Variations in sound insulation in lightweight timber constructions

Abstract: This licentiate thesis deals with the topic of variations and uncertainties in building acoustic parameters for lightweight timber constructions. A higher safety margin to the legal requirements is needed to compensate for acoustical uncertainties, which leads to higher costs. Building costs can be reduced if the variations can be identified and controlled. The project was limited to industrially prefabricated timber frame based volumes and massive timber based plate elements. This thesis is based on the work reported in three papers (A, B and C). In paper A, the variations in impact and airborne sound insulation were assessed and quantified in 30 nominally identical volume built apartments in a four-storey building. Large variations were found and the underlying causes were investigated. A statistically significant difference between floor numbers was found as the highest floor achieved better sound insulation. This difference was assumed to be caused by the higher static load on lower floors affecting the elastic layer used to structurally connect the apartments. In paper B, three room volumes were followed and measured at different stages of completion throughout the construction process. The objective was to test if acoustical deviations in the field can be identified at earlier construction stages. An ISO tapping machine was used to excite the floors and the response was measured at 20 positions. The airborne and impact sound insulation were measured in the finished building. Deviations were found, but these could not be traced to earlier stages of completion. In Paper C, the variations in sound insulation of a cross-laminated timber (CLT) building system was investigated. The construction was based on prefabricated wall and floor plate elements which were mounted at the building site. A number of acoustical uncertainties related to the measurement procedure were also investigated. The measurement uncertainty was small in comparison to the total variations. The degree of prefabrication for the CLT system was lower compared to the volume system, which indicated a greater scope for poor workmanship. All papers indicate a higher sound insulation on the upper floors in a building. It is therefore important to carefully design the elastic layer between floor numbers. The measurement uncertainty has been continuously considered in this thesis. In order to properly identify and quantify variations, the measurement uncertainty should be minimised. Advantages and drawbacks with different measurement methods and directions for future research are discussed in the concluding chapters.