Last edited 12 Mar 2021

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Suitable insulation can help preserve the golden sound of silence



[edit] Introduction

The UK needs more housing to solve the ongoing shortage, but suitable land on which to build them is shrinking by the day. It has led to greater housing density at newer developments, as builders look to maximise precious, available space. With so many houses in such a relatively close proximity, it is quite possible that many of us are now struggling to live in peace, as noise from neighbours, increased traffic and other outside disturbances becomes an issue in such heavily populated environments.

There is no doubt that building design, particularly in relation to large scale developments, is increasingly being influenced by the need to minimise a property’s footprint. Space saving measures include applying fewer materials to walls, floors and roofs, which although may prove cost-effective in the short-term, occupiers risk paying a price in terms of noise pollution.

Sound interference is not limited to that generated by road traffic and neighbouring households. If not insulated sufficiently, individual living space can become intolerable due to unfiltered noise emanating from different rooms of the same house.

[edit] Mitigate the menace

Although an invisible menace, persistent exposure to invasive noise can have serious consequences. According to a European Environment Agency (EEA) report, one in five people in Europe are subjected to levels of sound considered harmful to health. It estimates that long-term exposure to noise such as busy traffic, railways and aircraft causes 12,000 premature deaths per year in Europe alone.

Mental health and wellbeing are also found to be negatively impacted by ‘environmental turbulence’, whilst Oxford University reported a correlation between obesity and exposure to increased levels of traffic noise over long periods of time.


Having highlighted the real issues noise pollution presents, how can householders protect themselves against its unabating interference? If we want to enjoy our music or TV as loud as we can stand, how is this possible without upsetting the neighbours or other members of the household?

Insulation presents a viable and trusted solution to this common domestic conundrum. A proven example being Silentwall®, acoustic insulation panels produced by Recticel Insulation, which are designed to prevent exterior noise infiltrating a building whilst providing a barrier to sound transmitting between rooms within the property.

Comprising of a combination of fibres and recycled polyurethane foam, Silentwall® panels provide an 87% sound reduction between walls; a performance which does much to increase the comfort and wellbeing of occupants closeted from incessant, everyday noise pollution.

Silentwall’s popularity isn’t solely based upon its sustainably inspired composition - which results in a slightly thinner, but much better performing wall from an acoustic point of view. Its simple installation is another major benefit.

The bonding process is crucial to acoustic performance, as it eliminates vibration between the two surfaces and dampens excessive sound transmission.

Silentwall® is a signifier of Recticel’s commitment to the circular, sustainable economy. It is on a second lifespan and our technical teams will already be looking at ways to adapt upon its current purpose.

[edit] Development

In terms of what lies ahead for the development of acoustic insulation, its wider use within retrofit applications will likely depend on the adoption of thermal technology as part of its package. This ‘best of both worlds’ approach would seem the most logical progression.

With communities continuing to live ever more tightly together, a sustainable insulation solution which offers an acoustic and thermal seal will be crucial to creating a harmonious environment inside and outside of the home. Silence is golden, according to the well-worn phrase, and we will learn to treasure it even more as the years pass and living space becomes an increasingly precious commodity.

This article originally appeared in the Architectural Technology Journal (at) issue 135 published by CIAT in fall 2020. It was written by Simon Blackham, Technical Manager at Recticel Insulation.


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