What You Should Know About Soundproof Windows
Soundproof windows can be a real lifesaver in areas with a lot of noise such as in apartments above restaurants, bars, or nightclubs, near construction sites, near freeways and highways, and on main streets. Good soundproof windows can help you as a renter or homeowner to sleep peacefully at night.
If you’re a landlord or homeowner in a noisy neighborhood, you need to know about soundproof windows.
What are Soundproof Windows?
Soundproof windows are windows that can prevent up to 95% of the outside sound from getting into your house. These windows block different sounds based on their frequencies. High-frequency sounds such as police sirens and car alarms are easier to block than the low-frequency ones such as the rumbling of a train.
Are Windows Really Soundproof?
No residential window can block all sounds every time. The term “soundproof” is a short form of noise reduction windows that can reduce 90 to 95 percent of the noise accessing your house through the windows.
When shopping for windows, you need to determine what sound frequencies you want to protect yourself against. The acoustics industry has made shopping for soundproof windows easier by rating the sound prevention characteristics of a window using a scale known as sound transmission class (STC). A higher number shows that the window has a greater ability to inhibit sound.
Traditional single-pane windows have an average STC rating of 26; dual pane windows have an average STC rating of 28. However, soundproof windows have a minimum STC rating of 45, and some have STC ratings in the mid-50s, and this can reduce up to 95 percent of the outside noise.
How Soundproof Windows Work
To block sound, you must form a barrier between the source of the sound and the ear that perceives the sound. Homes do that with the roof, walls, and windows that prevent sound waves from entering.
To increase a window’s STC rating and enhance its ability to block sound, a window manufacturer must:
- Increase the distance between the window panes (add air space)
- Make the glass thicker (add mass)
- Use laminated glass, a glass that is made of a sheet of plastic sandwiched between two sheets of glass that hampers noise transmission.
The wooden frames of soundproof windows are also designed to bar vibrations from traveling through the wood and into the house since they are cut against the frame’s grain.
Soundproof Windows and Your Home’s Resale Value
If you live in a noisy area, installing soundproof windows may help increase the resale value of your home. Particularly, if your home is located in a prime area that’s noisy such as a renowned part of the city with lots of restaurants, these windows will help you enjoy the benefits of your neighborhood without the adverse effects of the noise.
Soundproof Windows and Energy Efficiency
You’d think soundproof windows are also energy-efficient, but you’d be wrong. These are different physics at play. Energy-efficient windows solely depend upon gas and low-e coatings between the thermal panes to decrease heat transfer and enhance energy efficiency.
Soundproof windows mainly use laminated and thicker glass and large air gaps between window panes to block the sound.
You can easily make your soundproof windows energy-efficient by incorporating low-e coatings. However, you can’t make an energy-efficient window soundproof without changing its construction and glass.
Do You Need Soundproof Windows?
Maybe not. Probably the annoying sound is coming through attic vents or down your chimney. Otherwise, maybe the leaks around your windows are allowing noise together with cold air into the house. Thus, talk to an acoustics consultant before throwing money at your sound problems.
For about $1,000, a consultant will measure the level and type of noise you want to block and suggest the best way to prevent the sound. You might discover that all you need is a $2 tube of caulk placed around your windows. So, if you’ll spend around $20,000 on windows, why not get some expert advice for $1000?
Other Solutions for Sound Problems
Your windows are not the only gateways for noise getting into your house. Sound travels through many channels such as:
- Siding: Thick bricks and stones block more sound than wood and vinyl.
- Chimneys, dryer vents, attic, and soffits: All these are just holes with nothing much to prevent sound from getting into your house.
- Insulation in exterior and interior walls: The greater the insulation, the lesser the sound.
- Leaks in window sills and gaps in window frames: Seal the holes around your windows and you’ll notice the sound is diminished.
More Ways to Reduce the Sound in Your Home
To mask outside noise, run machines that produce white noise, such as dehumidifiers, ceiling fans, and air conditioners. If outside noises disturb your sleep, buy a sleep machine that can play the sound of rain falling and waves crashing.
To reduce the sound coming through the floors and walls, add caulking around door casings, receptacle boxes, and light fixtures. Fabrics are known to absorb noise coming into a room. To diminish sound, buy fabric-covered furniture, lay rugs, and hang curtains. Potted plants are also known to absorb sound.
Installing soundproof windows in your house will improve your general health and the quality of life, and will also increase the value of your home. Remember, before opting for expensive windows, consult a window expert and acoustics professional to get advice on how best to reduce the noise in your home.