Noise is something we all have to live with. Traffic, kids playing, loud music – it’s stressful and harmful. Even in quiet, suburban areas, there’s always some kind of commotion outside.
Your windows are the main way that outside noise gets in, so if you’re considering replacing them what’s the best way to keep noise pollution at bay?
The Problem with Glass
The rigid structure of a single pane of glass is unable to absorb sound waves. The pane vibrates when hit by sound from outside. This causes the air on the inside to vibrate as well, and the sound shoots straight through into your home.
The same can’t be said for walls and ceilings. These are commonly made from brick, stone or wood – materials that can absorb sound and keep it out.
It’s clear that windows are the main culprits when it comes to excess noise, so what can be done to minimise the problem?
You Need a Gap – Double Glazing
The obvious answer is to install double glazing (if you don’t already have it). The gap between the two panes of glass dampens the sound vibrations as they come in from outside. The gap can contain argon gas, which reduces the vibrations even further and prevents a great deal of exterior noise from entering.
The larger the gap, the more effective the noise reduction will be, so it’s wise to discuss your requirements with your window supplier.
The standard thickness of double-glazing glass tends to be 6.8mm, although it is possible to have custom-made glass. Not surprisingly, this is more expensive and may not be necessary for you, but it’s worth bearing in mind that thicker glass helps to reduce noise even further.
You May Need Two Gaps – Triple Glazing
This works in the same way as double-glazing, but the extra pane and gap increase the window’s noise-reducing properties even further. However, it’s important that one pane is a different thickness from the other two, as this provides the maximum benefit.
Two glass panes can be laminated with a special plastic called PBV (polyvinyl butyral) and bonded together. The PBV layer makes the glass less elastic and so considerably reduces vibration and dampens the sound passing inside. Acoustic glass can be fitted in double-glazed units to provide superior noise insulation.
Insulated Window Frames
However good your glass may be, it must be mounted in sturdy, quality frames. Any cracks will instantly destroy the noise-reducing properties of the glazed unit. Sealant can be applied to older frames if you’re not intending to replace your windows right now. This certainly helps but, of course, a new window is even better.
Modern uPVC, wooden and aluminium frames are tough and attractive, and help to keep the noise down. Bear in mind though that standard aluminium and uPVC frames are hollow, and this diminishes their ability to reduce sound. For optimum noise-insulation look for insulated window frames. These are filled with special foam to provide the very best sound barrier.
Secondary Glazing for Single Panes
If you live in a heritage property with single-pane windows it may be impossible to replace them with double-glazing. However, by adding an extra single pane in a modern frame (perhaps with thicker glass) you’ll greatly reduce external noise. This will be discretely mounted on the inside, so it won’t change the appearance of your traditional home.
Keep the Noise Down in Your Devon Home
Find a solution that’s just right for your home. Contact the friendly folk at The Window Centre.