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Soundproofing a Gymnasium to Reduce Gym Noise

Gym Soundproofing and Acoustics

Gym Soundproofing and Acoustics

Most people expect quite a bit of noise when they enter a gymnasium, but if you’ve ever been in a gym without any sound proofing material you know that’s a whole new level of mayhem. The garbled nonsense that you’re hearing from the person with the microphone is not due to a bad stereo system. It’s because the acoustics in the gym are terrible, and so the echo is making it impossible to understand what they’re saying. By improving the acoustics employing tried-and-true acoustical materials, you can reduce noise, improve sound quality, and get back to enjoying the game.

So why are gymnasiums such havens for poor sound quality? It can be summed up by the two S’s — size and surface. Gyms are huge, and big rooms have much worse acoustics than small rooms. Gyms are also usually constructed with hard surfaces like concrete walls, hardwood floors, and metal decking roofs. These hard surfaces are not absorptive, so much of the sound that hits them is reflected back into the room. Combine the underlying poor acoustics with scoreboard buzzers, referee whistles, bouncing balls, and yelling fans, and you have a recipe for a noisy headache.

All the more reason to take steps to improve the sound within your gymnasium. Otherwise, it could be you that’s the person with the microphone that nobody can understand.

Most people expect quite a bit of noise when they enter a gymnasium, but if you’ve ever been in a gym without any sound proofing material you know that’s a whole new level of mayhem. The garbled nonsense that you’re hearing from the person with the microphone is not due to a bad stereo system. It’s because the acoustics in the gym are terrible, and so the echo is making it impossible to understand what they’re saying. By improving the acoustics employing tried-and-true acoustical materials, you can reduce noise, improve sound quality, and get back to enjoying the game.

So why are gymnasiums such havens for poor sound quality? It can be summed up by the two S’s — size and surface. Gyms are huge, and big rooms have much worse acoustics than small rooms. Gyms are also usually constructed with hard surfaces like concrete walls, hardwood floors, and metal decking roofs. These hard surfaces are not absorptive, so much of the sound that hits them is reflected back into the room. Combine the underlying poor acoustics with scoreboard buzzers, referee whistles, bouncing balls, and yelling fans, and you have a recipe for a noisy headache.

All the more reason to take steps to improve the sound within your gymnasium. Otherwise, it could be you that’s the person with the microphone that nobody can understand.

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Popular Materials for Soundproofing a Gymnasium


EcoVerb™ Roll - Natural Fiber Liner

BlocknZorbe™ Multi-Purpose Sound Panels

Sound Lock™ Door Seal Kit

How to Soundproof a Gymnasium

Gyms are noisy for many reasons — the most crucial of which is that they usually contain both types of noise: airborne and impact. Airborne noise is sound that travels through the air (think: scoreboard buzzers, whistles, clapping). Impact noise occurs when two objects collide (think: a basketball bouncing on hardwood flooring, a crowd stomping their feet on the bleachers). The key to improving sound quality within a gym is to attack airborne noise and do what you can for the impact sounds.

The acoustics inside a gym are naturally terrible due to the size of the room and the number of reflective surfaces. By adding acoustical materials, you’ll accomplish two goals:

  • Reduce echo and reverb. Echoes are the single reflected sounds we hear when they bounce off a surface — reverb is the quick, piling up of many reflected sounds into one garbled mess. To reduce echo and reverb, install acoustic materials.
  • Reduce total noise level. When fully treated with acoustic materials, a gym’s total noise level can be decreased by as much as 10 decibels. That’s 50% less perceived noise! Or difference between sitting in a mildly busy restaurant and sitting directly next to a running vacuum cleaner.

Improve Gym Acoustics by Treating the ceiling

Some say when you’ve hit rock bottom or you’re stuck in a bad place (like a noisy gym), the only direction to go is up. Well, when you’re fixing acoustics in a gymnasium, the first place to look is...up.

The ceiling is almost always the best place to install acoustic materials in a gymnasium. There are two primary reasons for this:

  1. The ceiling is completely out of the way. The materials you add to the ceiling won’t obstruct anyone in the gym — or distract them. You’ll find that very few people even look up at the ceiling or notice anything you put up there. But they will notice the difference in sound quality!
  2. The ceiling is (mostly) parallel to the floor. Most of the noise in the gym comes from at or near the surface of the floor. Since the ceiling is the same distance from the floor no matter where you are in the room, you won’t experience any points in the gym where the sound quality is better than others.

Solution we recommend: Cover ceiling with EcoVerb Roll

EcoVerb is our affordable, made-in-USA acoustic material made of recycled cotton fiber with a black, protective face adhered to one side. It’s extremely absorptive, and you won’t even notice it after it’s installed. Simply install it with the black side facing out to create a “blackout” look that will reduce echo and reverb in your gym at the best price point you’ll find.

EcoVerb is offered in three thicknesses, but for a gymnasium you should go with the 2” thick version.

Another option: Hang EcoVerb Acoustic Panels as ceiling baffles

It’s the same absorptive, recycled jute material but made into a panel. Hang the EcoVerb acoustic cloud panels as ceiling baffles and you’ve got a second cost-effective option for cutting the annoying reverb and quieting down your gym.

Sound proof gym
sound proof gym

Improve Gym Acoustics by Treating the Walls

If you’re unable to treat the ceiling in your gymnasium, the next best solution is to install acoustic materials on the walls. The key here is to hang acoustic panels high enough so that they are out of the way from the day-to-day fun happening in the gym.  

You don’t have to be a teacher to know that if all of your panels hang 5 feet off the ground, every kid on the planet is going to want to pick at and poke them. Let’s take care of our acoustic panel friends and put them out of reach.

Solution we recommend: Hang BlocknZorbe Sound Panels on the walls

BlocknZorbe is a PEPP panel that is very durable. It won’t break if your point guard overthrows that alley-oop pass and the basketball hits a panel. They’re also a breeze to clean, making maintenance easier than fibrous options. The BlocknZorbe panels come in charcoal and white, which you can mix-and-match to create cool patterns.

Not sure how many BlocknZorbe panels you’ll need? Don’t sweat it. We’ll do an acoustical analysis of your gym and tell you exactly how many you’ll need and where they should go.

Another option: Install Standard Acoustic Panels on the walls

We have several other acoustic panel options besides the BlocknZorbe Panels. We have polyester panels (PolyZorbe), recycle jute panels (EcoVerb), and fabric wrapped panels (Acoustic Pro) depending on your goals for aesthetic and price point. If you’re not sure which acoustic panel is right for your gym’s walls, give us a call at 1 (800) 679-8511 for help.

Reducing sound exiting the gymnasium

While we most often see people looking to improve sound quality within their gymnasium, we also run into customers who’d like to keep that sound from leaking outside of it. We can’t have all that fun physical education distracting students by reducing concentration in the classroom.

If you’ve taken steps to improve acoustics in your gym, it’s likely that the amount of noise exiting the gym has already been reduced. If you still have a noise issue, the first place to look is the doorway.

Take a moment to check out all the doorways in your gym. if there are air gaps between the door and floor/door frame, you’ve found your culprit. Sound behaves like water. It’ll find the weakest point in a surface and escape through it. If your doorways have gaps — you'll need to learn how to soundproof a door. Most gymnasiums have metal frame doors, so there’s two treatments often needed. The first is to seal up around the frame with acoustical sealant. The drywall is typically inserted behind the frame, and there’s a visible gap. Second, our Sound Lock door seal kits are perfect for sealing up around the perimeter and at the bottom of the door. We typically recommend the heavy duty version for a high traffic area like a gym.

EcoVerb Rolls are a Perfect for Improving Gymnasium Acoustics

Our high quality EcoVerb Rolls are made of recycled, natural cotton fibers that provide excellent acoustical performance. This is the preferred product for usage on gym ceilings and is a great alternative to hanging acoustical panels across the ceiling. The EcoVerb roll will substantially improve sound quality while also quietening down the gym.

  • Improve sound quality in very large spaces
  • Range from 1/2", 1'" and 2" in thickness
  • Lightweight, flexible and no-itch
  • Class A fire rated
  • R-Value per inch: 4.0
  • Made in the USA

We Can Help Soundproof Your Gym!

There are many reasons that a gymnasium might be noisy. That’s just the nature of how the room is constructed and used. The best solution is to attack the problem head-on with quality acoustical materials. Remember: treating the ceiling is the first priority, but we can do the walls if needed. And then seal the deal with a door treatment.

As always, we want to hear about your unique acoustical challenges and offer specific advice on how to solve them. At Second Skin, we have the materials and expertise to get your problem solved! Give us a call or send us a message to get started on solving your noise issue!

 

Have questions about your project?

Call us at 1.800.679.8511