My house is just a few meters away from the main road. The extreme traffic and noise buzzing prompted me to find ways to soundproof my windows.
Be it the blaring car stereos, the car horn sounds, or the screeching garbage trucks, I have had my unpleasant experience of living near the main road.
To make my already bad situation worse, four of my windows directly face the main road.
It is a fact that unwanted noise has become a part and parcel of our everyday life. If you are in a similar situation, I can assure you that there are many solutions which you can choose from.
In this article, I share with you some of the best ways of soundproofing your windows. But before we get into that, let’s look at some mind-boggling questions in this regard.
Is sound coming through my windows or walls?
You need to identify the exact point of entry of sound into your home. This is the first part of solving any kind of noise problems.
A lot of research has proven that noise mostly enters houses through windows, and not walls as a lot of people tend to believe.
Many people, out of ignorance, spend a lot of money soundproofing their walls when in fact they should be soundproofing their windows instead.
So it is very important to identify the entry point of noise when you think of soundproofing.
Is it really possible to get rid of this noise?
The constant buzzing of sounds into your house can be maddening.
Imagine the number of sleep hours you have lost, the distraction of speech communication in your home and the adverse impact of excessive sound on the academic work of the kids.
This noise menace, of course, can be eliminated. So, I will say yes. It is possible to reduce the noise coming through your windows to its barest minimum.
Is the process of soundproofing windows that cumbersome?
You will be amazed by just how simple it is to soundproof windows.
With the right materials and conditions, it is pleasantly faster to install soundproof materials than having your entire windows replaced.
Best Ways to Soundproof Windows
It is very important to check the condition of your windows even before you commence the process of soundproofing.
Ensure that your windows are in good shape. If for instance there are cracks in the window, you may have to fix them before soundproofing.
Sometimes it is ideal to replace the pane before soundproofing works commence.
One important ingredient to achieving effective soundproofing is the type of materials used. It is crucial to get the right mix of sound-deadening and sound absorbing materials.
Some of these materials include soundproofing insulations, soundproofing seals, soundproofing curtains and many others.
Option 1: Window Plug
Window plug is one of the easiest methods to soundproof your windows.
Installing the insulation plugs in your window is as easy as ABC. Measure your window dimensions and cut the soundproofing material making sure it is some few inches greater than the length and width of the window.
One inch greater than the length and width is ideal as this would help to eliminate any air gap between the plug and the window pane. You then cozily squeeze it into the window frame.
This will form an airtight fit that will insulate your home and give you relief from the outside noise from neighbors and other undesirable sounds.
Next, you will need to add a backing board for the window plug. The backing board will give support to the plugs and at the same time add mass which is good for sound reduction.
Once the plug is fixed and it produces the desired results, it is prudent to maintain part of it or even all of it in place instead of making it removable.
To do this, you need to fill in the edges and this will also enhance the soundproofing effect. It must be noted that window plugs will block sound but will also block light from entering your home.
Also, covering your beautiful window may take out the aesthetic features of the window. For this reason, some may argue that a window plug is not the best solution for soundproofing windows.
But of course, the comfort and relief that you get from traffic noise and other outside sounds are worth it.
A more detailed way to build a window plug can be found in my article here.
Option 2: Installing Secondary Windows/Secondary Glazing
Call it adding an interior acrylic, this is quite similar to the window plug installation.
However, acrylic is transparent and will let light into the room. Materials like acrylic glass, laminated glass or acoustic glass can be used for secondary glazing.
Double glazing offers the best insulation but the main concern is with the cost involved. Double glazing windows involve fitting the window frames with two panes of glass leaving a spacing of 12mm – 16mm in between.
The space between the frames and panes is sealed to make it airtight. The essence is to block the passage of cold or heat from outside entering the building.
Double glazed windows offer many advantages. They are very effective in reducing noise intrusion from outside. Harsh weather conditions like extremely high or low temperatures do not affect the conditions inside the building.
Dust is also prevented from entering the house and this keeps your household items clean.
Due to the cost involved in double glazing your windows, an alternative exists in secondary glazing. With this technique, a secondary window is constructed inside the existing one.
Aluminum frames, laminated glass or acoustic seals are the materials needed for building the secondary window. Secondary glazing can be done using acrylic or glass.
Acrylic secondary glazing involves fitting your window frame with transparent soundproof glass using magnetic strips. This will reduce sound entering the building but does not work to perfection due to the weight of the material used.
The denser the material the better. The type of material used is one serious setback for the acrylic system due to it being lightweight.
Alternatively, secondary glazing can be done using a thick laminated glass. This is much better for reducing sound dramatically than the lighter acrylic system.
With this system, you can easily open your window by slide opening the sound barrier window first before the existing one.
Option 3: Installing External Storm Windows
Another viable option for soundproofing windows is the use of custom storm windows.
By simply adding another layer, preferably laminated glass to your storm window, you can dampen sound and enhance your window’s insulating properties.
Storm windows can be transformed into soundproof windows by increasing their thickness and properly sealing the frames to make them airtight.
External storm windows offer protection against harsh weather and they create an effective sound barrier between the interior of your home and the exterior. Most storm windows are energy efficient too.
Option 4: Seal any available air gaps
This option is ideal for reducing air-borne sound. As we may have learned, sound waves maintain most of their vibrational energy if they continue to travel unrestricted.
In simple terms, when you are able to stop air-borne sound, you can significantly reduce any unwanted sound in your house.
Following from this, it is essential for you to check your windows for any available air gaps. Air gaps can be filled using acoustic sealant to seal up all cracks and gaps in the window frame.
Acoustic sealant is easy to apply and is available on Amazon. It is mostly used in the building and construction industry for soundproofing surfaces.
Option 5: Use sound blocking window film
With this option, a plastic film is easily installed over a window.
It is very easy to apply and enhances sound reduction. It is particularly effective when an acoustic dampening plastic film is used.
The problem with this option is that it interferes with the aesthetic properties of the window.
Option 6: Install soundproof curtains
Ever gone shopping for curtains and looking for heavy and dense curtains? It may not have occurred to you but heavy and dense curtains give another thick layer for sound reduction albeit with minimal effect.
As you are aware, the key to soundproofing is by adding mass to the surface to increase sound absorption. So when you buy thick and dense curtains, you are indirectly adding a layer of insulation to your windows.
Even though the effect of thick curtains for sound reduction is minimal, there are some custom curtains made for soundproofing purposes. At the least, they offer greater sound reduction properties than the normal window curtains.
There are even more expensive curtains like the acoustics soundproof curtains which can effectively reduce sound. And to get the best out of these expensive curtains, it is good you buy a lengthy one that can be rolled.
They become even thicker when they are rolled and this enables them to block sound and light passing through your windows.
For a more enhanced performance of blackout curtains, you can add window liners or blackout panels to increase their sound dead-deadening properties.
There is one notable setback with the curtains option. Aside from the fact that they produce minimal results in terms of blocking sound, curtains can trap cold air between the back of the curtain and the window.
Over time this cold air can condense and result in the growth of mold. This may cause damage to windows through rotting and lead to further repair expenses.
Benefits of Soundproofing Windows
If you find yourself in a densely populated suburb, the issue of noise pollution can be maddening. Unwanted sounds from vehicles, loud music, noise from construction sites can mess up both your day and night.
As mentioned earlier, windows constitute the basic entry point for noise into your building. By nature, windows are normally designed to let things into your room like light and air.
Unfortunately, sound makes its way into your room through the window.
Making the effort to soundproof your window is the only sure bet for having peaceful and restful days and nights. As a homeowner, the benefits you get from soundproofing your windows are enormous. These benefits are listed below.
- It is estimated that soundproof windows can reduce sound levels by nearly 75% to 95%. Therefore, when you soundproof your windows, you are effectively adding a sound barrier capable of preventing the entry of unwanted elements like sound, dust, excessive cold and heat among others.
- Soundproofing your windows does not only target sound reduction. It insulates your home from harsh weather conditions like extreme cold or heat.
- Soundproofing windows help to keep most of your household stuff like equipment, gadgets, artwork, etc. from excessive exposure to bad weather.
- Soundproofing your windows gives you an extra guarantee to a quiet and peaceful home. Overall it enhances the quality of life. The kids can have a conducive environment for studying, and speech communication is greatly enhanced.
- Soundproofing your windows gives you the needed privacy as your conversations within your home are kept private. There is no interruption of outside noise when you are having your quiet time.
- Soundproofing also gives protection against UV rays from the sun on a sunny day. The laminated glass used for soundproof windows has properties that offer protection against harmful UV rays from outside.
When you conduct an assessment of your building for sources of noise entry and pollution, you would probably find that windows constitute the weakest point for sound/noise invasion of your home.
Designed to let in things from outside, windows have become a major entry point for unwanted sound. This unwanted sound can be a nightmare for your household.
This article discussed some of the best ways to get your windows secured against excessive noise from outside.
Having received a fair knowledge of how sound works and how damaging it can be, you can apply some of these methods at home.
The techniques discussed in the article will work great to reduce sound entry through the windows. However, sound travels through other mediums and as such your soundproofed windows may not be enough to curb in entirety the noise menace.
Subsequent articles will definitely provide a fix for noise entry via other points other than windows.
Thanks for reading! Before you go, take a minute out and check out my top recommendations for soundproofing products.