One of the most challenging areas of a room to soundproof is the window. I’ve tried both soundproof curtains and soundproof blinds, but have long wondered which is better. Well, I did a bit of research to find out.
So, soundproof curtains or blinds: what works better? Generally, soundproof curtains work better than soundproof blinds because they’re thicker and have more mass. Also, soundproof curtains are bigger and so work better because they cover a much larger surface area, which makes it harder for sound waves to penetrate.
While soundproof curtains and blinds generally work to treat acoustics rather than block sound, they can still be useful in almost all soundproofing projects.
In this article I look at whether soundproof curtains or blinds work better, along with the reasons why they’ll help in your soundproofing project.
Which works better, soundproof curtains or blinds?
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Last year, I wrote a guide on soundproof curtains which included how to choose one. Here, I’m trying to update the information and include blinds that I had not covered earlier.
Soundproof curtains or soundproof blinds are 2 terms that are thrown around a lot, and generally don’t actually refer to truly soundproof products. Curtains, for example, are usually just heavy drapes rather than being made from soundproof material.
Realistically, there are very few products on their own that are soundproof, and fabric generally isn’t one of them, regardless of how thick it is. For properly soundproof materials you’d have to look at things like a thick concrete wall, or something like mass loaded vinyl (link to Amazon).
Soundproof curtains and blinds are usually made from several layers of thick and heavy material, which is great when it comes to acoustic management.
One of the easiest ways to reduce noise pollution is by using mass, and this is true of curtains and blinds to an extent. The main issue is that there’s just not enough mass to make much of a difference.
That said, soundproof curtains and blinds are still really useful in a soundproof project. They’re very effective at reducing echo and reverberation of sound waves, so it will offer a big improvement to the audio quality in your room.
This will also have some effect on the amount of noise that comes in through the window. Soundproof curtains and blinds will help to deaden the noise to some extent, so make the room appear quieter, but they’re technically not blocking it.
One of the most effective options for soundproof blinds is cellular shades, which are also known as honeycomb blinds. These are made from tubes of hexagonal fabric that look like a honeycomb, and this traps air in the blind. While they’re mainly designed to insulate heat, many of the same principles work for sound insulation too.
However, cellular shades still aren’t massively effective at sound insulation, although some manufacturers claim to reduce noise pollution by up to 50%. As I mentioned earlier, windows are easily one of the hardest areas in a room to soundproof, and if you’re serious about it then you’ll need to find a more effective option.
But don’t fully discount soundproof blinds or curtains for your project. If I were to choose between the 2, I’d recommend soundproof curtains because these are usually heavier. This makes them pretty effective at treating acoustics in the room, but I’d try something else if you’re looking to truly soundproof your window.
How to choose the best soundproof curtains or blinds
The main thing you should look out for when choosing your soundproof curtains (link to Amazon) or blinds is the fact that many are just normal curtains or blinds. “Soundproof” is an easy label to apply to any thick curtains or blinds, and many brands haven’t even tested the noise transfer reduction levels of their products.
If you’re looking for a soundproof curtain, I’d recommend buying from somewhere with a good returns policy. It’s best to judge the quality of the material in person before making your purchase, simply because there are things to look out for.
The curtain’s fabric should be thick, tightly woven, and therefore should be pretty dense. This is also true of soundproof blinds, but they’re more likely to be insulated with another material. Soundproof curtains, however, will probably be several layers of thick fabric.
Here are my other top tips for choosing the right soundproof curtains:
- Make sure the soundproof curtains are at least several inches longer and wider than the window, if not floor-to-ceiling length.
- This is because you want to cover at least the whole window while having plenty of extra fabric to create a good “seal” around the window. This will reduce noise escaping through the curtain.
- If you can afford it, buy 2 sets per window. This might seem obvious, but it’s a really easy way to add extra mass to the window.
- Use ceiling mount brackets instead of wall brackets for your curtains. Doing so will make them come much closer to the ceiling, which will block out more sound.
Choosing the right soundproof blinds is a bit different. This is mainly because they work slightly differently, and will usually be thinner. Your first starting point should be to look for cellular shades or insulated blinds, as these will be the most effective starting point.
Consider following these other tips too:
- Insulated blinds are a great starting point and usually come in the form of roller blinds. These can easily be mounted on the ceiling.
- They usually have several layers of fabric, including thermal insulation. All of this adds more mass to the window.
- Your best starting points for soundproof blinds are thermal insulation blinds or blackout blinds.
- It’s harder to find effective soundproof blinds, so pay attention to consumer reviews on websites, as these will be your best source of information for effective blinds.
The other thing I’d consider, either for soundproof blinds or curtains, is to make your own. Obviously you’ll have to be handy with a needle and thread, but it’s easy to upgrade existing curtains by adding more material. This also means you can be intelligent in your choices and can use dense materials.
However, regardless of whether you choose soundproof curtains or blinds, it’s worth remembering that neither are 100% effective. I’d always choose curtains over blinds though, as I find you can do much more with them.
Is it still worth using soundproof curtains in a soundproofing project?
Although neither soundproof curtains nor blinds are soundproof a room, they’re still very useful for a soundproofing project. This is particularly true of something like a home theater or recording studio, as you’ll still want to manage the acoustics of the room.
Soundproof curtains and blinds are most effective at reducing reverberation and echo, thereby deadening sound. The dense and heavy fabric of the soundproof curtains helps to absorb sound, which is true for both sides of the curtain.
So, even though they don’t technically soundproof, heavy curtains are reasonably effective at reducing the amount of noise pollution that comes through the window. However, I find they’re particularly useful because they’re very effective at treating acoustics within the room.
In fact, in previous soundproofing projects, I’ve used soundproof curtains to cover doors and walls for the same reason. Hanging them in front of a door is pretty good for reducing noise pollution, although it’ll still never be truly soundproof.
Although I don’t find soundproof curtains to be the best option for soundproofing a window, they’re definitely helpful to have in your soundproof room. One of the most effective places to use them in the room is covering a door, as soundproof curtains are generally very long, so they should have little difficulty covering a door.
The main thing you’ll have to work out here is how to hang the curtain over the door. Again, I’d recommend using ceiling-mounted brackets, although a curtain rail can be easier for opening and closing. Go with the option that’s most practical for you, which will largely depend on the door you’re trying to cover.
Curtains and heavy drapes help to reduce reverberation not only because they’re dense, but also because of their shape. This is because they don’t really have any flat surfaces, so it’s much harder for the sound waves to bounce off them.
The best way to think about it is to imagine you’re playing music in your bathroom. The sound is all tinny and unclear, and this is because the sound waves easily echo of the flat walls, and the usual lack of soft furnishings in a bathroom makes this much easier.
Now imagine listening to that same music in a bedroom, or ideally in a closet. In the closet, the music will be much quieter, but also much easier to hear. This is because the clothes help to absorb and deaden the sound waves, which is exactly what curtains do.
However, as I’ve mentioned, curtains aren’t usually heavy enough to effectively block sound. You’d need very thick curtains to actually soundproof a window, so they’re more useful as acoustic treatment. If you’re looking to soundproof a window, you’ll have to try something a bit more drastic.
Some final tips for soundproof curtains or blinds
I’ve listed the points above on how to choose the best soundproof curtains or blinds, but there are plenty of other things to consider alongside the curtains. For example, there are other measures you can take that’ll help reduce overall noise pollution.
Just remember, though, that the only way to truly soundproof a window is either to remove it or build a specialist window made with soundproof glass and an air cavity. Both of these are pretty expensive options though.
Instead, try and work on trying several things to reduce noise pollution, one of which should be to use soundproof curtains or blinds. Consider these other tips to help make the job much more effective.
- I’d recommend replacing any old curtain rails with new ones for your soundproof curtains. Not only is this because they’ll probably be much heavier, but there are better ways of hanging curtains for soundproofing.
- As I mentioned above, the best way to hang them is from the ceiling. This is also true of soundproof blinds, which will generally be roller blinds.
- However, if you’re going to use a curtain rail, use a wrap-around one. This will be the most effective option for filling in any gaps around the window.
- Consider fitting your curtains onto grommets if they’re not already. These will be much better at supporting the weight of heavy soundproof curtains.
- Vibration isn’t a massive issue with curtains, but filling any holes with acoustic caulk is a really easy way to completely cut out the problem. If nothing else, this should stop the curtains rattling on the rail because of low bass frequencies.
- Because soundproof curtains and blinds are usually pretty heavy, I’d recommend having a second pair of hands around during installation.
- Budget is always an important factor in any soundproofing project. Before setting your budget, do a quick search on Amazon to see general prices.
- If you’ve got the money, consider choosing a professional soundproofing brand. If not, do plenty of shopping around to find the best deal on soundproof curtains or blinds.
- However, don’t blow too much of your budget on curtains, as they’re not the most effective thing in the world.
- If you’re on a tight budget for your whole project, consider making your own curtains. It’ll be much cheaper to find a few sets of heavy curtains second hand than to buy new soundproof curtains.
- Consider spending slightly less on soundproof curtains or blinds and use the money to try some of the other soundproofing solutions listed below. You’ll probably find it much more effective to diversify your options instead.
- If you’re looking for an effective soundproofing option for recording studios, I’d recommend looking at professional acoustic treatment options. These, of course, will be much more expensive.
- The color of your curtains or blinds might not be the biggest thing on your mind, and I’d recommend keeping it that way.
- By entering into the soundproof curtains market, you’ll automatically reduce your options for colors.
- Therefore, I’d recommend sticking to a neutral color or making your own. This should give you much more flexibility over color and style.
- Of course, color has no impact on soundproofing effectiveness, so I wouldn’t put too much thought into it.
- The best materials to use are things like velvet or suede, as these are pretty heavy materials on their own. Combine this with a couple of backing layers, and you’ll have pretty thick curtains.
- It’s becoming more and more common to find cordless or snap-cord blinds, and these options are finding their way into the soundproof blind market too.
- Go for one of these options if you have children or pets in the home, as this massively reduces the risk of injury.
- Most soundproof blinds are also blackout, so consider coupling with a Venetian blind if you still want to let light in. However, just bear in mind that you won’t be able to have light in the room and a soundproof window at the same time.
- Soundproof blinds won’t ever really be as effective as soundproof curtains. If you want to use blinds, I’d always consider using a set of soundproof curtains on the same window.
Other soundproofing options
- Try fitting weather stripping around your window, which is actually designed for heat insulation. But, as we know, many of the same principles apply to soundproofing.
- Installing weather stripping around the window will help to control the amount of noise that actually comes in, which is more effective than trying to block it with a curtain.
- The most effective option for soundproofing a window is to make a removable window box. This blocks up the window and can be filled with dense soundproof materials.
- However, this isn’t the most practical option and does also completely block out light coming into the room. That said, it can be a helpful option for home theaters or recording studios.
- Don’t underestimate the amount of noise that can seep in through small gaps around the window. This is probably a bigger source of noise pollution than you might think.
- Aside from weather stripping, another good option is acoustic caulk, such as Green Glue. Unlike normal sealant, this is elastic, and so deadens sound waves through its lack of vibration.
- Whatever type of soundproof curtains or blinds you choose to buy, I’d recommend trying to block noise pollution at the source too. The more you can block out, the less you have to rely on a set of curtains to do all the work.
When it comes to what works better, soundproof curtains or blinds, my answer would be curtains. This is simply because they’re thicker, heavier, and much easier to cover a window with. However, it’s worth remembering that neither option will truly soundproof a window.
So, along with your soundproof curtains, I’d recommend trying a number of other soundproofing solutions. It’s almost impossible to truly soundproof a window, though, so just bear in mind that you’ll always be left with some level of noise pollution.
Thanks for reading! Also, check out my recommended products for soundproofing.