As the towns and cities that we reside in continue to develop and grow, so too does the volume of noise that has to be dealt with each and every day. Whether it’s construction sites, horns blaring from automobiles, or the neighbor’s dog barking, these are but a few examples of unwanted noise that are not only irritating but can also have a substantial impact on your health. And this claim is backed by science with recent research showing a direct correlation between noise and stress, subpar quality of sleep, and even cardiovascular disease.
With the rise of disruptive noise in the areas we live in, more and more people are searching for ways and means to deal with and preferably, eliminate these disruptions. At the moment, there are several quick fixes that can be employed to temporarily mask unwanted noise. However, one long-term investment many people should consider to eliminate the noise from their lives is soundproof glass.
But what are these and how different are they from the normal glass that is used for the windows in your house or apartment? More pressing is are they worth it? This handy guide will seek to answer whatever questions you may have regarding soundproof glass.
Table of Contents
- What is Soundproof Glass and How do They Work?
- Why Should You Consider Investing in Soundproof Glass?
- Does the Type of Glass Used in a Window Influence Sound Reduction?
- Laminated vs. Tempered Glass
- Laminated vs. Standard Glass
- Laminated vs. Acoustic Grade Glass
- Preferable Kind of Glass for Sound Reduction
- How to Soundproof a Window?
- The Bottom Line
What is Soundproof Glass and How do They Work?
We’re sure you know by now (or else you would not be reading this article) that the average residential window is not always sufficient in blocking out everyday noise, let alone exceptionally loud sounds like that of a roaring motorcycle or a screeching garbage truck.
Soundproof glass, which is also referred to at times as noise reduction glass, is built in a way that reduces up to 95% of external noise that comes in through a building’s windows.
In order to block out unwanted noise, manufacturers must supplement mass, air space, and laminated glass. To add mass, windows are produced with thick glass. For added air space, the distance between windowpanes is increased, which aids in the reduction of sound and helps augment insulation. Additionally, by using laminated glass, which is made up of a glass-plastic-glass “sandwich,” soundproof windows are made even more effective in taking care of unwanted noise.
These specially crafted glass panes take into account that low-frequency sounds, such as thunder or the thumping bass produced by a passing vehicle’s stereo system, are more difficult to block out compared to high-frequency sounds, such as the chirping of a bird or a baby’s cry. Each variation and brand of soundproof window features an industry rating that indicates its ability to block out noise. A higher number on the sound transmission class scale, or STC, shows a better quality of the soundproof window.
The typical single-pane window has an average STC rating of 27, while a dual pane window averages at 28. In comparison, most soundproof windows just have an STC rating of 45, with several notable performers reaching the mid-50s.
Are They Really Soundproof?
Let’s be clear about this: no residential glass blocks all sound, all the time. “Soundproof” is basically just a phrase coined for noise reduction glass that blocks up to 90% to 95% of the noise that passes through windows.
Sounds with low frequencies, such as that produced by garbage trucks grinding trash, are a lot more difficult to block than sounds with higher frequencies like birds chirping. So when you shop for sound-reducing glass, you should always consider what frequencies you want to soundproof against.
The acoustics industry makes soundproof window shopping easier by rating the sound-stopping quality of windows on a sound transmission class (STC) scale. Basically, the higher the number, the more a window inhibits sound.
Your basic, single-pane glass has an average STC rating of 27; a dual pane glass has an average STC rating of 28. Soundproof windows, however, have STC ratings of at least 45, and some go up to the mid-50s, which block as much as 95% of noise.
Why Should You Consider Investing in Soundproof Glass?
Noise pollution, especially if you live in a highly populated area or a high-occupancy apartment, can cause you a lot of problems if left unchecked.
Sounds like construction, the neighbor’s TV blaring at all times of day or night, children crying or even the common sounds of daily life may encroach into your living space and eventually become a nuisance. You might find your sleep, concentration and conversations interrupted, which as mentioned above, can lead to serious health issues.
Your window is designed to let things into your home — primarily light and air — but unfortunately, it also lets in unwanted sounds even when it is closed shut. Taking steps to soundproof your window with the use of soundproof glass can go a long way toward lessening that annoying noise, which can help you experience more restful nights, reduced stress and more meaningful social interactions.
Does the Type of Glass Used in a Window Influence Sound Reduction?
Windows actually do more than just give you a glimpse of the outside world. Selecting the right glass for your windows is of utmost importance. From the level of glare, you’ll receive all through the day to the sturdiness and durability of your piece, it’s crucial to know the specs and details of your windowpanes before you buy them. One significantly important feature to bear in mind about your windows is the amount of impact sound reduction they make.
A beautiful windowpane is always nice to look at, but a glass window with high acoustical control may be even better. Because many windows lead outside, it’s vital to invest in the best glass for diminishing sound to control the level of noise pollution that gets into your room throughout the day.
Laminated vs. Tempered Glass
No two glasses are ever the same. Laminated glass, for example, is made with soundproofing qualities in mind. If ever you find yourself in a situation that sees your home or business suffering from unwanted vibrations and sounds that penetrate through your windows, laminated glass will give you with the sound deadening properties you need to deal with those. This is because laminated glass is comprised of an extra protective layer of plastic that gives an additional barrier between the two external glass sheets.
Tempered glass, meanwhile, does not offer quite the same soundproofing control. This kind of glass is produced with durability in mind, as the strong and durable external layers give you a resilient glass that can withstand use and force with incredible strength. However, tempered glass does have one serious drawback: it does not offer premium sound reduction performance.
The Difference Between Laminated Glass vs. Standard Glass
Does laminated glass make a substantial acoustic difference? What if you just made use of thicker glass panes in your to better soundproof your windows?
Let’s take a look at why laminated glass is able to dampen more sound waves than standard glass.
Where standard glass is simply made up of a single sheet, laminated glass is two sheets of glass with an interlayer of plastic, usually polyvinyl butyral (PVB) sandwiched in between.
The idea for laminated glass was discovered way back in 1903 by French chemist Edouard Benedictus. When he dropped a glass flask that was wrapped in plastic cellulose nitrate, he noticed the glass shattered but it didn’t break.
Glass engineers have been mastering the art of this “sandwiched glass” for many, many years, giving us the laminated glazing that is widely used today in the building, transportation, and automotive industries.
Not only does this interlayer make the glass much stronger but it also functions as a place to embed other glass technologies to bolster the glass in some way, such as fire resistance, ultraviolet filtering – and sound dampening.
When put to use, a sheet of laminated glass is considerably more effective at stopping sound waves compared to a standard glass of the same size because sound waves have more difficulty passing through the combination of glass sheets and a PVB interlayer. This is why laminated glass is commonly used as a type of soundproof glass.
Even using just a pane of laminated glass within an insulated glass unit will augment the noise blocking benefits by several decibels. Use thicker glass or more air space as well as one sheet of laminated glass, and your double glazed windows will let you sip your cup of morning coffee and read the news in pure silence, no matter how many trucks are rumbling down the street and horns are honking during the am traffic rush.
The Difference Between Laminated vs. Acoustic Grade Glass
A step above the laminated glass is acoustic glass. Rather than having a layer of plastic in between sheets of glass, special acoustic glass windows are comprised of two sheets of glass with an acoustic resin layered in between.
When it comes to acoustic glass, there are various grades. SoundStop for example, one of the leading acoustic windows on the market, features three grades:
- SoundStop CIP – which uses acoustic resin as the interlayer.
- SoundStop PVB – this is a PVB laminated glass which uses an acoustic grade PVB interlayer.
- SoundStop EVA – this is a laminated glass which uses ethylene vinyl acetate (EVA) as the interlayer. EVA has excellent soundproofing properties and it also offers UV filtering.
The difference between each grade of acoustic glass, or even between the laminated glass and acoustic grade, may not be considerable enough to detect. Research shows that a difference of 3 decibels is hardly perceptible by the human ear.
This means that unless there is a large enough difference between one type of acoustic glass and the next, you may not even notice the difference.
How Many Number of Panes Should You Get?
More layers of glass do not equal to better levels of noise management. A lot of credible soundproof experts believe triple pane windows do offer considerably higher degrees of soundproofing quality than double pane windows.
Most times, single or double pane windows are enough to give you proper noise and echo reduction qualities you need. Picking the ideal fit for you depends upon the degree of noise you are looking to block and the resulting type of glass you will need to get the job done right.
Preferable Kind of Glass for Sound Reduction
Laminated windows will often give you the noise reduction levels you need. The best glass and windows for lessening sound are those which feature a composition that keeps sound from traveling internally and externally. Laminated windows give you a level of insulation that hampers noise’s ability to transmit with ease.
Once you get the right window for your home or business, it’s crucial to install your products the right way. Make sure that there are no empty spaces or openings where sound can travel by sealing the area surrounding your windows. Investing in the right window and installing your materials correctly will give you better thermal and sound reduction properties so you can get proper rest while not burning a hole in your wallet.
How to Soundproof a Window?
Let us show you how to soundproof a window without wasting a lot of valuable resources and time to help you make a healthy and perhaps more importantly — quiet home.
1. Completely Block Out the Window
Blocking a window entirely will make sure that you will get sound deadening windows. But before you do, you should first determine whether or not you can in fact, block that window in all its entirety.
Blocking your windows will be fairly easy. However, you must be aware that the moment you do, little or no light seep into the room. In addition, blocking your windows can actually make the place a whole lot warmer during the hot summer season. But if you really must, then the most effective way to go about it is to use insulation panels. You can also cover your windows with a noise-proof blanket although you have to dish out a few more dollars for these.
The concept behind completely blocking your windows is that there should be no space or any gaps at all left. You will have to fit the insulation panels out to exactly fit your window space. Be aware though, that insulation panels don’t really add any style points to your room, but they are the most effective way of blocking out the noise.
2. Use Double-Pane Windows
If you can spare a few more dollars on this soundproofing endeavor, then double-pane windows are something that you should consider installing.
Double pane windows substantially lessen the amount of noise by as much as 60 %! Aside from dampening sound, double pane windows also function well at heat transmission, which means they will keep the room cool during the warm seasons and warmer during the cold season. This will, in fact, make your wallet very happy as it means you will end up saving on energy bills.
3. Place An Extra Layer
If the cost of switching your windows up is just not feasible right now, you can try this option, as it is much more inexpensive. Adding an extra layer of acrylic over your window will reduce the volume of noise that passes through, which results in a more quiet room.
For this, you will first have to set up a metal frame on your current window. Magnets are then utilized to connect the acrylic to the windows. You also have to make sure that you are making an airtight seal. Using acrylic won’t darken your room seeing as it is transparent. However, this method will not work for really loud noises.
4. Set Up Soundproof Curtains
Soundproof curtains are not 100% effective but they will work well in dampening much of the noise that is coming from the outside. Aside from that, they add a certain level of style to your room and are also useful in concealing any foam that you may have used on your windows.
Soundproof curtains work just as well at diminishing the effect of echoes in a room, mainly because of the materials that they are made of, which instantly soak up any sounds inside the room. For optimal results, try getting curtains that will cover your entire window from top to bottom.
Sound deadening curtains can also be used as blackout curtains as they are comprised of thick enough materials that are capable of blocking out sunlight, essentially letting you sleep late or sleep through the day without getting bothered by the rays of light.
5. Use Blinds that are Composed of Thick Materials
Identical to soundproof curtains, blinds will do their part in reducing the effect of echoes in your room. They will also give you an added but minimal layer of sound blocking.
If you are going to use this option, I suggest you use those made of thick materials. However, blinds are not the most ideal method to use simply because there will be still some gaps that sound can easily exploit.
But if you don’t want to completely block out the noise then blinds would be an ideal option to consider as there would be some sunlight that would be allowed to seep through.
Other Sound Solutions
Your windows aren’t the only gateways for noise to get into your home. Sound travels through:
- Gaps in window frames and leaks in window seals. Fix holes around your windows and you’ll definitely hear the difference right away.
- Siding. Thick stone and brick block more sound than vinyl and wood.
- Insulation in interior and exterior walls. More insulation means less sound.
- Chimneys, soffits, attic and dryer vents. All are holes with nothing much to keep sound from entering your house.
Here are more ways you can keep down the volume inside your home.
- Inside quiet is the enemy of noise, which will seem a lot louder in a silent home. To conceal outside noise, use white noise machines like air conditioners, ceiling fans, and dehumidifiers. If outside noise actually bothers your rest, buy one of those sleep machines that play the sound of waves crashing and rain falling.
- Fabric absorbs noise coming into a room. To reduce sound, hang curtains, lay rugs, and buy fabric covered furniture. Potted plants also absorb sound.
- To diminish sound coming through walls and floors, use acoustic caulk around light fixtures, receptacle boxes, and door casings.
The Bottom Line
While soundproof glass cannot reduce the incoming noise to an absolute zero, they can reduce noise in substantial amounts, resulting in excellent sound blocking when STC ratings of 40 and above are achieved. Depending on your current situation, they may very well be an investment that would pay dividends when it comes to your peace and the tranquility inside your living space.
If soundproof windows are just not feasible right now especially if you are working with a tight budget, you can always use the sound dampening recommendations that we talked about above. These will get you the peace of mind and efficiency when it comes to either rest or work.