Upgrading Residential Single-Pane Windows To Achieve Noise Reduction

Construction & Contractors Blog

A home serves as a place of refuge, but sometimes the noises from outside can become intrusive. Homeowners with single-pane windows can reduce their interior noise level by installing replacement dual-pane windows.

Windows are often the entry point for excessive noise entering your home from the outside. Neighborhood noise can be sporadic and unpredictable. Single-pane windows facing a busy street may not be adequate to muffle the sound of vehicle traffic. Measurable noise reduction is possible by installing windows made with two panes of glass separated by an intervening air space.

Sound in motion

Noise is carried as a traveling sound wave. Depending on the strength of the sound wave, some of the noise may be able to permeate a layer of glass. To contrast the abilities of various windows to block sound waves, a standard unit of measure is used by window manufacturers.

Dual-pane advantage

The relative ability of any window to block sound is indicated by a numeric measurement referred to as its sound transmission class. Also referred to as STC, the sound transmission class of a typical single-pane window is between 18 and 20. The extra ability of two panes to reduce noise is not just due to the glass itself. The space between the two panes plays a role in noise reduction.

A higher STC indicates a greater ability to block noise. The STC of a standard double-pane window is about 27. After sound passes through the first pane, some of the wave energy is dissipated as it is reflected back and forth between the panes. The amount of noise reaching the interior side of your window is then noticeably reduced.

Dissimilar pane sizes

Dual-pane windows also achieve additional noise reduction if the two panes are of different thickness. The range of sound frequencies most effectively blocked by a window pane is dependent on the thickness of the glass. A broader range of frequencies is blocked by the the use of dissimilar pane sizes. The STC rating of a window with different pane thicknesses may be as high as 34.

An STC rating of 34 is quite adequate for a window, since the exterior wall of a typical house has an STC of about 34 to 38. Laminated windows may also provide a favorable reduction in noise. In addition to the prevention of glass breakage, the laminated layers of different thickness usually result in an improved STC rating.

A quieter interior space can improve the quality of reading, studying, or sleeping. Contact a window contractor for more information on upgrading your windows.

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