Because of its physical properties (i.e. high density, regular consistency throughout, etc.), sheet rubber can be used for soundproofing and noise reduction applications. Most rubber materials will absorb vibrations and distribute the energy evenly throughout the material, rather than transmitting the vibrations. This results in a high level of noise reduction, even when the material used is not especially thick. The thickness of rubber used is determined by the desired level of sound reduction, the method of application, and the characteristics of the material, "rubber" itself (including price). Since thicker rubber will obviously provide more noise reduction, the thickness should primarily be determined by the desired level of sound dampening (from slight vibration reduction to complete soundproofing).
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Sheet Rubber for Soundproofing and Noise Reduction Applications
Sheet & Sponge Rubber for Soundproofing, Noise, & Sound Reduction. Rubber is used to reduce sound, noise, and absorb acoustical vibration. Rubber or sponge rubber can be used for soundproofing and noise reduction and vibration control. These products work well in these applications because the physical properties of high density and regular consistency aid rubber in reducing the transfer of sound. Additionally, rubber excels in applications that require noise and vibration to be reduced. The reason for this is that any noise and vibrations that are present will be absorbed and distributed evenly across the material rather than being allowed to fully pass through. Also, the thickness of the rubber to be used is determined by the desired level of noise and vibration reduction, the method of application, and they type of rubber being used. The thickness of the rubber is largely determined by the desired amount of noise reduction; the thicker the material is, the greater it will be at reducing noise and vibrations. One can go from slight noise reduction to complete soundproofing by simply increasing the thickness of the material being used.
Depending on the application method, it is possible for different thicknesses of material to achieve the same results of noise and vibration reduction. There are two basic methods of application for noise and vibration reduction. The fist would be laying large sheets across a surface (i.e. complete flooring) and the second would be installing individual pads as an underlayment. The first method is great when soundproof flooring is desired such as in apartment buildings, dance studios, rehearsal studios, etc. In these environments, a soundproof floor is important because excessive noise and vibration can become a problem for the surrounding public. In the case of a rehearsal studio where complete soundproofing is desired, a thicker rubber would most likely be used. For other applications where noise and vibrations are moderate, a less thick rubber would be adequate.
For the second method (underlayment), the pads or blocks of rubber material would have to be significantly thicker to compensate for the decreased amount of surface area they would be covering. Following this guideline, this method would provide the equivalent amount of noise reduction as the first method, and the material volumes of both would be comparable.
The final criteria that determine the thickness of the material are the characteristics of the material itself. Rubbers with softer durometer ratings are able to provide greater vibration reduction to a certain point. The most common materials used in soundproof flooring are the medium (55-65)and soft durometer (35-45) Neoprene rubbers. For applications utilizing the underlayment method, EPDM is commonly used due to its increased lifespan over Neoprene. For applications where a more cost effective soundproofing solution is required, Neoprene is preferred due to its affordability.