If you move into a noisy area like a city, you’ll immediately be conscious of just how soundproofed (or not) your dwelling is. Glass is a standard construction material in residential buildings, but how much does it reduce exterior noise?
Standard single-pane or dual-pane glass is not very soundproof. Single-pane glass ranks close to materials where normal noises are easily heard. Dual-pane glass is a bit more soundproof than single-pane glass but still does a poor job reducing noise.
How soundproof glass is as a material is based on its Sound Transmission Class (STC). This scale places a numeric value on how well materials conduct soundwaves. Read on to find out more about the STC of glass and its efficiency as a soundproof material.
Is Glass A Good Sound Insulator
Glass is not considered a good insulator against sound and noise because it ranks quite low on the STC scale, which is by far the most comprehensible way to quantify a material’s ability to reduce noise.
Sound Transmission Class Scale Chart
|STC Rating||Ability to Soundproof|
|25-29||Normal voice can be clearly heard|
|30-34||Loud voices can be clearly heard|
|35-49||Loud voices can be heard, but not clearly|
|50-60||Loud sounds can be heard faintly|
Standard single-pane glass has an STC rating of 27, and double-pane glass isn’t far ahead of its ineffectiveness, having an STC rating of 26-32. [Source] Therefore, glass is not going to give you the type of soundproofing you need to properly enjoy a lovely evening inside if you live in a noisy area.
You have two options:
- Replace your old windows with soundproof ones.
- Use other methods to soundproof your house/apartment.
What Type Of Glass Is Soundproof
From the above section, you might think that glass is a no-go as a soundproofing material. However, particular types of glass have been manufactured that provide an improved noise reduction aspect in comparison to single-pane glass.
Soundproof Glass Alternatives
- Double-paned glass: Double-paned glass windows are windows that contain two pieces of glass (an interior piece and an exterior piece) with a small space of air between the two. This setup not only helps with noise reduction, but it also acts as an effective insulator to prevent temperature fluctuations on the interior of the building as well. [Source]
- Laminated glass: Laminated glass (also known as safety glass) is similar to double-paned glass, but instead of a pocket of air between the two panes, the two layers of glass are held together with an internal layer of plastic. This plastic helps to keep the window from shattering like tempered glass in case of breakage.[Source] Laminated glass has a higher noise reduction value than single-paned glass.
- Thickened glass: Glass panels that are thicker than the industry standard for either single-pane or double-paned windows will naturally have a higher noise reduction level since it takes more energy for sound waves to travel through a solid surface with a thicker density.
No matter which “soundproof” glass you go with, it’s important to remember that as a general material, glass isn’t going to be completely soundproof. Instead, what you’re going to experience with soundproof glass is a drastic reduction in noise levels in comparison to what you’d be seeing with single-paned glass in the same building application.[Related Article: How Soundproof Is Wood As A Material For Your House]
Does Window Film Reduce Noise
Another option for noise reduction in glass other than doubling up on the amount of glass being used or adding a laminated layer is to add a layer of soundproofing window film to the window.
This plastic material is specifically designed to help absorb and reflect noise rather than allowing it through the glass. There are also window films that can perform double duty for both sound and temperature insulation.
Soundproofing film is a thick, adhesive film that you stick to a window, typically to the interior of the panel so that it doesn’t become dirty from outside debris.
Advantages of Window Film
- Simple: Installing window film is a simple process that can be accomplished by anyone, not just a contractor. There are many window film kits available that can be applied quickly by running a hot hairdryer over your windows.
- Cheap: Compared to the cost of replacing and installing new windows, window film can provide a much more economical alternative for trying to reduce the noise coming through the glass in your home.
- Long-lasting: While some cheaper window film kits might start to discolor or come up after a few years, some of the more high-quality window films can last undisturbed for up to 25 years if the home or building is well-maintained.
[Source: Convenience Group Inc.]
While window film has some significant benefits for noise reduction when paired with glass, it comes with a few drawbacks, too.
Disadvantages Of Window Film
- Obscures clarity of the windows: Many window films obscure a person’s ability to see through the window by rendering it translucent rather than transparent. For windows where privacy is preferred, such as the windows in a bathroom or bedroom, this can be a benefit. But people do enjoy seeing clearly out of some of their windows, and window film can impair this ability.
- Difficult to remove: If you ever get to the point where you want to take your window films off, be prepared to grab a sharp razor and a little bit of elbow grease. Some window film adhesives may come off in a single piece, making removal a snap, but many others leave residual adhesive behind, and cleaning the windows in their removal can be severe pain.
If you’re looking to increase the noise reduction qualities of your current windows without having to install new glass, window film is an option to consider.
How Expensive Is Soundproof Glass
Soundproof windows are quite expensive in comparison to regular single-paned windows—depending on the size, each soundproof window can run between $400 and $900. [Source]
Depending on how many windows you have in your house, completely soundproofing your home with real soundproof glass may be costly.
How To Install Soundproof Glass Cheap
- Install in increments: Rather than trying to install soundproof glass in every window of the house from the get-go, consider first only installing soundproof windows in the areas of the house where noise reduction is a concern, such as bedrooms. Then, as your budget allows, you can expand to other windows during each winterizing session in the fall. While this doesn’t reduce the overall cost, it does reduce how much you pay at once.
- Buy it on credit: Soundproof windows are a significant home investment, so if you’re planning on doing all of your house’s windows simultaneously, you may want to consider getting the installation and materials on a payment plan or putting it on a credit card—that way you aren’t hit with the bill all at one time.
- Install it yourself: While not everyone will have the DIY-know how to take on a project like a window installation with the degree of confidence necessary to pull it off, putting in soundproof windows on your own can drastically cut down the cost of soundproof window installations by removing the cost of labor.
Soundproof glass may be expensive, but it’s worth the money if you can afford it.[Related Article: How Soundproof Is Concrete As A Material For Blocking Sound]
Glass Isn’t Very Soundproof
In its natural state, glass is one of the least soundproof materials you’ll find, which is why you can usually hear someone easily through a pane of glass. But luckily for residential and commercial construction, there are plenty of soundproofing options available to help reduce the noise that glass can transmit.