Technical Report Looks at Sound Transmission and Log Walls
A recently published “Tech Note” from the Technical Committee of the Log Homes Council, “Sound Transmission & Log Walls,” explores the sound transmission properties of solid log walls and examines possible construction and lifestyle considerations to reduce the amount of noise in a log home.
While there are currently no Sound Transmission Class (STC) ratings for solid log walls, the ratings of conventional construction that have been published typically show that stiff finish surface, interior buffers and wall mass are factors in reducing sound transmission. The committee concluded that it would be improper to imply an STC rating for solid log walls without actual test results, although it is hard to deny that that the density of log walls limits sound transmission.
The one-page report notes that quality construction is the best prevention for noise leaks. Landscaping techniques such as earth berms and tall or dense foliage can be barriers to outside noise. Among recommended construction techniques that will reduce sound transmission in solid log wall structures:
- Seal or insulate all gaps prior to applying finish trim.
- Use weather-stripped, solid core doors.
- Double-glazed windows are quieter than single-glazed.
- Appropriate design and installation of plumbing lines will reduce vibration and noise.
- In multifamily construction, avoid penetrations of the party wall with medicine cabinets and flush-mounted fixtures and be sure to seal around and insulate behind electrical boxes.
Log home buyers and owners can help reduce sound transmission by using hard surfaces — such as log walls, wood floors and glazing — to reflect voices and music, and using softer or textured surfaces to absorb sound using obstacles to disperse it. Options include:
- Placing furnishings, wall hangings and fixtures that intrude into a room, reducing the size of flat surfaces
- Using sound-deadening underlayment under wood floors
- Using drapes, valences or blinds to reduce sound reflection off flat glazed areas
- For flat ceilings, use acoustical tile, exposed beams — trusses, joists or rafters — and texture. Vaulted and cathedral ceilings deflect sound and can be used to alter the acoustics in a room.
For more information, e-mail Eric Fulton at NAHB, or call him at 800-368-5242 x8577.