Let’s Hear it for Carpet! Carpet Improves Acoustics in Public PlacesI took my son to dinner last week at a local sushi restaurant that also featured several hibachi-grill tables, with their flamboyant chefs, clanging spatulas and flaming onion volcanoes. Although he is only twenty and hasn’t reached the age when he needs to watch peoples’ lips move in order to understand the conversation at a crowded and noisy restaurant, he still remarked that he couldn’t hear very well, and commented on how loud the place was. Wordlessly (it was easier than shouting), I pointed to the tile floors, partially-tiled walls, and tile mosaic columns in the room. He got the point – “Oh yeah, no carpet,” he said, recognizing that once again, his mother was touting the benefits of soft floor covering (I’m dazzlingly entertaining at cocktail parties).
Knowing myself to be somewhat monomaniacal on the subject, it is nice when I can sit back and let someone else say something nice about carpet, and today I have a perfect excuse to do that.
A post that appeared on Wools of New Zealand's blog gives an excellent synopsis of carpet’s benefits in terms of acoustic performance and comfort. Written by Elise Demboski, the post is titled, When Silence is Golden. Here are excerpts:
Sound is transmitted by the vibration of air molecules. So, if you are surrounded by hard surfaces, any sound is reflected back into the room. Carpets, on the other hand, are extremely effective sound absorbers because the individual fibers, piles tufts and underlay have different resonant frequencies at which they absorb sound.
Typically, carpets can reduce airborne noise by 35%; however, tests of wool carpets of varying constructions produced an average noise reduction of 46%. With underlay, reductions of 50% to 70% were achieved… Also, cut-pile carpet will absorb more than loop, because of the more open nature of its surface.
In addition to verbal noise we also generate surface noise. Surface noise in a room is the sound from footsteps, dropped objects and furniture movement. Bare tile floors produce 7-12 times more surface noise than carpets, which cushion the impact of the noise, absorbing and deadening the sound. This type of noise control is particularly important in busy restaurants and other locations where people need to be able to communicate amidst a lot of activity.
Carpet would definitely have improved the acoustics in my hibachi/flaming onion volcano sushi restaurant. Similarly, carpet reduces ambient noise in schools, which can have a very positive effect on students’ ability to learn. Here are two related blog posts: Carpet Improves Acoustics, Absorbs Background Noise and Carpet Aids Learning in Schools" in CEFPI Journal.
Have you had similar experiences in public places? I'd love to hear about them.