Keep it down in there!


This no-nonsense advice on dog zones with an animal-care-focused engineer provides some suggestions to keep down noise in a new or remodeled veterinary clinic.

If that little white tenant is the only one, I bet he's having a pretty quiet time in this dog ward right now. (Image of Northpointe Veterinary Hospital in Yuba City, California; photo courtesy of Larry Falke, Larry Falke Photography)Flooring for noisy zones

Similar to kennels, dog wards are very tough, wet environments. There's no good flooring for noise control-virtually all floors will be hard, impervious and reflective. We recommend resinous epoxy flooring (not epoxy paint) for these areas. Epoxy flooring is typically $12 to $15 per square foot, but less expensive materials will be destroyed in months.

Cut through the noise on hospital design

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What's in your walls?

Wall areas up to at least six feet should be hard, impervious, cleanable surfaces. This includes resinous epoxy, glazed block or tile. Fiberglass reinforced plastic (FRP) is a less-expensive, but less-durable alternative.

Quiet tips for a remodel

In a remodel, install hard ceilings in dog areas that previously only had suspended ceilings. Replace doors with solid core doors that are gasketed and swept. Provide masking noise such as background classical music in the dog areas. If possible, reconfigure circulation paths to avoid going through one dog area to get to another. Install lighting with multiple levels and dim lights except for feeding and cleaning.

So … do those baffles work?

We don't recommend baffles for animal-care application. To work effectively, baffles must be hung very close together and will interfere with air systems, lighting, sprinklers and smoke detection. Additionally, baffles are prone to collecting dog hair.

Where possible, we prefer either a sprayed-on acoustic finish or a glued (or hung) ceiling panel system. However, an acoustic control ceiling can be designed as long as the components can be cleaned. These systems should be extended down the walls from the ceiling 2 feet or more, but not so low as to get sprayed by the cleaning systems.

Scott Learned, MS, PE, LEED AP, is an expert educator at the HospitalDesign360 conference and president of Design Learned, Inc.

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