In 25 years of massage/bodywork, I’ve worked in several spas, a Physical Therapy clinic, two home offices, and four massage therapy offices including my current location, a commercial condo that I own. SO…. you could say I have a little experience with noise in different scenarios. Or should I say TRYING to reduce the effect of noise?!? I’m going to share some of my successes and not-so-much with soundproofing.
Over the years I’ve worked on several projects to help with reducing noise in the massage studio. I love decorating in my spare time, and I’m always looking to create a beautiful and functional space where the massage client’s comfort and experience is at the forefront.
A calm space that clients can appreciate when they walk in the door, encourages them to take a deep breath, RELAX and to focus on their bodywork goals without distractions.
No one wants to hear what’s going on in the treatment room next to them, the UPS man delivering a package, front door slamming or the office phone ringing.
When I purchased my commercial condo three years ago I had the opportunity (a difference of opinion between my husband and me 😉 ) to start from scratch within the four walls of the condo.
I tore down all the “beautiful” temporary office walls, pulled up old carpet, several layers of linoleum and designed my massage studio from the concrete floor, walls to the ceiling. I’m going to share a few material options I lucked out on choosing and some I wish I had known while I was in the planning stage. I’m starting off with the basics~ flooring, walls, and ceilings.
Installing cork flooring to help with soundproofing
While the flooring was actually the last thing to get installed in the building process it was the first and easiest choice that I had to make. As a massage therapist, I discovered that standing just a few hours on concrete floors with basic carpet was torturous on the feet.
Even with decent padding underneath, it wasn’t the best. And I hate carpet anyway. It’s difficult to keep clean, and the dust and crap it collects are awful for sinus sufferers. But it’s an excellent insulator(concrete floors are COLD) and sound absorber. So what do you do?
I chose cork floors! Cork is a very good insulator(temperature and sound), it’s ideal for standing on and easy to clean! They have been awesome to work on and they still look awesome.
Drywall was a given, but I had the choice between wood studs (which were my outer walls) or metal studs. My building is over 30 years old, and there was a history of water damage from the building being empty for a few years. So I chose metal studs and the fact that my brother-in-law was the installer and recommended it for ease of installation.
Using metal studs in massage build out
What I didn’t know then and found out later when doing some more sound proofing research on was that “A steel-stud wall with insulation alone performs about the same as a wood-framed wall with insulation and resilient channel.” A plus for me… On the walls that got insulation… ugh! The budget got blown to smithereens when the city’s code got involved.
A $20,000 bill from the plumbing contractor forced me to pick and choose which inside walls I could insulate. Inside walls weren’t required for code, but the attic/ceiling WAS. So it came down to only putting insulation between kitchen/laundry room, the adjacent massage room and between my treatment room and the Ashiatsu training studio.
Of course, this would come back to bite me in the butt later. There’s a ton of info out there on the internet but here’s an article I found helpful on insulating walls – How to Soundproof a Room. It also has some great tips on caulking outlets that I did NOT do. Sometimes budget and time make the choices for you, and you just have to deal with it.
There is one issue with the metal studs that I didn’t realize until a year or so. They don’t seem to be as strong as wood studs. They seem to flex and creak just a little bit. In Ashiatsu massage there is a seated portion where the therapist sits on a stool with their back against the wall using their feet to massage the client’s upper back and shoulders.
I can hear the walls creak while the therapist in the next room is working against the wall and I think it has to do with the gauge of the studs. I’m not sure what gauge mine is but if I could have done it differently, I would have researched it more and gone with the heavier gauge. But it’s not a safety issue so it’s not a big deal.
My original ceiling was acoustic tiles. They were utterly destroyed. Did I mention this was a fixer-upper?!? Acoustic tiles are great sound insulators and generally cheaper to install than drywall. But since my family was helping me, I was able to get drywall ceilings for about the same price as acoustic tiles, and this was my preference as all my therapy rooms would have Ashiatsu bars in the ceiling. So this was one choice that I chose to NOT go with the best sound insulator because the bar installation had a higher priority. In a later blog, I’ll show you how I used soundboards on the ceiling and walls to help with sound absorption.
Custom built ashiatsu bars and a drywall ceiling
Remember the walls that I didn’t insulate? After a few months in the space, it was evident which walls had been insulated and which had not. So I came back a year later and tried to fix the problem without taking down the original drywall and insulating the walls. A few sources recommended I just add another layer of drywall.
Well, I did one treatment room. Several hundred $ later, paying a drywall person to put up another layer and repainting the wall… I barely could tell the difference. The more articles I read, the more confused and frustrated I got. Disgusted and frustrated I began looking at other options. Instead of tearing down the other walls I started focusing on controlling the sound within the rooms themselves.
In the next blog post, I’ll show you how I did that with rugs, fabric, soundboards, and other ideas. I’m not a soundproofing expert by any means, but I have tackled a TON of different projects. Some with a little $ and time investment and some more than I wanted to pay. And I’ve had success and failures with both.
Our guest post blog has been written by our Durham, NC instructor, Julie Marciniak. Julie’s a certified Rolfer with a husband who works full time in the NC National Guard, a son serving in the Army, and a daughter in high school.
Oh, and there are 2 adorable Daschunds, too. In her off time, she enjoys cooking, reading, gardening, decorating and creating beautiful and functional spaces.