Specifying Acoustic Doors – Key Questions
Noise is bad for health. People who are exposed to constant high levels of noise, whether it’s in the workplace, home or outdoors, show increased hospital admissions for cardiovascular diseases.
The Architectural and Specialist Door Manufacturers’ Association (ADSMA) quotes two studies: a 2013 British Medical Journal study showed those who lived near Heathrow airport were 10-20% more likely to be admitted to hospital for a stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. A separate study, printed in the German magazine ‘Der Spiegel’ showed that exposure to an average noise level of 60dB increased coronary heart disease by 61% in men and 80% in women.
The World Health Organisation says that noise is the second biggest environmental issue after air pollution. Sound management is a vital part of building design and choosing the right acoustic door plays a large part in ensuring a successful outcome.
Acoustics is a complex science and specifiers can’t be expected to have specialist knowledge, but there are simple questions to consider to ensure a successful installation.
What is the purpose of the door?
When specifying an acoustic door the first thing to consider is what you want it to do. Are you keeping noise out (traffic, trains, planes, general street noise)? Or are you trying to keep it in (e.g. music, discussion, noisy machinery, hotel bedrooms)? It’s important to define what you want the door to do, as it will affect the type of door that’s required.
Similarly, the type of noise you want to keep in or out will affect the way the door is manufactured. Are you looking at keeping a school classroom free from distracting conversations outside, or preventing a music rehearsal from disrupting other pupils?
The frequency of noise will influence the materials used.
How will your doors complement other soundproofing measures?
An acoustic door isn’t an isolated component – it has to be part of an overall acoustic solution. The rest of the structure has a part to play in soundproofing.
Walls, ceilings and floors should be sufficiently insulated against noise, and windows must be at least double glazed and sealed to help keep the noise where it’s meant to be.
The door can’t perform well if it’s fitted in a flimsy partition which will allow sound to pass through. It might seem that the door isn’t performing well, when the problem is actually with the wall it’s set in. Similarly, all parts of the doorset (not just the door panel) should be certified as tested to BS EN ISO 10140 Pt 2 2010.
How will your door be installed?
The installation of the doorset is key in any situation. Whether it’s a fire door or acoustic, the client must ensure that the installer knows how they need to be installed (particularly relating to the interface of drop seals with thresholds and acoustic seal effectiveness). Doors must be plumb, square and have all the seals correct. It’s important to allow up to five times as long for installation compared to a standard internal door.
Is the door fit for purpose?
Consider how (and how often) the door is used. Very heavy doors, or thick doors can have a higher decibel rating, but if they are difficult to open they may breach health and safety laws regarding exiting in an emergency. Seals on a door can make them hard to open (think of the freezer door, when you close it and try to open it again immediately).
The door manufacturer should be able to advise on balancing acoustic performance with practical use; a school and a recording studio will have different needs to take into account. Remember, it’s possible to have acoustic doors that are also certified fire resistant, but that does need to be specified.