Good acoustical design in wood-framed structures can be achieved with construction details that seal sound leaks and control airborne and impact noise. Because of their large dimension, wood structural panels such as plywood and OSB reduce the number of joints and cracks that “leak” airborne noise. Plywood and OSB are also an excellent base for resilient coverings that cut impact noise.
Types of Noise
Three types of noise need to be considered in building design. Airborne noises, such as traffic, voices, and television penetrate through walls, door and other structural elements. Structural vibrations are set up from the vibrations of mechanical apparatuses such as heating fans and plumbing fixtures. Unless plumbing is properly isolated, annoying sounds can be transmitted throughout the entire structure. Impact sounds are produced by falling objects, footfalls, and mechanical impacts.
The proper design and layout of the building can help eliminate noise problems. Design factors include location and orientation of the building, landscaping, segregation of "quiet" areas, and offsetting of entrance doors. Good construction can minimize sound problems. Sound leaks can be sealed with nonporous, permanently resilient materials, such as acoustical caulking materials and acoustically designed gaskets and weatherstripping. Piping penetrations can be wrapped or caulked. Airborne and impact noise can be controlled through properly designed and constructed wall and floor assemblies. A variety of noise-rated wall and floor assemblies are illustrated in the Design/Construction Guide: Noise Rated Systems, listed in the column at right.