Millions of Americans continue to work at home and school children continue distance learning in many districts. As a result people have become more aware of distracting outside noises and the need to soundproof windows.
Any type of distraction can break concentration and make it difficult to focus and return to the task at hand. Noise and productivity do not usually coexist comfortably.
When solutions like wearing earplugs fail to bring much relief, people start feeling desperate for something more sustainable since they can’t always control the noise around them. Soundproofing windows reduces the amount of noise pollution or may even eliminate it altogether.
Below are several suggestions for how to soundproof windows to create a better audio environment for working and studying at home.
Upgrade to High STC Windows
Replacing old windows with dual-pane glass units will reduce some level of sound entering the home from the outside. However, windows and doors with sound-reducing glass much more significantly reduce unwanted noise.
To rate the sound control capabilities of a window, look for the Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating. STC is a measurement of how effectively a building partition reduces airborne sound.
According to Simonton, there is a specific rating threshold to look for when seeking noise control:
“A window with an STC rating of 34 can reduce exterior noise by 43%, bringing many loud outdoor noises down to a comfortable level, which is typically rated at around 60 decibels. A noise reduction of 10 decibels cuts noise levels in half.”– Simonton Windows
Soundproof Windows with Inserts
Window inserts are an especially effective way to deal with heavy noise pollution such as car horns, ambulance sirens, and construction work. Homeowners should install window inserts approximately five inches from the face of the window’s interior.
Once installed, the window inserts should prevent most vibrations of sound from passing through the window. This solution can be more effective than purchasing a new window with double-paned glass. Window inserts already have two glass layers with a plastic layer between them that absorb incoming sound.
Build and Install Window Plugs
Window plugs are a simple do-it-yourself solution that most homeowners should be able to create on their own. This is also one of the more inexpensive ways to soundproof windows at home.
Yet another benefit of window plugs is that homeowners can remove them when not needed. To start the process of creating window plugs, homeowners need to measure the window opening’s depth, height, and width.
The goal is for the window plugs to be taller and wider than the opening of the window to create a tight seal that keeps out noise.
Homeowners should measure twice to ensure they get the depth, height, and width correct. Depth measurement is especially important since it determines the thickness of the window plugs.
The person completing the project should be sure to leave a minimum of one inch between the window glass and foam that makes up the window plug to improve its ability to block sound.
Materials required to build a barrier include a wood board, soundproof mat, and acoustic foam. The homeowner should cut each of these materials to a size wider and taller than the opening of the window.
Next, glue the soundproof mat to the piece of wood and then glue the piece of foam to the mat. If the homeowner desires for the window plug to have handles, he or she can use a screwdriver to place metal drawer pulls on the back of the wood board. The window plug is ready to place in the window once the glue has dried.
Seal and Soundproof Gaps Along Window Seams
Even small gaps between a windowpane and the exterior of a home can let in distracting noise. Fortunately, this issue is easy to fix using a caulking gun with caulking foam made especially for acoustic purposes.
Acoustic caulk reduces noise input while also preventing air leaks to get into the home that can affect the proper operation of an HVAC system. People can still open and close their windows normally with acoustic caulking in place.
If silicone caulk is already on the windowpane, homeowners will need to remove it with a putty knife before applying the acoustic caulking.
To apply the new caulking, homeowners should cut an opening a quarter of an inch thick in the top of the tube and place the tube into the caulking gun.
Next, pull the caulking gun’s trigger to apply a thin line of caulk in the space between the interior wall and interior window frame. The acoustic caulking should bond easily to most types of window frames and building materials such as drywall and wood.
Acoustic caulking is more durable than regular caulking. Therefore it should last several years before the homeowner needs to repeat the process of sealing old windows.
Consider Soundproof Curtains
This can be a good choice for people who experience only minimal distractions from outside noise. It only requires purchasing curtain rods if those are not already in place and a set of fabric curtains.
The thicker the curtains, the greater noise absorption the homeowner can expect. Fabric density and whether the curtains have an inner lining also determine how much sound they absorb. Fabric curtains can’t block noise, only absorb it.
These are five ways to soundproof windows and combat the problem of noise pollution at home. Since the trend of working and learning from home is here to stay for a while, keep these tips handy.