The Basics of Acoustic Doors
The purpose of Acoustic Doors is to provide sound insulation to protect your employees, visitors and other general members of the public from potential noise pollution.
- Like other protective doors, Acoustic Doors must meet certain ‘Rw’ sound resistant standards set out by the Building Code of Australia and they be tested and certified accordingly. (For further information, see: ISO 140-3: 1995 – “Acoustics – Measurement of sound insulation of buildings and of building elements”)
- Acoustic doors are also available as fire rated doors and other protective doors, meaning they can fulfil a range of specific, protective functions; they can also be used in boundary walls, where both noise control and fire resistant doors may be required
- Acoustic Doors can be made of a range of materials, such as galvanised steel, laminated steel and sheet metals
- Acoustic Doors can also be installed and completed with certain finishes and/or decorative veneers that can suit the aesthetic design of your space
Who Requires Acoustic or Soundproof Doors ?
Acoustic doors and soundproof doors are used in a variety of organisations, including commercial, industrial and public companies. These include:
- Music studios and recording studios
- Music and concert venues
- Night clubs and bars
- Theatres and cinemas
- Manufacturing plants and factories, particularly those that involve loud machinery
- Medical institutions, like audiology facilities and even x-ray facilities
- Public institutions like schools and university buildings
- General corporate and office buildings
- Police stations (interview rooms)
- Commercial spaces like hotels and offices
Types of Acoustic Doors
Acoustic doors can be purchased to suit a range of door types and sizes, depending on the needs of your construction project. For example, your acoustic doors can be designed as:
- Single or double swinging doors
- Single or double sliding doors
- Fire or smoke doors
- Heavy or lightweight doors
- Electronic, automatic or Magnamatic doors
All door types can be manufactured and installed with the required accessories and hardware, including frames, hinges, acoustic seals, handles and closing/locking mechanisms, as well as additional needs like peep holes or viewing windows.
How Do Soundproof Doors Work?
To easily understand how soundproof doors work, it’s best to first examine how the transmission of sound itself works.
Sound is a vibration that spreads as an audible mechanical wave through a medium such as water or air. Sound waves vibrate at different frequencies and are measures in cycles per second – or ‘hertz’.
Humans can hear sound waves with frequencies between about 20 Hz and 20 kHz – sound that is above 20 kHz is ultrasound and below 20 Hz is infrasound.
The “loudness” of sound is by no means an absolute term, there are many other factors which impact how loud we perceive a sound. However, volume is a measure of the vibrations in the medium through which the sound is travelling (air, usually). The stronger the vibrations, the higher the volume. A soundproof door works by simply reducing the sound which can pass through it. How this is achieved though, isn’t quite so simple.
Any kind of door works as a sound barrier in some respect. However, sound waves will still manage to make their way past a standard door unless further preventative measures are taken. These measures include sound insulation and sound absorption.
Sound insulation refers to the process of putting up an acoustic barrier. The greater the mass of the insulation material per unit area of a door, the more soundproof it will be. This is why materials like concrete are such great insulation. However, concrete isn’t very practical for use in acoustic doors. Rather, a double-leaf partition – two sections separated by an air gap filled with a sound absorber – is far more feasible.
Another problem with a material like concrete is its reflective qualities. This is where sound absorption comes into play. Sound absorption describes the ability of materials to restrict the reflection of sound. The higher the absorption, the less reflection.
Overview of Acoustic Door Choices
If you decide to go ahead with an acoustic door set for your building or venue, there are several things you will need to determine. These will help you decide what type of door to select. As a general guide, you should consider:
- What type and size of door you need. Do you require single or double acoustic doors? Will they need to be swinging or sliding?
- What level of sound resistance you need your acoustic doors to provide. You’ll need to take the Australian Building Code guidelines into consideration and determine what Rw rating you need. This may also impact the door material you choose.
- If your acoustic door also needs to double-up and perform as a fire or smoke door. If so, understanding the fire or smoke resistance levels (1, 2, 3 or 4 hour door ratings) will be essential – and you will need to make sure that all doors and components are also fully tested and certified to meet fire resistant standards, as well as acoustic standards.
- What finish you want for your doors. Specific finishes and colours are also completely possible with acoustic doors and a door supplier will be able to advise what finishes (such as decorative veneers or even paint) may best suit your particular doors.