Why you should encapsulate acoustic insulation for suspended ceilings or acoustic wall cladding?
Noise not only influences quality of our lifestyle but it also impacts our well-being at work. Excessive sound can cause a lot of issues in any workplace or public space. This can be in offices, manufacturing plant or in the public areas like airports or train stations. Architects and acoustic designers employ different materials and solutions which are responsible for noise dampening and control of sound.
During sound absorption part of the sound energy is converted into a small amount of heat within the absorbing material. In such case sound is not transmitted, nor reflected. Before you select a proper sound insulation material you should carry out acoustic design study. This processes will help you determine what sort of noise you can expect an at which frequencies. Once you know the frequency distribution you can select the proper sound insulation material.
Open cell porous materials like mineral and glass wool are popular acoustic insulation solutions
Quite popular solution which is often used for acoustic insulation in large public areas is installation of a dropped ceiling or acoustic cladding. Acoustic suspended ceilings and wall cladding are used throughout a wide range of sectors and facilities. Whether it is a conference room in an office building, passenger terminal at an airport, auditorium room in theatre or a passage in a tunnel or inside a train station the ceilings purpose is not only to be architecturally integrated with the rest of fit-out elements. Additionally, it helps to improve acoustic design of certain area. It is intended to increase airborne noise absorption. Depending on the architectural and acoustic requirements dropped ceiling contains perforations or microperforations in various shapes and sizes. The most popular are circular or rectangular holes. These perforations allow sound to go through into the acoustic absorbent.
For such applications porous absorbers work very well. Often times the suspended ceilings and acoustic cladding panels are equipped with sound insulation material like mineral or glass wool. This material absorbs noise by friction within it’s fibre cell arrangement. Mineral wool acoustic insulation not only absorbs sound but it also reduces vibration. This is achieved thanks to the material density and non-directional fibre orientation. Mineral and glass wool acoustic insulation entraps sound waves and blocks them from travelling through it. This type of acoustic absorbent has porous open cell structure which is exceedingly effective across a wide range of medium-high sound frequencies. However, it doesn’t deal so well with lower frequencies.
Acoustic insulation materials can be hazardous to health
Usually, fit-out contractors cut insulation board to size to fit them inside of ceiling tile or cladding panel. Sometimes they also insert the full size insulation board on top of larger suspended ceiling surface. During the maintenance and services works for the suspended ceiling area maintenance personnel can displace, damage or even tear apart acoustic insulation material. This issue can cause several hazards for the building owner or facility manager. Firstly, it creates additional work due to the necessity for replacement of the damaged acoustic insulation. Secondly, it poses additional risk for anyone present in the area because of the potential of lose fibres in the air.
Free fibres can be a potential health hazard not only for the maintenance operatives. It’s a health risk also to anyone else in the area. The leading manufacturers of mineral or glass fibre acoustic insulation products confirm their products are not hazardous to health nor to environment.
What are deleterious materials in construction?
More and more architects, specifiers and building operators forbid using deleterious materials at their construction sites and in their buildings or structures. Designing Buildings defines deleterious materials as “materials that are dangerous to health or which are the causes of failures in buildings, but increasingly, materials which are environmentally damaging”. In reference to acoustic insulation from mineral or glass wool this means products with fibres which diameter is 3 microns or less and length is 200 microns or less.
Manufacturers of man-made mineral fibres state that most of their fibres do not fall into this category. This can be understood that a small portion of fibres fall into the deleterious materials definition. What is more, these fibres break into smaller fragments during processing and installation. This means, cutting, bending, handling and storing. Each of these processes causes some minor damage to the fibres and increases the risk of the fibres being present in the air.
How to stop flow of free fibres in the air released for ceiling acoustic insulation?
SoundStop C acoustic insulation pads contain fibres and stop them from getting into the air
One of the methods is to encapsulate acoustic insulation in a material with tight seals. This is what we achieve with our standard products SoundStop C or SoundStop W. It is an acoustic insulation pad intended for any type of acoustic suspended ceiling or for acoustic cladding. The insulation pad consists of glass-fibre material, acoustic insulation filler (mineral wool, glass wool or any other type per your specification) and threads for sewing and enclosing it all together.
What are the benefits of encapsulating acoustic insulation?
Containment of glass fibres
First of all, as already mentioned above by enclosing acoustic insulation material produced with man made mineral fibres or natural fibres you can stop the free flow of the these fibres and any dust contained in the acoustic slabs. Sealed glass fibre material completely encapsulates insulation material and it eliminates the risk of fibres in the air. At the same time the acoustic pad maintains the acoustic performance of the sound absorber material.
Reduction of material damage
Secondly, when you encapsulate insulation material you reduce the risk of damage of the insulation material. Maintenance operatives take suspended ceiling tiles or acoustic cladding panels off and put them back again on numerous occasions. The same happens to the acoustic insulation. This procedure may damage the insulation material if you use it just by itself without all side encapsulation. However, once you enclose the acoustic insulation you can move it, store it and stockpile it with less chances for damage. With longer maintenance life of the acoustic insulation pad the building owner or facilities manager can also benefit from reduced costs as they don’t have to replace damaged sound insulation material.
High fire and acoustic performance
Another advantage of encapsulating acoustic insulation in glass-fibre textile like SoundStop Pad is that this material does not decrease the performance of acoustic insulation. This means that both fire rating and sound insulation properties of the whole acoustic insulation pad is either the same or very similar to the sound insulation material on its own.
We tested the material we use for encapsulating acoustic insulation for fire performance and also for sound performance. To check the compliance with fire regulations we tested it according to the norms EN ISO 1716 (Reaction to fire tests for products – Determination of the gross heat of combustion (calorific value)) and to EN 13823 (Reaction to fire tests for building products. Building products excluding floorings exposed to the thermal attack by a single burning item) by an independent accredited test house. The material achieved classification of A2- s1, d0 According to the norm BS EN 13501-1+ A1: 2010. In terms of acoustic testing we checked the material for sound absorption coefficient. We can forward the results of these tests to you directly upon your request.
Possibility of embedding additional fixing systems
Next benefit of enclosing acoustic insulation in glass-fibre textile is the possibility of designing embedded fixings. The insulation pads can include fixing hooks, rings, eyelets or other type of fastening the pads to a substructure, ceiling or cladding panels or to an independent structure. Fixings grade depends on the intended use and the environment in which you want to place the insulation pad into. If you need high corrosion resistance than we can offer stainless steel fasteners for such an instance.
Acoustic Insulation pad can take any shape
Further positive aspect of acoustic insulation pads is the possibility of adapting the pads shape to the layout of the ceiling or wall cladding. Whether it is a standard size of rectangular panels or other geometrical form like triangle, circle, trapezoid and many others, the insulation pad can adapt easily to any of these shapes. It is crucial that we can keep the insulation material fully enclosed. More sophisticated ceilings with curved sections around columns or junctions or ceiling pods can also use this type of acoustic insulation pad. With glass-fibre acoustic pads architects and acoustic engineers can seamlessly work together without limitation of the product fabrication methods.
Integrate any MEP items with cut-outs
Last but not least, acoustic insulation material enclosed in glass-fibre fabric allows you to incorporate any cut-outs for elements integrated into the ceiling, for example, lights, speakers, smoke and fire detectors, cameras, sign brackets, etc. Cut-out is placed accurately within the insulation pad and acoustic material remains fully encapsulated. On site your installation team will fix insulation pad tightly around the mechanical and electrical equipment or with specified tolerances.
How glass-fibre acoustic insulation pads are better than standard foil sound pads?
There are many products on the market which use PE foil or aluminium foil as material to encapsulate insulation for acoustic ceilings. However, we strongly believe that glass-fibre acoustic insulation pads are much more durable. Also, higher quality and better suited for use with suspended ceilings.
Glass-fibre acoustic pads have higher damage resistance
Glass-fibre fabric is much more resistant to mechanical damage than PE foil or aluminium foil. This is particularly important for building owners and facilities manager who value long product life. Acoustic suspended ceilings cover MEP services like cold and hot water pipes, ventilation ducts or different types of electrical cables and equipment. All these items need inspection from time to time. Maintenance operatives need to lift ceiling tiles or use a dedicated hatch to access the void where all the services are located. Usually, in case of the acoustic ceiling they also need to remove noise insulation material. Once removed they need to store it somewhere until they complete all the works.
Maintenance personnel or construction site fixers move acoustic insulation material from place to place. Therefore, there’s a risk to damage this material. Polythene foil and aluminium foil acoustic insulation pads are prone to mechanical damage. Any abrasion, accidental cut by maintenance tools or while moving inside the ceiling grid can cause . That is why glass-fibre acoustic insulation pads are far more superior for long term maintenance than the foil pads as they are made from stronger fabric.
Glass-fibre acoustic pads allow for fixing asset tags
Furthermore, glass-fibre pads allow you to inspect the acoustic insulation inside them. You can open the pad by unstitching it. If it is necessary in the same way you can replace acoustic insulation within the pad. After inspection and replacement of acoustic material the pad’s seam can be stitched again.
Another advantage of glass fibre insulation pads is that you can attach asset tags or labels to them. Despite the tag the pads can still provide tight seal for mineral fibres. For areas where fire protection is crucial these tags we manufacture them from metal plates. We also engrave details about the assets, part number or location.
Conclusion: main facts about acoustic insulation pads
To sum these are the main benefits of using glass-fibre enclosed acoustic insulation pads:
- full enclosure of mineral fibres
- acoustic absorption
- incorporation of any shape to suit ceiling design – trapezoidal, triangular, square, circular or any other shape
- can include cut-outs for speakers, smoke or fire detectors, lights, signage, brackets, etc.
- allowance for fixing mechanically to structure or hangers
- ease of cleaning
- long life time
- high torn and abrasion resistance
- integration with any ceiling system from major manufacturers like Lindner, SAS or Armstrong
- integration with acoustic cladding systems from any manufacturer like SAS, Armstrong, Lindner, Zahner,
Do you have any further question related to acoustic insulation pads – SoundStop C and SoundStop W or any other of our insulation products? Send as a message through the contact form below and let us check how we can support you.