Impact sound insulation of flooring systems with polyurethane foam on concrete floors
The problem of unwanted noise in buildings has grown continuously over the last twenty years and impact noise through separating floors has been identified as a particularly important problem. One accepted method for improving impact sound insulation is to use floating floors in which the walking surfaces are isolated from the supporting structure by a resilient layer. Traditionally the resilient layers comprise mineral or glass fibre quilts but other materials such as flooring grade polystyrene are increasingly used. Recently, shallow profile floating floors comprising flexible open cell polyurethane foam resilient layers have been developed. These systems are attractive for refurbishment projects since they can simply be placed on existing floors in order to improve their impact sound insulation whilst raising the existing floor level less than systems comprising fibre quilts. Shallow profile floating floors with thin layers of flexible open cell polyurethane foam are the subject of investigation as part of this research work. This thesis reviews the previous research on polyurethane foams and evaluates the usefulness of the Standard Tests on these materials for assisting in the selection of foam for use as resilient layers under lightweight floors. Both the static and dynamic behaviour of flexible open cell polyurethane foam are investigated and recycled polyurethane foam is shown to be particularly useful for use under floating floors Its characteristic behaviour under compressive strain is described for the first time. This thesis shows that by modifying the Standard Method for the determinaf on of the dynamic stiffness of resilient layers under floating floors (BS EN 29052-1), the effect of the air contained in the open cell foam specimens can be included in the Standard laboratory test. The modification makes it possible to evaluate the dynamic stiffness of low airflow resistivity resilient polyurethane resilient layers using the apparatus described in BS EN 29052-1 for the first time. Field measurements of impact sound pressure level conducted using sections of lightweight shallow profile floating floor on a concrete supporting floor are described. The measured improvements in impact sound insulation achieved by using the sections of floating floor are compared with the improvements predicted using the results from the modified Standard laboratory tests on the foams used as resilient layers. It is shown that by compensating for the mass impedance of the Standard tapping machine hammers good correlation between predicted and measured data is achieved. A simple method for predicting the weighted standardised impact sound pressure level (L'nT,w) in the receiving room is proposed which shows excellent correlation with L'nT,w obtained from the measured data. The work shows that BS EN 29052-1 is more widely applicable than the Standard itself states and for the first time identifies a method of predicting the performance of lightweight shallow profile floating floors with polyurethane foam resilient layers. Finally the use of the ISO tapping machine for assessing the impact sound insulation of the very lightweight floating floors of interest to this research is considered. Different methods of correlating perceived and measured the impact sound insulation of floors are reviewed. Experimental results conducted in this research programme, along with searches of the literature confirm that the tapping machine is a suitable source for measuring the impact sound insulation of these floors.