The Sound Advice Blog

How to soundproof an office for speech privacy

The Problem:

How to soundproof an office for privacy

Since offices, conference rooms and patient exam rooms are typically built with economy in mind, they do not provide speech privacy.  Keeping sensitive information and conversations private requires a construction assembly intentionally designed to block sound from one space to another. Human Resource issues require discussions to be private.  Company strategies may need to be kept secret and confidential.  Health issues should be between only the patient and their health care professional, not overheard by the patient in the next room.

A 1% opening in a wall or doorway will reduce the effectiveness of that barrier by 50%.


Problem Analysis: 

Containing the sound of the speech within the room is the issue.


PrivacyShield® Noise Insulation Class (NIC)Speech privacy is compromised and sound leakage occurs wherever there is an opening that can pass sound or light.

  • Sound may pass through, under and around office doors that do not have acoustical seals.
  • In open plenum office designs, sound simply flanks over partition walls that do not go all the way up to the roof deck. Sound travels easily travels through standard drop tile ceiling tiles, light fixtures and air vents. This sound reflects back off of the roof deck and down into the adjacent office space or exam room. You can hear every word uttered by the person in the next door office.  You can often hear this occur while you wait for a doctor in their exam room.
  • In offices that are located on the outside perimeter of the office space with windows running the length of building, sound can be reflected off of the window glass and bounce into the adjacent office through gaps between the drywall and the window.

The Solutions: 

Acoustical Solutions offers a variety of products that improve speech privacy to create private offices by eliminating sources of sound leakage.


The PrivacyShield® Series is a unique collection of sound blocking materials for use in a ceiling grid’s plenum space.

The three products shown below increase speech privacy by preventing sound from traveling through a drop tile ceiling grid and over into an adjacent space.

PrivacyShield® Ceiling Tile BarrierPrivacyShield® Ceiling Tile Barrier

These pre-cut tiles are available in either a 2’x2′ or 2’x4′ tile. The layers of these tiles contain a polyester decoupler, a mass loaded sound barrier and a fire retardant fabric backing.

These tiles fit perfectly to fit on top of standard drop tile ceiling tiles.


PrivacyShield® Plenum Return Silencer G2, when placed over an existing air return grill, reduces the amount of sound that transfers into open plenum spaces, increasing speech privacy.PrivacyShield® Plenum Return Silencers

These air return silencers fit over standard plenum returns in drop tile suspended ceiling systems.

They block and absorb sound while still allowing air to flow into and out of the office.


PrivacyShield® Light HoodPrivacyShield® Light Hoods

Light hoods fit over standard sized 2’x2′ or 2’x4′ light fixtures. These hoods have slits in the sides that maintain air flow and allow heat from the lights to dissipate into the plenum area.

These are available in sizes to cover a 2’x2′ or 2’x4′ light fixture in an existing ceiling grid.


Acoustic Door seal kits install around the door jamb and at the bottom of the door. These products close gaps and provide an air tight seal against the door, preventing the sound from passing.

In addition to be above materials, any seams or gaps in the construction of the room may be sealed with OSI® SC-175 Acoustical Caulk. This helps block sound transmission by sealing gaps and non-moving joints between the drywall and windows, doors and electrical boxes.

If sound appears to be passing directly through the partition walls, you may also need to consider soundproofing the walls.

To take this a step further, adding acoustical panel kits will reduce echo to create a better sounding interior space.

Summary:

In conclusion, when you can treat an office or exam room with the right products that eliminate noise leakage, the office truly becomes a private office.  Please click on the link below to review a case study of Tandem Mental Health Associates, a counseling and therapy office that utilized these products to create the confidential office environment needed to keep their patient’s trust.  

It is important to note that all of PrivacyShield® products carry a Class A per ASTM E84 (UL 723) fire rating, independently tested by outside laboratories.

Tandem Mental Health Associates Case Study

Contact us today and we will help you select the right products to make your office a truly private office. 

Joseph Niemann | Acoustical Solutions

Joseph Niemann

President

800.782.5742 Ext. 127

Direct: 804.349.0047

Message Joseph