Does Plastic Sheet Absorb Sound?

Soundproofing your windows is one of the best ways to enjoy your stay at home without dealing with external noises. But since soundproof glass is prone to breakage, some people prefer plastic sheets as an alternative.

A plastic sheet has soundproofing characteristics. It works excellently for sound dampening and absorption, reducing the sound waves that enter your home. However, it has to be at least 10 millimeters thick to work effectively for sound absorption.

does plastic sheet absorb sound

Needless to say, plastic sheets are great if you want soundproof windows. But it is also essential to know that there are different types of plastic sheets that you can use for your windows.  

Does Plastic Sheet Absorb Sound?

Windows are among the weakest points of home when it comes to soundproofing. While you can opt for glass windows, they can be expensive if you want them to block sound.

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Fortunately, plastic sheet windows can be an efficient and cost-effective solution to stop noise from infiltrating your home.

Plastic sheets are either opaque, semi-transparent, or transparent. It is also shatter-resistant.

Just like glasses, plastic sheets are suitable for soundproofing. The only difference is that a glass blocks sound while a plastic sheet absorbs it.

Moreover, a transparent plastic sheet for windows can be more expensive than single-paned windows. However, single-paned windows work poorly for soundproofing.

If you want windows that block or absorb noises, you will need to go for triple-paned windows, which are more expensive than plastic sheets.

There are three soundproofing principles applied to plastic sheets:

  • Mass
  • Damping
  • Absorption

Mass

Sound waves pass through solid materials by producing vibration. So, the higher the mass of a solid medium is, the harder it is for sound to move. As a result, the amount of sound and vibration decreases.

You can get plastic sheets in different thicknesses. The thicker it is, the better it will be for soundproofing.

Damping

Damping means that you are suppressing resonance — the ringing sound that occurs when you hit a gong with a mallet. Materials like iron, copper, and glass are very resonant due to their solidity.

On the other hand, plastic sheets are not as resonant as glasses because they are slightly softer than the latter.

Additionally, plastic does not ring the same way as glass does. For this reason, it is an excellent choice in terms of sound damping.

Absorption

Absorption happens when a soft medium takes a sound wave’s energy by absorbing it.

While plastic sheets are not very soft, they are somehow flexible. For this reason, they can absorb sound waves, thus preventing too much noise from getting into your home.

Types of Soundproof Plastic Sheets for Windows

There are three types of plastic sheets that homeowners can use to make soundproof windows:

  • Polycarbonate
  • Acrylic
  • PVC

Both polycarbonate and acrylic have adequate transparency and hardness. For this reason, polycarbonate and acrylic are excellent substitutes for glass. On the other hand, PVC is opaque, so home builders use it in place of metal and wood in window frames.

Polycarbonate

The polycarbonate of PC is a group of thermoplastic polymers. Its chemical structure contains carbonate groups, making the material tough and robust.

Additionally, PC is a naturally transparent amorphous plastic. It is also commonly used for products like plastic eyewear, protective gear, and of course, windows. The reason is that polycarbonate is highly resistant to impact, so it does not shatter easily.

Another reason why polycarbonate is a good substitute for soundproof glass windows is that it is transparent yet can reduce glare. Apart from absorbing sound, PC is also a natural UV filter to have added protection from sunlight.

Acrylic

Acrylic plastic is any plastic sheet derived from acrylic compounds, including methacrylic or acrylic acid. It is incredibly transparent and can transmit 92 percent of white light. Such is the same transparency of fine optical glass.

Apart from that, acrylic plastic sheets are six to 17 times more resistant to impact than ordinary glass.

Acrylic plastic also resists variations in humidity and temperature. So, it will not deform when the temperature becomes too hot.

Moreover, this material does not efficiently combust. It will self-ignite at an approximate temperature of 860 degrees Fahrenheit. In an open flame, the heat needs to be at about 560 degrees Fahrenheit before acrylic burns.

PVC

Unlike polycarbonate and acrylic, polyvinyl chloride or PVC comes in different colors. While you cannot use it as a window, it can serve as a frame since it is flexible and rigid. Since PVC possesses high resistance to oxidative reactions, you can expect it to be highly durable.

PVC is an excellent material for window frames since it does not flake, rot, peel, decompose, or rot. It also adds security to your home due to its impact resistance.

In addition, PVC can retain its shape when exposed to average climatic temperatures. Its ignition temperature of 851 degrees Fahrenheit provides you with a window frame that is highly resistant to fire.

Fifty-seven percent of PVC is chlorine derived from salt. So, when it ignites, the chlorine content extinguishes the flames.

Frequently Asked Questions About Plastic Sheets

Are plastic sheet windows good?

Plastic sheet windows offer additional transparency and less glare. It is also shatter-resistant and more robust than glass. For this reason, plastic sheet windows are an excellent glass substitute, especially if you want to soundproof your home.

Can I put screws in plastic sheets?

Yes. However, you first need to drill a small pilot hole where you can start inserting the screw. Then you can gradually grill until you reach the diameter that you desire.

It is worth noting that you should not drill a big size immediately as it can cause the plastic sheet to crack.

Is acrylic glass a type of glass or plastic?

Acrylic is a type of plastic. It is a transparent thermoplastic homopolymer, which serves as a superb alternative to glass windows.

Sources

  1. Build Storm-Resistant Using Plexiglass for Windows that are Affordable, Caan Design, https://www.caandesign.com/build-storm-resistant-using-plexiglass-for-windows-that-are-affordable/
  2. Audrey Lynn, Glass Windows Vs. Plexiglas For Keeping Out The Cold, Hunker, https://hunker.com/13413847/glass-windows-vs-plexiglas-for-keeping-out-the-cold/
  3. What is Damping?, Google Sites, https://sites.google.com/site/dampingresonance1/process/what-is-damping/
  4. Absorption (acoustics), Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Absorption_(acoustics)/
  5. Polycarbonate, Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Polycarbonate/
  6. Characteristics of Acrylic Plastic, Sciencing.Com, https://sciencing.com/characteristics-acrylic-plastic-5431614.html/
  7. Catherine Bowers, Characteristics OF Pvc, Hunker, https://www.hunker.com/12518567/characteristics-of-pvc/