Doors play a big role in shaping healthcare environments, and door selection starts with understanding performance solutions. During the design of a hospital or healthcare facility, it’s important to take into account both technical and aesthetic considerations. Acoustically-rated doors play a role in patient outcomes. Without careful consideration, the wrong interior doors could easily become the weak link in a healthcare facility’s acoustic performance.
In some cases, building codes dictate a door’s STC rating—the decibel level it blocks. However, some clients in the healthcare industry may want acoustically-rated doors that provide sound-reduction above and beyond what’s required. Sound reduction confers a range of benefits for patients and employees.
Here’s some great information to know about acoustically rated doors and how to choose them for when constructing or designing a doctor’s office, hospital, or other healthcare setting.
Setting Client Expectations for Acoustic Healthcare Doors
As with any commercial construction project, setting client expectations is critical to a successful outcome. Clients may request “soundproof” doors, so it’s important to be clear that nothing is 100% soundproof. STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings provide a guideline to how much sound a door can block.
Solid core doors offer the greatest sound reduction, and they are typically called for anyway, for fire resistance and other specifications. Commercial wood doors can be manufactured for multiple performance requirements including fire ratings, blast resistance, bullet resistance, radio frequency, shielding, or other possible combinations.
Clients might ask whether acoustically-rated doors will obstruct wifi or cellular signals. Typically, this will not be a concern.
A Quick Review of STC-Ratings and Door Acoustics
Acoustically-rated doors carry two STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings, one of which is a “sealed in place” rating, and the other is an “operable” rating. Manufacturers may test acoustically-doors while they’re sealed in place with putty, or in a realistic, operational setting. Masonite Architectural tests all of its doors in operable openings.
The STC rating of a door roughly indicates the decibel reduction that it provides. At a rating of 35, loud speech is audible but not intelligible, while 40 or more meets the level considered “privacy.”
The materials, construction and installation of architectural doors all play a part in acoustics. STC-rated doors reduce sound in two ways, by absorbing sound or by reflecting it. Healthcare clients want surfaces that are easy to clean and sanitize in order to prevent infection. That means that doors for these projects typically have flat, painted surfaces or heavy-duty laminates with minimal ornamentation. They work mainly by reflecting sound.
The best acoustically-rated doors bring together form and function. You can find just the right style, finish, and color to match the rest of the hospital or medical facility, to create a seamless visual effect.
Many Hospital Doors Fall Short on Noise Reduction
As it stands, healthcare facilities often fail at providing ample sound reduction. According to Healthcare Design magazine, many studies conducted in hospitals have found background noise ranges between 45 dB and 68 dB, peaking at more than 90 dB. The World Health Organization, by contrast, recommends that hospital noise not exceed 35 dB. By accounting for noise reduction by incorporating acoustic-rated doors into your healthcare facility’s designs, you can create a more accommodating environment while avoiding costly renovations later
Benefits of Acoustically-Rated Doors in Healthcare Settings
A healthcare facility should be designed to block the sound of human voices, as well as noise from ringing telephones or medical equipment. Sound reduction confers three key benefits:
- Patient well-being
- Patient satisfaction
Studies show quieter environments produce higher patient quality-of-care ratings in healthcare settings. Hospital patients need peace and quiet to be able to concentrate on recovery and sleep well. Also, hospital administrators rely heavily on positive reports of patient satisfaction and strive constantly to improve these. Patients and visitors alike report that noise levels impact the ratings they give. Finally, HIPAA privacy rule also requires safeguards to protect the privacy of personal health information. This means conversations must stay private, whether between care providers and patients, or among employees of the facility.
An added, but sometimes overlooked benefit of acoustic healthcare doors is that noise reduction can also help nurses, doctors, and other hospital staff to avoid distractions and focus on their work.
Besides the STC- rating of the hospital room door itself, other factors influence how sound travels through healthcare facilities. For example, same-handed rooms leave more space between patient doors, which means less sound carries from one to the next. Silencer pads attached to the door stops soften noise of a closing door. Proper door hardware will limit latch noises.
Where to Install Acoustically-Rated Doors in Hospitals
These are some of the places where you may want to specify acoustically-rated doors in a healthcare setting:
- Patient rooms, for the purpose of aiding in relaxation and recovery
- Corridors, which can carry sound readily
- Offices and work spaces where people need to concentrate or talk privately
- Chapels, meditation rooms or other spaces where visitors go for quiet reflection
For your next healthcare construction or design project, keep acoustics in mind when choosing patient room, office, or cross corridor hospital doors as a key element of satisfaction on the part of the end user. At Masonite Architectural, we offer a complete line of acoustically-rated doors to meet your healthcare project’s needs. To see our work in action, read our CHUM Hospital case study on how we provided doors for North America’s largest healthcare facility.
And if you need a helping hand in picking out acoustic healthcare doors for your next project, please use our Acoustically-Rated Door Finder or reach out to your Masonite Architectural sales rep.