There are a few themes that may be important to you as you’re considering new windows for any part of your home, and blocking sound is a big one for many people. For those looking for sound muffling or even more comprehensive soundproofing qualities from their windows, there are a few things to be aware of.
At Rocky Mountain Windows & Doors, we’re here to provide clients around Utah with the very best door and window products and services available, from new construction windows to window replacements, window frame services and more. Let’s look into the concept of soundproofing windows – whether full soundproofing is possible, how noise reduction works with windows, and some of the top elements to keep in mind if sound suppression is a priority for your window selection.
Can Windows Be Fully Soundproofed?
At least in a residential setting, the simple answer here is no. While there are several methods that can help reduce noise that makes it through a given window, which we’ll go over further in a minute, full soundproofing is not really possible with traditional windows.
The primary reason for this is that in reality, the window space itself is not the only route for sound to enter a given room. Sounds may also come from above or around the window, and beyond that, sound can come through walls and even other windows.
Now, this doesn’t mean that those who want to reduce or even block certain noises using windows are out of luck. Rather, they just need to understand a couple nuances – which we’ll go over in our subsequent sections.
Noise Measurement Methods
Before we dig specifically into some ways of reducing noise using windows, it’s important to know about the two common ways noise is measured in terms of its ability to penetrate through materials. These are:
- Sound Transmission Class (STC): The STC rating measures the sound pressure level that is blocked by a material, usually through walls or windows. This rating generally considers noises ranging from 125-4000 Hz, which encompasses most common household noise sources. This is the most common metric used for windows.
- Outdoor/Indoor Transmission Class (OITC): Primarily meant for exterior building facades, the OITC rating measures the sound pressure level that is blocked during an outdoor to indoor transition. This rating generally considers noises ranging from 80-5000 Hz, which includes more higher pitched sounds like those of birds or traffic.
Most standard windows with insulation today come with STC ratings in the range of 26 or so, give or take. Our next few sections will look at the specific practices used to block sound within windows, plus what to consider for your new windows if this is a priority for you.
Slowing Sound Wave Transfer
At the core of how soundproofing works, it comes down to the idea of slowing sound wave transfer as much as possible. In other words, blocking those waves before they can enter a given room or space.
This is accomplished in windows through several methods, which we’ll dive into now.
One of the more obvious ways to reduce sound that comes through a window is adding more panes. The more panes in the window, the more insulation that it provides – and ultimately, the less sound is able to get through.
Dual-pane windows are common for blocking sound, but if you’re looking for something even further, consider triple-pane windows or beyond. These offer greater insulation, though they do come with a higher cost.
Another popular method for noise reduction is the use of gas-filled panes. This gas – which is usually argon or krypton between two glass panes – helps to reduce sound transmission as well, though not to the same extent as adding more panes would.
However, you can combine these two methods for greater effect, with dual-pane windows that are gas-filled.
Increasing Air Gaps
Down related lines, you can also look for windows that have larger air gaps between the panes, as this too can help to reduce sound transfer.
These air gaps should be slightly pressurized with a gas like argon, krypton or xenon in order to maximize their insulation qualities.
Consider Mixed Millimeter Glass
A newer concept that’s begun to gain traction in the window industry is using mixed millimeter glass, which involves placing two panes of different thickness side-by-side. This can help to reduce sound penetration even in a single pane window due to how the sound waves travel and bounce back off the differing surfaces.
And when we get into double- or even triple-pane options using this method, you can achieve even greater soundproofing capabilities.
As we’ve referred to a few times here, insulation is a key element to soundproofing. Without proper insulation, you may be able to reduce noise levels somewhat – but it’s unlikely that you’ll achieve the level of sound reduction that you’re looking for.
Make sure any windows you select come with adequate insulation installed – and even further, consider having an expert inspect the window installation before finalizing as well. If done correctly, insulation can do wonders for reducing noise levels.
Finally, it cannot be overstated just how important correct installation is when it comes to soundproofing windows. Make sure whoever installs your new windows has plenty of experience, and ask them about their own installation process. The way the window fits in its frame can make a big difference in terms of how much noise enters through the window.
It’s also important to note that proper insulation and installation are key factors in achieving the desired soundproofing benefits of the window itself. Even if you opt for a top-tier, dual- or triple-pane option with gas filling and mixed millimeter glass, poor insulation or installation could negate any soundproofing capabilities altogether.
At Rocky Mountain Windows & Doors, we’re here to help with any window or door installation need around Utah. Contact us today to learn more about soundproofing windows or any related need!