Acoustic comfort is impacted by a number of factors. External noises (construction sites, traffic, sirens, lawnmowers), internal sounds (the TV, radio), impact noises (someone walking around, closing doors or windows), and background disturbances (a dripping tap, the buzz of an electrical item) can all interfere with what we’re doing and cause us discomfort. But as well as minimising noises we don’t want to hear, acoustic comfort should also make sure the sounds we do want to hear are amplified and balanced.
Who is most impacted by unwanted noises at home?
As part of the UK Home, Health and Wellbeing Report 2016, Saint-Gobain surveyed over 3,000 homeowners and renters about their priorities for their comfort and wellbeing, especially in relation to their homes and living environments.
When it came to the most important attributes of an ideal home, respondents said they wanted a home where:
- They’re not disturbed by noise from neighbours or outside
- They can relax and unwind
The majority (88 per cent) of people questioned said there were issues with their current home they’d like to change, and ‘noise from neighbours’ was in the top three of health and wellbeing problems that people would like to improve.
Renters are more likely to suffer from noise problems than homeowners, according to the research. Over a quarter (27 per cent) of renters said they had problems with noise from adjoining neighbours, outside or too much external noise in general, compared to 17 per cent of homeowners.
And more social renters have issues with noisy neighbours than private renters, with 16 per cent of social renters complaining about the sounds and disturbances from next door compared to 12 per cent of private renters.
Why we need to design and build with acoustic comfort in mind
Whether loud noises or annoying background sounds, both our physical and mental health and wellbeing can be impacted if we don’t have the right level of acoustic comfort. And the earlier on in the building process we can start planning for acoustic comfort, the better.
When designing spaces, we need to look at factors such as what rooms will be used for, who will use the space and what is around the building. Once you start to work out what acoustic quality is needed for each room and the home, you can create your own detailed specification.
It’s more effective to design and build a home for acoustic comfort from the start – especially as it gives the architects, designers and builders the opportunity to take a fabric first approach. But if people want to improve an existing home, there are ways to enhance acoustic comfort.
- Double or triple glazing: Modern, energy efficient double or triple glazing doesn’t just help your thermal comfort, it can also help to reduce the amount of external noises you hear when you’re in your house. Read more about the benefits of double or triple glazing here.
- Insulation: Insulation might be another feature of a home you associate with thermal comfort, but insulation in internal walls, floor systems and between properties can help to improve acoustic comfort too, as explained by Isover.
- Furniture and soft furnishings: Heavy furniture, sofas, carpets, rugs, curtains and other furniture and soft furnishings can help to absorb sounds and minimise echoes.
- Sound absorbing pads: In some spaces, acoustic ceiling and wall panels can help to create the best possible acoustics. New product innovations mean there are different shapes, colours and styles to suit different interior looks and trends.
Are you kept awake at night by noisy neighbours or unwanted external noises? Find out about the importance of achieving acoustic comfort when it comes to getting a good night’s sleep here.
Disclaimer: The sole responsibility for any views expressed lies with the author(s). Any opinions shared do not necessarily represent the views of Saint-Gobain.