When to use resilient channel

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by Bill Stewart
Resilient channel has been on the market for more than 50 years, but it seems not everyone has a clear idea of when it can be used to solve sound transmission issues in wall and floor/ceiling assemblies. As a consultant who has worked in engineering acoustics for more than 20 years, the most common question this author receives regarding resilient channel is: ‘Can I just replace it with a layer of gypsum wallboard?’

It is crucial to identify which conditions warrant the use of resilient channel. If, for example, adding a layer of gypsum wallboard to the assembly would indeed accomplish the same task with equal success, the situation is not one where it is practical to use this product.

Building professionals’ understanding of which conditions are appropriate for use of resilient channel can be enhanced by a review of the improvements achievable with its implementation. It is also essential to identify wall types commonly used for residential, education, and commercial construction, and to determine whether the product should be used with each type.

This article provides a review of the improvements that can be achieved by using resilient channel, as well as identifying wall types in common construction practice for residential, education, and commercial applications and determining whether resilient channel should be used.

The process of selecting a wall type is not as direct as it seems. Once design criteria are established for a structure’s desired interior noise level (typically an hourly average of the A-weighted equivalent sound level in dBA), the wall’s transmission loss performance must be determined. That performance should be high enough to reduce source noise levels until they meet the interior noise goal. Sound transmission class (STC) has been established by ASTM standards as the measure to use when gauging transmission loss performance.

For each space in the built environment, the source of noise and the acceptable level of sound must be understood before an ideal STC rating can be determined. In acoustics, this is referred to as the source-path-receive model.

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