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Everything You Need to Know About Soundproof Windows

Everything You Need to Know About Soundproof Windows

Exterior renovationsEverything You Need to Know About Soundproof Windows

Noise pollution is a reality of urban living and coexisting with the city's sounds. Even in more rural settings, sounds can find their way into your home in multiple ways. Windows are integral components of your home. They play a crucial role in controlling far more than just the entry of light into your home.

Indeed, windows directly impact how noise enters or escapes your interior. That's why it's important to understand the specifications and characteristics of your home's windows. When it comes to soundproofing, one of the most important aspects is the noise reduction capability of your windows.

Of course, a large window is beautiful, but what about a large window with better sound control? Soundproof windows can significantly reduce incoming noise from the outside world into your home. If this is something you're interested in, take a look at the best types of windows and glass for soundproofing and sound control.

Soundproof Windows: How Do These Anti-Noise Models Work?

View of a downtown apartment window

Source: Canva

The simplest explanation is that soundproof windows and doors reduce sound by muffling and dispersing sound waves, thus diminishing their strength. This is made possible through the use of materials that have the ability to absorb or reflect sound waves in a different direction. Windows built with soundproofing properties optimize their materials so that they absorb sound.

Soundproof windows won't be able to completely absorb or reflect all sound waves, but can reduce noise by up to 90%. High-frequency sounds are easier to block than low-frequency sounds, so birds singing outside will be easier to mask than passing cars or garbage trucks collecting rubbish. Therefore, when selecting a soundproof window model, you'll need to identify the sounds you're seeking to block.

Windows can reduce sounds in several ways, and for this to work effectively, two of the following aspects will be necessary:

Glass thickness: As a good rule of thumb, the thicker the glass, the better the sound insulation.

Space between panes: The space between glass layers contributes to noise reduction. Furthermore, the larger the space, the greater the sound elimination power.

Lamination: Some windows are designed with a layer of materials between glass layers. This doesn't affect the appearance of the glass but allows for an apparent reduction in sound.

In most cases, you won't necessarily be looking to replace your windows. Instead, you'll want to improve those already in place by opting for one of the three most popular options:

  • Replacing the glass of your current windows with glass specially designed for sound reduction;

  • Replacing both the frame and the glass with soundproof windows, including frames and sealing materials;

  • Secondary glazing, which involves adding an extra layer of glass and is the least expensive option.

Noise Pollution: What Is It?

Downtown traffic

Source: Canva

Noise pollution is a real problem that affects many people every day. Although noise is a subjective term, it is generally used to describe a sound that is unpleasant as well as one that the receiver does not want to hear. Noise pollution is typically bothersome or intrusive to the victim when it is too loud, high-pitched, too low, and so on. As many of us live in urban environments, noise levels can be disturbing and, in the worst cases, dangerous. There are several types of noise pollution, and which one affects you the most obviously depends on where you live. Here are some examples:

After prolonged exposure, some of these forms of pollution, such as those from trains or planes, can cause permanent hearing damage. In other cases, noise pollution is simply annoying and can affect your mental health. Depending on your situation, let's now take a look at the best materials and window styles for soundproofing.

  • Traffic construction or traffic noise;

  • Social noise including that from bars, restaurants, and nightclubs;

  • Transport noise including that from planes, trains, and the underground;

  • Neighbourhood noise.

Which Sound Reduction Window to Choose to Isolate Your Home from Noise?

Glass apartment balconies

Source: Canva

For soundproof windows to work, they must create a barrier between the sound and the listening ear. The walls, insulation, and roof of your home already block out sounds, but naturally, windows are not as resistant as these materials. The most important factor to consider when choosing a window for its sound reduction capabilities is the Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating or the Sound Transmission Index.

This measures the level of sound transmission through the window. These ratings are based on decibel levels, which are related to 18 different frequencies. For a window to become soundproof and increase its STC rating, additional mass must be added to the glass or the distance between the panes must be increased.

Windows can have an STC rating between 18 and 38, with a single-pane window typically ranging between 26 and 28 STC. A double-pane window usually falls between 26 and 32. In comparison, the average STC rating for soundproof windows is between 48 and 54, nearly double. When it comes to sound entering your home, there needs to be a substantial or noticeable improvement for a real difference to be made.

It is important to distinguish the STC rating of the glass from that of the window itself. If you are purchasing new windows, be sure to clarify this with the manufacturer before installation.

Other factors affect sound transmission through a window, but this is primarily determined by the thickness of the glass and the amount of space between the window panes. Additionally, as mentioned, laminated glass can be used, as combining a layer of plastic with layers of glass enhances the soundproofing qualities of the window. Inserts can be installed inside existing windows, adding air to absorb sound between the original window and the insert.

Alternatives to Window Replacement

Caulking

Keep in mind that sound doesn't just infiltrate through windows, and there are several areas in the house from which sound can enter or exit.

Caulking

To reduce noise in your home, seal up holes around windows and even around door frames, caulk around light fixtures, the mailbox, and around the exterior frame of the door. Also, make sure to check the seals of sliding windows and doors to make them more airtight and soundproof.

Insulation

Insulation is another crucial factor that will determine the degree of soundproofing in your home, and the more insulation in your walls, the less likely sound will pass through. Consider using special acoustic insulation in walls, ceilings, and floors to further improve noise attenuation.

Soundproof Curtains

Fabrics also muffle sound, so hang thick, soundproof curtains, lay rugs on the floor, or ensure your home is adequately furnished to absorb sound. Soundproof curtains can be particularly useful in rooms with many windows or in noisy urban environments.

But if you still lean towards soundproof windows, contact a professional who can install them for you!

FAQs on Soundproof Windows

Will Soundproof Windows Make a Difference in my House?

As mentioned, for soundproofing, you can replace your current windows with models featuring different glazing or a layer of material (such as polyvinyl butyral) or add a soundproofing product. Depending on the measures you take, the final result will vary. Simply replacing the glass with glass featuring a better STC rating should improve sound reduction by 25 to 50%. For those living in an area with high ambient noise, simply changing the glass may not be sufficient.

If you need to undertake a large-scale soundproofing project, then you should hire a contractor. Depending on the measure you take, it is vital to install soundproof windows correctly, especially if you are replacing both the glass and the frame, which represents delicate work due to a more secure design and the fact that they contain some additional moving parts.

What Are the Best Noise Reduction Windows for Soundproofing?

For premium soundproofing, most experts suggest using laminated glass. The plastic inserts between the glass layers reduce noise intensity as well as vibrations that would otherwise pass through your windows. Not only is laminated glass soundproof, but it also has enhanced safety features, as the glass is harder to break than that of a standard window. However, laminated glass is expensive and may be considered a high-end product by the average homeowner.

It may be worth considering a laminated insert designed for a standard double-glazed window, which is less expensive than a new laminated window. Triple glazing is another option, offering better soundproofing than double-glazed windows and costing significantly less than laminated windows. However, some experts argue that triple glazing is not effective at reducing external sounds from entering the house, while others argue the opposite. The sound reduction capability of triple-glazed windows is likely based on external sounds.

Are Soundproof Windows Energy-Efficient?

Most energy-efficient windows rely on coatings and gas between thermal panes to reduce heat transfer, thereby increasing their energy efficiency. Soundproof windows use thick or laminated glass, and wide spaces between the panes are used to impede the passage of sound. Soundproof windows can become energy-efficient with the addition of a low-emissivity coating.

However, windows that are initially energy-efficient are much more difficult to soundproof. Homeowners seeking windows that are both energy-efficient and soundproof should aim to target a manufacturer that can create both initially, as this is not the simplest DIY project to undertake.

Are you curious about the best materials to use for soundproofing projects? Check out our article on the topic: Everything You Need to Know About Soundproofing.


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Last modified 2024-05-24

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