December 2013

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Sound Solutions Innovations come to wall and ceiling products by Bill Armstrong R eviewing the range of wall and ceiling products available today, it's clear that manufacturers and their representatives are focusing on several key characteristics to grab the attention of architects, designers and contractors. As you might expect, sustainability is one of the most desirable features for these products. Other attractive characteristics include ease of handling, the range of possible product applications, the speed of construction, esthetic and acoustic qualities, and, of course, the cost. A remarkable amount of research and creative thinking has also gone into the development of various products. Take, for example, a product like ezoBord, an acoustical wall and ceiling treatment constructed from polyester fibres, including a large proportion of recycled materials from shredded plastic bottles. The fibres are thermally bonded into panels that are semi-rigid, lightweight, impactresistant, fire-resistant and highly sound absorptive. Ontario-based iVekter Inc. distributes its ezoBord product worldwide. "During the production process the fibres are bonded randomly, which causes sound waves to lose energy as they travel through the fibres," explains Doug Barlett, iVekter Inc. CEO. "ezoBord's sound absorption characteristics are excellent, particularly in the middleand high-frequency ranges, making it ideal for offices, churches, community centres and indoor swimming pools." Barlett notes that ezoBord is impact-resistant and can be used in schools as an alterative to the traditional tack board. As an example, ezoBord has been specified for use in several areas of the new 180,000-square-foot liberal arts building at McMaster University. Barlett is also busy raising awareness among architects about the attractive characteristic of ezoBord. "It's lightweight," Barlett says. "A four-by-eight-foot panel weighs just 13 pounds, a fraction of what a traditional panel weighs. You can cut it cleanly with a utility knife and a straight edge. You can glue it using a contractor grade adhesive or fasten it mechanically to a stud or furring strip." Plans are underway to develop a home theatre kit to be launched in 2014. Barlett says, "ezoBord is a good choice for basements because it doesn't have to cover an entire wall to enhance the sound experience that is part of the enjoyment of a home theatre." Calgary-based Wallworks Acoustic Architectural Products offers a range of acoustic and architectural specialty products, some of which it manufactures, while acting as an agent for other products. Wallworks general manager Lyle Fuller says newer products are partially replacing the older rigid acoustic panels made from fibreglass or rock wool. These include rigid polyester board with a textile covering, semi-rigid acoustic cotton panels, flexible perforated acoustic wood treatments and new styles of perforated metal panels. "Acoustic cotton panels using recycled cotton receive the highest LEED rating in that category and are becoming more frequently used," Fuller observes. "The cost is higher, but they are a good choice where the LEED rating is a factor." Perforated acoustic wood treatments have also become more popular over the past few years. The perforated metal panels are Walls and Ceilings p50-51Walls&Ceilings.indd 51 Ryerson University's Mattamy Athletic Centre at Maple Leaf Gardens, Toronto. Courtesy BBB Architects. used primarily in heavy industrial settings, or on exposed exterior surfaces, although they've also been used in exteriors where the designer wanted that industrial look. Wallworks collaborates with architects and designers at the initial planning stages, but also on retrofits when clients need an acoustic treatment. "Whether it's a new project or a retrofit, if it's anything outside the ordinary, we have acoustic engineers we can call on for analysis and advice," says Fuller. Recent projects include custom acoustic wall treatments in boardrooms, meeting rooms and high-noise environments like photocopier rooms in The Bow office building in Calgary's downtown. Power Wall Systems Ltd. manufactures cold-formed steel, lightweight wall and floor systems for mid-rise residential and commercial buildings. The Power Wall Systems pre-tensioned panels are assembled in the company's plant and then installed on site, assuring quality control, quick assembly and cost savings. "If you use a benchmark cost scale of 100 for concrete and 50 for wood, then our systems, on average, would be somewhere between the two, at approximately 60 to 75," explains Vic Semenov, Power Wall Systems VP. The sweet spot for Power Wall Systems is residential buildings in the range of three to nine storeys. The system is particularly attractive because it requires less room on a construction site than conventional methods. For example, the system is being used in the construction of a zero-clearance, nine-storey condo project on a 25-foot-wide by 120-footdeep lot in Vancouver's Chinatown. Kevin Amyot, company general manager, notes that other products currently in the research and development stage will rival the large "tilt-up" concrete panels that are poured on site, and then lifted into place using a large mobile crane. In contrast, Amyot says Power Wall Systems will replace this with a product that is assembled in a climate-controlled environment and delivered to the site, complete with a selected exterior finish. The cold-formed steel structures retain the same structural integrity of concrete at about half the weight. Semenov notes that the company has commissioned various testing agencies, including Intertek and Underwriters Laboratories of Canada and the U.S. to test its products for fire and sound requirements, ensuring they conform to building code requirements across North America. CGC Inc. manufactures a range of lightweight Gypsum wall and ceiling panels using a patented, composite process, producing panels with a non-combustible core encased in 100 per cent recycled face and back papers. The result, says product marketing manager Christian Dutil, is the lightest half-inch Gypsum wallboard panel available. CGC's portfolio also includes a wide range of panels made for commercial, institutional and residential applications. Dutil notes the Securock Glass-Mat Sheathing panel (used on exterior walls) and the Sheetrock Mold Tough Gypsum panel (a water and mold resistant product) are suitable for use in home basements. The company's new Sheetrock UltraLight Firecode 30 panels, which are up to 30 per cent lighter than standard 5/8-inch gypsum wallboard, were chosen for the interior of the 15-storey Desjardins Group head office building in Levis, Quebec. Dutil adds that CGC has been using reclaimed gypsum board in its Hagersville, Ontario manufacturing plant for more than 25 years. In addition, that plant and another in Montreal also use synthetic Gypsum captured from flue gas desulfurization and other industrial processes, a practice that reduces acid rain. The company's mineral fibre acoustical ceiling panels and tiles are manufactured using recycled or renewable materials such as slag wool, cellulose fibres, perlite and cornstarch. These panels and tiles, Dutil notes, are available in a variety of sizes, edges, textures, patterns, colours and finishes. n december 2013    /51 13-11-15 3:47 PM

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