Soundproofing for Windows: A Comprehensive Guide
Noise pollution is an extremely concerning issue that we face in our daily lives. Be it noise from traffic from the street below, or construction work in your surrounding areas, or a dog barking day and night, or even noisy kids or adults. Thus, this article “Soundproofing for Windows” will provide helpful insights in reduce Noise Pollution.
Furthermore, the above mentioned noise pollutants are extremely hard to escape from in our everyday lives and the main source of the culprit filtering through our home or work spaces are our beloved windows; things we cannot do without.
However, there are various effective methods with the help of which we can soundproof these windows and let less sound filter into our spaces, giving us a peaceful and calmer environment.
We will guide you through the various ways by which we can soundproof our windows and also discuss their advantages and disadvantages. In addition, we have also listed out tips and tricks that will help you in achieving the maximum and best results and also details on materials and products available in the market.
Why Soundproofing for Windows is so Important
Firstly, Sound is an energy form that travels through vibrations that create sound waves. These waves can be transported through mediums such as air, water, etc. Moreover, Noise pollution through air is the most common and can give us a lot of unwanted stress, disturbances and also hurt us physically and psychologically.
The easiest way for sounds to travel into our homes and offices (through air) is through doors, windows, etc. Windows make for the weakest points in buildings for the purpose of sound insulations and even the smallest of gaps or cracks can allow the noise to flow in easily.
Therefore, it is extremely crucial to soundproof our windows so as to reduce the filtration of noise pollution into our spaces.
How does Soundproofing for Windows Work
Sound waves are created by vibrations; vibrations that can be caused by anything such as human voice, the strum of a guitar or the keys of a piano. These waves travel by means of air, water, etc., and when they reach our ears, they transverse into sounds.
Basically, Sound is measured through decibels (dB) and the range a human ear can bear is from 0dB (silence) to 120dB (painful). Soundproofing can be obtained by ways of either blocking sounds or sound absorption. Thus, to block these waves, we need to create a physical barrier to stop them from passing through.
These barriers need to be airtight for us to be able to achieve the optimal level of soundproofing. The effectiveness or levels of sound absorption are measured through NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient), that ranges between 0 to 1 (no absorption to complete absorption).
Blocking or absorption, both techniques can be used when you are looking at “Soundproofing for windows”. If you want to block out the sounds, you can use products like double pane windows that act as a physical barrier and block out all sounds.
While for absorption, you can use acoustic blinds or curtains that absorb the sound waves and help reducing the transmission of noise and sound.
Factors one must Consider - Soundproofing for Windows
There are several factors one must consider before finalizing on the kind of soundproofing for windows. For you to achieve the best possible results, we have listed some of the factors that needs to be considered:
1. Noise Type: The first and most important factor to consider while deciding on soundproofing is the type of noise. Different noises require different kinds of treatments – living near a busy street and do not want the noise to disturb you? Or a conference room or a wedding venue where you do not want the sound to travel out? Both require different materials and treatments.
2. STC or Sound Transmission Class Rating: This is a rating term used to measure the ability of a material to block sounds. The effectiveness of the materials ability to block sound waves depends on the higher the STC rating is. Depending on the sounds you need to block out, check the STC rating of materials to be installed and if they are compatible with your requirements.
3. Budget: Soundproofing for windows is expensive, be it a window, a door or even your full room or house. It is extremely important to determine the budget for the kind of soundproofing you require before falling into action. There are also several DIY projects and options available in the market that are much more cost effective. Or there are also materials such as soundproof curtains or even sealing any cracks or gaps to make the space airtight and hence soundproof. All these factors can be determined on the level of soundproofing you require.
4. Aesthetics of your space: Soundproofing materials are generally bulky and eat up a lot of space in your room; and can sometimes even look unsightly. It is essential to consider the impact it will have on the aesthetics of your room before finalizing on the materials.
In recent times, there are also several panels and panes designed to match the décor of your room or which can be painted or covered in fabric, but they generally tend to be slightly more expensive.
5. Society or Builder rules and regulations: There are several builders or societies that do not allow alterations to the structure or even disturbances to the outer elevation of the building. Some materials may cause a hinderance and hence it is important to cross check with the builder or society before starting on any projects.
All these factors can help you determine the level of soundproofing that is required and also the perfect materials to solve the crisis you have been facing. Whether you are aiming to block external sounds from filtering in or sounds from inside flowing out, soundproofing windows can give you the calm and peaceful atmosphere you require for a healthy living.
Options Available - Soundproofing for Windows
There are various options available when it comes to soundproofing for windows. However, all of which come with their own set of advantages and disadvantages. Here are some of the common treatments or options:
1. Acoustic Curtains: These curtains are extremely heavy drapes, absorb sound to reduce the free flow of sound. They are extremely easy to install, budget friendly and come in various colours, sizes and finishes. They are typically made of fiberglass or fabric that is densely layered.
The layering is done as per the level of sound absorption required. These are the perfect tools for blocking out mid-frequency sounds but are incapable of blocking out high frequency noises. Maintenance is another aspect to consider as these acquire dirt easily and need a regular does of cleaning.
2. Window Inserts: These are also known as secondary glazing and are typically an additional layer of acrylic or glass installed over your existing window frame (typically on the inside of the frame). They are installed in a way to create an air gap between both the layers and that helps in blocking out or absorbing the sound waves.
These window inserts are highly effective and work well with both low and high frequencies. Also, they are energy efficient and do not hinder the décor of your room. However, these window inserts are slightly more expensive and definitely need experts to install them.
3. Weatherstripping: Silicone, adhesive tape, foam, etc., are used to seal and fill all the cracks and gaps around the frame of the window. These are cost effective methods for not only reducing the noise but also provide energy efficiency and prevents drafts.
The drawback here is that they require regular maintenance and may need to be replaced frequently and are also not effective with high frequency sounds.
4. Double Pane Windows: Insulated Glass Units (IGU) or Double Paned Windows are typically two glass panes that have an air gap in between or can also be insulated glass. These windows are energy efficient and effective in noise reduction.
They also add an addition safety barrier for your home or office as these windows are extremely strong. These windows are customizable and are available in several materials to match your requirements – such as wood, vinyl or even aluminum.
The drawback to these windows is that they tend to be on the slightly expensive side and also require you to hire a professional to install.
5. Soundproof Shades and Blinds: The soundproof shades and blinds, similar to curtains, are made with dense fabrics or even sometimes PVR or honeycomb cells and are used to absorb or block noises or sound waves.
Again, these are also available in several, colors, styles and materials that can offer you a variety to choose from and to match your existing décor. These are easy to install but the drawbacks here are that the are not effective in blocking out low frequency sounds and may also cut out ventilation and natural light from filtering into your space.
DIY Tips - Soundproofing for Windows
DIY projects are for those who are on a budget or find it entertaining to create things they require. Here are some of the tips and tricks for when you want to DIY soundproofing your windows:
1. Sealing gaps and cracks: Silicone, foam or even adhesive tape can help you seal any gaps or cracks that you have in your windows or frame. These are effective options and easy to DIY.
2. Draft Stoppers: Draft stoppers, also known as door snakes, are installed at the bottom of a window to prevent noise filtration. These are also extremely easy to DIY.
3. Hanging Blankets or Heavy Curtains: Sound absorbing, heavy blankets or curtains installed over windows absorb noise and stop them from filtering in. They effectively reduce noise pollution and also are easy to install.
Professional Services - Soundproofing for Windows
For more permanent and effective soundproofing solutions, it is best to hire a professional who can suggest you and also install the best products that can give you maximum efficiency.
Professional services include adding drywall layers, installing acoustic or soundproofing panels or even soundproofing your entire room, hall or even the whole building. They are highly recommended and effective options and taking professional is one of the best options.
Conclusion: Soundproofing for Windows
To conclude, we can safely say that soundproofing of windows is effective in reducing the sound waves and is an effective solution. There are several factors you need to consider to decide on the materials, costs, etc., to be able to achieve the best results that you require.
Soundproofing windows helps a great deal in noise reduction and absorption and in giving you a more peaceful and stress-free lifestyle. Choose wisely!
Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Soundproofing for Windows
1. Do soundproofing windows eliminate noise completely?
The answer is no. They do not completely eliminate noise but give you a significant reduction. The level of reduction depends on several factors such as what the noise is generated from, its frequency and intensity, the materials used for soundproofing and also the methods used for installation.
2. Cost of soundproofing windows?
Again, the cost depends on the kinds of materials you used and if you DIY or hire professional services. Silicone, adhesive tapes are the cheapest options while curtains, blinds work in the mid-range. Insulated glass or other materials that require professional help can be a bit more expensive.
3. Soundproofing for windows affect the aesthetics?
The answer is maybe. It depends on the materials you choose. Most materials can be discrete and not hinder the appearance aspect of things. But some options such as double pane windows or window inserts can look a bit gaudy at times and also effect natural light and ventilation in your space.
4. Does Soundproofing windows help in increasing energy efficiency?
Yes, of course. Most of the sound proofing materials help in increasing energy efficiency as they reduce the filtration of heat into your homes – materials such as dark curtains and blinds.
5. Can you DIY (Do It Yourself)?
The answer again is Yes. You can DIY as there are several options such as adhesive tape, silicones, curtains, etc., that can be installed without professional help. But for materials such as double paned windows and similar, they are highly impossible to self-install. You need to hire professional help to do these for you.
6. Can you soundproof windows of your rental property without any major damages:
Yes, you can soundproof windows of your rental property. But do make sure you consult your owner or landlord once before taking any drastic decisions. Some owners may not be very flexible to the idea but most of the materials do not largely hinder into the actual outlook or cause any major damages or irreversible damages.
7. How long can it take to soundproof windows?
That completely depends on the kinds of materials you use. Silicone, Gasket tapes and Curtains can be installed within a few minutes, if not an hour or so. Whereas, for Double pane Windows, you may need professional help and it usually take up a few days for preparing and installing the window.
8. What are the maintenance requirements?
Again, this also depends on the kind of material you use. Some are easier and do not require much maintenance such as Double pane windows. Whereas, soundproof curtains may require require mild to high frequent maintenance.
9. How do you check the efficiency of the soundproofing?
There are methods and tools to check that for you. You can do a before and after test to get the exact accuracy and levels of reduction. You can use tools like Sound level meters or mobile applications like Sound meter which is available on Android and iOS.