Can a sound panel reduce airborne laundry-room noise?

If you live in an apartment and you have a laundry machine, you already know that the spin cycles completely take over the soundscape of your home. So I’m on a mission to reduce that noise, and I decided to start with a sound panel from Audimute.

I already know this will be an iterative process, so a single sound panel won’t quiet the laundry noise enough. I’ll need additional sound-absorbing products on all three sides of the washing machine. But first, I wanted to see if one panel — hung from the ceiling — made a measurable difference at all.

Consider fire safety

Because washers and dryers are a potential fire hazard, I needed a flame-retardant solution. I already knew that Audimute’s sound panels were Class A fire-rated, and therefore the safest choice.

So what’s the difference in fire ratings? The categories are based on the¬†flame spread¬†index — the lower the flame spread, the better. The rating numbers are a derivative of how far a flame will spread in a given amount of time.

  • Class A has a flame spread rating of 0-25 (asbestos has a value of “0”)
  • Class B has a flame spread rating of 26-75
  • Class C has a flame spread rating of 76-200 (red oak is “100”)

I’d rather use Class A materials in the laundry area, and certainly not anything rated at less than Class B. Audimute fit the bill. Besides, I wanted to find an excuse to use some of their products.

What I ordered

If you’d like to try this for yourself, here are the specs on the panel I bought:

  • 1 Acousticolor panel – size 2’x2′
  • I chose the color “organic green” from their default color list, but you can also order a custom color
  • Price: just $30

I added a pair of the “adhesive hang tabs,” but as you’ll see in the video, these were not the appropriate hanging method from the ceiling.

How to install it?

I didn’t really have a strategy to attach the panel to the ceiling. I decided to wait until the panel arrived so I could figure it out. The result (as seen in the Soundproofist video) was not cosmetically seamless, but efficient enough.

If you’re planning to install sound panels in a space where others will see them, you’ll need to think about hardware and aesthetics, so I gave you a glimpse of what arrived in my shipment to help you out.

Ultimately, I bought U-brackets from Amazon and attached them to the ceiling. I also tried using magnets and super glue. The magnets were not effective against the force of gravity. I also discovered (afterwards) that Audimute offers some installation instructions on their site.

The results

Although the laundry noise wasn’t significantly muted with just one panel, I was surprised that most of my decibel measurements indicated some noise reduction.

The results varied between two different decibel-reading apps: SPL Meter and the NIOSH app. I used C-weighted decibel settings with both apps. (To learn more about how to use the NIOSH app, see this Soundproofist article and video.)

Of course, the noise also varied depending on how far I stood from the machine, or if I was in another room altogether. The spin cycles also varied in velocity.

For future modifications and to be really precise, I need to mark my recording points with tape so that I always stand in exactly the same location, and record the decibels at the exact same moments of the spin cycles to ensure that the revs are the same. My initial measurements were done with slightly less formality.

NIOSH reports

The results show some variance between the before and after. For example here are the NIOSH reports. The most significant numbers are the “LAeq” and the “Max. level” (the LCpeak may have captured unrelated noises, like talking).

Before After

Anti-vibration pads

I already use anti-vibration pads under my washing machine, but they’re now several years old. I’ve seen newer, better ones on the market. I might also add an additional layer of anti-vibration flooring under the washer in the laundry room.

More information:

“What does a Class 1 fire rating mean?” Reference.com

“What is the Flame Spread Rating?” – Acoustical Surfaces, Inc.

 

Project: reducing laundry-room noise