What are the best windows for noise reduction?

Woman enjoying quiet windows

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Our homes should be peaceful retreats from the hectic outside world. We can shut the door against the elements and close the curtains on light, but when it comes to insulating yourself from unwanted noise, it’s not always such a simple fix.

For those who live in busy cities, near railway lines or air traffic, noise pollution is no longer simply an irritation; it can have a significant impact on your quality of life.

As a high proportion of the noise we hear enters through our windows, replacing them could be the ideal solution to your problems.

How can windows reduce noise pollution?

As glass panes are rigid structures they are ideal for conducting sound waves. For this reason, a single pane of glass in your windows will do very little (if anything) to stop unwanted sounds from entering your home. In fact, even double glazing won’t make a significant impact. While it’s not possible to completely soundproof your home, you can make a real improvement by installing windows with ‘sound proofing qualities’.

To have a real noise reducing impact a window needs to have a combination of 2 or more of the following factors:

  • Thickness: Generally, the thicker the glass, the less noise you will hear
  • Laminated layers: A layer of, for example, PVB (polyvinyl butral) between the sheets of glass can reduce noise pollution without affecting the clarity of the glass
  • Space between the panes: The greater the gap between sheets of glass the better the protection. It’s also possible to add heavy gases like argon in the gap which will reduce noise even further.

So, simply replacing windows with newer versions will not do the trick. If you’re in the market for noise reducing windows, you will more than likely come across three main options:

  • Secondary Glazing, i.e. adding a secondary sheet of glass. This is the lowest cost option but not effective for significant noise problems.
  • Noise Reduction Glass has been manufactured with qualities to prevent noise pollution.
  • Noise Reduction Windows include the noise reduction glass but the frames and seals and general structure of the windows have been designed with noise reduction in mind.

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Measuring Noise Reduction

To get a sense of how effective a window is at noise reduction, you need to look at the Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating given to it. This rating will tell you how much sound can travel through the window. The ratings relate to decibels and refers to the average level of noise stopped at 18 different frequencies.

STC Ratings Guide

On average, a window can have an STC rating of anything from 18 to 38.

  • Single pane: 26-28
  • Double pane: 26-32
  • Soundproofed single pane: 48-54
  • Soundproofed double pane: 48-54

To give you an indication of this in real life terms, the STC rating needs to be 40 or above to make a significant improvement to a noise problem. For this reason, while replacing single pane windows with double glazing may improve a mild noise problem, it will not make an impact for homes with severe noise pollution.

Important Note! The STC rating for the glass does not necessarily reflect the STC rating of the window. Some manufacturers will display the STC of the glass to make the product appear more effective than it actually is. We recommend that you ask for clarification from any supplier to be sure the whole window will provide enough protection.

How much difference will a sound proof window make?

Replacing your existing windows with higher quality single or double pane glass can help to reduce some of the noise transmission, but this usually will not exceed a 20-50% reduction. For homes suffering from a significant noise problem this will not be enough to make a noticeable difference.

According to acoustic experts, to actually notice a significant improvement the minimum reduction needs to be at least 75%. Some specialist windows like the ones used in recording studios can deliver noise reduction up to 95% but these aren’t always suitable for residential properties.

In addition, because of the extra technology that’s involved soundproofed windows are generally tougher in their construction making them more secure.

How much do soundproofed windows cost?

As a rough guide you can expect to pay between £300 – £1,200 for soundproof windows excluding installation. However, as with most home improvement projects, costs are hard to estimate without a professional assessment of your home. The cost of replacing some or all of the windows in your home with soundproof glass will depend on several variables:

  • Style of window
  • Number of windows
  • Type of glass used
  • Size of windows / frames
  • Cost of installation

Windows Guide can provide you with up to 3 quotes from installers in your area. These professional installers have all passed our strict screening process to ensure they meet our high standards including industry accreditations and customer recommendations. Complete our simple enquiry form today and we will be in touch in a matter of hours to confirm your details and find you the best quotes for your replacement windows. There’s no fee for using our service and no obligation to use any of the quotes you receive.

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