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Loud neighbors. Honking cars. Nearby construction.
The hum of the bustling neighborhood outside — All enough to drive a person bonkers, and if you have single-pane glazed windows, noise intrusion in your home is probably an all too common occurrence.
Nobody wants to have to wear earplugs around the house. Or toss and turn throughout the night with a pillow covering their ears.
If this is you, we can sympathize. But did you know there are ways to soundproof single-pane glazed windows that are simple, cost-effective, AND beneficial for your bottom line?
Let’s dive into these four window soundproofing methods so you can welcome some much-needed and long sought-after peace and quiet.
1. Seal Air Gaps
Before condemning those single-pane glazed windows of yours, check the window frames for cracks, gaps, or holes.
Not only can air leaks contribute to a noisy home, but they may also be why your energy bills are higher than usual, or your home feels uncomfortably warmer or cooler than it should.
How Do You Check for Air Leaks in Your Windows?
What’s a surefire way to check for air leaks? Light a candle and see whether the flame dances around when you place it near your windows. If it does, that is a good indication that airflow is present and coming from your windows.
Do your windows rattle every time a car drives by or a slight breeze passes by? If you’re able to rattle the windows yourself, air leaks within the window frame may be to blame.
Do you have a window with a noisy air conditioning unit? The unit itself may only be half of the problem (but it’s still a good idea to quiet your noisy A/C unit by checking the motor and repositioning it.)
If the A/C isn’t the cause of all the racket, remove the unit from the window and check the frame for surrounding holes or cracks. These air leaks may be wasting away energy and resulting in higher monthly bills.
How Do You Remove Window Air Leaks?
First, remove the trim around your windows. Clean the area and remove old paint and caulk with a putty knife. Before applying caulk, make sure you’ve cleaned up all dust, dirt, and grime. It’s widely recommended to apply specialized acoustic caulk, as it is durable, longer-lasting, and adheres well to drywall and wood.
As you fill the gaps, wipe away excess caulk or sealant with a spatula, trowel, or damp cloth. Allow the product to cure for 30 minutes to an hour before repainting the area and replacing the trim.
What Are the Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Window Inserts?
Sealing off air leaks is a quick and easy DIY fix for soundproofing single-pane glazed windows. Doing so not only reduces noise intrusion but also prevents drafts, conserves more energy, and can help lower your monthly energy bills.
Sealing away holes, gaps, and cracks in the window frame is a great place to start. When supplementing other soundproofing methods, caulking can be all the more beneficial; however, sealing off air leaks may not be enough to completely block out noise in a loud or heavy-traffic neighborhood.
So, what’s the next best solution to soundproofing your single-pane glazed windows?
2. Install a Window Plug or Insert
If gaps or holes in your window frame aren’t to blame, or if sealing air leaks has done nothing to stop the noise, try installing a window plug.
Inexpensive, removable, and easy to build, a window plug can absorb and prevent sound waves from entering your home. A window insert can consist of any object that covers a window and subsequently blocks sound — but some materials are more effective than others.
Which Materials Can Block Sound?
Wood, acoustic foam, and batt insulation (or soundproof mat) are the most commonly used materials for window plugs. They’re also among the cheapest and easiest to install. Together, these materials can make the strongest insert and yield the best (or rather, the quietest) results.
(DIY not your thing? Don’t worry. Pre-made window inserts are available for purchase online and at home improvement shops.)
How Do You Build & Install a Window Plug?
Think of your window insert as something like an open sandwich: the acoustic foam is the slice of bread, the batt insulation or soundproof mat is the mayo or dressing, and the wood sheet is the meat you top it all off with.
Here’s how you can build and install your very own window plug:
- Measure the width and height of your window opening.
- Measure the depth of the cavity between the edge of the frame and the single-pane glaze.
- For a close-fit, measure the plug slightly taller and wider than the wall cavity.
- When measuring the thickness of the insert, be sure to leave at least an inch between it and the glass. (That narrow space of air is a component in the plug’s ability to filter out noise.)
- Cut your acoustic foam, plywood, or batt insulation to the precise measurements.
- Glue the batt insulation or acoustic mat to the piece of wood.
- Glue the insulation to the acoustic foam.
Of course, an open sandwich can be difficult to handle — as can trying to insert a window plug without a handle.
If you plan to build a window plug yourself, we recommend attaching a shell handle to the wood sheet when you’ve completed it, especially if you plan to still utilize your windows and keep them open at different times of the day.
Once the glue on every layer (including the handle) has dried, insert the plug into your window and voila!
Some will argue that window plugs are not aesthetically pleasing and block natural light from entering the home.
While this may be true for the daytime, an insert can be beneficial if you live in an area that experiences heavy light pollution at night. They can also provide thermal insulation.
But what if a window insert still isn’t enough, or you’re also looking to reduce noise intrusion AND your energy bills?
3. Double Glaze Your Windows
Double glazing your windows makes for the best long-term solution to noise pollution, and it is a worthwhile investment if you’re looking to improve your energy-efficiency and save more money each year.
A double-pane glazed window contains two sheets of glass rather than one. And with a three-pane glazed window, there are three sheets. Between each of these panes or sheets of glass, there is a dead air zone that reduces noise travel, blocks air, and provides thermal insulation.
Can Double Glazed Windows Save Money & Energy?
According to ENERGY STAR, homeowners can save between $101 and $585 a year when replacing single-pane glazed windows. They can also save between 1,006–6,205 pounds of CO2, which is the equivalent to up to 300 gallons of gasoline per year.
Depending on where you live in the United States, for example, replacing your single-pane windows can yield higher savings.
If you live somewhere in the world that experiences low temperatures in the winter, double or triple-pane glazed windows can block out noise, reduce condensation, and help you save more money each year. They work by keeping colder air out and warmer air in — and vice versa during the summertime.
What Are the Advantages vs. Disadvantages of Glazed Windows?
Installing double or triple-pane glazed windows is an investment. The windows themselves are costly, and they often require professional installation.
However, for improved energy efficiency, higher savings, and the most effective soundproofing, double and triple-pane glazed windows trump all other methods.
Is It Worth Getting Triple Glazing?
While double-paned glazed windows are becoming more standard in newly constructed homes, triple-pane glazed windows are growing increasingly common.
But when it all boils down to double pane vs. triple pane windows, which is right for you?
If reducing noise intrusion is your primary concern, double-paned windows will suffice. However, if insulation and energy-efficiency are your main priorities, triple-pane glazed windows will go the longest way for your investment, especially if you live in an extreme climate with fluctuating temperatures and intense weather conditions.
Now that we’ve explored three of the biggest methods you can use to soundproof your windows, what else can you do to promote a quieter home atmosphere?
4. Soundproofing Window Accessories
From blinds, shades, window film, and curtains, there’s no shortage of window accessories that can create your desired home environment.
But when it comes to soundproofing single-pane glazed windows, which goes the longer way: Window film or acoustic curtains?
Does Window Film Reduce Noise?
Thin, laminate, easily removable, and very DIY-friendly, window film can insulate a room. Whether it’s summer or winter, window film can help you see a reduction in your monthly energy bills.
Window film alone is not always enough to reduce noise pollution. But soundproof window film specifically can help reduce the sounds of buses, airplanes, and busy street intersections. When paired with the other methods described previously, you can further optimize your living space for peace and quiet.
Do Acoustic Curtains Work?
On their own, acoustic curtains can absorb and reduce noise intrusion in areas with less foot and road traffic. They also work better in unison with double or triple-glazed windows.
If you live on a bustling street or a city neighborhood, however, they may not be enough to block the noise, especially if you’re trying to soundproof single-pane glazed windows.
Though not as effective as window inserts, acoustic curtains are supplemental to them. They are also easy to install and make for an aesthetic alternative that can work with other soundproofing methods (which we’ll dive into next.)
Is It Time to Soundproof Your Windows?
Nothing can dampen the mood more than a wailing siren or a congested city street outside. If it’s time to soundproof the single-pane glazed windows in your home, these four methods can help you instill the peace and quiet you desire once and for all — and then some!
What kinds of noise-related issues are you currently experiencing in your home? Which method will you use to soundproof your windows? Shoot us a quick message and let us know!