If outside noise is disrupting your life, you might have looked at installing soundproof window replacements to help you get some peace and quiet.
Soundproofing can be an expensive project, so you probably want to know the whys and hows of this type of window replacement.
Soundproof window replacement costs depend mostly on how much sound you want to proof against. This decides the kind of soundproofing your windows will need, and different kinds of soundproofing will then affect the price of your windows.
Where Do You Need Soundproof Window Replacements?
Most people don’t realize that surprisingly low decibel sounds can actually damage your health. Extended or repeated exposure to sounds at or above 85 decibels (approximately the level of a vacuum cleaner) can cause permanent hearing loss. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that urban homeowners, surrounded by constant noise, look for soundproof windows more often than those in the suburbs or rural neighborhoods.
People who live in the city generally have to deal with the constant noise from highway traffic, garbage trucks, police sirens, idling buses, helicopters, jet flyovers, construction, and even noisy passers-by, on a daily basis. All of these add to the sound levels that rob you of relaxation – and wearing noise-canceling headphone isn’t always feasible!
Suburban and rural homes are not always completely peaceful, either. You might live near a school or a sports field that has lots of noisy activity at certain times. There might be a few incessantly-barking dogs in the area. And then there are those chainsaw-happy and lawnmower-loving neighbors that constantly give you a dawn wake-up call you didn’t ask for!
Even remote country areas get their fair share of noise pollution – mating and nesting garden birds can emit a lot of high-frequency sounds, usually in the VERY early hours of the morning.
Sounds with low frequencies, like garbage trucks grinding trash, are harder to block than sounds with higher frequencies, like chainsaws or birds chirping. Therefore, you’ll probably need more soundproofing if you live on a city street.
Soundproof windows are rated by the sound transmission class (STC) scale – the higher the STC number, the more a window prevents sound from passing through. A standard single-pane window has an STC rating of 27, and a double pane window has an STC rating of 28. A soundproof window replacement will have an STC rating of at least 45.
Types of Soundproof Window Replacements
There is no window for homes that can block 100% of sounds all the time. “Soundproof” is a general term for windows that prevent up to 95% of noise coming through.
To increase a window’s STC rating, there are three main manufacturing techniques used by various window companies:
They make the glass thicker. Replacing your single-pane windows with a thicker glass pane of a quarter-inch or so, can reduce noise to a certain extent – but it won’t prevent severe noise levels in a heavily urbanized area.
They add air space between the windowpanes. Double or triple glazing can reduce sound significantly – but the wrong kind of glazing can actually INCREASE noise levels. A double-glazed window can act as an amplifier for certain frequencies of noise if it’s installed badly. The ideal soundproofing method is to have one thicker and one thinner pane installed carefully, so it creates an acoustic barrier.
They use laminated glass. Laminated glass is generally used for impact-resistant windows in homes, but it also prevents a lot of sound intrusions. Sound experts generally advise that laminated glass is the best solution to reduce outside noise. There are other advantages too – you have added protection from high winds and break-ins if you install laminated windows.
Each of these three factors on their own will increase your soundproof window replacement cost. Most windows referred to as soundproof will have a combination of two or more of these factors, raising costs even further.
Soundproof Window Replacements Costs
The cost of soundproof window replacements depends on a number of different factors, including:
- window style
- size of window and frames
- number of windows
- type of glass
Soundproof windows can cost anywhere from $125 for simple inserts, to $1,500 for high-end replacements. This is obviously a huge difference in terms of the per window cost and is largely based on the soundproof window option that you use.
Window inserts for insulation have soundproofing qualities, and are an affordable alternative to replacements. They consist of foam and other soundproofing material. On the downside, while they can work as a temporary solution to block out loud noises, they can also block out light.
The bottom line is that soundproof windows are expensive, and they might not block out the amount of sound you would like. Soundproof window installations costing you in the region of $25,000 can end up eliminating only 5% of unwanted noise!
It might be worth your while getting a sound specialist into your home to confirm whether noise is actually coming through your windows – or through your chimney, attic vents, and door frames.
On the plus side, soundproof window replacements are generally made of laminated glass, which gives you extra protection from the elements, and can reduce your homeowners’ insurance by as much as 45%.