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Tuesday 24 May 2011

Soundproofing Office Space: Drywall and Insulation

Most offices are designed to provide visual privacy, but they’re not soundproofed.  No one cares if someone in the next office hears about their auto insurance.  And dentists seem to take delight in having minimal privacy from the sound of drilling and gasping in the next booth.

Result:  When you rent an office suite for a psychotherapy practice it probably won’t be very sound-dampened.  I discuss this issue in Private Practice Made Simple (New Harbinger Publications, 2011), but let’s consider a few of the measures that can help.

One of the issues is drywall.  Most office suites use drywall over wood or steel studs, with minimal (i.e., usually zero) insulation.  Sound hits the drywall in your neighbour’s office, passes through it like a hot knife through butter, leaps the air gap or vibrates through the studs, waltzes past the second sheet of drywall on on your side, and is clearly audible to you and your visitors.

How can you deal with this?  At Changeways Clinic we recently moved into a new office suite with just this problem.  We took several measures, but let’s focus on the walls for the moment.

We removed the drywall on one side of each wall between the therapy offices.  We stuffed the space between studs with a dense insulation product called SafeNSound, which has better sound dampening qualities than standard pink insulation.  Then we replaced the drywall on the one side with QuietRock, a dense (and heavy!) drywall alternative that sharply reduces sound transfer.

Does that solve the problem?  Well, no.  There are other ways that sound can get from office to office – past continuous window frames, over the tops of walls that only go to the dropped ceiling, through hollow doors, through electrical sockets, and along common heating units that run from one office to the next.  I’ll talk about these in other posts.

But yes, QuietRock is a great product and does reduce sound transfer through the walls themselves.  If one sheet isn’t enough, you can remove the regular drywall on both sides and replace them both, or you can double-sheet the one wall you have removed.  Some dealer websites provide a demo video that you can watch.  Here are two:

Note:  No, I haven’t got any kickbacks for mentioning this product, though I will certainly cash any cheques that the manufacturers see fit to send my way.  Nevertheless, QuietRock has worked reasonably well for us.  Of course, if the sound isn’t coming through your drywall but is finding another way from one room to the other, the drywall barrier won’t do much.

More on soundproofing here!

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Want more information on operating a private psychotherapy practice? 

Check out my book Private Practice Made Simple.  It contains information on starting a practice, creating a space, designing a website, getting referrals, managing finances, avoiding burnout, and much more.

The book is available at bookstores, from the Changeways Clinic website, and through Amazon here.

Vancouver Workshop November 29 2013

Click here for information and registration for the one-day workshop Private Practice Made Simple being held in Vancouver Canada Friday November 29. 

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