“Is it possible to ‘soundproof’ my windows?” If you’ve found yourself asking that question, you’re not alone.
Maybe there’s a noisy construction site around the corner. Or you live in a neighborhood with lots of loud dogs. Perhaps you wake up to loud vehicles passing your house in the late hours. Whatever the cause of the disruptive noises outside your home, you’re looking for a way to reduce it.
Much of the sound you’re hearing from outside could be coming through your windows. Run-of-the-mill windows that are common in homes aren’t always the greatest sound insulators, especially if they’re older and aren’t as airtight as they should be.
Thankfully, there are ways you can cut down on the noise and get the acoustical comfort—and the good night sleep—you’re looking for.
Seal Gaps and Leaks
Older windows, and sometimes even new ones, may have air leaks around the edge of the frame on the inside or outside. Even very small gaps can let a lot of sound through. Some caulking around your windows to fill these gaps could go a long way in reducing the noise coming in from the outside. Adding a weatherstrip is another way to seal a gap in your window.
Sometimes a thick window treatment can make a difference. Adding heavy drapes or curtains over your windows will absorb sound and help reduce the level of outside noise coming into your home. They will also absorb some of the sound from inside the house, cutting down or eliminating the echo you hear in an empty room. Of course, closed drapes or curtains give you the added benefit of blocking sunlight and privacy.
A window plug or insert can be a good solution in soundproofing windows, and you can make one yourself. Acoustical insulation, in the form of panels and mats, are readily available on the market. You can cut these to the size of your window opening and attach them to a wood board or foam panel, also cut to size. Put a couple handles on one side so you can easily insert it and remove it when you need it. Make sure to size the plug snuggly in the frame to reduce air gaps around the edges. You don’t need to push the plug all the way up against the glass.
For a more permanent, long-term solution, we recommend looking into acoustical glazing for your windows. Acoustical glazing refers to a glass system that reduces sound transmission at a much higher level than a typical window. There are three standard ways a glass unit in a window can be designed and manufactured to reduce sound transmission:
- Thicker glass.
- Wider air gap between glass panes in a double- or triple-paned window.
- An interlayer between glass panes.
In terms of acoustical glazing, the last one (interlayer) has gotten a lot of attention in recent years. Interlayers are used in laminated glass, which you can learn more about here. Laminated glass consists of two pieces of glass sandwiched together with a plastic interlayer in between. It is used in many applications, a major one being windows in hurricane-prone regions. But laminated glass is being used increasingly in areas that require sound reduction, such as new buildings near airports or in busy metropolitan areas, because the properties of the interlayer allow the glass to absorb sound.
Acoustical glazing with laminated glass gives you get everything you want out of your window—the natural daylight and views—while also reducing noise. This is why we suggest you inquire about an acoustical glazing window replacement if you’re looking for a long-term solution.
Of course, this type of product is not cheap, and maybe a full-on replacement of the windows and openings in your house is not in your budget. You not only have to consider the cost of the higher-performing windows, but also the work that needs to be done to replace the windows you have. These acoustical units may be heavier and/or in different widths. This could require additional support around the windows that your old ones didn’t require.
Another option is to have acoustical windows fitted into your existing window frames. You can do this without actually replacing your windows, as it just adds an additional layer to your existing one. It may be less expensive to go this route depending on your situation. Some companies offer acoustic-grade window inserts that consumers can easily install. These are relatively affordable compared to a full replacement.
But if you’re not looking to make a major investment for the above solutions, don’t worry, there are still a number of other cost-effective and/or do-it-yourself resolutions that can help you reduce sound going through your windows.
If you’re looking for a quick temporary fix and aren’t concerned about the appearance, you can hang heavy moving blankets or rugs over the window.
There are plenty of ways to “soundproof” your windows, whether it’s using readily available products on the market or do-it-yourself solutions. You can combine many of the methods we’ve discussed above to maximize the effectiveness. It’s also important to note that these solutions can be used to reduce the transfer of sound from inside to outside, as well. This is ideal when you’re playing loud instruments inside a house, for example.