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Options for Soundproofing Your Windows
When it comes to soundproofing your windows, there really are an abundance of options. Some factors to consider when choosing a window soundproofing method include:
- Difficulty of installation
- Extent to which you can modify your home (do you own or rent?)
Learn More: How to Soundproof Existing Windows
A lot of people consider cost the most important factor, which can be dangerous for your wallet, and end up costing more in the long run. If you always start with the cheapest option, and it doesn’t work, you’ll have to keep buying the next most expensive soundproofing product, plus you’re still stuck with the cheap one.
You should make your choice based on the severity of the sound issue. If the most noise pollution you experience is from the occasional passing car, or from neighbors having a quick conversation outside, you can likely go with a more affordable window soundproofing option. But, if you live on a busy road in a crowded neighborhood, your soundproofing project could cost a few thousand dollars.
The next factors to consider are difficulty of installation and whether you rent or own your home. These these two sort of go hand-in-hand, because if you rent your home, chances are you can’t install a solution that’s going to require some sort of construction. However, if you own your home, then you’re free to get as involved as you need with a window soundproofing solution.
1. Replace Existing Windows with STC Rated Windows
There are a lot more benefits to fully replacing your windows than just the improved sound blocking abilities. Soundproof windows also help to save energy by regulating the temperature in your home by keeping out the hot and cold air. They can also add value to your home should you ever choose to sell your house, and can overall end up paying for themselves in the long run.
So what options do you have for soundproof windows, and how do they actually work?
Most people already have standard, single-pane windows in their house, which aren’t very well-known for their soundproofing abilities. 1/8″ thick, single-pane windows without any glazing or laminate only have an STC rating between 21-27, and you can typically clearly understand normal speech levels for STC’s 20-30.
Soundproof windows, sometimes referred to as hurricane windows or insulating windows, are typically considered any window with 2 or 3 panes of glass, with air gaps in between. The air gap is actually what helps to improve the sound blocking abilities of the window, not just the extra pane or two of glass. Also, increasing the size of the air gap and thickness of the glass will in turn increase the STC of the window.
A standard, double-pane soundproof window using 1/8″ thick glass, and a 1/4″ air gap has an STC rating of 28. Although it doesn’t seem much higher than what you can get with single pane glass, an increase of 3 STC points is actually perceived by the human ear as a 50% reduction in the sound level. Like we said, as you increase the size of the air gap and thickness of the glass, the STC will increase. For example, a double pane window with 1/4″ thick glass and a 1″ air gap will achieve an STC of 37.
The STC rating of a triple pane window also varies based on the thickness of the glass used and the size of the air gap. A triple pane window using 1/4″ thick glass with 1/2″ air gaps between each pane will have an STC rating of 41.
Cost of Installing Soundproof Windows
As we mentioned earlier, one of the main factors people consider when looking into soundproof window options is cost, and soundproof windows can be expensive. There are different factors that can impact the price of soundproof windows:
- Framing Type: Wood or Vinyl
- Number of Panes: 2 or 3
- Gas insulation between panes: Panes can be insulated with Argon gas, but this only provides weather insulation benefits
On average, expect to pay $1,000 to $2,000 per installed soundproof window in your home.
2. Soundproof Window Inserts & Laminates
One of the more affordable alternatives to replacing your windows with soundproof windows, is adding window inserts to your existing windows. These soundproofing window inserts have a silicone frame that you would custom order for your own windows frame, and the clear acrylic layer acts like a 2nd window pane, and provides an air gap for better sound isolation.
Soundproofing window inserts are designed to reduce sound coming in by anywhere between 50%-70%, depending on the type of noise, existing window type, and the soundproof quality of the surrounding wall. Window inserts will reduce about 70% of sound coming though single pane windows, and 50% of sound coming through double-pane windows. It’s also important to note that you need to treat all windows in a room, not just one. Otherwise sound will just make its way in through the untreated windows.
The ability of window treatments to block noise can also be impacted by the quality of soundproofing of the surrounding wall. Most of the time outside noise is coming in through windows, because glass has a much lower STC rating than walls, but if the wall is poorly constructed, sound could still be coming in even after treating your windows.
3. Soundproof Window Covers
Soundproofing window covers such as soundproofing curtains are one of the most affordable soundproof window treatments on the market. Each window cover can cost anywhere between $200-$800, depending on the size of the window and how many you need to treat.
Similar to window inserts, soundproof curtains create a seal around existing windows to reduce the amount of outside noise coming in through the glass. However, unlike the inserts, soundproof curtains are made using a solid yet flexible sound barrier known as mass loaded vinyl, wrapped in cotton canvas fabric. So, when you have your soundproof curtains closed, you won’t be able to enjoy any view out your windows.
Soundproofing curtains hang on the wall around your window, not just within the frame because they wouldn’t be very effective that way. The curtains should hand around the outside of the window recess or frame with some overlap, and comes with a perimeter seal of Velcro or magnet to prevent sound flanking around the curtain.
How to Soundproof Your Windows – Summarized
When looking into different window soundproofing options, it’s important to consider factors such as cost, ease of installation, and whether you rent or own your home. One of the most effective, yet expensive options will be fully replacing your windows with either double or triple pane windows.
If you need to soundproof your windows on a budget, consider looking into acrylic window inserts and soundproofing curtains made with mass loaded vinyl.