How to Design with Polycarbonate Sound Control Partition Walls

Written by john landers
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How to Design with Polycarbonate Sound Control Partition Walls
Polycarbonate sound control partition walls allow natural light while reducing noise. (Thomas Northcut/Digital Vision/Getty Images)

Many office buildings, commercial facilities, government structures and residential buildings design partition walls with polycarbonate panels because of the material's sound control qualities. Available in various sizes and thickness, polycarbonate panels also have durability, high thermal value and as much as 250 times the strength of glass. Some other materials used to reduce or eliminate noise include drywall, acoustical panels, lead sheets and mass-loaded vinyl barriers. Many property owners also apply treatments to ceilings and floors to enhance sound control in rooms.

Skill level:

Things you need

  • Boards, steel or aluminium framing
  • Bracing strips
  • Circular saw or sabre saw
  • Drill
  • 1/2-inch drill bit
  • Fasteners

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  1. 1

    Design the partitions substructure with 2-by-4-inch boards, aluminium or steel framing components. Place the studs 16 or 24 inches on centre or follow the instructions for installing the system's framing structure. ("On center" means the measurement from the centre point of one stud to the centre of the next stud.)

  2. 2

    Check the wall section after assembly to ensure it is square. Measure the wall diagonally, from the top corner to the opposite bottom corner. Perform this measurement from each side of the wall. Equal measurements of the diagonals equate to a square wall section.

  3. 3

    Place diagonal bracing strips to stabilise the wall sections. Extend the bracing from the top corners to the opposite bottom corners.

  1. 1

    Cut and drill the panels on a solid work surface, such as a worktable or planks laid across two sawhorses. Cut the polycarbonate panels with a circular or sabre saw and a fine-tooth hollow-panel blade with 10-12 teeth per inch.

  2. 2

    Drill pilot holes for the panel fasteners with a high-speed carbide or steel-tipped drill bit. Choose a drill bit that has a slightly wider diameter than the fasteners. This expansive opening will permit the polycarbonate panels to expand and contract as needed.

  3. 3

    Position the holes for the fasteners ½ inches or twice the diameter of the fastener, whichever is greater, from each panel's edge. Follow the polycarbonate manufacturer's instruction for spacing the fasteners when securing the panels.

  1. 1

    Install the sheets with the proper orientation. Peel the layer of plastic film from the panel and position the ultraviolet absorbing surface toward the exterior side of the room.

  2. 2

    Polycarbonate sheets expand in warm weather and contract on cold days. Follow the instructions for the panel layout and gaps between the sheets. For example, some manufacturers suggest a 1/8-inch gap for every 3 feet of sheets, for both width and length, to be installed when working in 21.1 degrees Celsius. The gap permits adequate thermal expansion and prevents the panels from deforming.

  3. 3

    Follow the manufacturer's instructions for the use of brackets, fasteners and other accessories. Secure the polycarbonate panels to metal wall systems with self-drilling or self-tapping screws; select wood grip screws for securing the panels to a wood substructure. Place neoprene washers between the screw heads and panels to assure a tight fit to the wall system. The washers also prevent damage to the panels.

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