Lots2learn

Acoustic property of large tiled area

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We have specced our 100 m2 open plan L shaped hall, kitchen and diner with a tile finish. We are at the stage of going firm on this but are having second thoughts about how this space might be acoustically. The house is just starting second fix stage. 

My wife is a hearing specialist and she is very aware of the effect hard surfaces have on our perception of sound. In addition my hearing is not great. 

My concerns are 

Pro tiling

That was the original spec and so the floor levels are already set

UFH will work best and also in the summer the tile floor will dissipate heat better

Hard wearing with little on going maintenance required

Unified appearance through ground floor including adjacent rooms, WC, lobby, office and utility/plant

it looks good with same tiles used on the patio

 

Con tile

Poor acoustic property

Harsh underfoot

Cost

 

I am after real life experience of tiles regarding how they are to live with particularly how they are acoustically. 

Thanks

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I’ve put 159m2 

Largest single area 95 m2 

I can’t say I’ve noticed any problems 

If you go down the route of carpets

it sorry of defeats the point of UFH

Your other option is Engineered wood 

Perhaps noisier than tiles 

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Our kitchen/diner is tiled (floor) with no soft furnishings of 45sq m and it is quite “echoey”, I also am a little hard of hearing and we both have to repeat what we are saying a fair bit. We have a dog and so tiled is the only practical solution, perhaps curtains would help but I don’t like them in a kitchen (holds odours).

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All other aspects being equal, tiling will create more reflections and will be noisier as well as harder to hear in. Plus footsteps and other knocks on the floor will be louder. Engineered wood is better in both respects, Amtico is better still. Of course tiling will be more resilient to knocks and spills.

 

I personally dislike the cold and noisy feel that floor-tiling imparts. We used Amtico in bathrooms and engineered oak in all other areas. In hindsight I should have used Amtico in the kitchen section of our open-plan.

 

You can mitigate the noise by using soft furnishings - curtains, sofas, rugs, cushions etc.

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2 hours ago, ragg987 said:

All other aspects being equal, tiling will create more reflections and will be noisier as well as harder to hear in. Plus footsteps and other knocks on the floor will be louder. Engineered wood is better in both respects, Amtico is better still. Of course tiling will be more resilient to knocks and spills.

 

I personally dislike the cold and noisy feel that floor-tiling imparts. We used Amtico in bathrooms and engineered oak in all other areas. In hindsight I should have used Amtico in the kitchen section of our open-plan.

 

You can mitigate the noise by using soft furnishings - curtains, sofas, rugs, cushions etc.

Tiles shouldn’t be noisy on a solid floor They are certainly not cold on a heated floor 

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Luxury Vinyl should be a more acoustically alternative, or I guess you could do things to your other surfaces,

 

Would something like those fashionable faceted type wall tiles potentially help, to break up reflections? 

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If you are concerned about acoustics, curtains and sofas help a fair bit.  Wood and Luxury Vinyl are preferable to porcelain.

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Is Amtico the 'most luxuriest' vinyl there is? I'm def. also concerned about reflections (more from an audio enthusiast point of view)... if I could sway my wife to pick this, that'd be good 😃

Edited by puntloos

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5 hours ago, Lots2learn said:

I am after real life experience of tiles regarding how they are to live with particularly how they are acoustically. 

The whole of our ground floor is tiled with porcelain tiles. We haven't noticed any problems. We have a large rug in the sitting room, which is the largest room, and has a half vaulted ceiling.

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5 minutes ago, PeterStarck said:

The whole of our ground floor is tiled with porcelain tiles. We haven't noticed any problems. We have a large rug in the sitting room, which is the largest room, and has a half vaulted ceiling.

Rug is a good idea for sure. 

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Regarding real life experiences, we lived in Singapore for a few years. Hot climes so hard floor tiling is the norm. Stone, marble, porcelain etc.

 

We lived in an apartment with marble floor. Moved to UK and purchased a place with engineered wood floor. We moved all our furniture from Singapore to UK, the acoustics are completely different despite the same furnishings, though granted room is not same size shape or construction.

 

Another experience, we changed our previous kitchen from porcelain to amtico. Night and day difference in acoustics as well as improved comfort when walking barefoot. Amtico is slightly resilient so feel more comfortable, plus it imparts a feeling of warmth compared to the tiles. I expect the floor temperature remained the same, but it felt warmer.

 

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We have a slightly smaller area with stone flooring. It will sound different when empty but it's ok once you have furniture, curtains and the odd rug.

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Deciding this is proving to a nightmare of the Open Plan design for us too. we're still well before 1st fix, but have an 100m2 area L shape very similar to the OP

 

We've gone round cycles of standard options like bamboo & oak engineered, porcelain tiles and Amtico, through to more exotic poured resin, polished concrete, WPC and SPC variants and others I forget.

Mostly don't want water-damage prone in kitchen and around rear/utility doors, so not wood. Don't want cold & echoy everywhere else, so not tiles.... while we have UFH, we're also going for passivhaus so don't expect the UFH to be on that often, thus it will be a shame to spend SO MUCH on this project and still have (literally and metaphorically) cold feet over the flooring.

Resin would win except the cost is shocking, and then you only get 2 or 3 year warranty. (And examples we found, albeit in commercial areas, look very tired and crappy condition, considering the price)

Polished concrete (or effect on screed) can stain, and we know we won't be careful enough. Plus, we're not brave enough to go all in on that aesthetic.

A lot of SPC (stone-plastic composite) products seem to have an acoustic underlay built in (IXPE or cork) but AFAICT that's for managing impact noise transmission to the room below (moot for all our ground floor open plan areas?).  At a first-pass my guess is that the more textured the product, the more anti slip it is, the more pleasant acoustically (diffused reflections), the warmer to touch (perhaps -- the Amtico sales person suggested this as more texture = less contact, more air trapped), but harder to keep clean.

 

 

In almost every respect Amtico seems  like the happiest compromise; except our architect persuaded us away from it onto engineered oak, on a keeping with natural products ethos of the build, plus a general fear of the VOCs. 

However I've just seen Amtico Cirro which is a pretty good marketing bumf for why they can out-eco all the other eco-product.  (Especially being made in UK, it has fewer transport miles than half the bamboo I see these days being shipped from China)

https://www.amtico.com/media/2462713/amt_cirrobrochure_english_digital.pdf

 

Edited by joth

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3 minutes ago, joth said:

Deciding this is proving to a nightmare of the Open Plan design for us too.

 

This has been a professional pain in bum for me when architects started making mimalist and hard surfaces the norm.

It's always fun explaining to them why it will be bad acoustically.

 

If you build it and it is too harsh acoustically, try some acoustic absorbers, you can get some with pictures of your choice on

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I am grateful for the responses so far. 

It seems I am not the only one to revisit this decision we are now leaning towards a LVT. It would still be interesting to hear more from those who have tiles and also LVT fitted. 

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21 minutes ago, Moonshine said:

If you build it and it is too harsh acoustically, try some acoustic absorbers, you can get some with pictures of your choice on

It's a kitchen, so maybe we'll just cover the walls with egg-boxes.

 

More seriously (and @puntloos will be familiar with this too) my work has a lot of plywood "dividers' to make up meeting rooms, and they have pretty good acoustics (for video conferencing needs) as they use a lot of perforated ply acoustic panels to deaden the walls & ceilings (a bit like http://stil-acoustics.co.uk/Timber-Acoustic/Perforated.html - probably not that specific one though) and I might take a cue from that as it will generally fit in with some of our built-in furniture ideas.

 

 

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14 minutes ago, joth said:

More seriously (and @puntloos will be familiar with this too) my work has a lot of plywood "dividers' to make up meeting rooms, and they have pretty good acoustics (for video conferencing needs) as they use a lot of perforated ply acoustic panels to deaden the walls & ceilings

 

yep, a perforated panel (min 25% open area) with mineral wool behind it will act as a decent absorber, in fact without the mineral wool there is a bit of absorption there too. The panel can plasterboard, ply, OSB etc

 

Have a look at some perforated plasterboard to see if that fits the bill

 

https://www.british-gypsum.com/product-range/acoustic-ceiling-systems/gyptone-acoustic-ceiling-boards

 

If you have been into some new build flats, you will usually find perforated plasterboard in common areas such as the stairs as its a requirement from building regs (ADE)

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3 hours ago, ragg987 said:

Regarding real life experiences, we lived in Singapore for a few years. Hot climes so hard floor tiling is the norm. Stone, marble, porcelain etc.

 

We lived in an apartment with marble floor. Moved to UK and purchased a place with engineered wood floor. We moved all our furniture from Singapore to UK, the acoustics are completely different despite the same furnishings, though granted room is not same size shape or construction.

 

Different.. how? Better? Worse? Do vowels suddenly sound like consonants? 

 

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you could have a panel or whole wall done in cork tiles as a “poster wall”.

 

Had one in my room when I was a lad.

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5 minutes ago, Ferdinand said:

you could have a panel or whole wall done in cork tiles as a “poster wall”.

 

Had one in my room when I was a lad.

 

Were you too noisy, or were your parents too noisy? ;)

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1 minute ago, puntloos said:

 

Were you too noisy, or were your parents too noisy? ;)

 

fan of Tony Hart.

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39 minutes ago, puntloos said:

Different.. how? Better? Worse? Do vowels suddenly sound like consonants? 

Much more "serene". Less echoey, quieter background. You could compare it to the difference between a toilet cubicle to a furnished room, though not as exaggerated.

 

Just reminded me, a few years ago I flew a lot to Dubai on business. They have a really swish executive lounge at Dubai airport. All hard floors, glass, steel. I hated how noisy it was, really non-relaxing environment. They had a small section at the back with less glass, carpeting, timber paneling and comfy seats, that was my sanctuary.

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2 hours ago, joth said:

the warmer to touch (perhaps -- the Amtico sales person suggested this as more texture = less contact, more air trapped), but harder to keep clean

Warm to touch is due to low thermal conductivity. The warmth from your foot is not conducted away so fast.

 

When researching 4 or 5 years ago, I came across a paper on how different materials impact the perception of warmth. I no longer have the link, but my takeaway was that a less conductive floor surface felt more comfortable, to the extent that you could drop the temperature of this surface by a few degrees and it would still feel as comfortable as a warmer but high conductivity floor.

 

You can easily replicate this by placing some materials on a floor and treading with bare feet. A metal plate will feel much colder than tile which in turn will feel colder than vinyl.

 

If you are worried about natural materials, then you could consider linoleum or rubber. I could not get on with the colour options for either.

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6 minutes ago, ragg987 said:

Warm to touch is due to low thermal conductivity. The warmth from your foot is not conducted away so fast.

 

Yeah the texture comment was even in a "all else equal" situation, the textured surface feels warmer than a gloss surface.  I recall now this was in NSBRC on the Pietra porcelain tile stand - the lady there pointed out how wood-effect textured tiles didn't feel as cold to touch as the gloss marble effect tiles, even though they're the exact same material underneath. My gut feel is those highly glossy tiles would be more echo-inducing too, but not hard evidence for it.

 

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When the shopping centre at Milton Keynes was being designed, there was a lot of concern about noise from the tiled floor, the 'swimming pool' sound.

They developed and installed some tiles that reduced this, seems to have worked as well.

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