Do you like to play your music loud but are worried about the potential disturbance it might create for your neighbors? Are you tired of getting awoken each morning by the sound of construction crews, industrial blowers, trash trucks and other outside noise? If so, you may want to take some steps to soundproof your windows.
When you are looking to soundproof a window, either to keep noise from escaping the room in the question or to prevent the outside noise from entering, there are many methods at your disposal—methods that can be used alone or in conjunction with one another for best results.
To help you choose the right method or methods for your particular situation, in the following article we have listed several steps you can take to soundproof a window, with a brief explanation of each strategy.
Strategies for Soundproofing a Window
The following methods can all help to block out some or all of the outside noise while keeping the inside racket indoors where it belongs. Some of these methods will have greater results than others, which means in some cases you will have to use multiple strategies in conjunction with each other to get the full soundproofing effect.
Completely Block the Window
The absolute best way to soundproof a window is to block that window entirely, although this can be a difficult decision to make depending on the room in which the window in question is located. Completely blocking out a window will indeed dampen the noise in both directions, but it will also completely block the light from entering the room—the very light for which the window was constructed in the first place. For this very reason, this is probably not the most viable option for windows within the main area of your home, unless you are also trying to block out the light intentionally and permanently—like you might for a home theater.
There are many ways to seal up a window entirely, but the best way is to place a layer of soundproof insulation in the window frame, making sure the insulation gets into every nook and cranny of the frame. This, strategy, however, is not very aesthetically pleasing, so you may want to tack up a full-size painting or photo over the window to hide the insulation.
Another way to entirely block out a window is to use a fiberglass soundproof blanket, but this is also not very aesthetically ideal.
Take Care of the Air Gaps in Your Window
Almost every window has air gaps, some larger than others, and in order to block out unwanted noise or prevent it from escaping you will definitely need to fill those air gaps. This strategy is dually important due to a little thing called vibration. When there are air gaps to the top, bottom or the sides of the window, however small they may be; the noise from inside and outside the room can cause those windows to rattle, creating even more noise with which to cope. This rattling can destroy your sound if you are a musician or mixer, and can make your home theater feel like a noisy airport.
In order to fill the air gaps in your window, your best bet is to use soundproofing or sound dampening strips—rubberized strips that seal the gaps and prevent the window from vibrating within its casing. For really small gaps you can also use weather stripping and even sound-proof caulking or foam.
The added benefit of filling the air gaps in your window will be seen on your next heating or air conditioning bill, as these changes will make the room in which you are doing the soundproofing very energy efficient.
Sound Dampening Curtains or Blinds
Although sound dampening curtains cannot completely block out the noise from within or outside the room, it can “dampen” the sound enough so that the decibels coming in or going out are measurably reduced. Sound dampening curtains offer an affordable and, best of all, a temporary solution to your sound problem. When closed, these curtains can block out unwanted noise (and light), but when opened you can enjoy the sunshine and take advantage of the light.
Adding sound dampening curtains to a window will increase that window’s sound absorption rate. Because of this, the sound energy has a difficult time passing through the curtains and into—or outside of—the window.
The science behind sound dampening curtains is fairly easy and straightforward. Because these curtains tend to be very heavy and made from sound-dampening materials, the mass they offer to the window surface helps to reduce the effect of energy on the window itself.
Soundproofing curtains also have the benefit of blocking out unwanted light, which makes them ideal for people who work an overnight shift and sleep during the day. They are also the perfect solution for home theaters, allowing users to sound/light dampen the room during the movie, and then return the room to normal just by drawing the curtains to the open position.
If curtains are not your cup of tea, or if they do not match the interior décor of your home, you can always opt for sound dampening blinds instead. Another temporary solution, these blinds, when engaged, act as a sound barrier, absorbing sound waves so that fewer of them have a chance to come indoors or escape to the outside. Like curtains, sound dampening blinds are available in a variety of colors and styles to match your furnishings.
Window foam is another amazing soundproofing tool that helps to dampen the indoor and outdoor noise. This foam-like material comes in the shape of an adhesive mat and can be custom-fit to place on any size window. Like many of the solutions we have listed, window sound dampening foam has dual benefits for the room you are looking to soundproof.
First, thanks to its powerful soundproofing properties, the foam mat will work to absorb the sound waves, just like the sound dampening curtains but only better. We say better, because in this case the soundproofing solution is adhered directly to the window surface with no gaps that can cause unwanted vibrations. Second, the window sound dampening foam can also give the room a true “black-out” effect, again making them perfect for home theaters and sleeping during the daylight hours when noise is prevalent.
The sticky base or backside of window foam mats remain that way no matter how long they are used. Thus, this is another easy and very temporary soundproofing technique: Just place the foam mats over all of the affected windows when you want sound and light protection, and remove and store them when they are not needed.
If you want to still get in sunlight, then sheets of bubble wrap in the window is a decent option that I’ve personally used in my rental home. You get the benefits of natural light (and not pissing off the neighbors or the HOA with something unsightly in the window) without it needing to be permanent or expensive to implement.
Double-Pane the Inside Window
Unlike some of the other techniques we have mentioned, putting an extra pane into the interior side of the window is a permanent technique, albeit a very effective one. There are a couple of ways you can do this. Of course, you could go out and purchase a double-paned window and replace the single pane window you currently possess. This is the most expensive way to handle this process, but it is also the most effective. Purchasing a double-paned window can help to greatly reduce the noise output and input and save you hundreds if not thousands of dollars a year on your energy costs.
If you do not want to go to the expense of replacing your current window, you could just purchase an extra window pane made of glass or acrylic materials. You will also need the correct hardware, including a metal frame in which to encase the window and all the installation and mounting hardware. If this is a garage or barn window—one in which aesthetic appeal is not very important—you can also use a high-quality acrylic glue to add the extra pane.
Studies show that an extra pane of glass or acrylic in your window can reduce unwanted noise output and input by 50-75 percent.
Add a Storm Window
In the same way adding an extra pane to the interior helps to block out unwanted noise, so too will adding a storm window to the outside of the windows in your home. Many houses in colder climates are already equipped with storm windows, but if you need to purchase one or more of these the installation is actually pretty quick and easy. There are, today, many removable storm windows on the market—storm windows that can be put up and removed with the changing of the seasons. Thus, this gives you another temporary soundproofing solution that just may prevent the entering and escaping of noise by up to 75 percent.
Add Window Inserts
Last but not least are window inserts. Also called “window plugs” window inserts are like a frame that fits inside a frame. They are designed to be placed within the interior sill of your window frame, and are manufactured in such a way that they help to fill any air gaps and de-couple any spots where the window comes into contact with the wall surface, thus reducing vibration and improving sound quality within the room.