Types of noise-absorbing materials

Written by christine lebednik
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Types of noise-absorbing materials
Padding for noise absorption can provide a cost-effective solution in some circumstances. (Image by Flickr.com, courtesy of Raven Underwood)

Sound-, or noise-, absorbing materials come in many forms, ranging from simple decor elements to a variety of commercially made products designed specifically for the purpose. Sound-absorbing materials have applications to many environments including homes, churches and recording studios. Sound-absorbing materials include fabrics, carpets and specially designed tiles, foam products, panels and pads.

Noise Absorption Described

Sound absorption is the use of a product or products to reduce noise, resulting from interior sources, reduce echoing in environments like recording studios, or a combination of these. Sound absorption generally deals with reduction of noise or improved clarity of sound that addresses sound generated from within the environment to have the sound absorbing materials applied. In contrast, soundproofing deals with the reduction of noise penetration from noise entering the environment from external sources such as from noisy highways or noisy neighbour activity.

Simple Sound Absorption: Fabrics

At the simplest level, the solution to both sound absorption and soundproofing is potentially the same. Open spaces, such as cathedral ceilings, pose a challenge with regard to noise within the environment. What is needed to help reduce noise issues is to minimise the impact of these acoustical challenges with simple, well-known methods of providing for noise absorption. Typically, in a home setting, this involves the use of such home interior elements as carpeted flooring and heavy draperies. At the most elementary level, this begins to reduce echoing and improve sound clarity in the environment. This solution is sufficient for many homes, but not necessarily a compatible approach in environments, such as a church or meeting hall.

Acoustical Tiling and Paneling

A more advanced level of sound absorption than just the use of fabric (such as draperies and carpets) is the use of acoustical tiling. This is a commercially available product designed specifically to address noise-related challenges. A similar product, acoustical panelling, comes in larger pieces than the size of a tile. Acoustical panelling, therefore, is more suitable for application to larger areas such as walls, which acoustical tiling may be applied.

Noise-Absorbing Foam

Another sound-absorbing commercial product is sound-absorbing foam. Like acoustical tile and acoustical panelling, this type of foam is designed specifically for noise-absorption characteristics. One can also find this material in panels. Some acoustical foam products combine foam with non-woven fabric to enhance noise-absorption properties even more than one would have with either foam or fabric alone.

Noise-Absorbing Padding

Sound-absorbing padding also provides for noise-absorption properties. Padding would typically be used on floor surfaces, often under a conventional carpet. However, in some cases the consumer might have padding applied to ceiling or walls. These pads are generally made of fabric, possibly recycled cotton. Padding for noise absorption can provide a cost-effective solution in some circumstances.

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