Office Soundproofing: Suspended Ceiling Treatments

Today I’ll tackle the subject of drop tile ceilings and how they relate to several office related noise problems.  While this article is geared towards office applications, please note that many of these principles can also be applied to school classrooms, commercial spaces, residential applications…

Drop ceilings are one of the most common sights you will see in a typical office setting. Drop ceilings are essentially a secondary ceiling that is installed beneath the main, structural ceiling. They are also sometimes referred to as suspended ceilings, t-bar ceilings, false ceilings, and grid ceilings, to name just a few.  They are usually installed in order to hide the framework make-up of the building structure including wiring, piping, and duct work. They are also commonly used to house fire sprinklers and fire suppression systems. This allows for the tiles to be easily replaced in case of fire or other building damage. While there are many decorative tiles available on the market these days, most offices seem to use the same plain white industrial ceiling tiles that are readily available from most building supply stores. The problem with these tiles are that they are very thin, and although they are sometimes referred to as “acoustic ceiling tiles”, they are in reality very far from it, and basically just allow for sound to pass through them uninhibited.  This can cause a number of different problems which I will outline below, along with resolutions to treat them effectively.

Sound Transmission Between Offices

In many office environments, the shared walls between offices and conference rooms do not extend all the way to the structural ceiling deck, but rather ends where the drop ceiling grid begins. This can allow for sound to flank between the two spaces so that the person(s) in each office hears the other loud and clear whenever they are talking, typing, etc. This can be a big nuisance to the workers in each space, especially if your neighbor tends to be a loud talker! This can be a huge privacy issue if your a lawyer, doctor or psychologist. Your clients and patients need and deserve privacy, and there conversations shouldn’t be over heard by others.

 

Thankfully, there are a couple of ways that you can fix this.  In order to block the sound from going up above the tiles and over into the adjoining room you have to install a barrier material in the drop ceiling.  This can be done by installing Hush City Soundproofing’s patented Privacy Board directly above the wall(s). Doing this will “extend” the wall(s) up to the ceiling deck above. The Privacy Board panels will be pressure fitted between the top of the wall and the ceiling deck above. If you are dealing with a steel “Q-deck” which typically aren’t flat, you will want to cut the top edge of the Privacy Board panels to match the contour of the “Q-deck” to ensure they are pressure fitted properly.

 

You will want to use our soundproof tape to seal the seams between each sheet of Privacy board, as well as use our Green Glue Sealant around the perimeter to ensure an air (and sound) tight seal. It is an easy to install effective barrier that provides acoustic office privacy. These options are far less expensive than actually extending the wall with studs, insulation and drywall up to the ceiling deck above!

 

Now you are probably wondering…”if I seal of my office all the way to ceiling deck above, wont that cut off the air flow to the room and wont it get hotter than heck in here??” You are correct if that is what you are thinking, and that’s why Hush City’s Privacy Board product has matching Return Air Silencers! The silencers are made of thicker Privacy Board panels and are shaped like a capital “U” and are 3 feet long. When the silencers are needed you will want to cut a square hole into the Privacy Board “wall” you just built and attach a silencer onto each side of the Privacy Board “wall” and lined up with your square hole you just cut out. You attach the silencers to the “wall” of Privacy Board using the same soundproof tape you used to seal the seams of the Privacy Board “wall”. See the image to the right to see what the silencers look like after installation. The return air silencers not only maintain the air flow in your office, but they also reduce sound as the air is passed through the silencer!

Office & Conference Room Echo

Offices and conference rooms with lots of hard surfaces and high ceilings often have echo (aka reverberation) and speech intelligibility problems. As is the case with sound flanking between rooms, standard ceiling tiles do not usually have very good absorptive qualities either. As mentioned previously, sound tends to pass through them which allows for it to hit the ceiling deck and bounce back down. This can wreak havoc in rooms where speech intelligibility is of high importance.  No one wants to be on a conference call where they cannot decipher what the person on the other line is saying and vice versa.  Hush City always recommend absorptive wall treatments such as our Decorative Acoustic Panels or Tectum Panels.

Office Pipe & Duct Soundproofing

Another way that noise travels from office to office is through HVAC ducting above the ceiling tiles.  Noise that enters HVAC ducting can travel even further than you think! Depending on how the HVAC ducting was constructed in your building, it can travel up to 3 floors above or below your office.

Inline Silencer To eliminate noise or conversations from travelling through your HVAC ducting, you can utilize Hush City’s In-Line Silencer system. The In-Line Silencers are added into your existing HVAC ducting system at the most beneficial points through-out the office, and then your offices private conversations, stay just that, PRIVATE!!! The In-Line Silencers are available in 5 or 6 inch openings and they get installed by removing a 4 foot section of your existing duct and replacing that with the In-Line Silencer. To go that extra mile for complete silence, spray on some of Hush City’s Anti-Vibe liquid damping paste onto all HVAC duct joints, and your office will be the Fort Knox of silence and privacy!

For a full list of Hush City’s products that you can utilize in your noisy office, board room, classroom, home, ect. visit our products page by clicking this link: Hush City Soundproofing Products

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