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Making Student Digs Sound

Floored It Blog Series
July 2021

Acoustics in Student Accommodation blog header

Whether you call them digs, flats or halls, student accommodation is an important part of the university experience. In fact, even the most diligent student will probably end up spending more time inside their student residence than at their actual place of study. Whether it’s providing a place to revise, to socialise or simply to unwind, good quality student accommodation can make or break the enjoyment of further education. That’s why it’s so essential for these areas to be well-designed and accommodating to their multi-purpose use – especially when it comes to sound. Elizabeth Bushell, Key Account Manager Student Accommodation at Forbo, explains more here.

So, what does good design look like within the context of student accommodation? Well at Forbo, we believe a lot of it has to do with achieving high levels of effective acoustic management. Particularly as student residences have the potential to be loud environments, excess noise can greatly increase the likelihood of distractions during study, or equally reduce a student’s ability to sleep. That’s probably why an increasing number of students, particularly those from overseas now prioritise comfort as highly as design when choosing where they want to live.

For those familiar with the effects of poor acoustic management, this trend is more than understandable. The links between excess noise and faltering concentration levels are well-documented. Likewise, the link between distraction and lost productivity is just as strong. A recent study revealed that losing concentration as few as three times per day can equate to over an hour of lost productivity. Similarly, the Wall Street Journal found that after being distracted either by excess noise, or something else, the average worker takes 23 minutes to return to the level of focus in which they were previously engaged.

Noise disturbance
Flotex Planks Seagrass in study area


Fortunately, we’re able to supply flooring solutions that provide the best of both worlds in student accommodation. Combining excellent durability and aesthetic value, our products are helping designers to create differentiated, fun yet functional areas for all manner of students. What’s more, by using these solutions, designers can build good acoustic management from the ground up.

Achieving industry-leading levels of acoustic performance, products across our range allow development teams to go above and beyond what’s legally required of them and instead develop projects conducive to every aspect of student life.

Unlike other areas of education, such as schools, student accommodations aren’t bound by specific legal requirements, outside of those included within standard building regulations.

However, given the increasingly competitive market for student halls, there’s a significant incentive for specifiers and designers to ensure that they are building acoustically sound environments.

Likewise, from a maintenance perspective, it’s essential that floor coverings in multiple occupancy buildings are easy-to-maintain and are robust enough to withstand the daily onslaught of foot traffic.

iQ Hammersmith

Our Luxury Vinyl Tile collection, Allura Decibel, is a prime example of a flooring solution that delivers excellent impact sound reduction and impeccable design. The collection provides up to 19 dB impact sound reduction, without having to compromise on ease of installation or design. In fact, the collection is available in 120 contemporary designs, allowing specifiers to create attractive yet quiet spaces within student accommodation.

Available in two levels of impact sound reduction: 19 dB and 15 dB, our Sarlon vinyl range is also very popular within student accommodation settings. It has been developed and tested to maximise impact sound reduction in heavy traffic commercial spaces, while maintaining minimum residual indentation.

What’s more, for those that desire a textile solution, our range of tufted carpet tiles, Tessera, are famed for their exceptional performance, even in the most challenging traffic-heavy environments. The extensive range, which comprises dozens of styles and finishes takes the form of a modular solution.

As such, it can be quickly modified or used to add a design element to meet any new requirements, as well as being practical as if tiles are damaged or soiled, they can be replaced quickly and easily. What’s more, the durable solution has impressive noise reducing properties, with it able to reduce impact sound by up to 28 dB.

Sarlon Oak in Tudor Place Student Accommodation

Sarlon Oak in Tudor Place Student Accommodation

Allura Decibel in Housing

Sarlon in communal area in New Bridewell student accommodation

Marmoleum Fresco 3891


And for those looking to take acoustic performance even further inside student accommodation, our Acoustic Marmoleum includes a special insulating layer, connected to the linoleum sheet, which enables it to achieve lower dB values. In fact, the specially engineered Marmoleum Decibel is around 3.5mm thick and achieves the highest reduction of impact sound at 17 dB.

Ideal for use in particularly noisy areas of student accommodation, such as hallways or communal areas, the innovative product is available in six colours. Similarly, Marmoleum Acoustic, which reduces impact sound by 14 dB is also ideal for use in student accommodation.

At Forbo, we’re committed to supporting our nation’s universities and higher education facilities as they look to bring through the next generation of talented students. In this endeavour, we recognise the importance of managing and improving the environments in which these students live and appreciate the important role that floor covering solutions play in this effort.

With our wide range of acoustically engineered solutions, we’re helping those designing and specifying such buildings to go further than ever before and achieve levels of performance considered previously unimaginable. Whilst we might never be able to make students quiet, with our exciting solutions, the days of loud, disruptive accommodations could be over.

Marmoleum in Tudor Place Student Accommodation