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If you’re wondering if wood is more soundproof than glass, you’ve come to the right place. I’ve done some pretty extensive research to find out the answer to this question, so I thought I’d share what I found out to help you with your soundproofing exploits.
If you want a sound absorber, wood works better than glass since it is porous. But if you need to block sound, glass is a better material due to its high specific mass.
Wood and glass both work for soundproofing. Once you already know the soundproofing characteristics of these materials, the next thing you need to know is how you can use them.
Is Wood More Soundproof Than Glass?
Before anything else, it is important to note that soundproofing is an ambiguous term that encompasses every acoustic solution. It is divided into two major types:
- sound blocking
- sound absorption
Before deciding which is more soundproof, it is important to know what two differences between wood and glass. Once you understand how sound blocking differs from absorption, that is only when you can tell if the wood is more soundproof than glass.
Sound blocking or soundproofing is the process of blocking sound waves from leaving or entering a space. You can do this acoustic solution by using various high-mass materials that can block a wide range of sounds.
To block noises, you have to target the vibrations that are responsible for making sound waves. You can do such by increasing the mass of your wall or by creating a gap for dead air between two separate walls.
When you stop vibrations, you stop them from creating sound waves, making a room free of unwanted noises.
Moreover, glass is a thick material, so it will work well to block sound waves from penetrating a room. So, is wood more soundproof than glass? If you need a noise-blocking material, glass is better than wood.
As the name suggests, sound absorption is the process of absorbing sound waves within a space. Sound absorption or acoustic treatment involves reducing or eliminating reverberation, echo, and amplification. This way, sound-absorbing materials improve the quality of sound within a room instead of preventing sound transmission.
Furthermore, wood is porous in nature. For this reason, it works better in absorbing sound waves instead of blocking them.
Is Wood More Soundproof Than Glass?
With all that’s said, the answer to this question varies. If you aim to block noises from entering a room, the glass will work better for you. It is dense and has a high mass, so there will be less noise to pass through.
On the other hand, wood is more of a sound absorber. It has pores, which absorb sound energy and converts it to heat energy. So, suppose you want to absorb background noises and improve the audio quality of a room. In that case, wood will be the right material.
Acoustic Properties Of Wood
It is crucial to know the difference between sound blocking and sound absorption for you to answer the question, “is wood more soundproof than glass?” The reason is that these two acoustic solutions have different principles. Similarly, wood and glass have different soundproofing capabilities, so you cannot tell which of them is more soundproof without knowing their characteristics.
Wood is a light material that performs well in absorbing sound waves. It is porous in nature and is a good insulator, allowing it to convert sound energy into heat energy.
Moreover, here are the acoustic properties of wood:
Wood is not dense enough to absorb sound waves as is. But since wood has holes, slots and grooves cut into it, it turns into a perforated resonator that works well for sound reduction. That said, enhancing the porous nature of wood allows it to become a better sound absorber.
The holes and grooves allow air to pass through the wood. However, they disrupt the passage of sound waves, creating better sound quality.
Is wood more soundproof than glass? If you need a sound-absorbing material, then wood is more soundproof than glass.
When sound waves hit a smooth and flat surface, they will be reflected straight back. These reflected sound waves can overlap, which creates disturbing ringing and echo.
But since wood has an irregular surface, the sound waves scatter or diffuse, preventing them from producing echoes.
Acoustic Properties of Glass
Glass is a sophisticated material for homes. But what makes it a better addition to your house is its soundproofing capabilities.
Below are the acoustic properties that glass provides:
The best materials to block sound are the limp and massive ones. These characteristics are something that glass has. They block noises from penetrating, which reduces the resonance of sound waves.
That said, if blocking sound waves is your aim, the answer to “is wood more soundproof than glass” is no.
Unlike wood, glass can only absorb sound waves that are near its resonant frequency. This material changes sound energy into vibration energy rather than reflecting it back into the room.
Glass with a plastic material added to it helps in absorbing sound waves. Still, it is important to note that glass works better in sound blocking than sound absorption.
So, is wood more soundproof than glass? If the type of soundproofing that you are talking about is sound absorption, wood is more soundproof than glass. The reason is that glass only absorbs sound waves near its resonant frequency.
Top Soundproof Wood And Glass Materials
There are many different types of soundproofing wood and glass. Both these materials can be used as acoustic solutions. But since there are different types of them, we have dug the internet to bring you some of the best wood and glass materials for your next acoustic project.
Is wood more soundproof than glass? Well, wood is more of a sound absorber than a sound blocker. So, comparing its acoustic properties will not give you the right answer.
Wood has natural acoustic properties. It is also non-resonant, so it does not vibrate and create more sound waves. In addition, it usually has a high density, making it more difficult for sound waves to penetrate.
Here are four of the top wood that works well in soundproofing:
1. Acoustic plywood
This type of wood works best for sound absorption rather than sound blocking due to its low mass and density. But despite having low density and mass, plywood is a very strong material that is not susceptible to water damage. Acoustic plywood has grooves, which distort sound waves and prevent them from bouncing from one surface to another.
For this reason, you can say yes to “is wood more soundproof than glass” if you aim to absorb sound waves.
Cork is the right material for absorbing impact noise as it can inhibit vibration. It is softer than other wood types, making it less prone to reflecting impact sound and causing it to resonate within a room.
Is wood more soundproof than glass? Well, cork is the best soundproof wood. So, if you need a material that can easily absorb sound waves, then wood is indeed more soundproof than glass.
3. Oriented Strand Board
OSB or oriented standard board is made by pressing different wood strands together and adding adhesives to hold them in place. It has similar sound-absorbing capabilities to drywall, making it a good soundproofing material.
Additionally, OSB does not absorb water quickly. However, once water sips into it, it holds moisture for a long time. For this reason, OSB may not be the best material to use in soundproofing walls.
Since OSB is as good as drywall, you can say yes to “is wood more soundproof than glass.”
4. Medium Density Fiberboard
MDF is an engineered wood created by fusing hardwood or softwood fibers with wax and resin binder. Just like OSB, the STC rating of MDF is similar to drywall. The only difference is that MDF has a higher density than the two, making it a good material for sound absorption.
However, it is worth noting that this type of wood is heavy and difficult to work with. Despite that, it has sufficient STC levels, so it will work well in reducing unwanted noise in a room.
Moreover, glass is a high-mass, dense, and solid material, so you can use it for blocking noises. In addition, it is non-porous, so there will be no holes for sound waves to pass through.
If you need to block sound waves from entering a room, then the answer to “is wood more soundproof than glass” is no. The reason is that glass blocks sound instead of absorbing it. For this reason, you cannot compare its acoustic properties to wood to get the answer.
There are also three types of sound-blocking glass:
1. Thick glass
This material has a high amount of mass, making it difficult for noises to penetrate. Such material is usually 1/8 of an inch thick, allowing it to block sound waves. The thicker the glass, the better it will work for blocking unwanted noises from entering a space.
If you ask, “is wood more soundproof than glass,” and you need something that sound waves cannot penetrate, then you will get no answer.
2. Double-paned glass
Glass with air gaps has two layers of glass with a gap in the middle. The gap usually has argon, which allows the material to act as a trap for sound waves. This way, double-paned glass can block most of the unwanted noises from entering a room.
3. Laminated glass
This material is a variation of glass-plastic-glass layering. It offers better noise reduction in comparison to regular glass. The reason is that it has three layers that add strength to it and give it more ability to block sound waves.
Since laminated glass has a plastic layer, it is safe to answer no to “is wood more soundproof than glass” when blocking noises.
Where To Use Soundproof Wood and Glass At Home
A soundproof home is a peaceful haven for many people. It allows them to rest well after a long day without having to tolerate unwanted noises. But suppose your home does not have any acoustic solution. In that case, it is a clear invitation for noise pollution to infiltrate it and disturb your quiet time.
Moreover, wood and glass have their own acoustic properties, so they will be a great addition to your home. As mentioned, there can be different answers to “is wood more soundproof than glass.” The reason is that “soundproofing” is a term that encompasses several meanings.
But regardless of that, both wood and glass still work fantastically well in making your home quieter.
How To Use Wood For Soundproofing Your Home
Cork has natural sound inhibiting properties. For this reason, it can reduce the amount of noise that travels through floors and walls significantly.
Using cork on floors and walls will allow you to prevent the transmission of sound and vibration. So, it can reduce the level of noise produced by impacts on surfaces, such as footfall and falling objects.
Doors are your first defense against unwanted noises. So, the heavier and thicker the wood you use for your door, the better it will work to absorb the sound waves that are trying to get into your home. However, it is important to note that such soundproofing material can be expensive.
How To Use Glass For Blocking Sound From Entering Your Home
One of the most popular types of soundproof glass windows is double-paned glass. It consists of two layers of glasses with a gap in the middle. This gap has air, usually argon, xenon, or krypton, in the middle, which helps the material prevent sound waves from entering.
So, is wood more soundproof than glass? If we are talking about blocking noises, such as double-paned windows, then the quick answer is no.
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- Ted W., Soundproofing Vs Sound Absorbing – What’s The Difference?, https://www.acousticalsurfaces.com/blog/soundproofing/soundproofing-vs-sound-absorbing, accessed October 20, 2021.
- XiaojunYang et.al, Sound Insulation Performance Of Structural Wood Wall Integrated With Wood Plastic Composite, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S2369969820300256, accessed October 20, 2021.
- Lisa Kaplan Gordon, Soundproofing Windows Are A Real Thing. Here’s How They Work, https://www.houselogic.com/remodel/windows-doors-and-floors/soundproof-windows/, accessed October 20, 2021.
- Nick Gromickoand Kenton Shepard, Condensation In Double-Paned Windows, https://www.nachi.org/condensation-double-paned-windows.htm#:~:text=Double%2Dpane%20windows%20have%20a,or%20loss%20through%20the%20window., accessed October 20, 2021.
- Steve Cash, The Benefits Of Cork Flooring, https://www.houselogic.com/remodel/windows-doors-and-floors/soundproof-windows/, accessed October 20, 2021.