Exeter University

Project: Exeter University

Subcontractors working on accommodation for students at Exeter University were able to install soundproof flooring eight weeks ahead of schedule, cut labour costs and avoid any risk of delays to other trades by using the Brio system of easily installed dry floor screed boards developed by Knauf Drywall.

Opal 1, the £7.2 million development by Ocon Property Group, consists of four timber-framed buildings of three or four storeys which provide stylish accommodation for 219 students, in self-contained studio apartments and flats with four or five bedrooms. 

Mec-Serv, the Bristol-based screeding and acoustic flooring specialist, decided that traditional wet screed was not an option on the 4,141m2 project. Not only would wet screed take time to lay and dry properly but there were no other wet trades on the site, which had a tight completion target – the accommodation had to be ready in time for the start of the academic year in September 2010.

On this project there could be no risk any delays, so Knauf Brio Dry Floor Screed was the perfect solution for the upper floors. It met the developer’s quality standards and ensures compliance with Building Regulations Part E. Mec-Serv’s element of the Opal 1 build programme was reduced by eight weeks by using Brio Dry Floor Screed.

Acoustics were another important factor – there had to be minimal noise intrusion from the rooms above and below, particularly from footsteps.

The Brio Dry Floor Screed system includes Brio AcousticFloor – two gypsum fibreboard panels that incorporate a 10mm wood fibre backing – so Mec-Serv chose Brio 18WF, laying the 18mm board over flooring grade polystyrene.

There are four Knauf Brio boards: Brio 18 (standard 18mm thick), Brio 23 (reinforced 23mm – recommended for underfloor heating applications), Brio 18WF and Brio 23WF. The Brio WF (wood fibre) products are specifically developed to be an effective floor treatment as part of an acoustic separating floor with no need for timber battens.  Over timber, the footfall insulation improvement with this specification is up to 13dB, with up to 19dB over concrete. When laid on a level substrate, Brio WF gives up to 9dB over timber and up to 17dB over concrete.

Knauf Brio is much lighter than traditional wet screeds, significantly reducing loads and costly structural requirements in multi-storey buildings, and is also ideal for refurbishments because of its low installation thickness of just 23mm. The board is also thermally transparent and so works well with underfloor heating systems because any change in temperature is swift – there is no thermal mass to heat.