“Only the ones that have faced loud city music can relish the quietness of a suburban home.” When the ruckus of city traffic, with its blaring sirens and loud horns, gets through your doorstep, soundproofing is the only option to bring peace and comfort to your home.
With the reinforced walls and false ceilings of your home, windows are the last thing stepping between you and a peaceful home. Replacing weatherstripping tape and hanging acoustic curtains can bridge those noise leaks, but you can’t find true peace unless you upgrade to better-quality windows.
Despite a recent breakthrough in home soundproofing, acoustic windows have captured an audience. But their exorbitant price tags prevent them from going mainstream. Learn why soundproof glass is expensive. Are soundproof windows worth the hype?
Soundproof glass windows are more expensive than ordinary windows, with an average price of $620. Whereas the high-end versions, such as triple-paned laminated windows, can cost up to $1200 per fixture. Since soundproof windows cannot eliminate noise completely, many consider them too expensive. But people who crave a peaceful space find soundproof windows a worthy investment.
Soundproof Glass – All You Need to Know
Noise is a growing problem, and modern architecture does very little to address that. Unlike traditional architecture, modern-day buildings are catered more toward functionality and aesthetics without much attention to acoustics.
While you can stuff the walls and ceiling with insulation padding, the glass windows remain a weaker link when soundproofing indoor spaces. To reduce unwanted noise from outside, you need a more effective barrier than standard glass windows.
Typical glass vibrates or ripples when sound waves pass through. While the thicker glass panels help muffle sound waves, some noise still travels through due to the coincidence frequency – amplification of sound as it passes through a surface.
Besides the thick glass panels, soundproof windows instate an additional air barrier between your home and the external environment. The sound waves that transmit through the glass panel are dampened by the dead space between the two glass panels, preventing them from reaching your indoors.
Soundproof glass manufacturers devise ways to increase the glass’s sound transmission class (STC) rating to improve the level of soundproofing. The most widely employed techniques are:
Increasing the glass thickness – Adding more mass to the glass will eventually improve its noise-dampening effect. Thick glass panels make it difficult for sound waves to pass through, as a result, reducing their intensity.
Introducing an extra barrier between window panes – Since soundwaves cause vibrations as they travel past glass panels, instating a barrier of air between the two panes can dampen those vibrations. Thus, limiting the propagation of sound.
Glass lamination – Sticking a thin layer of plastic or vinyl on the glass panel also helps mitigate noise. The added mass from the lamination repels or restricts the propagation of sound waves.
Soundproof Windows – Do They Really Work?
Even though most soundproof windows are marketed as impenetrable against noise, the reality is far different. Despite the technological advancements, we are yet to manufacture a soundproof glass that eliminates noise completely. But why?
Well, sound has different frequencies and wavelengths. Since high-frequency sound waves, like the traffic hum or blaring sirens, have a shorter wavelength, they are easier to block.
Low-frequency sound waves, on the other hand, have a longer wavelength which makes them more likely to transmit through a standard glass barrier. Nevertheless, properly treated soundproof windows can effectively block up to 95% of the noise.
To figure out whether a window is capable of soundproofing noise, observe its STC rating. Glasses with a higher STC rating are more effective in blocking noise than those with a lower rating.
To give you an overview, a standard single-pane window has an STC rating of 27, whereas a soundproof window exhibits an STC rating between 48 – 54. Windows with an STC rating of 50+ can soundproof up to 95% outside noise.
How Much Do Soundproof Windows Cost?
Let’s get it out of the way; soundproof windows do not come cheap. Whether you are thinking of renovating your office to create a soundproof workspace or want to quieten your bedroom with soundproof windows, make sure you set out a sizeable sum.
A standard 3-foot-by-5-foot window usually costs between $600 – $1000 if you go for finer options. However, for a designer house with huge windows, the prices would be even higher.
Custom-built windows might cost you around $1000 per fixture, excluding the installation bill – although they are not that tricky to install. If you’re considering double- or triple-paned soundproof windows for your home renovation, be ready to spend generously.
Types of Soundproof Windows
Unlike regular glass, soundproof glass is more challenging and costly to produce. Not to mention the time it takes to perfect a particular piece, acoustic windows are bound to be expensive. The cost varies depending on the quality of the glass and the number of window panes. Let’s give you a little ballpark figure for each window type:
In the genre of soundproof windows, double-pane windows are considered the most economical. While offering an STC rating of 45+, they help keep your indoors noise-free and peaceful.
The double-pane windows cost $390, while the high-end custom setups cost above $850, averaging $620. Before you start devising the budget, some other factors also influence the price of these windows.
Generally, double-pane windows with an aluminum body are the least expensive, while vinyl and fiberglass categories usually fall in the middle when it comes to price. Soundproof windows rounded in wooden frames are the most expensive of the lot, priced at around $900.
An upgrade from the dual-pane fixtures, triple-pane widows are better at blocking noise, with their STC rating reaching above 50. While the extra layer of glass maximizes soundproofing, it adds 10% – 15% to the price as well.
Generally, the cost of triple-pane windows ranges somewhere between $550 and $1,085 (constituting the most high-end versions). Though their average price sets at $820, going for the custom-built option will bring up the cost.
Laminated windows are the epitome of what technology has achieved so far in terms of soundproofing. Unlike double- and triple-paned windows that feature dead space between glass panels, laminated windows are infused with polyvinyl butyral (PVB).
This plastic-like material absorbs sound waves that penetrate the glass panels at two stages (in the case of triple-paned windows), eliminating more than 95% of noise directed their way.
With the thicker glass panels and injected PVB layer, laminated windows are perhaps the most difficult to manufacture and hence, their exorbitant cost. An average double-pane laminated window costs around $1000, but if you’re eyeing triple-pane fixtures, the price might touch the $1500 mark.
Are Soundproof Windows Worth the Price?
While many consider them too expensive, people who crave a peaceful space find soundproof windows a worthy investment. However, regardless of how much money you are investing, set realistic expectations.
Although they can turn loud clamoring noises into silent, audible hums, soundproof windows cannot eliminate the noise completely. Not to mention, only the most high-end versions priced above $1000 are capable of buffering up to 95% noise. So, if you think installing soundproof windows will make your house noise-free and peaceful, do some more research.
Cheaper Ways to Soundproof a Window
Even though soundproof windows are the most practical solution to counter outside noise, their prices are no joke. As someone who’s living on a tighter budget, fret not!
We have shared some cheaper methods to soundproof a window. They might not be effective as acoustic windows, but they can reduce the external loudness to a more bearable and possibly pleasant sound.
It involves cladding the glass panels with acoustic window retrofits, forming an additional layer to your already installed window panes. Apart from being a cheaper substitute for soundproof windows, secondary glazing retrofits come in beautiful patterns that make your window appear eye-catching. The best part is that you don’t need to hire a professional to mount them on; a quick tutorial on youtube will teach you enough.
Like secondary glazing, roller shutters serve as an additional layer of protection outside your window. Besides the external barricade, the shutters also create an air barrier against the window, forming a better noise blocker. While it’s a cheaper solution than secondary glazing, you will have to sacrifice the views you’d otherwise witness from your window.
People Also Asked
A few answers to frequently asked questions will provide a perfect note to wrap up this article.
Do soundproof windows provide thermal insulation?
Unlike standard windows, soundproof windows act as an airtight barrier that blocks out external noise and retains indoor temperature. Soundproof windows with double and triple glass layers also work as an effective barrier against outdoor temperature, making them viable in colder climates.
What type of windows offers the best soundproofing?
Laminated glass windows offer the best soundproofing by blocking up to 95% of external noise. These windows come with double- and triple-paned glass panels, separated by PVB layers that prevent sound waves from penetrating.