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Acoustic Furniture: 5 Tips To Dampen Sound In A Restaurant

tables with tablecloths in rick stein sandbanks

Ever sat opposite someone and not been able to hear what they are saying? Restaurants and other hospitality venues can sometimes be too noisy when there are lots of conversations going on, let alone when music is playing as well. Chairs legs on hard floors can scrape and cutlery and plates can clatter on stone table tops, adding decibels. Too much noise tends to be more acute in spaces where sound waves can bounce off lots of hard surfaces – typically stone floors and bare walls; some heritage buildings can be notably problematic.

Softer materials absorb sound and curved surfaces deflect sound waves, rather than bouncing them straight back, so more of these will mean less sound. The most straightforward improvement is often to hang thick curtains, and some restaurants hang sound deflectors in their roof space, but your furniture choice can also make a real difference.

  1. Banquette seating is a great start, either positioned against walls or protruding into a space, which can do wonders to dampen noise (see our Banquette Seating Guide for more on this topic).
  2. Specifying a sound-absorbent layer on the underside of your table helps to muffle sound bouncing off a hard floor – we have supplied table tops with this layer for a number of venues - please ask us for further information.
  3. Specifying a sound-absorbent layer on the upper surface of your table is very helpful – but doing so is a commitment to having table cloths. Tops with this layer usually consist of an MDF core with a textured moisture-resistant vinyl layer (usually a product called bulgomme) or sometime a felt/baize layer either glued to the top surface or wrapped around the whole top. As well as improving the acoustics, these layers also anchor the table cloths to the table top.
  4. Choosing fully upholstered chairs, ideally with higher backs, rather than plastic or wooden ones, can make a significant impact, creating a host of mini sound absorbing-barriers across a dining area. Scattering upholstered loose furniture in a venue will also help for similar reasons.
  5. If you believe that a room is likely to be too noisy, it is also worth taking steps to avoid noise being generated by the furniture – this might mean having felt glides on the legs of your chairs (see our blog on chair glides & why they matter), and avoiding very hard ‘clattery’ table tops, particularly glass or stone.

bulgomme table top

Bulgomme Table Top with Plywood Core

Goldy Pouf

Goldy Pouf


Felt Glide on Chair Leg


The Green Room in The Curtain Hotel features banquette seating along the wall and poufs that will absorb the sound and compensate for the high ceilings and uncarpeted floor. 


The Cotswold House Hotel & Spa features bulgomme tables with tablecloths as well as chairs with chair covers to give the serene and relaxing atmosphere befitting of a 4 star luxury spa hotel that aims to deliver tranquillity & sublime comfort.

Topics: Specification tips

By Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth Paula Stanbridge-Faircloth on 21/11/19 11:30
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