Acoustical Design Solutions for Chicago Commercial Spaces


Noise complaints may be one of the common issues you have to deal with in your commercial space. When there are a lot of employees and people conversing in your building, or operating equipment that is running, the general din in the room can be overpowering. Quieting the noise down can increase the enjoyment of the indoor environment for the general public while allowing employees to experience less stress and distractions so they can work more productively.

Deciding on a Desired Acoustical Level

Not every commercial business wants to go dead silent. In restaurants and hospitality settings, some background noise is desired. Having a desired conversational noise level can make the atmosphere feel more welcoming, relaxing and fun. In other commercial establishments, such as hospitals and offices, having a completely quiet environment is paramount. At these establishments, you may not want sound transmission that could hamper security protocols when trying to keep confidential information safe, or for when a patient needs a quiet environment so they can rest and recover from their medical conditions.

When seeking a noise-reduction design for your building, you need to take into account the desired acoustical level in the space that would create the optimal indoor environment. In this manner, you can then decide on the right acoustical materials and solutions that would work well in the space.

Focus on the Areas that Permit Sound Penetration

As you look at areas in the building where the noise levels are too great, think about the types of noises that are entering the space and where they are passing through into the room. You may discover that machinery noise or footfalls are causing reverberations against the hard surface of the floor, as those sounds are traveling through the flooring and the ceiling into the room below. Another noise factor you may be dealing with is conversations passing through porous wall materials.

When tackling sound transmission, the three architectural areas you will normally deal with are the ceilings, flooring, and walls. So you will need to focus on sound absorption and sound damping materials along these areas of the space. Also be aware that sometimes seeking a solution only in one area, such as the ceiling, may not completely deal with the acoustical issues. While foot impacts may seem dampened, the sound could still pass through cracks or voids in the wall where the ceiling and wall structure meet.

Materials Used in Acoustical Designs

suspended cielingThere is a range of different materials that can help you reach the desired acoustical levels in the space. Sound-absorbing fiberglass and mineral fiber tiles placed directly on the ceiling can reduce impact noise. You may also decide to create a second suspended ceiling in the room that can lower transmitted sound due to the air gap and the acoustical materials in place.

For flooring, seeking out floor materials that do not transmit sound is usually the best solution. Removing hardwood flooring and installing carpeting, or placing carpeting on top of cement flooring can provide a cushion for feet and machines. You can also select other sound-absorption flooring materials such as rubber, cork or vinyl composition tile. Another solution is to increase the amount of underlayment below the existing flooring that may be in place.

When it comes to walls, creating an air-tight, thick barrier can lower the amount of sound transmission and create a more private atmosphere in the room. Increasing the amount of sound-absorbing insulation in the walls is one ideal solution. If you cannot change the wall structure, then adding wall panels and wall partition inside the room can lower the noise that passes into the room.

You can create the optimal indoor environment that is at the desired sound level. Looking at the architectural elements in the commercial space and honing in on the design solutions that can be effectively incorporated can provide you with the right acoustical benefits to make a more enjoyable and private indoor atmosphere.