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Soundproofing Walls: How One Hospital Took it to the Next Level

Multicare Tacoma General Hospital

You’re choosing the materials for a project that you’re going to be working on.  Maybe you’re building a theater, or an addition to a school, or a hospital.  Whatever it is, part of the job is to make things soundproof.  People want to be able to concentrate, to think in peace, and there are some situations and some places where it is really important to not be inundated with noises from other places in the facility.

Soundproofing A Hospital, Where To Start?

There was a hospital system based in the state of Washington that built a 200,000 square foot addition onto one of their buildings.  The project was going to be four stories of occupied floors and one floor for mechanical operations.  The challenge was how to limit the sound that a person in one room in the hospital could hear in another room, while at the same time, doctors and patients need to have acoustics that allow them to talk to each other, and medical staff also has to communicate with each other.

Hospitals are naturally noisy places.  Often people don’t think about that because noise doesn’t carry in an already built hospital, and because it was built with proper construction.  Sometimes elderly patients yell out, sometimes floor scrubbers are noisy; there can be many loud and distracting noises. The challenge for the contractor on this 200,000 square foot job was how to keep noise to an acceptable level, while at the same time not blowing the budget and not blowing the construction schedule.  Cutting corners was not an option.  Once a hospital is built, communities hope it will be a cornerstone for their town or area for decades to come.

Challenges

Accoustical Ceiling PanelsToo much noise in a hospital can have negative effects on the health of those being treated, and on friends and family members who are visiting.  Too much noise can affect a patient’s quality of sleep, blood pressure, and the recovery time.  Also, when a patient is being treated, the information shared between the patient and the doctor is supposed to be completely confidential and not the sorts of thing that generally can even carry out of the patient's room into the hallway.  The contractor on this job worked with the hospital board and decided to look at the noise guidelines that were acceptable for a hospital in the state of Washington.  The Washington State regulatory codes and AIA guidelines were the two sources noise regulations they had to work with.  Ultimately they chose to use the AIA guidelines because they were more strict, which meant they would be striving to meet the highest standards for noise reduction in the state, and the regulations for appropriate acoustics. 

The product the contractors chose to use was 5/8” QuietRock and 530.  This drywall choice allowed the contractors to meet the regulations and ratings necessary, as well as to maximize space because they didn’t have to double up to provide noise canceling acoustics.   Had they used less efficient product, they would have had to double hang it, which would have used up space and still might not be as effective.  An additional benefit of 5/8” QuietRock soundproof drywall was the acoustics in the rooms and hallways were great too.  They were able to avoid poor acoustic materials can prevent effective communication between a doctor and patient, and when staff is communicating with each other.  The increased quiet from this material can also benefit a patient by creating an environment that would allow them to recover more quickly thanks to a quieter environment.

Soundproofing: The Construction Process

From a construction standpoint, there were benefits beyond the quietness.  One single layer of application works better than most other rock’s double application.  Although QuietRock isn’t as cheap as some other rock, because one sheet meets the AIA guidelines and other drywall often takes two, money can be saved on material.  Money is also saved because when only one sheet has to be installed, there is much less labor involved, and of course the space savings add up, especially in a 200,000 square foot addition. 

Another consideration is the moisture that is often in a hospital.  There are lots of germs and bacteria in a hospital, so there is a lot of deep cleaning.  Mops and cloths are used on floorboards and on walls often to ensure that germs are killed, and QuietRock soundproof drywall is mold resistant.  When the hospital in Washington was built, some of the drywall had to be installed before the building was sealed.  And remember, this was in the Pacific Northwest where moisture is prevalent, and yet there were no issues with moisture or mold.  If this drywall and withstand that kind of exposure to moisture, it will be able to stand having a cloth wipe down its walls every day. No mold adds a layer of safety to help a patient recover.

Conclusion

It doesn’t really matter if you’re responsible for choosing the right materials for an apartment building, a church addition, or a hospital; you need to choose the right materials to keep noise to a minimum.  Doing it the right way could cost double because you put twice the drywall up, or you could choose the right material, QuietRock, and just put up one layer, and save money on material and labor, and have rooms that are quiet with good acoustics.



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Wallboard Supply Company is a third generation, family run business that has been serving New England's building needs since 1970. Bob Filion started the company with a commitment to provide quality drywall and finishing products with unmatched customer service. The company has grown over the years, expanding its' product range, but never wavering from its' core values.