Installing a Fabric Sound-Absorbing Ceiling

Project: Babyproofing the House, Episode 3

Bob’s third visit to the 1895 Melrose, MA, home focuses on insulating for sound reduction and painting the guestroom across from the nursery.  He opens the show by discussing the effects of sound in the home with Arline Bronzaft, an environmental psychologist whose doctorate in child psychology helps her relate issues of home environment to healthy child development.  She explains that healthful sleep for infants from birth to seven months is critical to their growth and development and requires quiet.  To ensure a quiet nursery, Harry Alter from Owens Corning shows Bob how QuietZone acoustic batt insulation is installed in the stud cavities, nailed in place, fitted around wiring cut for outlet boxes, and caulked with QuietZone siliconized acrylic caulk to block sound entry.  Edward Waller of CertaPro Paints shows Bob how they apply the Sherwin-Williams Harmony no VOC paint in the guest room and explains why this latex paint is safe and superior to other latex paints.  He also shows Bob how to apply paint properly and with the right tools for a quality, finished job.  Bob wraps this episode with Ken Lanoie of Owens Corning as the QuietZone Solserene three-part fabric system is installed for an absorptive acoustic ceiling.  Bob previews upcoming tasks to complete this project, including finishing touches in the bathroom, natural products for the nursery, and baby safety products such as gates and outlet covers.


Part 1: Installing Sound Attenuation Insulation
Part 2: Installing a Fabric Sound-Absorbing Ceiling
Bob talks to Ken Lanoie of Owens Corning about adding sound attenuating insulation to the nursery. Lanoie describes the QuietZone Solserene Ceiling Fabric System used in the project. A Solserene ceiling is made up of three components, with high-density fiberglass boards to absorb sound installed in a track system that holds them in place. The boards are then covered with fabric. Lanoie reviews the installation process of the boards, followed by the fabric covering. The fabric is pulled so tight it looks like a normal plaster ceiling and can follow an architectural configuration, including angles, dormers, and rounded edges. It costs about six dollars per square foot. The system helps reduce the echo effect of noise in rooms with hardwood or stone floors, plaster walls, and other hard surfaces. Bob previews upcoming tasks to complete this project, including finishing touches in the bathroom, natural products for the nursery, and baby safety products, such as gates and outlet covers.
Part 3: Painting the Guest Bedroom
In Melrose, MA, Bob Vila helps a young couple expecting their first child to prepare their home. The focus is on creating a safe place with a strong emphasis on indoor air quality and a healthy living environment. Bob reviews child safety products with industry specialists, as they outfit the home from top to bottom in preparation for the new baby.

Also from Babyproofing the House

  • Episode 1 - Learning About Healthy Home and Building Products


    <p>Bob is in Melrose, MA, to update a 100-year-old home in preparation for a new baby.&nbsp; Since home building and remodeling can introduce hazards into the home, Bob is looking at how to reduce unwanted toxins and select healthy alternatives.&nbsp; He visits the American Lung Association&rsquo;s designer showhouse in West Palm Beach, FL, where EcoDecor&rsquo;s Bernadette Upton reviews healthy choices like using no-VOC paints, choosing natural, washable throw rugs instead of synthetic wall-to-wall carpeting, buying natural bedding and mattresses, avoiding treated fabrics, purchasing formaldehyde-free furniture, using non-vinyl wall treatments, and airing wallpaper before applying non-toxic glues.&nbsp; Back in Melrose, Bob talks with homeowner Nick Beasley about the decision to purchase a two-family home and use the upper two floors for their primary residence.&nbsp; Maggie Beasley shows Bob the main living areas, the kitchen they hope to safety proof, the upstairs bedrooms that need insulation and renovating, and the original beadboard room that will become a child's bathroom.&nbsp; Nick shows Bob the demolition and new partition wall for the master bath.&nbsp; Joe Arrigo from Resource Development Partners explains the challenges of insulating an old house and how loose-fill fiberglass insulation is blown in to achieve an R-value of 4.25 per inch or R-30 overall.</p> <p>&nbsp;</p>
  • Episode 2 - Work's Underway with Enclosed-Blind Windows, Window Installation, and Master Bath


    <p>Bob is back in Melrose, MA, to look at window options and installation. First he meets with Cordell Burton from Pella Windows to look at their Designer Series snap-in between-the-glass blinds. These blinds are contained between moveable panes that allow homeowners to change colors. They are easily drawn with a sliding button on the sash, have no dangerous cords, and reduce dust and allergens by 200 percent. Their Energy Star low-e, double-pane, Architecture Series two-over-ones replicate the period windows in this 1895 two-family home. Nick Beasley, the homeowner and general contractor, demonstrates how to install the windows and shares advice for sealing the opening against water intrusion or heat loss. In the newly framed master bath, Beasley installs custom poplar and MDF wood panels against the tub wall and shows Bob the Daltile subway tiles and glass edge tiles for the wall. The tub enclosure and shelf will be of impervious Corian solid surfacing. We also learn how to install an American Standard Champion low-flush toilet by leveling the floor, sealing the flange, and bolting it to the floor. This low-flush toilet has the largest siphon on the market, so the bowl clears with less water, just 1.6 gallons per flush.</p>
  • Episode 4 - Finishing Touches: Baby Safety Products and a Corian Tub Deck


    <p>In Melrose, MA, finishing touches are in progress in the master bath, and childproofing is in full swing throughout the home. Jay Martel of the International Association for Child Safety shows Bob an adjustable child safety gate for wide spaces that is removable and configures to varying angles, as well as the critical safety gate for the top of the stairs. Other child safety measures include latching kitchen appliances and cabinet doors and covering stove dials and electrical outlets. Ginny Turner, from Ecobaby Organics and Pure Rest, shows Bob healthy alternatives such as organic baby bedding products and clothing. In the master bath, Grant Garcia and Chris Dada of Sterling Surfaces install the Corian tub surround that was fabricated off site using digital-photo templating. The custom installation accommodates the tub wall, a tile cove, and a water dam to prevent water intrusion behind the solid surface. Upstairs, a completed nursery awaits the newborn.</p>
  • Episode 5 - Touring the Completed Nursery and Bathrooms

Hi, I'm Bob Vila. Welcome to the show. We're remodeling a house here, where we are getting a room, a nursery, ready for a new baby. And today we got some very interesting stuff to discuss.

We're putting in sound attenuation insulation which will make the nursery nice and snug and quiet. Also, a new type of ceiling that helps with that job as well, by absorbing a lot of sound.

And we'll also be showing you all about how to paint the nursery using the right kinds of paints and the right techniques. Stick around.

This is our third visit to our nursery project here in Melrose, Massachusetts. Where a young couple have bought their first home, a two family home. So.that the rental income helps defray the cost of the mortgage and they're busy remodeling some bathrooms and a bedroom getting ready for the first babies arrival any day now.

Nick and Maggie live on the second and third floor of this big 1895 house. They've already insulated the roof up above there to help defray the cost of heating in our tough New England winters. Now it's time to talk about insulating the interior walls for sound attenuation, because after all, baby needs a quiet environment , as well as a warm one.

Arlene Bronza has a PhD in child psychology and you are visiting us here at this project. And I guess one of the, the things that would concern us is why is it important to have peace and quiet around the nursery.

Well, a child has to sleep and children really find it much easier to fall asleep in a quiet room. Now you might say to me, "But the child is gonna make some sounds?" Yeah, those are the sounds for parents and when the child makes sounds particularly an infant. it's usually a cry because the child's wet, the child's hungry, the child is uncomfortable. And those are cues that parents have to listen to and attend to and quiet the child .

But when the child has to fall asleep, it's important for the child's development that the child has a good night's sleep. Even though it's broken up by feeding period.


But they need to sleep. Development occurs while the child's asleep.

But some would make the observation that many babies come into a household where there's already one or two, or thanks to wonder drugs, maybe six other kids that are older and that are making a racket around the house.

Isn't it important also for a baby to, kind of, get accustomed to that buzz and that level of noise?

You're talking about the child getting accustomed, but the baby is still a baby. We're talking about a newborn.


We're talking about an infant form zero to six or seven months of age. When you're putting a child to sleep, it's generally better to have a quieter environment for that child.

That's why they call them lullabies, right?

That's a very good word. But then there's also something else. It think what it also says, in terms of the environment of the household, that the parent that understands that the child needs some quiet when the child is very young will also understand that for that child's mental and physical development there will be times when quiet will help that child to study, to learn, to read.

Quiet is not silence. It's just quiet. We can still hear the breeze, we can still hear a leaf. And the child will get of course, want those sounds, those are wonderful sounds, but when it's just an infant that we're talking about, we're really focusing on rest, and that is definitely aided by quiet .

Arlene thank you for those insights.

Thank you.

Now as part of doing this to the environment Owens Corning has come up with a whole concept of the Quiet Zone. And Harry Alter was here just a few days ago getting started with some of the measures that we're taking to assure that the nursery is a quiet zone.

First of all, the first thing to have is long sleeved shirts. Alright, after that you want to have gloves to be able handle the the fiberglass with.

Next is goggles, a hat, and then last of all, you need a dust mask.

It's just a pretty simple process. You just take the batt and put it into the cavity, and tuck it in as you go.

Alright, now all the batts have, with the faced batts, you have a little flange here. You basically staple that about every eight inches.

You just want to, basically, let it lie in the cavity.

Make sure it's in. Then when you get to the the outlet, you can basically, basically you kind of mark where the outlet is. So then you can take this off, and cut it out.

OK. Then you stuff it back in, go around the outlet . Again, making sure that you're not compressing the bat.

What you do, is you just split the bat. And you can stuff this right behind the wiring, and bring it down.

Alright, so you Got the wiring in there now and then you bring the battery over it.

So Harry the thing I noticed right away is that you've done a very, very careful and meticulous job of installing the product here.

So that there aren't any gaps and it really fills in the cavity in between the studs.

That's important I guess right?

Yea make sure all the studs cavities are filled, and then after you do that, obviously, then you want to start looking for any gaps and cracks in the wall, 'cause that's an easy path for noise to get through.


And that's when we start looking at caulk.

Is this fiber glass different from what we put in the side wall to keep the cold out?

Well there's a lot of different densities of fiber glass, alright, and this is a one density that is a light weight density and it's designed specifically for acoustics. It's not used thermally. It's not tested thermally. We do all of our testing specifically for its ability to reduce noise in floors or ceilings.

To reduce noise.

transmission. Okay. So, what's the caulking gun for?

I've got a Kryson acoustic ceiling, and this is a siliconized acrylic. And it's designed to be flexible over time, so that it doesn't harden. And we use it to seal up the gaps and cracks in the wall that can happen at the base plate, where the base plate meets the floor, and also around the outlets . And that will happen after the gypsum goes up.

And for this instance, I'm going to be sealing up the gap where the existing ceiling meets this top plate. Just to make sure everything is sealed up.

So, all the way across from that corner and then down to the bottom , you want to provide a bead of this.


Okay. Thanks, Eric.

Thank you. We're back in the nursery and one of the things we want to do here is sound attenuation because it's a room that has a lot of angles and a hardwood floor, and we want be able to absorb some of the sounds like a baby crying.

And Ken Le Moyne's here, from Owens Corning. This is a... what's this called, this product?

This is the QuietZone soul serene fabric system.

The soul serene fabric system. It's basically an absorptive ceiling.

Absolutely. It's made of three main components. There's a track that goes around, but the main sound absorber is this high density fiberglass board with a fiberglass mesh that goes on the bottom of it. And this absorbs sound. It doesn't block it like the hard surfaces. It absorbs the sound that's in the room, softens the space.

No bouncing, it just absorbs it. And then it's all covered up with a fabric.

Right. So it's an acoustically transparent fabric, meaning that the sound will go through it, but it will be picked up by the board.

What they're doing right now is they're installing the acoustic fiberglass board up against a hard surface.


So that's going to be the real, the absorber.


And once that's in place and the tracks in place, then you're gonna take the fabric and stretch over.

OK, well, this is something that a home-owner can tackle. This is do it yourself, right?

Absolutely. Absolutely do it yourself.

All right. So then the next step is to take all this fabric and stretch it across the material.

Correct. You're gonna tuck it into the corners. Get it up.

Oh, I see. So you tuck it in the backside of that moulding that's on the perimeter of the room.

Absolutely correct, and when you order the material, it comes with , you know, a tacking knife.

With this, this tool.

Yeah, this tool. It's like a putty knife. But, it, the material is grabbed by the back of that a track molding.

So they get it up in place and you can see a lot of the the winkles are already coming out of it now and then later on we'll go back and make it very tight. homes have granite surfaces, marble floors, wood floors, plastered ceilings is a lot of hard surface.

A lot of echo.

A lot of echo?

Yeah, a lot of echo. So this absorbs it on the ceiling area.

So we're just doing a preliminary trim job on the corner over here, but already you start to lose the sense that it's a fabric 'cause it stretches so nicely that it really does look like a plaster ceiling.

Absolutely. It gives you that nice crisp, clean line that you're looking for and it gives a lot of architectural detail possibilities. Dormered ceilings, rounded edges, vaulted ceilings, et cetera.

So you can leave it like that and have that little shadow line.

Or as you were saying a minute ago you could add a ceiling molding or a picture molding.

Crown molding.

Or a crown.


Yeah, change the color if you want it or blend right with it.

Ken, what about the cost?

The cost is averaging about six dollars a square foot.

Six bucks a square foot. And it makes a difference.

It does make a difference.

I can tell.

Thanks a lot.

Thank you Bob.

And that wraps things up.

Next time, we're going to be putting finishing touches on that bathroom including a Corian tub surround.

Also, we'll be looking at natural products to use in the nursery and all sorts of baby safety products.

Gates and covers for outlets and that sort of thing.

Until then, I'm Bob Villa.

Thanks for joining us. Alright so we're in the room across the way from the nursery now, which will be guest bedroom , and Ed Waller's here from CertaPro. And I want to talk about the kind of paints that were using and some tips on how to paint, because these are old plaster walls. Now, what kind of paint? It's latex paint, right?

Yep. This is latex paint. It's a noVOC paint.

Now V OCs are volatile organic compounds. Which is what the chemists want us to call them, but basically it's what makes the paint stink. Right?

Yeah. Paint thinner and the old oil based paints.

And in latex paints ?

A variety of different modern chemicals--ethylene glycol, proplyene glycol.

But these paints, they've done away with all that stuff?

That's right. These paints have a special resin, doesn't need any solvents to form a good solid film.


Very advanced, very high-tech.

So we're in here breathing it, and it's not bothering us and I can attest to the fact that Doesn't stink in here.

Yes, it's almost pleasant.

Now again, with VOC, you can't get too confused, because the fact is that once it's dried, it's over with. There's really no harmful effect.

Pretty much.

Than the older paints.

Yeah, yeah. Once it's dry to the touch, the vast majority of the solvent's in the air. And as fast as you can ventilate the property or the home you're ready to go.

It's all dissipated.


What about the actual ability of this sort of paint to grip to to, to what's, underneath it?

You're actually getting a superior resin in these latexes than you would you, say with basic latex paint. Usually when you get, you know, no
fat food or fat-free stuff or all this healthy things they don't taste as good. But in this case, I think you actually get a superior product and it's not that much more money.

You can buy these products for a few gallons, a few dollars a gallon more.


Rarely do we do just one coat, because there's always little voids. When the paint dries, it shrinks, there's going to be literally settling on the paint film, so...

No it's very good point. Because during that first coat application, you're scanning your eyes over every square foot of...

That's right.

wall surface, so that you can see where you need to come back and...

Yep. a repair.

You're gonna notice the bad spots. For sure. You can't see them in a normal unpainted wall.

Now, is there a reason why he's, you know obviously you cut in before you roll.


And he's cut in beautifully up here at the ceiling line with a very steady hand. And he's cut in where we have the roof eave line.


But down here at the baseboard below the windows, I'm just noticing that he hasn't cut in. He's let the yellow, kind of, go over the moulding.

Yes. In an old house like this, where the trim's got a lot of edges, and it's not very even.

The idea here is to overlap the wall paint onto the trim.

That gets the void and the area between the wall and the trim all covered with one solid color.

And that way when you come back to--

With the trim paint, a good craftsman will draw a nice straight line.

What about your radiators. He's, he's, he's painting right over the radiator. Isn't that a problem?

That's a good point. No, it's, it's not a problem. A lot of people don't realize that these old metal radiators in homes are really just painted with ordinary latex wall paint. If there's rust, obviously, we need to spot-prime with a rust primer, but otherwise no, a normal paint stick to these. It doesn't affect the heat or their properties.


And you can decorate them to match your room.


Just like this one.

Ed, how do you find a good painte?

Look at what he's done, talk to people he's worked for and in our case we'll try him out in the field with an experienced, job site supervisor.

You know, that's one of the things. A lot of people go into the painting business who haven't been trained properly.

That's right.

And you sometimes end up with very unhappy clients.

Yes. And we train our key staff and when we bring on new people to work as helpers and painters and apprentices they're under the watchful eye of someone that we have trained. You'll notice when he's rolling these wall. walls, a couple of things. He's using an extension pole. One thing that a lot of people miss when they're painting, especially doing it themselves, they don't think to invest 20 bucks in a extension pole, and I will tell you it's really hard to paint with just a roller sleeve with just your hand. You really gotta put an extension pole on there, and a decent one that fits your hand. You'll also notice he's rolling from floor to ceiling. A lot of people will paint a little square. He is very purposely, on each load of that roller , painting roughly two roller widths. That's how you know how much paint to use, and that's about the spread rate of a gallon of paint. You should go floor to ceiling two roller widths , and that's how you paint.


That's exactly what you are showing us here. Fastest most efficient way to put the right paint on in the right quantity.

Now, are we using a different type of paint for the trim?

Yes. On the trim Justin's painting here with a semigloss paint. the walls we did a eggshell.

That's always a good idea. But I meant is it still low VOC?

Yes this is actually still an O VOC paint. It's Sherwin Williams Harmony line. They make a full range flat, eggshell, semi-gloss, even the primer he's painting over top of

The primer as well!

was an O VOC primer, that's right.

Oh, that's great!

Yeah and it's actually if you look, if you look at this trim where he is painting. That was dark red.

The importance of a steady hand is obviously at the top of the list when you're, when you're doing that.

Yes, this is where the craftsmanship comes in when your getting a paint job. The quality of that line is what your eye is going to look at

What kind of a paint brush should we use?

In this case he's using, looks like a Purdy synthetic like a polyester bristle, those are pretty expensive brushes.

Are those are the ones exploded tips?

Yeah, I think they call them flared or flagged tips. They flag them.

But it's not a china bristle.

No you wouldn't want to use that with Latex. They expand and bloat.

And they don't spread the paint very well.

So those are best used with old fashioned varnishes and that sort of stuff?

Smelly oil-based paint, yes. Lots of VOC's in those.


That brush there is probably twenty bucks.

I noticed they paint out of a pail. Is that important?

Well you'll notice the way he paints. He doesn't really scrape the brush on the side. He just taps it a little to get rid of the loose paint.

On the walls of the pail?

Yes. And having a pail with a large open mouth like that just makes it easy to get in and get the paint out. So, baseboards are a little bit easier then a panel door right? Any tips?

Well, a flat panel door, a flat door we might just roll, and get a nice, like, light stipple texture. A lot of doors are all ready like that.

In this case we have an old wooden door. It was previously finished with varnish or it wasn't even painted. And we want to leave a nice brush texture, so, we're going to paint the entire door by brush. We're using our big four inch brush. And our standard procedure on almost anything we paint and we'll follow it with this door is we do the hard stuff first. We work inside out, top to bottom, left to right.

Inside out means from the deepest part like the canal.

Deepest out part out to the farthest out part so we're not sort of painting the frame while we're still going around it to get to the door.

And tape those nice old brass hinges and take off the door knobs, the obscutions, the keyhole covers, all the antique elements.


So that you don't get any paint on it.

Yeah, and then when the door, before the paint dries we'll pull the tape off. So we can get a bridge.

Alright. Ed, thanks for the tips.

OK, Bob. Thank you.



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