Acoustical Wood: The Ideal Architectural Noise Solution

Noise control can take a variety of forms. It can be as simple as keeping loud mechanical systems physically far away from areas that are noise-sensitive or heavily populated.

On the other hand, it can also be as complex as fabric wrapping AC ductwork, actively masking sound with white noise and installing acoustic baffles in the ceiling to boot.

But the best acoustic solutions are, without fail, the ones that look and feel intentional. Acoustical wood is the perfect example.

Curved Wood Ceiling Panels

The Science of Acoustical Wood

It may not seem all that intuitive. Wood is a hard surface after all, wouldn’t it just reflect sound rather than reduce it?

The answer is not always. While flat, untreated wood will certainly reflect sound waves and increase the reach of a sound, there are a wide variety of wood products that are specifically designed to deflect, absorb and reduce noise as well.

Not only are they effective at sound control, but they also offer unparalleled design creativity. Almost every application highlighted in this article can be constructed in nearly any size or shape to fit the needs of the space.

Lets take a look at a few examples.

Micro-Perforated Wood

Micro Perforated Wood Ceiling Tiles

Perforated wood is a fantastic example of an attractive, effective wood solution that seamlessly fits in with nearly any space.

With a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) Rating of between 0.75-0.85, it stands up as one of the most effective sound absorption materials out there. Generally used as ceiling or wall applications, micro-perforated wood comes in a variety of finishes, sizes, and perforation diameters to offer ultimate flexibility to designers.

They work by allowing sound to penetrate the perforations in the wood and become absorbed by an acoustical fleece backing. While they can be mounted in a variety of ways, they always provide a clean, attractive look and effective sound dampening.

Acoustical Curved Wood

Curved Acoustical Wood Ceiling
Cherner Residence, Montecito, California, Architecture and Design: Hochhauser Blatter Architects/BHR, Photography: Patrick Price

When ultimate creative license is the priority, curved wood is among the best options on the market for architectural designers.

Curved wood is a completely custom solution with nearly no limits. The acoustic properties of the application will depend on the shape and positioning of the design, however the potential is extensive.

Any curve in a wood structure will provide sound diffusion, which is the scattering of sound waves that results in reduced echo or reverberation in a room. However, the diffusion effect can be augmented significantly to create the exact effect desired depending on the specific design.

Wood designs that feature grooves or gaps like the application pictured above will more effectively trap and scatter sound than more uniformly linear, flat wood surfaces.

Curved wood solutions are an architect’s opportunity to create a totally unique aesthetic for their client that is both iconic and functional.

So Much More

From Open Cell Wood Ceilings, to wood grille bars and walls, there are few acoustic solutions that make an impression as impactful as wood. While it is a hard surface, there are many ways to manipulate it effectively to work as a sound dampener, diffuser, or absorber.

If wood acoustical solutions sound like something you may be interested in including within your space, give Gaus Acoustics a call today for a free consultation.