Multi-family housing technology has gained attention in Korea as developers seek to improve the efficiency of their existing building portfolios and meet the growing demand for urban housing; however, until recently, barriers to wood use in multi-family housing construction had effectively blocked its uptake.

For the past 30 years, floor impact noise in multi-family wood frame houses in Korea has been evaluated using the “(big) bang machine”. The impact force of this tire drop machine is well above the range of typical impact forces found in residential housing and the testing method had long been criticized by the Korean wood construction industry.

In August 2022, years of technical work and submissions by Canada Wood and industry researchers paid dividends when Korean authorities announced that the impact ball— an alternative acoustic test that allows lighter wood-frame floor assemblies to meet performance requirements for sound mitigation—was replacing the bang machine.

Combined with earlier revisions to the Korea Design Standards that abolished total floor area and height limits for wood buildings, the new sound regulations are a game changer for the use of both light timber and mass timber construction in South Korea’s multi-family housing market.