Architects and designers prefer to use Insulated Concrete Forms (ICF) for their multiple advantages such as reduced build time, labour savings and thermal efficiency. However, the acoustic properties of the building material are often overlooked or ignored. It’s the acoustic components that reduce sound in a building structure, keeping noise pollution at bay while enhancing the acoustical effects of sounds generated within.
For these advantages alone, ICF is recommended for cinemas, sound studios, hotels, townhouses and duplexes, and multi-storey residential buildings, surpassing all expectations as the optimal design choice with an STC rating of 55+.
In a study conducted by the US Department of Housing & Development to compare the difference in sound reduction between an ICF and a timber framed house built from the same floor plan, the ICF home outperformed the timber framed home on the FSTC (Field Sound Transmission Classification) with ICF rated 42 compared to 34 for the timber framed option. The FSTC numbers represent the superior low-frequency noise reduction as a result of the ICF. The difference in the ratings can be explained as the difference between highly annoying to the human ear as opposed to barely noticeable.
Though there was a slight reduction in acoustic performance in the ICF home as a result of window openings, however, it still outperformed the traditionally built home. ICF is an optimal design choice for acoustically sensitive applications, especially in music rooms, sound studios and theatre rooms that don’t have windows.
As a raw material, ICF walls are very cost effective for commercial office buildings, hotels and airports where sound isolation is critical to productivity and comfort. Modern open plan offices are large expansive spaces where people work and have meetings; soundproofing such environments is a difficult task. For such a situation, an ICF wall provides an excellent exterior insulating and soundproofing envelope that delivers the desired acoustic protection. ICF provides a comfortable soundproof option for hotels, airports and schools without the added expense of extra thick traditional walls.