This blog post will answer the question, “What are the methods to soundproof windows?” How sound can infiltrate through windows, what you should know before soundproofing a window, the benefits of soundproofing windows.
How to soundproof a window cheaply?
There are several key methods to where one can soundproof a window on the cheap.
- Brush Weatherstrip
- Acoustic Caulk
- Acoustic Curtains
- DIY Soundproof Window Inserts
- Acoustic Blinds
- Laminated or Triple Pane Glass
- Increasing the thickness of the glass pane
- Exterior/Interior Window Shutters
- Rearranging Furniture
There are 2 ways in which sound can permeate through a window:
Airborne Transmission: As can be seen from Image 1, this can be through the window sill or through the interstitial space between the overlapped windows in the sliding door mechanism
Structural Transmission: This can happen through vibrations of the material of which the windows are made from such as glass, wood, some form of plastic, metal rail or a combination of the four.
Benefits of Soundproofing Windows
Below are the benefits of soundproofing sliding doors:
- Makes the room isolated from unwanted noise which can disturb activities such as studying or sleeping.
- Reduction of ambient wind noise that can take place from airborne transmission.
- Improves room comfort and a general level of cosiness.
- Reduces outdoor contaminants and/or pests and cold draughts from entering the enclosed space improving thermal isolation (although may not be applicable for all forms of soundproofing).
Things you need to know before soundproofing a window
The need for a soundproofing window is to prevent your current activity from getting disturbed. Believe it or not there are standards that measure performance of building materials and associated equipment with respect to sound isolation.
This can objectively quantify the acoustical performance and hence help make an informed decision when considering what kind and type of material you would want when installing and purchasing a window.
STC (Sound Transmission Class) and NIC (Noise Isolation Class) are standardised metrics that can help to compare materials which are used to soundproof windows .
The Table 1 as shown below can help you comprehend what rating of STC corresponds to what can be heard or how much sound leakage there is. This gives us a good understanding before setting out to soundproof a window.
|STCs by audio distinguishability|
|STC||What can be heard|
|25||Normal speech can be understood|
|30||Loud speech can be understood|
|35||Loud speech audible but not intelligible|
|40||Loud speech audible as a murmur|
|45||Loud speech heard but not audible|
|50||Loud sounds faintly heard|
|60+||Good soundproofing: most sounds do not disturb neighboring residents.|
Table 1: STCs by audio distinguishability
The thicker the glass of the window pane the more sound it will block. The glass sheet should be at least an eighth of an inch to half an inch thick.
Double pane glass is also very good at blocking noise as we will see in the next section as it involves sandwiching a thin layer of transparent vinyl,PVB or EVA between two layers of glass.
Another important thing to consider is the frame material. Currently, a vast majority of frame material that is being installed in residential dwellings are PVC frames.
While PVC frames offer little in the way of soundproofing, they are better. A metal is the worst frame to have as it is prone to structural borne noise transmission, rattling etc.
The best window frame to have is wood however maintaining it due to moisture exposure can be a significantly harder task.
FIxed or Closed Window
Yes it is not necessary to have openable windows especially when you have adequate fresh air supply coming from your indoor HVAC.
This can provide some major benefits as openable windows have lower STC ratings than closed windows. One has to make sure to inspect the condition of the rubber weatherstripping gaskets regularly to make sure it makes a good seal.
Also there should be no gaps between the wall and the frame.
Methods of soundproofing a windows on the cheap
There are several key methods to soundproofing windows cheaply:
A.) Seal the interstitial gaps: It is imperative to seal all the nooks and crannies without affecting the sliding mechanism
- Brush Weatherstrip: It contains tiny bristles as in a normal toothbrush and bend, twist and contort when the window is slid. This gives it longevity as well as preventing infiltration of dust particles and pests.
- Acoustic Caulk: It’s basically a paste type of solution which is also commonly referred to as an acoustical sealant. It helps in sound dampening all those areas where gaps are found.
B.) Acoustic Curtains: Hanging soundproof drapes increases the overall mass of the window.
The drapes can be folded at will as and when effective sound isolation is needed. The blankets should have grommets for hanging on a rod.
C.) Soundproof Window Inserts: Installing soundproofing inserts as a DIY can help to prevent external sounds from leaking into the desired space.
They are basically sliding transparent panes that go over the interior side of the window.
Also Window plugs work in much the same way however they are cheaper and do not slide over each other. In addition, it is cheaper than window inserts.
D.) Acoustic Blinds: They are as the name suggests and function just as normal blinds when hung against a window. They do, however, have thicker material to dampen high amplitude sound vibrations.
E.) Laminated or Triple Pane Glass: These are as far as it gets bar using non glass paned doors and are often a costlier option. However, triple paned glass sliding doors have dead spaces or air pockets that are very effective at blocking high and low frequency sounds.
An ancillary benefit of these is that they also act as good thermal insulation and prevent high amounts of heat transfer into adjacent spaces.
Increasing the thickness of the glass pane: Although not as effective as using double or triple paned glass, it still goes a long way in soundproofing the sliding doors.
Some of the things that need to be considered are glass thickness, overall thickness, air space, door construction–wood, vinyl, aluminium, fibreglass, and the ability to change glass stops and still have an operating door.) Following Table 2 is a quick look at STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings of glass.
|STC Ratings for Glazed door pane|
|Single glazed (one pane of glass)||as high as 35|
|Laminated Single Glazed||as high as 40|
|Dual Glazed||as high as 40|
|Dual Glazed (one clear lite/one laminated)||as high as 45|
|Triple Glazed Clear||as high as 45|
Table 3: STC Ratings for Glazed window pane
F.) Attach sound dampening foam: depending on your aesthetical preference you may or may not want to go with this option as it involves simply affixing some foam to the window.
G.) External/Internal Shutters: Typically consist of two hinged panels placed on the outside or the insides of the window.
It is preferable that the shutters do not have any louvres, although this may block off the fresh air that might seep through the window.
H.) Rearranging the furniture: The cheapest and easiest method by far is to rearrange your furniture to completely block the window such as placing a bookshelf or a cabinet in front of it.
Or if you value sunlight protruding in your home, then consider placing as much soft furnishings near the window to dampen the external noise
This blog addresses the ways in which sound can infiltrate through a window, the performance metric information an individual needs before opting for soundproofing a window.
Finally, what are some of the main ways that an individual can soundproof a window cheaply and the effectiveness of each method.
If you have any questions or comments please let us know.
Frequently Asked Questions: How to soundproof a sliding door
How can I soundproof my windows cheaply?
The most affordable way to soundproof your windows is to caulk them with acoustic caulk. Remove any existing silicone caulk and recaulk with a product that is specifically designed to block window noise. A tube of acoustic caulk costs about $20. Window treatments are another economical way to soundproof your windows.
Why can I hear wind through my window?
If you have single-pane windows or no soundproofing materials in place, the sound of the wind blowing through the trees may be loud enough to permeate the windows.
Or, you could be hearing wind whistling into the house, entering through gaps between window sashes and other parts of the window housing, such as the sill, jambs, or casing.
Where can I get 100 percent soundproof windows?
You can’t purchase 100 percent soundproof windows; they don’t exist. Noise-reduction windows can block up to 90 to 95 percent of noise.
How do I stop wind whistling through a window?
We can fix it by simply removing the window from its track and then adjusting the roller screws by driving them towards the bottom.
Finally removing the top window stop. Realign the window on the track, reinstall the top plate, and readjust the roller screws.
Can a sliding door to a room be as noise-reducing as a standard door? What is the best material?
Triple Glazing glass panelled sliding windows greatly enhances the sound dampening ability.
What situations require soundproofing?
The basic reason to soundproof a room or a space is to prevent your current activity from getting disturbed.
This could be in situations such as:
In a bedroom to snooze in absolute silence. A good night’s sleep can keep a person more focused and active for the day and revitalise the senses.
At a recording studio where ambient sounds are detrimental to the recording process which could require multiple retakes and order expensive post processing to filter out such noises
In meetings or during a conference where sound bleeding cannot just be a disturbance but a leakage of confidential or privileged information not suitable for any other audience. Also, it can prevent clear passage of sound and cause incorrect information to be registered by the audience.
Personal office spaces and study rooms greatly benefit from sound isolation as much like good night’s sleep it can help to improve and sustain focus on the task at hand and prevent distractions.
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