How to Find the Best Soundproof Window for your Home
One of the disadvantages to having a window, which offsets the many great advantages they bring, is that the outside sometimes comes in even when it’s closed. Sunlight can leak in when you don’t want it to, glass gets hotter and colder than the surrounding walls, and the view you get may sometimes not be the view you want. Another thing that walls are better at than windows is blocking out sound. There are solutions to all of these problems through specially manufactured windows, including windows that can reduce the presence of sounds so you can keep out the weather and the noise.
What are the Best Sound Proof Windows?
Soundproofing is an attribute of windows that is handled in the manufacturing process. A special material or assembly techniques give windows the unique property of being less sound absorbent. Sound travels through vibrations and glass is a material that tends to vibrate more liberally than things like wood or drywall. Because of this, window manufacturers have found ways to mix and match the best materials with the right ratios to get a clear, nice-looking window that can reduce as much sound as possible. Sound is classified as pollution, just like everything else a good window should shut out, so consider it an environmental benefit to have soundproofed windows for your home.
How to Soundproof Windows?
Soundproof success is measured in the sound transmission class scale, or STC, which is actually a term borrowed from the music industry to test how well sound travels through materials. Working backward, it then stands to reason that material with a very low transmission rating will not allow sound through it. Being “soundproof” means a material blocks over 90 percent of incoming noise in decibels. Glass is normally not very soundproof. In fact, even triple pane windows can only reach as high as 31 on the noise reduction scale with a rating of 50 to be fully silent. What is needed is something other than glass, a special additional material that’s just as transparent but more dense and soundless: plastic.
Laminated Windows – How Do They Block Noise?
Laminated windows are the go-to for soundproof windows. Plastic by nature is unyielding. Some types can bend and twist, but the molecules that make up plastic are extremely uniform and rigid. It’s what makes it hard to break down, it’s so strong at an atomic scale that its molecules stay put when vibration passes into it. This is how plastic can help deaden vibrations and reduce noise. Laminating windows takes more effort than just taking the bottom of a clear plastic container and smooshing it against the glass. The combination has to happen at the atomic level so that the plastic and glass meld to become a whole composite material. This is an expensive process and so laminated windows are often priced appropriately. However, soundproofing is just one benefit. Lamination also protects the glass, making it harder to shatter or break apart as the plastic does not break the same way that glass does.
Does Triple Pane Glass Reduce Noise?
All windows are made of panes. These are the sheets of glass that fit into the frame that you see out of and clean and try hard not to scratch or break. A single-pane window will let in most of the outside forces that windows are there to prevent, including noise. The vibrations from sound will hit the window and then the window will vibrate right back, allowing the noise to transfer straight through, albeit quieter. Double-pane windows mean that the outer layer of glass has to pass noise to the inner layer, and some of it gets reduced as the force is lost between the two panes. Some, but not a lot. Triple pane glass is regarded as high energy efficient, but not so much when it comes to blocking sound. It does reduce noise but not to the level of laminated glass. It mostly depends on the overall level of noise. Urban areas with constant car horns or airports or train tracks nearby will need every bit of help they can get. If you are worried about hearing a lawnmower once a week or people talking on the sidewalk, a double plan should work just fine.
Other Options: Reduce Outside Noise
The glass by itself is just one part of the window which helps keep the elements out. It’s the most important part, and often what most of the price of a window is made up of. But other elements of a window can enhance the soundproof capabilities among other things. Weatherstrips can help create an airtight seal so none of the noise that travels straight through the air can get in. Insulated vinyl frames are filled with foam, an additional layer of solid material that catches and muffles the sounds around it. The metal vibrates easier than things like plastic or rubber, that’s why the best speakers and amps have metal components where the sound is produced, so be sure the window spacers between the panes are something a little softer to keep the noise out. The area around your window may also be causing the noise to leak through. Double-check your seal on the frame, where it’s attached to the wall, and fill in any hollow parts with a proper sealant that will up the energy efficiency and lower the volume of the outside world.
The only sounds you should hear from your window are the sounds you make yourself from the side you’re standing on when you look through it. A window is a portal to view - not hear - the outside world. If you really want to listen to what’s going on beyond your walls, you can always just open the window, and if your soundproofing is good, it will be like turning the world’s speaker on from mute.