Living in a big city has its ups and downs. You have access to practically all basic necessities and services to live a comfortable life.
However, if you have the MISFORTUNE of living beside a busy street (or near the airport), we know of one BIG issue you have with your home: NOISE.
Getting anything done in a noisy household is nearly IMPOSSIBLE.
You can soundproof a whole room, but if you have windows, the glasses are your weak points.
This is where installing soundproof glass can be a PERFECT solution to your noise issues.
How Does a Soundproof Glass Work?
Soundproof glass works by absorbing and dissipating sound waves from outside.
Thanks to the BARRIER created between your home and the outside environment, this prevents most noise from entering your house.
Which Type of Soundproof Glass is Best in Reducing Noise?
Well, it’s not really a type of soundproof glass that you should be looking for. Whenever buying your soundproof glass, you should be looking at the WHOLE SYSTEM that’s working to reduce noise.
The most important thing to note about glass thickness is…
It will depend on the needs of the user. Most soundproof glass installations are custom work because every household has different needs for their soundproof glass window panes.
It depends on various factors, such as the level of noise reduction needed.
When going for thick glass, any sheet of glass (including soundproof glass) will have what we call COINCIDENCE FREQUENCY.
FAST FACT: It is a phenomenon (due to the size and shape of your soundproof glass) that amplifies noise instead of dampening it.
In this case, your sound-PROOF glass is actually a sound-AMPLIFYING glass.
The problem with thick glass is that the lower the glass thickness, the greater the chance of amplifying existing sounds because of coincidence frequency.
To get around this problem, many people use MULTIPLE LAYERS with varying thicknesses. This difference in thickness PREVENTS sound from being amplified.
This is why insulated soundproof glass units, or IGU, are popular materials used in window pane soundproofing.
IGUs are two panes of glass (often of different thickness) between an interlayer of dry air space made up of gas.
Standard Glass vs Laminated Glass
Another thing to consider is: What kind of glass are you going to use? Your standard glass is the typical single-layer glass, which literally means it only contains a single sheet of glass.
On the other hand, laminated glass consists of two sheets of soundproof glass with an interlayer of plastic sandwiched in between.
One of the usual materials used in the plastic layer is polyvinyl butyral (PVB), but other systems can also be used, like:
- Micro-rubber spacers
- Vacuum spacing
Aside from the various benefits such as:
- Fire resistance
- Ultraviolet filtering
Laminated glass is also MORE EFFECTIVE than standard glass in reducing disturbances. This is why they’re also used as soundproof glass.
Just like IGUs, laminated soundproof glass makes it more difficult to transmit sound because of the multiple soundproof glass sheets and PVB interlayer.
Single Pane vs Multiple Panes
Effective soundproofing glass usually works through the use of MULTIPLE PANES.
As mentioned before, adding a vacuum of air space in between two panes of glass helps in reducing noise. As we all know, sound requires a medium to travel.
By using double pane windows with a full vacuum in between, the sound stops on the first layer. The larger the gap, the better the acoustic isolation.
Some soundproof window panes even add secondary glass panes inside despite an existing window outside. The thick air isolates any incoming disturbance.
Summary: The Best Soundproof Glass
If you plan on using soundproof glass, the 3 MOST IMPORTANT factors to get the HIGHEST effectiveness are:
- Choose glass with MULTIPLE LAYERS and varying thicknesses
- Laminated IS BETTER than Standard glass
- Multiple panes provide BETTER acoustic isolation
Benefits of Soundproof Glass
If you’re worried about the cost of quality materials for glass soundproofing, here are some additional benefits (apart from noise reduction) to help you understand the VALUE of what you’re spending on:
Soundproof glass is very durable as compared to standard glass. Since laminated glass usually contains a PVB middle layer, it doesn’t break easily.
On the off chance that this glass does break, the pieces don’t shatter and remain in the middle PVB layer. So, it REDUCES the chances of you incurring injuries from the jagged glass shards.
With the increased durability of soundproof glass, it becomes hard for intruders to step foot in your household.
So, your family is safe from theft or burglary, making soundproof glass a no-brainer from the perspective of security.
Some soundproofing systems can work to insulate your interiors optimally. During the summer, a SPECIALIZED soundproof glass can keep the interiors COOL by reflecting heat from the sun.
During winters, these prevent heat from escaping through them, similar to how greenhouse gases work, if you’re familiar.
Your utility bills will then most likely lower because you will less likely need to use your heating and cooling appliances.
Installing laminated soundproof glass blocks most if not all harmful UV rays and protects you from solar glare.
Additionally, soundproof glass can protect your family’s furnishings like upholstery, carpets, rugs.
Long Term Cost-Cutting
Considering these benefits, you might actually be reducing unforeseen indirect costs that can be associated with NOT soundproofing your home.
The simple act of going soundproof can actually amount to BIG SAVINGS from possible expenses such as:
- Health cost due to long term UV and noise exposure
- Additional energy bills due to less insulation
- Property losses due to burglary and theft
Although soundproofing your household may be heavy on your wallet in the short term, a soundproof space can go a long way in reducing any long-term costs compared to not having soundproof glass.
How Much Does Soundproofing Cost?
Short answer: EXPENSIVE.
The price for a 3′ x 5′ soundproof window can cost upwards of $1,000, including installation. This can even be higher depending on how thick or high quality the glass material is.
And the price just skyrockets by A LOT from here on out based on your needs.
Custom-built soundproofing panes can cost near $10,000 per window EXCLUSIVE of installation.
At that rate, soundproofing all glass windows inside your whole property can put you down by hundreds of thousands of dollars.
You can even spend more on high-performance soundproofing materials if you want to block out rare, deafening disturbances like ambulance sirens and thunder.
This is why it is more common for soundproof applications to be done in specific rooms like theaters or study rooms. The soundproof benefits are greater, and the costs are optimized.
5 Elements of Sound Reduction
So, is your typical glass soundproof?
Your typical glass can’t really do this, so what sets glasses for soundproofing apart? It’s because of the 5 elements of sound reduction.
These 5 things are how noise transmission is reduced. Think of them as the TECHNOLOGY that gives soundproof glass the ability to reduce noises.
Absorption is when a material takes in energy from sound waves. A part of the energy is turned into heat, while another part is transmitted through the surface.
Most materials that absorb noise are porous absorbers. These are materials filled with spaces and gaps, as the name implies.
These materials for soundproofing are often highly EFFECTIVE in the range of medium to high frequencies. On the other hand, they aren’t so effective in lower frequencies.
While absorption works to reduce acoustic energy or sound waves in the air, damping is concerned with the dissipation of acoustic vibration within any type of structure.
So while absorption reduces the overall sound level, damping reduces unwanted sound.
Think of damping as noise-cancelling headphones: it doesn’t prevent sound from leaking through altogether (since you still hear sounds), but it reduces white noise, so you don’t hear any ANNOYING noise in the background.
The goal of decoupling is to reduce vibrations as much as possible between two distinct but connected structures or any other construction in your home.
Decoupling a wall involves the use of either:
- Sound Isolation Clips
- Resilient Isolation Channels
Isolation clips insulate the wall studs as much as possible. These clips are attached to the wall studs and used to help out with screwing into the drywall.
The clips are often made of rubber to ISOLATE the sound between two pieces of construction.
Many consider this to be the most CONSISTENT and most RELIABLE option in soundproofing and reducing vibrations.
Resilient Isolation Channels have been around in the world much LONGER than isolation clips. They work by installing channels PERPENDICULAR to your wall studs to be able to reduce vibrations.
This tool for soundproofing prevents your structure from coming into contact with your studs, SIGNIFICANTLY reducing noise from vibrations.
Although not really applicable in making your glass soundproof, distance is a KEY element in reducing noise and soundproofing.
It is a known fact that sound becomes fainter as you go farther away from the sound source. This PRINCIPLE is what dictates the placement of certain establishments so that less soundproofing is needed.
For example, you will rarely find an airport near a residential area.
They are deliberately placed AWAY from people’s homes so you won’t have to deal with the noise and have to go through the COSTLY process of soundproofing.
This principle isn’t always followed, however. That’s why some homes seriously need PROPER soundproofing due to the high-noise environments they are in.
5. Add Mass
To add mass is pretty straightforward. Having more mass and material means it can absorb more sound energy.
This is why soundproof glass often has very high thicknesses compared to your typical glass.
Alternatively, instead of increasing mass straight up, your glass can also have many layers in place of a single high-thickness layer to further optimize noise reduction.
STC Rating: How Effective EXACTLY Are Soundproofing Materials?
STC Rating, or Sound Transmission Class Rating, is used to determine the effectiveness of soundproofing materials in reducing sound transmission.
So, how is it measured?
STC Rating is measured by the difference in noise levels between rooms separated by soundproofing materials.
Basically, you measure how much sound a wall will block from getting through to the other side.
The STC rating was introduced way back in the early 1960s to compare different types of materials in walls, ceilings, floors, and glass windows in terms of soundproof effectiveness.
How is the STC Rating of a Material Obtained?
Through testing the materials at the most common frequencies, a curve is created. This is then COMPARED to the standard STC rating curves of reference.
When this curve matches an STC rating reference curve, that becomes the STC rating of your material.
For example, if the curve created by one of your surfaces is similar to the standard STC rating-40 curve, your surface will have an STC rating of 40.
Additional STC Information
You CANNOT ADD STC ratings together.
If you have an STC rating of 45 on one wall and decide to add another layer of material with an STC of 25, the STC rating of both walls combined will NOT be 70.
Certain rooms in a home that’s sensitive to disturbances will usually require materials that have 50-80 STC, including home theater walls.
Generally speaking, the higher the STC rating of your materials, the more effective your materials are at blocking sound at the most common frequencies.
Residential Soundproofing: 2 Parts You Should Focus On
Residential soundproofing aims to reduce noise from the outside. Typically, in soundproofing a home, the focus in soundproofing are the windows and doors.
Soundproofing windows are a key component of residential soundproofing. Windows are often a major weak point and often leak noise into your home.
There are various types of methods you can use to soundproof windows or make your glass thicker:
- Curtains – specialized noise-reducing curtains not only help to reduce noise but also give added benefits like better insulation for your existing window.
- Acoustic Sealants – also known as caulk, help with cracks that often pop out around window panes and frames. Applying this is an easy way to make glass soundproof.
- Foam Soundproofing Mats – can dampen sounds a bit, but the degree of noise reduction is not really too obvious.
- Interior sheets – Installing additional acrylic or soundproof glass sheets helps beef up your soundproofing system and make glass thicker.
- External Storm Windows – just like with interior sheets, installing external windows gives you additional layers of protection.
- Blinds and Shutters – specialized soundproof blinds often have a honeycomb-shaped structure, which helps in trapping air for noise reduction.
Lastly, as we’ve said before, the thickness of your soundproof glass is also crucial to prevent sound leakage of soundproof windows.
Double-pane windows achieve somewhat GREATER SOUND DAMPING than single-pane windows when well sealed into the opening of the window frame and wall.
Soundproofing windows is a MUST for homes near busy streets!
READ MORE: How to Soundproof Your Windows at Home
Solid wood doors provide a better sound barrier than hollow ones, so your door itself is often replaced first when it is not up to typical soundproofing standards.
If the the noise is getting unbearable and you want to soundproof your doors further, you can add the following:
- Wooden panel – to absorb even more sound.
- Soundproofing rubber – prevents noise leaks around the sides of your door. Often made out of neoprene.
- Weatherstripping – you can use weatherstripping tape to fill in the gaps between the door and the doorframe.
- Door gasket – an upgrade to weatherstripping, provides a noise seal that lasts longer.
- Add a door sweep – soundproofing door sweeps are perfect for closing the significant gap at the bottom of your door.
- Acoustic panels – acoustic panels are easier to install compared to other options, but they’re not as good for soundproofing. They come in a range of materials, from foam to solid wood.
In the end, if you’re considering soundproofing, it’s best to look at the pros and cons. That way, you don’t end up spending A LOT of money on something you might regret.
For us, though, due to the complex technology and materials involved in the soundproofing of glass, the price to soundproof is definitely reasonable.
You can consider DIY soundproofing for areas that don’t need a lot of soundproofing to reduce costs. Lastly, you should just pick certain areas based on your needs to soundproof for maximum benefit.
So, does soundproof glass work? YES, but you’ll need to install it correctly and complement it with other soundproofing methods.