Window Soundproofing

When we first start to think about soundproofing a room, many of us think about the doors, walls, floors, and ceilings but we forget about one of the most important aspects – the windows.

Windows are, believe it or not, one of the most overlooked features of a wall when it comes to sound control. The standard sheet of glass is only 1/16th of an inch thick so it only makes sense to assume that the glass itself cannot properly block sound. The larger your window, the more difficult it will be to soundproof a room because of the amount of space the window takes up on the wall.

It helps to first understand that there are four different types of window. There are double hung windows, sliding windows, casement windows, and ash windows. Double hung and sliding windows are very common in homes, with one piece sliding over the other when the window is open. Casement  windows are usually set on side hinges and open like a door while awning windows are set on top hinges and open out from the bottom.

When considering windows in your soundproofing project, the first thing you need to do is check to make sure that the windows are airtight. Start by checking to make sure they are opening and (more important) closing properly.

The next thing you need to check is the frame. Make sure that all of the gaps in the framework were filled in before the window was installed. In some cases, there are huge gaps left inside the drywall in the area around the window and in many cases these gaps transmit noise.  If the gaps were not finished, fill them with acoustical caulk and then seal the frame around the window with caulk as well.

If all else fails, consider changing the thickness of the glass in your windows. This is your last alternative because increasing the thickness of the glass will only cut the noise coming through your windows by about 50%. In many cases, you’ll find that significant sound control can be obtained by simply checking the construction around the windows themselves.

Glass that is 1/8th of an inch is more effective than 1/16th but in order to get real results you’d have to go as thick as 3/4 of an inch and if you go that thick you’re looking at some very expensive, laminated glass that is difficult to work with.

If you don’t want to replace the glass altogether you might want to consider creating a “double window” – two individual windows set in the same frame and separated by a gap of air. Double windows are, believe it or not, a great sound control mechanism and are easily just as cost effective (if not more) than thicker glass.

Don’t jump the gun when it comes to window soundproofing. Make sure you explore your least expensive and time-consuming avenues before you take action. Your wallet will thank you.

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