THE ULTIMATE GUIDE HOW TO SOUNDPROOF WINDOWS AND DOORS
Whether you’re living in the inner city or the countryside, noise pollution is almost impossible to avoid. With soundproof windows and doors you can make this a thing of the past whilst adding considerable value to your property.
Our ultimate guide to soundproof windows and doors is designed to inform you of everything you need to know about how to reduce noise pollution in your home. Detailing how we understand what noise pollution is, how soundproof products work, the options you have and the installation of windows and doors, we hope to cover all questions you may have. To navigate our guide, click on the links below.
WHAT IS NOISE POLLUTION?
As opposed to sound, noise is simply defined as an irregular, fluctuating wave pattern that is loud or unpleasant or that causes disturbance. Living in an urban environment these levels of noise can become extremely annoying or even harmful, at which point they are deemed to be pollutive.
TYPES OF NOISE POLLUTION
Although noise pollution can take practically any form, for the purposes of soundproof window design, and due to the complaints of most customers, we find it helpful to split it into the following sub-categories. Of course, most properties will experience noise pollution from a variety of sources, but by focusing on dealing with the main culprit, we can find a solution that will best aserve you.
Depending upon how far you are located from the point of origin, noise pollution from planes can range from a minor to severe disturbance in your home. For those 1 mile below the flight path this can reach up to 97dB – a ‘noise dosage’ you are recommended to expose yourself to for no longer than 1 in every 24 hours, with prolonged exposure posing serious risks to your health.
In a 2013 study carried out by the British Medical Journal, those who lived in the vicinity of Heathrow airport were 10-20% more likely to be admitted to hospital for a stroke and other cardiovascular diseases. A separate study, printed in German investigative journalism magazine ‘Spiegel’, revealed that being exposed to an average noise level of 60dB increased coronary heart disease by 61% in men and 80% in women.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM PLANES LANDING NEAR YOUR HOME? WE CAN HELP…
Affecting both those who live in an urban area as well as those who live in the countryside, noise pollution from road traffic can be incessant. As the source and frequency of road traffic will vary depending upon location and time of day it’s hard to give a fair estimate of the noise levels you might be experiencing, however, it will likely be in the region of 45-75dB.
On the lower end of the spectrum, the sound of road traffic will be a casual annoyance, though on the higher end, prolonged exposure can cause a dramatic increase in cardiovascular diseases. Most affecting is the likelihood of noise traffic exposure at night time where the desireable noise level is 30dB.
DISTURBED BY THE CONSTANT RUMBLE OF CARS? WE CAN HELP…
Anti-social noise pollution is a term that encompasses many sources. Whether it’s a local nightclub, noisy neighbours or the sounds of a busy high street. In many cases this doesn’t even need to meet a high decibel level, but can be a consistent nuisance, and local councils will not have an ‘acceptable’ noise level.
Rather there is what is known as ‘statutory nuisance’, at which point the noise and its consistency has become “prejudicial to health or a nuisance”. However, even if it a case were to be taken to court, there is no guarantee that anything can be done to prevent recurrence. It’s at this stage that many clients approach us to discuss their options.
NOISY NEIGHBOURS AND CROWDED NIGHT CLUBS KEEPING YOU AWAKE? WE CAN HELP…
RAIL OR TUBE NOISE
Whether it’s the inner city or the countryside, living near a train station is extremely desirable, though the distinct rumble of tubes or the chug of freight trains can quickly become a physical pain. At 100 feet away a diesel train produces 80dB, the same as a freight train from 15’ away. This is over the level that can cause permanent hearing damage after prolonged exposure.
TIRED OF LISTENING TO THE TUBE? OR THE SIRENS OF SPEEDING CROSSCOUNTRY TRAINS? WE CAN HELP…
HOW DO SOUNDPROOF WINDOWS WORK?
Soundproof windows and doors reduce noise pollution by dissipating the sound wave and causing it to lose power. This is achieved by using materials that will absorb and reflect the pressure. Any material can do this, but soundproof windows are designed to optimise the natural properties of timber and acoustic glass in order to specifically combat noise.
Wood is naturally a fairly good conductor of sound due to the fact that it isn’t a particularly elastic or dense material. This means that in its raw state it isn’t going to do much to soundproof your property. However, the designs of soundproof windows work to combat this natural deficiency.
Sound likes to travel through materials that have elasticity, and as wood is an anisotropic material (it is stronger when cut perpendicular to the grain than when cut longitudinally), the timber is cut against the grain to provide greater resistance.
By combining two types of timber, sound is further dampened and the natural swelling of the cells inside the wood accounted for. This provides not only greater noise reduction values by compensating for coincidence frequencies (the frequency which a material will naturally conduct to its structure), but greater heat insulation too.
Although more expensive hardwoods tend to be denser and provide a greater finish, the additional noise reduction is negligible.
The treatment of the wood, applied in the factory, further insures that the timber is protected against issues from swelling, and hardens the wood to lessen its elasticity.
TYPES OF SOUNDPROOF GLAZING
Compared to wood, glass is an inelastic material. However, due to the fact that the glazing used in windows is relatively thin, untreated it won’t do much to soundproof your home. This is why single glazing is relatively ineffective for noise reduction and why soundproof glazing will utilise two or more sheets of glass (acoustic glass).
POLYVINYL BUTYRAL (PVB)
In noise reduction glazing, the panes of glass are separated by a layer of PVB. This is designed to prevent sounds in the 1000 – 3000 Hz range (the most sensitive range for humans) penetrating through the glazing by dissipating the wave. PVB typically offers a reduction of around 10 decibels, which is what we consider a 50% reduction in perceived loudness.
MICRO RUBBER SPACERS
Fitted around the windows are micro-rubber spacers. These create a barrier between the window frame and the sill, preventing noise emanating from the timber.
As sound cannot travel in a vacuum, some highly advanced glazing units employ a vacuum between the glazing, which will stop sound dead in its tracks.
The thicknesses and amount of the glazing used will depend upon the extent of the noise reduction required and the origin of the sound. In all cases, two different thicknesses of glass will be used to combat the coincidence frequency.
COINCIDENCE FREQUENCY IN GLASS:
Any sheet of glass will have what we call a ‘coincidence frequency’. This is the frequency at which, due to the shape and the size of the glazing, the sound will be transferred or amplified rather than dampened. The coincidence frequency is compensated for by using thicknesses of glass with a differential of 30%.
Use the following coincidence calculator to learn more.
Each pane of glass in a soundproof window or door is laminated with a layer of polyvinyl butyral (PVB) or ethylene-vinyl acetate (EVA). Forming a strong hydrocarbon bond with the glazing unit, this improves acoustic attenuation by further reducing the elasticity of the glass and providing an extra layer of noise dampening. In addition, laminating the glass dramatically increases the strength of the glazing providing additional security.
TIMBER VS UPVC WINDOWS
When it comes to soundproofing your property, the difference between uPVC and timber is negligible. Companies that provide uPVC and timber soundproof windows will offer similar, if not the same levels of noise reduction products. Rather, the choice will come down to other factors such as cost, the area in which you live and personal preference.
The following table is a comparison between timber and uPVC windows, which may help you decide what’s best for your home.
|Bespoke timber frames can be installed in buildings and properties in conservation areas.||Timber windows, especially bespoke designs, can be expensive.|
|Timber windows offer a greater variety in design.||Though timber windows will last an extremely long time, they will require regular maintenance in order to perform optimally.|
|They will add value to your property.||Due to the fact that the windows will often be made to order, wait time for installation can be increased.|
|They will add value to your property.|
|uPVC windows are cheaper than timber.||Replacing timber windows with uPVC will remove value from your property.|
|Can be manufactured rapidly.||They cannot be installed in listed buildings or most conservation areas.|
|uPVC windows are made from unsustainable materials and will not biodegrade.|
|Plastic windows do not offer good noise reduction values due to hollow frames.|
|Through uPVC windows will last an extremely long time, they still will require regular maintenance in order to perform optimally.|
SOUNDPROOF WINDOWS COSTS
When it comes to the costs of soundproof windows, and with multiple ranges available, the only upper limit is your budget. And although each project will have to be evaluated individually, a rough estimation of the starting costs for soundproof windows is outlined below:
- For medium sized soundproof sash windows, you can expect to pay upwards of ~£2,200 per window.
- For medium sized soundproof casement windows, the price will begin around ~£890 per window.
- For secondary solutions, such as a high performance secondary window you can expect to pay from ~£1,200 and up.
- The cost of Soundproof French doors begin around £3,500 per unit.
THINKING ABOUT INSTALLING SOUNDPROOF WINDOWS OR DOORS IN YOUR HOME?
INSTALLING SOUNDPROOF WINDOWS & DOORS
When it comes to planning permission for soundproof windows and doors, properties in most residential areas will have nothing to worry about. However, there are a few strictures that you should be aware of before you begin and renovation project.
You will not need to apply for planning permission for the following work:
- The repair, or minor improvement of your existing windows (such as repainting, refixing).
- The insertion of new windows or doors that are similar in appearance to those you already have in your property.
However, you need to be aware that the addition of a bay window to your home will likely require planning permission as it is deemed an extension of your property. Additionally, upper-floor side windows will need to contain obscured glass and not open, or be 1.7 metres above the level of the floor.
When it comes to roof or skylights, planning permission won’t be necessary as long as the project is kept within the following rules:
- The new window doesn’t protrude more than 150mm from the plane of the roof.
- The final installation is no higher than the existent highest point of the roof.
- Windows added to the side-slope are fitted with obscured glass.
CONSERVATION AREAS & LISTED BUILDINGS
When it comes to installing soundproof windows and doors in conservation areas, things become a little trickier. These areas are protected by the ‘article 4 direction’, which prevents you from making serious alterations to your property which might destroy its historical value.
Unfortunately there are no steadfast rules that apply across the board to houses in conservation areas. Each local authority will determine their own set of standards. As such, it is advisable that before you place any orders for soundproof windows or doors, you contact your Local Planning Authority to check where you stand. In most cases deposits taken for windows will be non-refundable if planning permission prevents later installation, so it is very important that this is checked before you pay any money out.
HOW TO PREPARE FOR INSTALLATION
In order to minimise the whole installation time and prevent any accidents happening to your property, the following are a list of things you can do before you installing soundproof windows and doors in your property.
- Secure all valuable items such as jewellery, laptops, cameras, phones, etc.
- Hide all removables (i.e. moveable furniture, removable decorations etc.) from the direct vicinity of the replacement area.
- Remove picture frames, paintings and any other wall decorations.
- Remove all blinds and curtains, tracks, shutters etc.
- Temporarily disconnect all alarm systems that may be connected to your windows/doors.
In most cases the installation company will also remove and dispense with old windows or doors, however it is best to verify this before the installation begins.
THINKING ABOUT INSTALLING SOUNDPROOF WINDOWS OR DOORS IN YOUR HOME?
When installing timber soundproof windows or doors there are certain things that you can do to ensure optimal functionality and extend product life. Just performing simple, regular maintenance is all you will need to do to keep your windows beautiful for years to come.
Abrasive chemicals might damage the frame, so we suggest that you use a very mild soap and water, and a light rinse aid on the glass. Be sure to soak up any liquid from the timber to prevent any potential rot.
As all timber is treated to prevent this issue, any cracks that appear need to be covered with paint or stain as soon as possible. Any application of treatments to the wood needs to be carried out when the timber is dry in order to avoid trapping water in.
To keep ironmongery from sticking we suggest lubrication twice a year. This includes any locks which can be done by applying lubricant to the key and using it in the lock a couple of times.
FOLDING DOOR TRACKS
Any bi-fold or folding door system will run on a track in the floor. This needs to be regularly vacuumed in order to prevent any grime build up which could derail the doors.
Whilst condensation on the inside of your windows can be resolved by leaving the window open temporarily, condensation inside of the glazing is a sign that the glass has been compromised. This means that the seals will need to be replaced around the glazing and we advise you speak to your installation company.
HOW SOUND WORKS
Formed of compressions and rarefactions, sound moves at different speeds and with varying degrees of ease through various mediums. Counterintuitively, sound actually travels rather ineffectively through air as the inelasticity of the gases that form our atmosphere does not make it a good conductor. On the other hand steel, which is more elastic, allows sound to travel rapidly and with ease.
On the other, other hand, sound won’t travel anywhere at all in a vacuum. You see, sound requires matter to transmit its energy, and denser, more elastic materials work best as the molecules within the material make it easier for the wave to propagate.
Soundproof windows are designed on these principles; using materials that will not easily allow transmittance of the wave, dampening and dissipating the energy.
This graph describes a steady sound wave travelling through air, keeping the same tone throughout the duration. On the y-axis we have the amplitude of the wave, this describes how loud the sound is and is measured in decibels (dB).
The peak of the wave represents the point at which the molecules in the air are packed closest together, and the corresponding trough, when they are most spread apart. A sound with a steady pitch will always have the same differential in amplitude, though in reality, sound behaves far more erratically.
The frequency of the wavelengths determines the pitch of the sound. Those that are closer together produce a higher pitch sound, and those further apart a lower.
Sound is perhaps best visualised in the 3rd dimension by the graphics below:
WHAT IS A DECIBEL
Throughout this website, we talk about decibel reductions, but what is a decibel?
A decibel is a measure of the intensity of a sound against a set logarithmic scale. As opposed to a linear scale (which increases by a set number with each unit), a logarithmic scale (which increases by a multiplication) is used in order to deal with the fact that sound has a massive range of quantities. Whilst this may sound complicated, we use a logarithmic scale to make it easier for us to understand sounds, as the numbers would be too large for us to grasp otherwise.
Logarithms are used when the numbers in question (in this case of the loudness of the sound) are far too large to be expressed simply. They are formed of three constituent parts, and are best explained by deconstructing the following equation:
1010 = 10x10x10x10x10x10x10x10x10x10 = 10000000000
Expressed as a logarithm this takes the form:
log10 (10000000000) = 10
Where the number ‘10’ is the base, 10000000000 is the power and 10 the answer.
When we are talking about sound we say that for every increase of ten decibels, the power or loudness of the sound increases by a multiple of 10. The following table outlines the decibel to power ratio increase.
So you can see that small increases in decibels are actually describing massive increases in the loudness of the sound.
DECIBEL LEVELS OF COMMON SOUNDS
In order to better understand what a decibel is, it’s perhaps easier to think about the decibel levels of common sounds.
SOUNDPROOF WINDOWS FAQS
HOW DOES SOUNDPROOF WINDOWS WORK?
Soundproof windows work by reflecting, absorbing and dissipating sound waves. A combination of specialised glazing, layered hardwoods, dampeners and finishings reduce the strength of the wave by increasing the density and lowering the elasticity of the materials used in the construction of the window.
HOW DOES A DOUBLE PANE WINDOW WORK?
A double pane window houses two sheets of glazing separated by a layer of air, or in some cases inert gases like argon and xenon. These gases are poor conductors of heat, and so reduce the amount lost from your property (or entering it). By making sure the gap between the glazing is kept to a minimum, convection currents are minimised, further reducing heat loss.
WHAT ARE ACOUSTIC GLASS WINDOWS?
How much does it cost to install double pane windows?
Acoustic glass windows are simply another term for soundproof window. They are often used to describe windows that will prevent sound from leaving a property, such as you might find in a music studio, but work effectively in the same way.
HOW DO YOU MAKE A ROOM SOUNDPROOF?
When it comes to soundproofing a room, there are a lot of options for you to choose from. What you go for will depend upon why you need to soundproof and the current make-up of your property. Whatever your reasons, the four areas that you need to cover are:
- Adding Mass
- Plugging Gaps
STOP SOUND LEAVING YOUR ROOM
- To stop noise escaping your room, you should mount all sound units on vibration insulation pads.
- Acoustic wedge panels are the choice of musicians around the globe. Made out of polyurethane foam, they come with adhesive backs so you can install these on your walls yourself. If renting, you might want to check with your landlord before installation.
- Sealing up vents will stop sound seeping out of those cracks, but can cause hazards like damp buildup if performed inappropriately.
So as long as you’re doing any of these things, you will be reducing unwanted noise from either entering or leaving. The following are the most common techniques used to soundproof a room:
- Soundproof windows will greatly reduce noise pollution.
- Installing soundproof curtains or blankets on the walls and windows. These will shave off a few decibels, however, if you already have thick walls or insulated walls, this will have a negligible effect.
- Lightweight doors should be replaced with heavy fire doors which create an airtight seal.
- Noise reduction door seals made from aluminium and silicone attach to the bottom of your door to prevent noise entering through cracks around the unit.
- If possible you can construct independent soundproof stud walls using 75mm stud. These are optimally installed 25mm from your existing walls.
- A suspended soundproof ceiling installed below your current ceiling can be mounted on hangers in order to absorb noise from above.
- Acoustic mineral wool can be installed between the joists in the floor with a heavy acoustic membrane (soundproof mat) laid on top. A single layer of 2mm can provide up to a 24dB reduction, and you can use as many layers as you see fit.
- Your room should be inspected for air gaps which need to be filled with materials such as acoustical caulk. Foam gaskets can be used to seal any space around electrical units, doors or windows.
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN SECONDARY GLAZING AND DOUBLE GLAZING?
Double glazing is a window unit constructed using 2 sheets of glass with a gap between them. This is an isolated unit that is installed on the outside of your property. On the other hand, secondary glazing is glazing unit (whether single or double glazed) that is installed within your existing window frame (usually on the internal side of the sill).
Given the large gap between the external window and the secondary glazing, you can expect dramatic noise reduction values. However, unless the noise pollution problem is unbearable, most clients will avoid installing secondary windows. This is because they will remove any sill space you have and are generally deemed to be unsightly.
BUY SOUNDPROOF WINDOWS & DOORS
Installing soundproof windows and doors in your property will not only improve your quality of life and improve your general health, but add serious value to your home. However, by installing cheaper upvc frames, properties will often lose value. And though timber products will be more expensive, their lifetime guarantee is considerably greater than their plastic counterparts.
WE HELP HOMEOWNERS IDENTIFY THE BEST POSSIBLE PRODUCTS TO SOUNDPROOF THEIR HOME.
BEAUTIFUL & BESPOKE
By stocking products manufactured with the finest quality hard and softwoods, all of our soundproof windows and doors come with up to 20 years guarantee. Safeguarded against swelling and disease, they’re built just for you.
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SPECIALIST SOUNDPROOF WINDOWS & DOORS
Through specialist manufacturing and precision technology, we can reduce noise pollution by up to 95%. By installing specialist soundproof windows, we are offering you the best products available on the market. Don’t compromise on design. Don’t compromise on quality.