The primary goal in the design of any education environment is to provide an inspiring place that fosters learning. Flooring has a role to play in this, but not just in the foundation of an aesthetic principle. A floor’s impact reaches further, and it can also help to encourage learning through function.
Setting the Standard in Acoustics
It is well documented that acoustics can play a significant role in encouraging learning, and as pointed out in Acoustics of Schools: A Design Guide, jointly published by the Institute of Acoustics and the Association of Noise Consultants, acoustic design is now cemented within compliance of Requirement E4 of Part E of the Building Regulations, The School Premises Regulations 2012 and Independent Schools Standards 2013.
To meet Building Regulations, school buildings must comply with Acoustic Design of Schools: Performance Standards published by the Department for Education. This clearly states the performance standards for impact sound insulation of floors for various types of learning environment, ranging from classrooms through to laboratories, drama studios, circulation, administration and ancillary areas.
With the objective to control impact sound, Acoustic Design of Schools: Performance Standards sets maximum impact sound pressure levels to which the floor structure must adhere in refurbishment and new build environments. The most conventional way to meet this standard is through the subfloor construction itself, but careful selection of floor covering can also contribute to significant impact sound reduction.
In fact, particularly in refurbishment projects, an acoustic floor covering can present a huge cost-saving, potentially negating costly subfloor structure revisions, or the need for specialist resilient acoustic underlays.
Acoustic Performance Without Compromise
Carpet has long been known for its ability to reduce sound, but in education environments it can prove too compromised in function, particularly where ease of maintenance and appearance retention under high traffic are important. Vinyl flooring has long been favoured in education for these very abilities, but until quite recently, it did little to improve acoustics.
However, with the arrival of our Acoustic Flooring Collection this changed dramatically and now vinyl is a serious acoustic proposition that can make a real difference in achieving the requirements set out in Acoustic Design of Schools: Performance Standards. The chief advantage of our heterogeneous vinyl construction is that the backing can be adapted to alter function without affecting these characteristics notably, meaning it possible to manufacture a vinyl floor that can combat sound through a compact foam back while providing high performance levels.
Floors within our Acoustic Flooring Collection can reduce impact sound by up to 19dB while still achieving the all-important Class 33 Commercial Heavy rating under EN ISO 10874. Simply, acoustic performance without compromise.
More Than Just Noise
Itec Acoustic Flooring delivers more than simply great acoustic performance for the pound and like other floors in our extensive collection, it comes with a range of performance features that ensure it is easy to maintain, safe underfoot and even more hygienic.
All of our floors are equipped with Hyperguard+ PUR, a technology that provides a long-lasting low maintenance surface that resists scuffs and stains. Ensuring that our acoustic flooring can slot straight in to existing maintenance regimes or newly-established ones without complication, Hyperguard+ is a real boost in education environments where floors come under intense pressure from pupils and activities alike.
Rated R10 under DIN 51130, also means a good degree of slip-restraint, not safety flooring standard, but enough for our Acoustic Flooring to be suitable for use in congregation and thoroughfare areas, as well as classrooms. With 19dB floors in the Optimise Timber and Optimise 70 collections also benefit from the addition of Sanitec, an antibacterial treatment that helps to provide a more hygienic floor – a great addition no matter what the location.
A Matter of Width
Reducing impact sound by 18dB, Silento Design and Silento Timber ranges are available in both two and four-metre roll widths, ensuring that waste and seams are minimised. Fewer seams reduce potential failure ‘hotspots’ and this is making four-metre wide vinyl flooring particularly popular in open congregation areas and classrooms. Of course, in thoroughfares, a two-metre wide floor makes more sense, and with Itec this can be achieved without comprising aesthetics: the same décor can be selected in the most appropriate width.
Meeting More Than Just Acoustic Standard
A study by the UK design firm IBI Nightingale and the University of Salford, Clever Classrooms, one of the first studies looking at a holistic approach to the design of education interiors, found that the physical characteristics of primary schools do impact on pupils learning progress in reading, writing and mathematics, and by as much as 16%. Contributory factors include acoustics, light, temperature and air quality, but also a link to nature and colour among others.
The study references the use of bright colour on the floor as a way of introducing positive, stimulating accents to the environment, but also warns it can be overdone, particularly when other factors such as walls, textiles and furniture can play a role. The research also highlights the importance of a connection to nature, encouraging the use of wooden desks and chairs, as well as plants.
With our diverse collection of looks, from the blues and yellows known to have a positive impact on learning to natural wood effects that replicate a sense of nature indoors, there is an acoustic solution to suit. Each can be accessed in two and four-metre widths, making it easy to put together a scheme that’s correct for the environment. This level of flexibility is even more important in refurbishment projects where it may be prohibitive to change other elements of the interior’s design.
It is also worth noting that our Invisiweld installation technology, that relies on an imperceptible chemical join, rather than a traditional unsightly weld, will do much to enhance the aesthetics of any of our wood or mineral effect floors. It also provides a stronger joint, minimising risk of failure in these ‘hotspots’.
On Hand to Guide You to a Perfect Specification
Any of our Itec Contract Floors sales representatives will be happy to help build a perfect acoustic flooring specification for your education project, or why not begin by ordering samples of our Acoustic Flooring Collection.