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How to Soundproof Windows for Noise Reduction

How to Soundproof Windows for Noise Reduction

Discover how sound and acoustic noise cancelling glass work to reduce noise coming through your windows, so you can enjoy a more peaceful home.

How to soundproof windows for noise reduction

How to Soundproof Windows for Noise Reduction

Soundproofing and noise cancelling windows are misleading terms. There is no magic solution to ‘soundproof’ windows that can turn a residential house next to a noisy road, trainline or airport into a silent space.


In fact, ‘soundproof window’ is a false claim – they don’t exist!


Everest noise reduction glass can make a significant difference in the amount of noise coming through a window. But, the glass in a residential window can never block out all noise pollution.


Don’t believe anyone that says you can soundproof a residential house window.


At Everest, we believe in giving you the facts, so you can make the right informed choice.


Keep reading to understand how sound works and how noise reduction windows can make your home much more peaceful.

Everest Noise Reduction Windows with Acoustic Glass

Can reduce external sound by up to 40dB

Levels of noise pollution are rising

The population is growing, traffic is increasing and noise is the most common anti-social complaint to the Police and local authorities.


Shrill voices of children screaming. Yapping dog barking. Incessant pneumatic drilling. The constant drone of road traffic. Booming bass music. Raised voices shouting.


Over three-quarters of the UK population are stressed and harassed by noise and finding a quiet space for respite is becoming a rare thing.


80% of people in the UK report being exposed to noise in their homes.Chartered Institute of Environmental Health 2020.




Noise complaints in England by sector





Noise complaints by sector across local authorities in England by the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. 2020 Noise Survey.



Types of noise pollution

Neighbours

Even in the countryside, houses in isolation are few and far between. It’s just not possible to be out of the hearing range of other people.


According to the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health, noise complaints are rising:


In Greater London, for every 50 people, a complaint about noise is made. Across England, one complaint for every 160 people is made.


Leisure

Pubs, bars, restaurants and shops all contribute to noise issues, usually from music noise or from a crowd of people outside the premises.


Living near a pub can be challenging with people leaving late at night after a few drinks. However, Landlords can lose their license if they ignore noise complaints.


Industrial & Construction

Noise from manufacturing and construction sites have the lowest complaints, but they still impact those who have to suffer the noise.


Living next door to a building site is very disruptive, but thankfully is usually only temporary.


Other types of noise pollution include:


Traffic and road noise

Constant road noise is a considerable current day problem, with it being almost impossible to escape the drone and hum of roads and motorways.


20% of the EU population live in areas where traffic noise levels are harmful to health ... exposure is likely to be underestimated.EEA

Aviation noise

For people who live close to an airport, aviation noise is a big issue causing serious health problems. Many people keep fighting the expansion of airports to try and halt the damage that noise from runways is causing.


Over one million people are exposed to aircraft noise above levels recommended for the protection of health, … while around 600,000 people in the UK are exposed to average aircraft noise levels that risk regular sleep disturbance.House of Commons study

Noise pollution has a significant impact on our health, resulting in:

  • Heart disease and high blood pressure
  • Cognitive impairment in children
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Tinnitus
  • Annoyance and Mental well-being
  • Productivity

How does sound work?

Sound is created when an object makes a vibration which has a frequency that travels through molecules of air, water or any other solid object such as a brick wall, until the ear picks it up. The vibration resonates on the eardrum, which translates the frequency of the sound so that you can interpret and ‘hear’ the distinct noise.


The vibrations look like waves (hence soundwave) with different frequencies having a different length of wave. High pitched sounds have more oscillations looking like a tighter wave and lower frequency sounds look like a longer wave with less oscillation.


A human ear has the ability to perceive a pitch range of between 20 Hz to 20 kHz. But as it deteriorates with age, the average adult can usually detect up to 15–17 kHz, depending on their hearing ability.


The strength of the transmitted waves is called Amplitude, which reflects the intensity and physical pressure of the sound waves. This is measured in decibels (dB).


Two people speaking at home have a level of about 50 decibels.


The increase of decibels is measured using a logarithmic scale and this means that an increase of 10dB is equal to a ten-fold increase of sound. Basically, each 10dB doubles the perceived loudness of noise – 60dB would sound twice as loud as 50dB.


Because high pitched sounds have more oscillations, they are perceived by the eardrum as louder than a lower pitch sound at the same level of Amplitude. This is why noise from children is especially difficult to ignore, compared to an adult speaking, or a small dog yapping compared to the deeper woof of a large dog.


Lower frequency noises also travel farther. This is why you can hear the deep thud of bass from a nightclub from miles away.


A high-pitched female voice speaking outside your house will sound louder than the low-pitch male voice she is speaking to. But, a bass-heavy sound system from a house across the street can have the same perceived loudness as the woman speaking.


Try putting your ear to a wall when there is sound on the other side and you can hear much more clearly. This illustrates how solid objects absorb the vibration of the sound, which is why it amplifies sound if you put your ear to it.


It’s important to understand these differences when considering how you can improve the sound reduction of your windows.

Everest is the only home improvement window company whose windows have been approved by the international Quiet Mark award programme.

Range of everyday sounds

Everyone has their own tolerance of noise levels. What is reasonable for one person may be annoying for another. But, some noises are harmful to health over a sustained period and some can cause permanent damage to eardrums.


Range of everyday sounds


Employers in the UK must provide ear protection for employees at 85 decibels and above.

How does soundproofing work

Now that we understand how noise works, we can better understand how soundproofing works.


The simplest answer to explain how soundproofing works is: soundwaves need to be absorbed by a dense object, or the frequency of the waves be disrupted to reduce or eliminate sound.


When a soundwave hits glass, the glass absorbs the frequency of the wave, begins to vibrate at the same frequency and then transmits that frequency to the other side of the glass.


Some of the frequency is absorbed by the glass and then the soundwave is reduced as it is transmitted through the other side. But, the glass would need to be thicker than a brick wall if it was to absorb all of the frequency vibrations to stop it from being transmitted.


By placing two panes of glass apart from each other, the first pane of glass absorbs some of the soundwave energy and then is reduced considerably more by the second pane. The wider the gap between the panes of glass, the more the soundwave is reduced.


The most efficient way to reduce noise is to disrupt the soundwaves. Using two different thicknesses of glass close together acts to disrupt the frequency, which reduces the oscillation and vibration. Therefore, reducing the level of noise transmitted.


Everest noise reduction windows work by:

  • Thickness of glass.
  • Asymmetric thicknesses of glass to disrupt the soundwaves.
  • Argon gas between the panes.
  • Depth of gap between the panes.
  • Sound dampening laminate between panes.

Noise reducing glass


Sound is much more difficult to contain than light because a soundwave has a longer oscillation than a light wave and the soundwave can diffract around corners to find its way through any small gaps.


If you have a trickle vent in your window, the sound can travel through the vent. If the seals in your double glazing are degrading and gaps are being formed - the sound can travel through those.


The frame construction and the installation of a window are as important as the glass used.


Total silence and absence of external noise can be disorienting. An anechoic chamber of absolute silence is generally an uncomfortable space as the ear would begin to hear phantom noises.

How much can windows reduce noise?

Claims from window companies about how much windows can soundproof a home are often misleading as glass can only reduce noise so much. Be sceptical of any company making claims of ‘soundproofing’.


Panes of glass have different levels of noise reduction dependent on their thickness:

  • 4 mm single pane - 29 dB*
  • 12 mm single pane - 34 dB*

*Pilkington technical bulletin.


Using different thicknesses combined with a PVB laminate fused between the glass will make a combined effect on sound reduction:


So, if a window uses noise reducing glass, realistically, how much can it reduce noise?

  • A standard double glazed window will reduce noise by up to 33dB**
  • A window with noise reducing glass will reduce noise by up to 40db**

**Everest independent testing.


Don’t forget, 10dB difference is relative to halving/doubling the perceived noise level. So, a difference of 7dB is a notable difference in noise reduction.


In the real world, a 40dB reduction of noise means

  • Two people talking outside your window reduces to a whisper
  • Heavy road traffic reduces to a quiet library
  • Construction noise reduces to background music
  • A jet plane taking off from an airport (305 metres) reduces to a restaurant or office.

Noise reducing windows will reduce noise. Noise reducing windows will not make a city centre home completely silent. But, they will make a considerable difference to the quality of your life in your home.


Everest conducted an independent test of our acoustic range of windows with Exova testing in 2018. Our double glazed noise reducing glass achieved a sound reduction (R) rate of up to 40dB.


The unit consisted of a 6mm low-iron pane, 16mm spacer bar, 6.8mm Low-E pane with a laminated coating.


The window units were tested to BS EN ISO 10140-2:2010 Acoustics - The British Standard for Acoustics.


Don’t forget that testing is done in ideal conditions without any other contributing factors. Therefore, we don’t guarantee that you can achieve a difference of 40dB in your new windows. Noise reduction is dependent on other factors.

How to reduce noise coming through windows

Apart from installing noise reduction windows, there are a few alternatives that can reduce noise coming through your windows.


Both of these options work on the basis of applying a form of secondary glazing to your window.


Secondary glazing is one of the most efficient ways to reduce noise levels coming into your home. The wider the distance between your windows and the secondary layer and the more the sound is reduced.


However, the drawback to secondary glazing is the practicality of having it fitted. Not all window frames have enough depth to facilitate the installation. And, the aesthetic of secondary glazing can be off-putting.


Acoustic inserts

This is the more economical way to add a layer of secondary glazing – a pane of acrylic within a frame is made to measure to sit inside your window frame. Inserts are DIY installed.


If you have frames that are not square, it can be difficult to get a perfect fit and inserts can be cheap looking. The acrylic panes are noticeably thin and flexible, which reduces the clarity of the window.


Secondary glazing panels

Made to measure secondary glazing panels are professionally fitted to the inside of window frames. The panes will slide horizontally inside the frame to create a snug fit and seal.


Good quality secondary glazing with a single glass pane can be highly efficient to reduce noise. But some people don’t like the reduction in the depth of your window frame and how it changes the aesthetic of a window.


Watch out for cheaper acrylic-based secondary glazing that does not have the clarity of glass.

How can I soundproof my windows cheaply?

If you want to reduce the noise coming through your windows but don’t want to replace the windows or use secondary glazing, you have a few backup options:


Plant hedges or fence front of the window


If you have a house facing a busy road with garden space at the front, or your house backs onto a train line you can use natural elements to dampen the sound.


Dense shrubs, hedges, thick trees or a high solid fence will all help to reduce the transmission of sound towards your property. So, when the soundwaves hit your windows they are already reduced.


By combining noise reducing windows with the use of hedges and shrubs the nose reduction will be even more enhanced.


Plug all gaps, acoustic caulk and weatherstrips


As mentioned above, sound can diffract around corners and will find its way through any gaps. You can tell that the seals on your windows are starting to fail, because the noise from outside starts to get louder.


It’s not just the edges of the glass that can fail. If your window hasn’t been installed efficiently, there can be small gaps that leak noise.


Use specialist acoustic caulk and fit weatherstrips around the frames to eliminate as many gaps as you can. If the gaps are too big, the only solution is to replace the windows.


Use sound dampening curtains or shutters


Heavy fabric can make a surprising reduction to noise levels. Specialist sound dampening curtains have several layers of fabric - polyester being the best - which creates a dense fabric that can absorb sound vibrations. Sound deadening fabrics also help to absorb sound that bounces around open spaces.


Wooden plantation shutters that are becoming increasingly more popular make a notable difference to warmth and sound. The classic solid wooden style shutter is especially efficient at reducing noise as it’s installing a solid barrier to your windows every evening.


Window film


Noise reducing acoustic glass has a laminate coating on one of the panes of glass that helps to absorb more sound waves as they transmit through the glass.


Window film is an instant DIY fix that can reduce noise by a small amount. However, the film can obscure the window to lose clarity of the glass. And, unless it’s professionally applied, it can cheapen the aesthetic of the window.


All of the options above can help to reduce noise before you install new windows. You can also read how to soundproof a room for more ideas on how to deal with pervasive traffic noise or noisy neighbours.


For the best result, planting hedges outside the window, having noise reducing glazing and installing wooden shutters will make the most difference to reduce noise coming through your windows.

How much do soundproof windows cost?

All window costs are dependent on many factors such as installation, style of frame, size, and finishing, so we don’t offer an off-the-shelf price for the cost of our noise reduction windows.


As a guideline, a noise reducing window can cost from £500 up to £3,200 per window depending on the different options available.


However, the more windows you purchase (and ease of installation) will reduce the cost price per window.


If you are considering installing noise reducing windows then please contact us so we can help you might the right choice for your needs at the most cost-effective solution.

Everest Noise Reduction Windows with Acoustic Glass

Help to make your home a quieter place to be

FAQs

At Everest, we understand that choosing new windows can be a daunting task. So to help you here are some frequently asked questions which you might find useful.

  • +
    How can I make my windows soundproof?

    Soundproofing and noise cancelling windows are misleading terms. In fact, ‘soundproof window’ is a false claim – they don’t exist! Glass in a residential window can never block out the sound of a jet engine during take-off. Don’t believe anyone that tells you that you can soundproof a residential house window.However, specialist noise reduction glass can make a significant difference to the amount of noise coming through a window.

  • +
    What windows are best for soundproofing?
    You can achieve the best soundproofing through a combination of installing noise reducing glazing, planting hedges outside the window and installing wooden shutters or sound dampening curtains.
  • +
    Is acoustic glass better than triple glazing?
    It’s widely considered that triple glazing is better for soundproofing than acoustic glass. But, this is a misconception. The most efficient way to reduce noise is to disrupt the soundwaves by using two different thicknesses of glass close together. Therefore, acoustic noise reducing glass is more effective at reducing noise than standard triple glazing.