While many of the layout and design visions of facilities are both practical and positive, they are not always implemented with occupant comfort in mind. Take acoustics for example—many facilities choose flooring options that are simply easy to clean and maintain without considering the effects on those surrounded by them. However, when these effects start affecting the restfulness and well being of patients, it’s time to change the way in which facility layouts and design visions are perceived.

For hospitals, promoting peace and comfort is a primary goal. However, this is not always an easy task. Whether it’s persistent alarms, traffic throughout the corridors, or the transferring of medical equipment, excessive noise can negatively impact patients and the rest that they so desperately need.

For this reason, The Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems (HCAHPS) stepped in to create a survey that monitors patient satisfaction on 27 categories, including noise. As a result, many hospitals have come to find that patients are unfortunately displeased with current noise levels.


Objects such as hard-soled shoes impacting hard flooring surfaces can create unwanted noise levels. Without anything to absorb these impacts, sounds can spread throughout hallways and echo from wall to wall. Therefore, when it comes to hospital flooring traits, the more muffled the sound, the better. Fortunately, there are viable flooring options with effective sound dampening properties.


For sound reduction, cork flooring is a great choice. Its natural sound inhibiting qualities allow it to dampen the amount of noise traveling throughout a particular area. With air constituting over 50 percent of its volume, cork is lightweight and capable of reducing noise by up to 10 decibels. Unlike hard surfaces that allow sounds to be bounced around, cork’s permeable structure allows sound waves to settle within its cellular core and then be broken up. In addition to its sound-absorbing features, cork is durable, soft underfoot, hypoallergenic, and water, mold, and mildew resistant. It is also 100-percent sustainable and recognized by LEED certification for the use of low-emitting materials, recyclable content, and rapidly renewable materials.


Rubber flooring is another option that has gained popularity within hospitals due to its sound-reducing qualities. Rubber can be used as traditional top layer flooring or as an underlayment for other flooring types. Just like cork, rubber has the ability to block out noise due to its soft and forgiving structure. Along with reducing noise by up to 10 decibels, rubber is a seamless flooring solution that is highly durable, slip resistant, dimensionally stable, and easy to maintain. Rubber can also attribute to LEED certification from being recyclable, low-emitting, and locally sourced.

Long story short: Noise affects rest which can prolong the recovery of patients. With a few simple tweaks, such as better acoustical flooring, hospitals can benefit from LEED incentives that will also help build a better environment geared toward healing.


About the Author:

Mitchell Bryant is the communications specialist at Spectra Contract Flooring, the largest commercial flooring contractor in the U.S. For more, visit
Modern Contractor Solutions, October 2017
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