One of the best ways to tell the quality of a window is by listening how well it blocks outside sound. Can you hear your neighbors next door when they’re mowing their lawn? If it’s a downpour rain, can you hear the sound of the rain hitting your mailbox? Are you sick of hearing passing cars drive by your house?
Does “soundproof” mean it blocks out all incoming noise? There are several kinds of windows that block up to 90–95% of noise, which is what the term “soundproof” applies to. But there are no residential windows that block all incoming sound, all the time.
The STC Scale
Some windows are better at protecting against low frequency sounds (e.g. garbage trucks grinding trash) or high-frequency sounds (e.g. birds chirping). Window manufacturers use a sound transmission class (STC) scale to determine the best kinds of windows for specific frequencies; the higher the number rating the more the window cancels out the sound.
Basic single-pane windows have an average STC rating of 27, and basic dual-pane windows have an average STC rating of 28. For soundproof windows, the STC ratings stretch between 45–55, which block up to 95% of noise.
How Soundproofing Windows Work
When windows reduce sound, it is because there is a barrier between the sound and ear that captures the sound. In homes, this also works with walls, roofs and doors.
As mentioned above, basic single and dual-pane windows have an average STC rating of 27–28, which means the only block about 50% of the sound. In order to increase the STC rating and improve a windows effectiveness at reducing sound, window manufacturers must do a variety of adjustments with windows including:
- Use laminated glass to create a glass-plastic-glass sandwich in the window to reduce noise transmission.
- Add air space to increase the distance between window panes.
- Add mass to the window by making the glass thicker.
Soundproof windows may not be the best option for every residential homeowner. Sound can travel through the gaps in your window frames and seals, through the siding of your house, and the insulation in your walls.
Here are some tricks you can take to reduce the outside noise entering your home:
- Patch holes around your windows.
- Consider getting better siding, such as thick stone or brick block.
- Add more insulation to your exterior walls, and (if you can) your interior walls.
- To mask outside noise, run white noise machines in your home (e.g. air conditioners, ceiling fans, and dehumidifiers).
- Use fabric to absorb noise: hang curtains, place potted plants, lay rugs, and buy fabric-covered furniture.
- Caulk around light fixtures, door casings, and receptacle boxes to reduce sound coming through walls and floors.
Contact Exterior Remodel & Design, Inc., to speak with one of our expert professionals for more information on soundproof windows and how to reduce the outside noise entering your home.