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.

Doors and Your Room’s Acoustics

Are Doors the Weakest Link in Your Room's Acoustics

When silence is golden…

There’s no question – Good acoustics create better spaces to live, work, and play.

Proper noise control and acoustical performance are vital to the healing process. Healthcare facilities need rooms designed for patient recovery and privacy.

Appropriate acoustics are an essential component to guest satisfaction in the hospitality industry. Hotels need quiet rooms to provide the best overnight experience for their guests.

Superior sound isolation creates a better learning environment. Schools need classrooms to keep students focused and engaged.

Acoustical design considerations are crucial in these commercial settings and beyond. Making acoustics a cornerstone of our ability to enjoy life.  Careful design and detailing of a room’s wall, floor and ceiling can provide good acoustics. But room acoustics are only as good as the weakest link. And without proper care, the door is often that weakest link.  This article digs a bit deeper into the importance of acoustics in a few of these building markets. Then offers some ideas on how proper door selection can improve your design

Creating an optimal healing environment

Hospital room

Hospital Design 101 tells us surfaces in a hospital need to be easy to clean and sanitize. It’s a basic rule of infection prevention and control. This means you have hard, non-porous surfaces reflecting sound instead of absorbing it. Creating some challenges from the acoustics standpoint.  Managing acoustic issues can be challenging, but it’s critical to healthcare environments. For many reasons:

  • Increased privacy
  • Reduced stress
  • Fewer sleep disruptions
  • Better Healing
  • Decreased potential medical errors

Acoustics are also playing a larger role in a healthcare facility’s success. Studies show quieter environments produce higher patient quality-of-care ratings. And hospitals with high patient satisfaction scores were also the most profitable. Why is that? 

To improve quality of care in hospitals, the U.S. government now links reimbursement rates to patient satisfaction. They measure this through a patient satisfaction survey called HCACPS. Now, patient satisfaction scores account for 1 1/2 to 2% of government reimbursements.  STC-rated doors control noise in patient rooms, corridors, and other areas. Think about the number of doors in a hospital. Imagine the effect STC-rated doors, combined with the other STC-rated assemblies, could have. You’d raise the acoustical performance of that facility.

The gift of a calm, good night’s sleep

Hotel Sleep

So how can STC-rated doors help in the hospitality industry?

Behind Wi-Fi concerns, noise is one of the top complaints from hotel guests. If not addressed, poor acoustics can impact guest satisfaction and affect hotel revenue. A J.D. Power study showed only 50% of customers with noise complaints complained to management. The other 50% may voice their complaints on social media or a travel site. That’s negative feedback hotels cannot afford. Another study shows a 43% yearly increase in guests checking online reviews before booking a hotel.

Once again, guest satisfaction is key.  A well-designed door solution decreases disruptive noises generated from hallways or adjacent rooms. Designing a room with an STC-rated door helps you address the #2 complaint in hotels.

As noise goes up, test scores go down

Clasroom

Quality acoustical design improves education and is essential to a healthy learning environment. A study by The Acoustical Society of America shows students had a lower reading test score in classrooms with a higher background noise. They found similar declines in language achievement test scores. 

Designing for good acoustics improves student/teacher communication, test scores and educational quality.  Like healthcare facilities, school walls and floors are hard surface. But durability is the top priority for the materials selected in these halls. Once again, sound bounces off walls and finds any opportunity to find its way into the classrooms. And that opportunity is usually the doors.

Specifying STC-rated classroom doors keeps kindergartners’ laughter down the hall where it belongs. And keeps the other students focused on learning.

The noise stops here

Excessive and repetitive noise isn’t just annoying. It can also be a health hazard, impact your ability to concentrate, and increase your stress level.  In all building types, attention to acoustics enhances the experience in many ways. Doors are often the most direct sound path and can compromise an otherwise excellent design. The acoustics performance of a room is only as a good as the weakest link, and the door can certainly be the weakest link.

Masonite Architectural – Want help?

At Masonite Architectural, we’re finding ways to improve industry standards. To help you shape better environments in your buildings. We know STC-rated doors can be a crucial part of that formula. We have a complete line of acoustic-rated doors to meet your project’s needs.

If you’re ready to get started on your current project, you can call 1-877-332-4484 or email us archinfo@masonite.com