Our Best Tips!
1. Use Space Efficiently
Can your needs be met by changing or rearranging?
* Shifting classes to rooms sized for the actual attendance should give a growing church more room for growth and time to plan for expansion.
* Explore other options or locations such as holding two Bible study hours or have them be home-based groups.
Can your needs be met by changing times or frequency?
* A church with an adequate worship capacity and inadequate classroom capacity may need to consider two teaching hours with the worship time in between.
* A growing church with enough parking but desperate for both worship and classroom space should consider having two worship services with two simultaneous teaching hours.
Can your needs be met by using your existing facilities?
* Churches should use their gym or fellowship hall and turning the large open rooms into temporary classrooms by dividing the space with portable room dividing walls. There is no more practical a way to divide a gym temporarily for classes, other than by using portable room dividers.
* Room dividers come in many heights, lengths, fabrics, and colors. They can be configured in many ways and are quickly closed and moved out-of-the-way for activities requiring the large open room.
Designed for the most demanding performance criteria, operable walls offer the highest level of sound isolation. Acoustically-engineered to serve as a sound barrier, flat-panel folding walls can achieve ratings up to Sound Transmission Class (STC) 55, a level at which shouting is inaudible. At STC 50, for comparison, shouting and loud sounds are barely audible; 99% of the general population would not be annoyed.
An operable wall can be specified in a range of STC ratings, which is one of the factors in its cost. The acoustical rating of a product is evaluated by an independent laboratory using standard testing procedures established by The American Society of Testing and Materials. The rating is then published by the manufacturer. For more details, visit www.astm.org.
When planning for sound control, the acoustical performance of the operable wall is not the only factor to be considered. The Noise Isolation Class (NIC) rating, also referred to as a "field test," assesses performance in the field rather than in a lab setting. This rating is affected by absorptive materials in the room as well as other paths of sound transmission called flanking paths. These leaks in construction allow sound to pass through pathways such as floors, underneath walls, over ceilings, through pipes, recessed lights, outlets, ductwork, etc.
An operable wall with the highest STC rating can't act as a sound barrier if the sound is escaping over, under or around it. Flanking paths must be blocked with construction equal to the acoustical rating of the operable wall. If sound control is a critical issue for the space you plan to divide, it may be worthwhile to hire an acoustic consultant to make an assessment. To find a qualified professional, see www.acousticalsociety.org.
Most operable panels are about 4' wide and need approximately 4" depth per panel for stacking space. The panels typically consist of a steel or aluminum frame with faces of gypsum, steel, MDF, or a combination of materials to meet the required sound control. The faces may be finished with a variety of materials, including vinyl, fabric, or carpet. Custom finishes and substrates may also be ordered to coordinate with or match the existing walls.
The panels include sound seals. The method of setting them and sealing the partition in place varies by manufacturer. Retractable seals perform best because they do not leave rub marks on the ceiling or floor as vinyl seals often do. Retractable seals don't tear or fall off. While retractable seals are initially more expensive, they perform better over the life of the partition.
Operable options include pass thru doors for access into the adjoining space, pocket doors (to cover the storage area when the panels are not in use), inset tack or marker boards, eraser pockets, and windows.
They can be used in combination with operable partitions to optimize space flexibility. Tall, long doors are available with optional electric operation. Marker boards or pass doors are not an option.
Because of the way in which they move and their relatively narrow faces, not all finishes can be successfully applied to accordions – vinyl, cloth fabrics, vertical ribbed carpets, acoustical fabric, and for some wood veneers are available.
Since operable walls are drywall partitions with wheels above, you can do almost anything – from what is on the face of the accordions to mirrored glass, to wallpaper, to markerboards (from standard heights of 48" to full-height), to laminates or all types.
Finally, resist the urge to do it yourself. Every religious body is blessed with members with varied skills: architects, contractors, acousticians, carpenters, etc. There is more to the operable wall business than what you see. Let a reputable manufacturer do his job, and you should be more than pleased.