The noise begins slowly and then starts screaming at you as the high-powered motorcycles race past the front door of your house in their imagined Isle of Man TT, only this time it’s at the end of your street.
It’s no wonder then, following air pollution, the single biggest environmental problem that is facing Europe is traffic noise, which causes over 60,000 premature deaths every year, which leads to diabetes, increased risk of stroke, heart problems, and high blood pressure.
So How Can You Soundproof Your House?
The most critical and first point is sound insulation only is as good as the weakest point. You either can build thicker walls or fill them with as much insulation as possible or invest in the most recent sound insulating windows. However, if done in isolation, it will not deliver the results that you are looking for – they must work together.
How Does Sound Insulation Actually Work?
KJM Group explains, there are three ways that soundproofing works – or a combination of them. The first way that it works is that it stops the noise through mass being added to the structure so that sound is reflected. Effectively you are creating a very dense and ‘dead’ acoustically surface, that does not vibrate or does this less than other types of materials. That is referred to as dampening.
The second way is via absorption, where a material absorbs the sound and prevents it from passing through over to the other side – wall insulation, for example.
The third way is creating a barrier between two different structures, which prevents the sound from passing between them in vibration form, which effectively creates a gap where the vibrations cannot ‘jump.’ That is referred to as decoupling.
How Do Acoustic Glass and Soundproof Windows Work?
Noise pollution is limited by acoustic glass through the dissipation and deflection of sound waves. It does that through variables that disrupt the sound wave, use of acoustic interlayers and space between the glass, and thicker glass.
Generally speaking, the rule is denser materials do this better so that thicker glass is better but it also needs to be set at various thicknesses.
That is why just adding a third pane into a triple-glazed window unit will have only limited impact when it comes to reducing noise – which is something that not all door and window salespeople always understand or effectively communicate to homeowners.
Sound passes through an object in a linear fashion. When various thicknesses of glass are used in combination that means the units are effective at dissipating and disrupting sound.
The effectiveness of it is maximised by acoustic glazing by combining not just different glass thickness but specially developed interlayers of PVB as well, which gets applied during manufacture to the glass. They offer another layer at another absorbing sound, dampening, and thickness, and prevents it from passing from one side of glass over to the other side.
If more and thicker layers for disrupting sound waves make up the basic principle of the design of soundproof glass window, there are many different variables for addressing different kinds of noise.
Soundproofing Secondary Glazing
If you cannot just replace the windows you currently have with soundproof windows due to living in a conservation area or own period property, you still can significantly improve your sound insulation and home’s energy efficient by having secondary glazing installed.
The same principles apply here. When energy efficiency secondary glazing is installed it will not improve your property’s soundproofing by default, although like with new energy efficient replacement triple and double glazed windows, better sealing might contribute to a small noise reduction.
As seen above, this requires specialist acoustic triple and double glazing that can go a very long way towards reducing nuisance noise and delivers high sound insulation levels – however, secondary glazing goes a step further and cuts noise by as much as 70 per cent.
It does that through dampening and absorption in the same way that acoustic triple or double glazed windows as well as decoupling. That is because, by definition, secondary glazing is separate to an external facing window.
Establishing the right gap that is in between the secondary and primary glazing is essential in order to achieve optimum performance.