Why STC-Rated Office Doors Make a Better Workplace

There was a time when a new office design project hardly needed interior doors at all. It was believed that open spaces were the best choice. Now, office doors are making a comeback. As a result, there is a renewed appreciation for quiet and privacy, making STC-rated office doors especially desirable. In fact, sustainable construction guidelines, such as LEED, recognize that acoustic building design affects the occupants’ well-being. For that reason, they award credits for meeting certain STC requirements. Consider the following when deciding whether to specify acoustic performance wood doors in your next office design project.

A History of Office Design Trends

First, there was the rise of the cubicle. Then, open plan offices grew in popularity to “free” workers from their isolation. More recently, it seems, many employees want to close the door on both trends—literally. According to Fast Company, today’s employees “hate open offices” because they’re distracting, loud, and often provide too little privacy. They followed up with four scientific reasons people hate open offices, and identified noise as a major barrier to productivity, creativity and work satisfaction. Noise proves especially problematic for creatives, with 65% of them saying they prefer silence. All told, there’s no question that great acoustics create better work environments. And the right doors can make a big difference for sight and sound.

Interior view of modern office with glass doors.

How STC-Rated Doors Keep an Office Quieter

A door gets an STC rating—the number of decibels it absorbs as sound passes through it—based on tests laid out by either ASTM E413-04 Classification for Rating Sound Insulation or ASTM E90-09 Standard Test Method for Laboratory Measurement of Airborne Sound Transmission Loss of Building Partitions and Elements. There is also an Apparent Sound Transmission Class (ASTC) test that is conducted in the field to determine the exact STC level for the intended application.

These tests measure sound transfer for human speech, along with ambient noises like traffic and industrial equipment. The latest generation of Sound Transmission Class (STC) openings are designed and tested to pacify the noisiest environments.

All the parts of a door opening must work together to reduce sound transmission successfully. The outer material and core, along with the frame, gasketing and hardware each plays a part. The ultimate performance of the door opening depends on how these components perform as a complete opening assembly. To get the most accurate rating, a door should be tested as part of a complete assembly.

Over time, acoustic door technology has become more affordable, much lighter weight and easier to install, making STC-rated doors practical for a wide range of applications. Today’s acoustic doors can be hung with standard weight hinges with no more installation effort than a regular door. They can also add to the aesthetics of a workspace, for individual offices, conference rooms, and other areas that benefit from noise reduction.

New Office Spaces Need Acoustic Doors

Various new ideas are taking shape in the world of office design. Most attempt to combine the best of both worlds, with spaces for congregating and collaborating, as well as spaces to find quiet and solitude.

One idea is to put all of the traditional offices on one side of a building, while leaving the rest of the space open, which means no one is cut off from natural light. A good choice for the offices—likely reserved for executives—would be timeless stile and rail doors with a high STC rating.Another idea is to keep the open plan idea but add enclosed, shared “enclaves,” with doors, laptop docks and phones. Employees can use these for short periods to make phone calls or work in silence temporarily. A similar idea is to include several small conference rooms, instead of one or two big ones. Then, people can talk in smaller groups in privacy.

Interior view of open office with closed office doors in background.

However you choose to arrange an office, acoustic doors combined with noise-reducing panels and surfaces and a strategic layout can transform an open plan office into a productive, creative place.

Masonite Architectural Acoustic Door Performance

Masonite Architectural STC-rated doors are designed to weaken airborne sound. We test our STC-rated doors in operable openings and rate them with the gasket and seal packages. To get a sense of the difference you can experience, try Masonite’s innovative acoustic sound tool—or even share it with your clients. Put on a pair of headphones and listen to the difference STC-rated Aspiro stile and rail doors can make in a simulated office environment.

Masonite Architectural offers a wide range of customizations for acoustic wood doors to fit any workplace design project. Get started finding the right solution for your office acoustics.