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May 2020

Difference between sound reduction tests and how Altro products perform

Noise reduction print

Sound insulation is very important in building design, particularly in industries like healthcare, where the health and recovery of patients are proven to be better when noise stressors are reduced. 

There are multiple ways to measure flooring’s sound reduction properties, and they all measure something different. The aim of this blog is to identify what these methods are as well as the differences between them. 

ISO 10140 + ISO 140 is a European standard that measures reduction in footfall noise, the sound within the room.  The higher the number, the quieter the floor is. This standard measures something completely different than the other two as it focuses on the sound within the room. The feature of reducing sound in the room is important in all industries but particularly with senior living and healthcare. 

Impact Insulation Class or IIC for short is an important measure of sound transmission through a floor. It measures the sound transmitted from footfall noise and other impacts in the floor. An IIC rating is a number and the larger the number the better the rating.  A concrete floor is the control with a rating of zero.

Minimum IIC ratings are set by the Uniform Building Code to be 50 in most condominiums and other residential areas.  We see this also come up a lot in healthcare and senior living where sound insulation is important.  At a rating of 50, footfall noise is quite pronounced and very audible in the unit below. In response, some cities and condominium associations have adopted laws that are more stringent.  It is important to note this is for the complete floor to ceiling assembly.  That means everything from the floor covering, underlayment, subfloor, and the ceiling of the floor below count towards that number.  In most test conditions a default floor to ceiling assembly is used to isolate the effect that the floor covering or ceiling tile has on the rating.

STC or Sound Transmission Class: Sound Transmission Class (STC) in flooring is a rating of how well an assembly reduces airborne sound from a room above to the room below. So for example a loud television or a dog barking.

This is a method for determining airborne sound transmission loss between 125 Hz and 4,000 Hz. This range covers the majority of common noises we hear including speech, television, music, dogs barking, and other similar annoyances. A higher STC rating often shows improved performance. However, the sound rating is essentially an average over the 16 frequency points tested.

Generally a rating of 45 and above is preferred, but it also depends on the assembly used (subfloor, floor covering, underlayment, drop ceiling, etc).  

Posted: 5/1/2020 6:15:42 PM by Jesse Wade | with 0 comments

Vinyl sheet versus linoleum

Vinyl sheet versus linoleum

View and download the Altro versus linoleum PDF

The comparison between vinyl sheet and linoleum remains a prominent topic when discussing flooring solutions for commercial applications. Although these two options share similar traits, it is important to consider their individual strengths and weaknesses when specifying materials. Determining the best fit for your project involves a careful assessment of aesthetics, durability and long-term costs. This piece will examine the key differences between vinyl sheet and linoleum design options to provide a deeper understanding of each alternative.

Design versatility

While linoleum flooring has seniority over vinyl sheet in commercial use, its limited selection of simple patterns and colors narrows its design options. Its dyed hues often change when exposed to natural or artificial light, slightly altering its intended appearance. Surface curing and certain cleaning products can also be detrimental to linoleum’s color over time.

Vinyl sheet’s UV stabilizers allow it to maintain its aesthetics regardless of an area’s lighting or routine maintenance. Realistic high quality film prints also allow it to replicate authentic natural looks, like wood and stone, which can provide a more residential feel in commercial settings. For example, Altro Wood smooth vinyl sheet flooring offers realistic visuals that can adapt to the needs of any interior.

  • Limited, simplistic design options
  • Coloration susceptible to change and fading over time
  • Authentic, natural visuals provide greater versatility and residential feel
  • UV stabilizers endure long-term use without compromising aesthetics


Linoleum is susceptible to moisture damage and requires additional sealing post-installation to prevent water and liquid contaminants from accumulating below its surface. This can be a problem even in supposedly “dry areas” as moisture can be tracked inside in the form of melting snow or rain. Conversely, vinyl is a nonporous material and can handle damp conditions without the risk of warping or bending due to excess moisture. Most commercial vinyl flooring utilizes a heat-welded seam to create an impervious seal that prevents water ingress, making it an ideal solution for wet environments.

Commercial flooring is subject to consistent foot and wheeled traffic throughout its lifetime, resulting in increased levels of cleaning and maintenance. Unfortunately, linoleum is more sensitive to cleaning products due to the natural materials in its composition. This can lead to surface erosion and the need to apply a layer of acrylic coating or wax for additional protection. Meanwhile, quality vinyl flooring like Altro’s is easy to clean and does not require supplementary coating to maintain its surface integrity.

  • Susceptible to moisture damage
  • Requires additional sealing and coating post-installation
  • Sensitive to commonly used floor cleaners and frequent maintenance
  • Non-porous material, prevents moisture damage
  • Water-resistant, ideal for wet environments
  • Maintains appearance without additional sealing orcoating post-installation

Long-term costs

As stated earlier, linoleum’s natural materials and susceptibility to moisture require additional coating and resealing post-installation. Over time, this frequent maintenance can negatively affect overhead costs and disrupt workflow with potentially lengthy shutdowns. Vinyl sheet provides a cost-effective alternative with minimal upkeep outside of standard cleaning routines.

Altro vinyl flooring’s heat-welded seams remove the need for constant resealing to prevent moisture accumulation below its surface. It also possesses integrated stain resistance against common contaminants without the application of additional coating or wax. This makes it easier to clean than linoleum and can significantly reduce maintenance costs over the flooring’s lifetime.

  • Extensive maintenance and repairs required postinstallation
  • Lengthy shutdowns can negatively affect workflow
  • No additional coating or resealing - reduced maintenance costs
  • Minimal upkeep, easy to clean
View and download the Altro versus linoleum PDF

Posted: 5/14/2020 2:20:50 PM by Jesse Wade | with 0 comments