring which cause sounds to rebound around, creating discordant noise.

The problem can be especially bad for young children, who are often more sensitive to background noise and reverberations. They also have a limited vocabular y, so are less likely than an adult to comprehend speech by ‘filling in’ the words they do not hear clearly.

In particular, poor classroom acoustics can affect students with hearing problems as hearing aids which tend to amplify both wanted and unwanted sound. Don’t forget the poor teacher, who has to shout to be heard, or to repeat things many times to be understood. Hard floors are obviously a major culprit when acoustic performance deteriorates. Hence the case for carpet.

Whether it is a nursery, primary, secondary school or college, selecting the most appropriate carpeting can make a huge contribution to achieving good acoustic performance. For example, although a small classroom and a large lecture room will both benefit from reducing the amount of reverberation, each will give a different set of acoustic parameters to be dealt with.

A specialist carpet manufacturer will consider which type of carpet offers the best acoustic performance in the circumstances. For example, a good quality carpet with a surface layer bonded to a background layer can provide greater sound absorption than a single layer alternative, delivering 2 or 3 decibels more of acoustic damping. This may not sound a lot, but the logarithmic nature of measuring decibels means that 2 or 3 decibels can make an enormous difference to helping a classroom’s acoustic performance.

Of course, other factors also influence classroom carpet choice. Appearance is obviously a key consideration, while carpets for IT suites should have anti-static properties, and for general classrooms carpets must also be hardwearing and easy to clean. But always remember the acoustics.

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