Ranked: Seven innovative noise reduction materials for commercial spaces

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By Ryan Shure

Many types of buildings are considered commercial spaces. Commercial spaces are often large, bustling structures, required to withstand a high volume of human and machine traffic, more than a residential property. Managing sound transfer into and throughout a large commercial building can present a serious challenge. To help manage this issue, this article ranks seven innovative materials, from most to least comprehensive, that can reduce noise in commercial spaces.

Insulated concrete forms (ICF)

Many times, the bustle inside the building is minor, compared to the ruckus created by blaring traffic, strong winds, and pounding precipitation. If any of these factors are a concern, it is important to build with sound insulation in mind.

This starts with the framing; structural steel is an outstanding material for framing commercial buildings thanks to its durability, but it is not the ideal option for soundproofing. A better choice would be ICF. Composed of interlocking insulation panels set by concrete on-site, ICF framing creates a solid, one-piece frame which does an exceptional job of preventing sound from transferring through the building envelope. Many exterior sounds are initially reflected by the concrete. Any waves that do pass through this initial defense are absorbed by the foam insulation core, ensuring few, if any, sound waves make their way to the building’s interior. By providing sound-insulative framing, ICF represents the most impactful means of reducing noise in a commercial building, with ICF structures performing better than other buildings that use only surface-level noise mitigation techniques.

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