How to Stop Noise from Coming Through Windows
Whether you live next to a busy street, railroad tracks or an airport, you’ll definitely suffer from the noise coming through the windows. Millions of people have this problem, but they have no idea that there are very simple ways to fix it.
Soundproofing the window is the cure, and it’s not as difficult as you may think. Which soundproofing method you should use depends on the strength of the sound you’re trying to block.
But the philosophy behind each of these methods is always the same: add more mass to the noise-barrier. The window is a thin barrier, typically much thinner than walls. So it’s no wonder that this is the weakest point in the room in terms of sound and temperature changes.
If you follow this obvious logic, then you’ll find these ideas really useful for stopping the noise from entering through your windows:
1. Seal the gaps in the window frame
Before you go crazy and place all kinds of soundproofing material on your wall, think about the free air-flowing gaps that are present. It’s important to seal these gaps because there’s virtually no sound-barrier present in those areas.
You’ll find these gaps between the window frame and the window pane that you open and close. These can be really tiny gaps (a few millimeters), but sealing them will still make a big difference.
You can seal the window gaps by using affordable weatherstripping insulation tape. Some of these tapes are more effective than others. But I’ve found one that does a great job for sealing both window and door gaps. Check it out by clicking here (link to Amazon).
The way to install this tape is by covering the window frame with it. One layer or two layers, depending on how big the gaps are. When you close the window after applying the tape, there should be a perfect seal. Then you’ll know you’ve done it successfully.
There is also the bottom gap, found on the lower part of the frame. While the same tape can be used to cover gap, usually this gap is a bit larger than the others. So you may want to use something a bit stronger.
You’ve probably seen door sweeps (also called door bottoms) which are used to cover the gap between the door and the floor. Well there is an awesome door & window sweep that uses two foam tubes for improved insulation. It’s also pretty affordable (around $15 the last time I checked) and you can see it on Amazon by clicking here.
These two things should be enough to seal all the gaps in your window perfectly. Now we can focus on placing additional mass on the window.
2. Cover cracks and crevices with acoustic sealant
You may have some cracks between the window frame and the wall. Just as you would cover the gaps inside the frame, you should also cover these gaps, even if they’re small.
This is where acoustic sealant comes in handy. It’s a durable material that can last for years once you apply it on the crack, whereas typically caulking usually cracks after a short while.
Green glue is the most popular options for these projects, and it’s really the leading product in terms of quality as well. I recently wrote a short article on this product and how to use it, so definitely check it out to learn more about sealing these cracks.
3. Hang noise-blocking curtains on the window
This is the easiest affordable and effective way to stop noise from coming through a window.
Noise-blocking curtains are much thicker and heavier than regular curtains. They are hanged in the same way from a curtain rod, but they provide much better sound insulation and thermal insulation. Some of them also completely prevent light and UV rays from entering.
While using one noise-reducing curtain can sometimes be enough, if you want to play safe, install a double curtain rod and hang two noise-blocking curtains instead. Double mass, double noise-reduction.
Since these curtains are inexpensive (general prices range between $15-$50), it can end up being cheaper than many other methods, while being perfectly effective.
The main things to look for are weight and size. Heavier curtains have more mass and they’re better sound barriers because of it. And dimensions are really important because you want the curtain to cover the entire window, and possibly some room around it as well.
There are smaller curtains that cover only the window, and there are long ones that go all the way to the floor. These longer ones not only look nicer, but they also provide better insulation.
I’ve sorted out top 5 curtains by price and effectiveness. So check them out if you’re interested in using this method.
4. Make a window plug
This is a really effective method. But it takes some handyman work to pull it off. To make a window plug you’ll need a wooden panel, acoustic foam and a handle.
First make sure that the wooden panel (thick plywood and MDF wood are the best) has the perfect dimensions to fit inside the window. Then glue acoustic foam on it with a regular spray adhesive.
The final step involves screwing a handle on the other side of the wooden panel so that you can insert and pull out the window plug easily.
I suggest getting the panels custom sized at Home Depot and getting the other material there along with them, or purchasing them separately on Amazon due to reliable delivery and reduced prices.
The advantage of this method is really good noise-reduction because it completely seals the window area. The downside is the work that is involved in making a window plug and making sure that it’s dimensions are perfect. Because if you make it just a little too big or too small it won’t fit in properly.
The main positive side in my opinion is that you can insert it and remove it whenever you want. So if the noise bothers you only at certain times of the day (when you’re trying to get some sleep for example) this is a handy way to fix it.
If you have some woodworking tools at home then you probably won’t stress over the dimensions because you can correct them easily (unless you make it too small, because then it’s game over).
But if you’re like me, you don’t want to do more work than necessary and take chances, so noise-reducing curtains are a safer bet.
5. Hang a moving blanket over the window
Moving blankets are very similar to noise-reducing curtains. Their application is basically the same. Hang them from a curtain rod or from hooks and you’re good to go.
Blankets can be used for any other soundproofing project on the house as well. For example, tacking them on the door is a common way to reduce the noise passing through a door.
Whether you plan on using it on a window or a door, you’ll want to make sure that the blanket is thick and heavy. This is the heaviest moving blanket available.
You can double the noise-reduction by hanging one more blanket over the first one.
If you purchase the before mentioned heavy blanket, that probably won’t be necessary. But for lighter blankets you may need to use one or two more layers to get the same results.
6. Double the window pane
One way to stop noise without hanging or inserting anything is by doubling the window pane. Basically you would cover the glass part of the window with another glass unit.
Acrylic (plexiglass) windows are the best for soundproofing purposes, so I suggest installing one or two of these sheets. It goes without saying that thicker sheets will provide better insulation.
The new window pane will need to have the same dimensions as the current one. I’ve never installed one and usually it’s left to the pros. But here’s a general explanation of the process.
A standard acrylic sheet (shown on the picture) bought on its own typically costs around $30, plus the labor costs involved if you hire someone to install it.
This is a good option, especially if used together with other options mentioned here.
On it’s own, it probably won’t be enough to completely soundproof the window so sealing gaps and cracks plus window shutters and/or curtains are good companions for this method.
7. Install dense window shutters
If you don’t have window shutters already, this can make a good difference.
The amount of noise reduction depends on the type of shutters you use. There are of course the classic wooden shutters used on many houses throughout the country.
There are also insulated shutters that provide better noise and thermal insulation than the basic wooden ones. And if you have the money to spend, dense powered shutters with polyurethane core can provide an even bigger noise relief.
As every option, shutters have their good and bad sides.
The good side is the fact that they don’t take any space away from the room. Depending on their thickness and type, they can work really well for reducing noise.
The bad part is that they can be more difficult to install than simply hanging a curtain or blanket. And the fact you have to be careful with dimensions.
Having said that, I’ve found really affordable, 100% polyester window shutters that are getting straight 5 star reviews from users (check out the picture on the right).
These shutters can be installed from outside or inside of a room, and they’re pretty dense. There are many dimensions to choose from and 9 colors at the moment. So you’ll probably find an option that fits well your window dimensions and overall style of your home.
You can check out the current price, reviews and info about them on Amazon.
8. Install external storm windows
Storm window is basically a window installed on top of the current window. So you have two windows in the same place, and with that comes the extra insulation.
This is another project that technically CAN be done on your own, but I recommend hiring a professional to do it. Because even small mistakes can lead to ineffectiveness or simply ruining the aesthetics of the window.
I’ve never done this so I can’t really provide advice on this method. Contacting a soundproofing professional service in your local area and inquiring about the prices is a good way to start if you opt for this method.
In this article I’ve listed all the top ways to stop noise from coming through a window.
Some of these methods are easily applied on your own without doing too much work. Others, like installing acrylic sheets or storm windows may require professional help.
For most people, sealing cracks and gaps and hanging noise-reducing curtains is enough to solve the problem. But others may require a bit more, and that’s where all the other options can come in handy.
I hope you find this information useful and you’ll use it get rid of your noise problem for good.