There are a plenty of industries that are involved in the production of the noise protection barriers, usable anywhere including office premises, residential houses and industry backyards. The selection of proper material is important as it affects the many characteristics of barriers such as durability, acoustic properties, manufacturing and assembly costs, maintenance, aesthetics etc.

With an aim to help you find the right material for your property, we have conducted an analysis of the advantages and disadvantages of the most commonly used materials for the barrier design and production. But before we proceed, let us know the acoustical and non-acoustical design considerations that are required during the production of noise barriers.

The acoustical design considerations include:

  • Barrier material,
  • Barrier location,
  • Dimensions and shape of the barrier.

On the other hand, the non-acoustical design considerations are inclusive of:

  • Engineering requirements,
  • Safety,
  • Environmental requirements,
  • Maintenance,
  • Material selection

Let us now start with the materials used for the production of noise barriers. These barriers can be classified into two segments: Reflective and Absorptive. While the most commonly used materials for the production of noise barriers are:-

  1. Concrete
  2. Wood
  3. Metals i.e. steel and aluminium
  4. ransparent Material i.e. Acrylic Barriers

CONCRETE
The material like concrete i.e. cement is most commonly used in the construction of structural things such as the walls for noise protection. These barriers can either be prefabricated or can be cast in-situ.

Advantages-

  • Flexible
  • Acoustically effective
  • Durable and weather resistant
  • Lasts for a longer duration

Disadvantages-

  • High density, leading to large weight
  • Often used without appropriate design
  • Difficult to ensure quality control with concrete cast in-situ

WOOD
Wooden timber is another material that is used in the production of noise protection barriers. Not all but only the coniferous wood i.e. spruce, fir, pine etc. that is dried in the air can be used for the production.
Advantages-

  • Treated timber can last up to 50 years
  • Aesthetic material
  • Simple and easily available
  • Takes lesser time in construction

Disadvantages-

  • Acoustic integrity and shortened design life.
  • Timber is not easily cleaned and thus requires painting work over a period of time.
  • Soil can rot timber and therefore it is better not to let timber come in contact with soil.

METALS
The metals are often used in the production of acoustic barriers. The popular metals are aluminium and steel (mild and stainless). The aluminium and steels are commonly used for the absorption of deflection elements.
Advantages-
• Relatively lightweight and easy to fix
• Dual leaf sheet metal barriers can be constructed using perforated metal front face and a solid imperforated metal rear face. The cavity in between can contain fibreglass or other noise absorbing material.
Disadvantages-

  • Surface finishes may not be visually suited to all locations
  • Heavy framing and fixing is required for steel panels
  • High expansion rate in hot weather
  • Lightweight panels can easily be damaged.

TRANSPARENT MATERIALS
The transparent materials are used purposively to allow light to areas which otherwise will be placed in the shadow of barriers. The panel materials that are used for barriers are made of either glass or a clear plastic product such as Plexiglas, Lexan or acrylic. The noise protectors made using acrylic plastic are known popularly as acrylic barriers. Both plastic and glass material can be tinted.
Advantages-

  • Allow maintenance of views
  • This material can be used where a reduction in visual bulk is required,
  • Improves public safety.

Disadvantages-

  • Expensive materials
  • Glass can easily be broken, and acrylic can easily be scratched
  • Glare from reflection of sun or headlights
  • Plastics can be a fire hazard
  • Compromise in the privacy of residential areas.
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CONCLUSION
A wide range of material choices provides a rational choice of noise protection barrier materials with respect to both acoustic and non-acoustic considerations as well as cost-effectiveness. Apart from the above-listed materials used for the production of noise barriers, there are a few more materials that can be used for the same. These other choices include- earth berms, adhesives, paints etc.