how to soundproof windows
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How to Soundproof Windows

Windows are an important part of your home. They allow light and air indoors to brighten and freshen up your space. But they also allow in something you may not want: noise.

Older, single-pane windows can let in quite a bit of sound. If you live in an urban area or on a busy street, this may mean having to deal with loud sirens, idling vehicles and noisy neighbors.

Soundproof windows can help fight back against unwanted sound that disturbs your peace at home. But is it worth it? And how exactly does it work?

Are Noise Reduction Windows Really Worth It?

If you live on a noisy, busy street, you probably know the answer to this question: yes. But even if you don’t think noise is a problem, it may be more detrimental than you think.

In fact, research shows that exposure to prolonged and excessive noise can cause a variety of health issues, including:

  • Stress
  • Poor concentration
  • Poor sleep
  • Cognitive impairment
  • Cardiovascular issues

If you’re working from home, noise can be especially detrimental to your productivity and make it more difficult to stay focused during the day.

Soundproofing is a quick and simple solution to help prevent these unwanted effects.

Your home should be your escape from the hustle and bustle of life. But noise from neighbors, construction work and traffic can also make life a little less peaceful at home.

Can You Soundproof Windows and How Does it Work?

When you hear the word “soundproofing,” you may assume that it means to block sound out completely. It’s impossible to block sound completely from your windows. The term “soundproofing” really just refers to noise reduction.

Noise reduction windows do an excellent job of blocking sound. They can block up to 95% of noise from your windows. And if you don’t have the budget for brand new windows, there’s a more affordable option that works just as well: window inserts.

Soundproofing Options – Replacement Windows and Inserts

If you want to soundproof your windows and reduce noise pollution, you have two main options:

Replacing Your Windows

One way to reduce the noise from your windows is to replace all of the windows in your home. Noise cancelling windows are designed to slow the transfer of sound waves. Sound waves can be absorbed, minimized or reflected, which can reduce their impact.

With windows, sound reduction can be achieved by using thicker glass, adding more panes of glass or optimizing the air space. Many people find that simply installing double-pane windows can reduce noise significantly.

Upgrading your windows does offer some benefits, such as:

  • Better energy efficiency
  • Upgraded look

But there are also many disadvantages to going this route:

  • It’s expensive. Soundproof windows can cost upwards of $1,000 or more per window. Replacement costs can quickly become astronomical.
  • It’s a lot of work. Replacing windows is a big project that will disrupt your daily routine.
  • It’s not ideal for historical homes. If you have an historical home, replacing the windows can disturb its historical integrity.

If your window is beyond repair, it may need to be replaced. At some point, all windows need to be replaced (usually after 20 years). But if your windows are just old and drafty, there is a more affordable alternative: window inserts.

Installing Window Inserts

Window inserts are an alternative to window replacement, and they offer virtually the same level of soundproofing that replacement windows offer.

Window inserts are designed to be inserted into your window frame and sit in front of your existing windows. They create a tight seal around the edges to help block out noise and drafts. They can also be designed to blend in with your existing windows, so you never know they’re there.

Inserts create a layer of air between your existing window and the insert, which reduces and dampens noise significantly.

What to Consider When Soundproofing Your Windows

When soundproofing your windows, there are several things you need to consider. These factors apply whether you’re replacing your windows or installing inserts.

STC Rating

When shopping for soundproof windows or window inserts, the most important thing you want to look at is the STC rating. STC stands for “sound transmission class.” The higher the rating, the better the windows are at blocking sound.

A single-pane window has an STC rating of about 27. Dual pane windows have an STC rating of 28.

Soundproof windows have an even higher rating. Most start at 45 and some are as high as 50.

Window inserts can be just as effective at reducing sound. Indow window inserts, for example, can block out as much as 70% of outside noise when placed over a single-pane window and 50% when placed over a double-pane window.

Sound Frequency

Sound can be high frequency or low frequency.

Low frequency sounds include things like:

  • Garbage trucks
  • Vehicle emissions
  • Industrial machinery
  • Air conditioning units

High frequency sounds include things like:

  • Birds chirping
  • Whistles

Low frequency sounds are the most difficult to block out, but with the right soundproof windows (i.e. those with high STC ratings), you can reduce them significantly.

Sound frequency and the STC rating are two of the most important things to consider when selecting soundproof windows or window inserts.

How Do Soundproofing Window Inserts Work?

Noise cancelling window inserts work by creating a layer of air between your window pane and window inserts. This layer of dead air helps reduce noise, and the tight seal surrounding the insert absorbs some of the sound waves to further block noise.

Some types of inserts can block as much as 70% of noise coming through a window.

Inserts are usually custom measured and slide right into a window pane. They install in minutes, and they create a tight seal to block out sound, improve energy efficiency and eliminate drafts.

One of the biggest advantages to choosing inserts is that they don’t require any permanent modification of the window itself. No renovation work is required, and the inserts can be installed or removed quickly and easily.

The Bottom Line

Yes, it’s possible to soundproof your windows by either installing new soundproof windows or using sound blocking window inserts. Inserts are a more affordable and less invasive method that can offer just as much sound reduction as new windows.

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