Many people have problems with noise outside of their homes. You might have noisy neighbors, construction projects nearby, a busy street or many other sources of noise that are out of your control. With today’s technology, replacing your windows with newer windows can make a big difference. But what if you can’t afford to replace the windows? True soundproofing is exceedingly difficult, but there are many simple things that you can try to help deaden sound through your windows.
One of the ways sound can travel into your home is through holes and cracks. Check the frame around your windows from both the inside and the outside to make sure that there are no gaps between the frames and walls. If you see any, filling the gaps with caulk will not only reduce noise, but will prevent drafts and similar problems. You can also try removing the caulk and replacing it with acoustical caulk, which has properties that deaden sound and works just like regular caulk. Different kinds of caulk, both regular and acoustical, are designed for different materials, so be sure that the caulk is suitable for window frames before purchase.
Soundproof or acoustical curtains look essentially like ordinary curtains, but contain materials either inside the curtain or as a lining that have soundproofing qualities, such as mass-loaded vinyl or MLV. Replacing your regular curtains with soundproofing curtains is a quick and easy solution; however, these curtains are very heavy and will require special mounting hardware. Regular curtains also have some soundproofing qualities, as the fabric absorbs and deadens sound, so you may be satisfied with the effect of hanging an ordinary heavy curtain. However, it is the mass of a soundproofing curtain that causes the soundproofing effect, so a regular curtain is never going to be as effective. Pleats or an accordion effect in a curtain improves the soundproofing qualities, and taping the outer edges of a curtain to the wall also provides a noticeable improvement.
Soundproof windows, made with double- or triple-pane structures, are designed to have inherently good soundproofing qualities. The downside is the work involved; you’ll need to replace your current windows with new soundproof windows. There is a simpler alternative, however. Some companies produce an insert which fits in the window frame from the inside. The insert helps block sound, but does not require you to replace your window and does not interfere with your ability to see through the window. You may need to replace any current blinds or similar items, however, since they may no longer fit properly with the insert installed. Getting an exact fit is essential with this option, as gaps allow sound to travel in.
Window plugs are simple to make. You need a 2-inch-thick foam acoustical mat. Cut the mat to just slightly larger than the size of your window frame and insert it into the frame. If the fit is good, the mat will stay in the window frame on its own. It’s best if you don’t place the plug directly against the glass, as the air between the plug and the glass improves the sound deadening. The problem with plugs is that they block the windows and are opaque. However, they are removable. Plugs are a particularly good choice for soundproofing bedrooms. The plug not only makes it quieter inside your bedroom, but will block out light and improve the insulating qualities of the room.