Sounding out flooring solutions

Too much noise can adversely affect students’ health, concentration levels and performance.Lewis Cooper, Education Segment Marketing Manager at Forbo Flooring Systems, explainshow floor coverings can play a role in helping to deliver ‘best in class’ acoustic solutions

AS the pandemic recedes andnormality returns, school facilities must provide children with aconducive environment for catch-upstudy and discussion. Unfortunately, many classrooms up and down thecountry struggle with indoor environments that enhance excess reverberation and noise transference between levels, and limit speech intelligibility. This in turn has the potential to harm students’ health, concentration levels and performance.

Historically, education facilities have posed a challenge when it comes to controlling noise. For one, school children can be very loud and not always willing to lower their volume should they be asked. But that’s not the only problem. Many schools were built in eras where acoustic performance was not as well understoodas it currently is. Fortunately, there are now a range of acoustic solutions, which can be retrofitted into education facilities to enhance acoustic performance. Most notably, acoustic flooring solutions are able to offer superior results in improving levels of impact sound reduction, which is one ofthe biggest challenges that can be faced.

A recent study found that children satin the fourth row of a classroom experience speech intelligibility rates of just 50 per cent. In practice, this means that these students aren’t able to understand half of what their teacher says to them. Undoubtedly this poor performance will end up contributing to school children missing out on important information, which could end up affectingend-of-year exam results.

New acoustic flooring products provide solutions capable of improving acoustic performance, whilst also contributing to healthier indoor environments. There are acoustic vinyl collections that have been designed and tested to maintain minimum residual indentation, whilst also offering two levels of impact sound reduction: 15 dB and 19 dB. As a result, when installed inside classrooms, the solution can help to dampen interfering noises transferring to classrooms below, helping to minimise disturbance, and inturn improving levels of speech intelligibility. Forbo’s Sarlon vinyl sheetand Modul’up adhesive free collections for example, offer ‘best in class’ acousticf looring and is available in a wide-range of colour options and designs.

Outside of the classroom, hallways alsoneed attention as they are notoriously high-traffic areas, which can become quite loud. In particular, reverberation poses a challenge in such areas and must be managed carefully. Once again, with new acoustic floor covering solutions the problem is easier to tackle. Products, such as carpet tiles and flocked flooring provide outstanding hardwearing performance, even in the most demanding environments. Additionally, the solutions boast impressive impact sound reduction ratings. In fact, Forbo’s Tessera carpet tile range can reduce sound by up to 30 dB, whilst Flotex can provide impact sound reduction of up to 22 db.

In the current climate moment, those working on education projects must continue to prioritise effective acoustic design as a primary concern. Inevitably, following the latest lockdowns, students and teachers will be forced to catch up on missed work and will rely on apt environments to learn. With a range of new acoustic floor covering solutions onthe market, those designing and managing schools, colleges and universities now have the tools to make considered and functional improvements. 

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