They say that a man’s house is his castle. While that might be true to some extent, it’s hard to feel that way when there’s too much outside noise entering that ‘castle’. That’s a problem I often face, making me wonder how a person might go about soundproofing the windows at home.
There are plenty of ways to soundproof a window ranging from simple DIY tasks to more complicated methods. In this article, we’re going to go through several of these procedures, and explore the materials you’ll need to get each one done.
Let’s get to it.
- Repositioning Your Furniture
- Curtains and Blinds
- Window Inserts or Plugs
- Seal Air Gaps
- Window Film
- Glass Types and Layers
- Exterior Storm Window
Repositioning Your Furniture
Yes, you read that right! We’re going to start this guide with the simplest method that requires the least amount of resources: repositioning the furniture you might already have in your home.
1. Tall furniture: To do this, you’ll need a piece of furniture that’s tall enough to block the entire window. That might include furniture like bookshelves, cupboards, closets, or anything similar.
2. Items to fill up that furniture: The key here is to have a piece of furniture with plenty of items inside. That could be books, linens, or anything else that can absorb more of the noise coming through your window.
Here’s what you’re going to do with that furniture.
Step One: Empty It Out Completely.
Whatever furniture you decide to use, the odds are that it’s going to be very heavy. Not only will that make it very difficult for you to move towards your windows, but it could also increase your risk of injury.
So, the best thing to do is to lighten the load by emptying it before you (and a helper) move the item towards the window.
Step Two: Make Sure It Blocks The Entire Window
When you’re placing the bookshelf or cupboard, make sure that it’s right at the center of the window as much as possible. That will maximize the window area that’s blocked by the bookshelf and minimize the space that sound can travel through.
Remember: sound travels through vibrations, so even small window gaps that are exposed will let more noise come through.
Step Three: Fill It Up!
Having furniture block the window will help to reduce the noise. You can still enhance that noise-blocking effect by filling up that furniture with whatever it’s meant to hold. So, load that bookshelf up with books, or that cupboard up with linens or whatever else you’d like.
The more items are in there, the fewer noise vibrations will pass through the window into your home.
Curtains and Blinds
Some methods for soundproofing your windows can also be decorative. As is, the odds are high that you already have curtains or blinds to cover your windows on sunny days. By putting more thought into the materials you choose for them, the right curtains and blinds can also serve to prevent noise from getting past that window.
1. Heavy curtains or blinds: Generally, any curtains or blinds made of thicker materials will be much better at reducing noise. So, the same curtains that you buy for insulation could also double up as a method of soundproofing the window.
2. Soundproofing curtains or blinds: Still, if you’re not too concerned about design choices, you can invest in curtains and blinds designed explicitly for soundproofing. That might include types like cellular shades, soundproof curtains, and more.
3. Strong curtain rails: Don’t forget to check the curtain rail as well. Soundproofing curtains are heavier, so the railing you mount it on needs to be powerful enough.
Plus, the rail should keep the curtain as close to the window as possible with no enormous gaps.
Here’s how to choose and install those curtains or blinds.
- Shop For The Correct Materials
- Cover More Than Just The Window
- Hang It Up As Close To The Window As Possible
Step One: Shop For The Correct Materials
As mentioned earlier, you’ll want to shop for the right materials when choosing curtains or blinds. Ideally, they should be thicker and consist of multiple layers.
Step Two: Cover More Than Just The Window
The curtains or blinds should be larger than the actual size of the window. That will ensure that the material covers every corner of the window, plus a little extra.
In doing so, you’ll also minimize vibrations that might find their way through the sides of the curtains.
Step Three: Hang It Up As Close To The Window As Possible
When you hang your curtain, it should be as close to the window as possible. Some households use curtain rails that actually leave a small gap between the curtain and the window. If that’s the case, the sound will still get past the window and enter the room.
Window Inserts or Plugs
Another popular option for window soundproofing is to use window inserts (also known as window ‘plugs’). They work by filling up the window’s entire area, including any small gaps where sound might get through.
Window plugs block out sound and light while also acting as insulation. Permanent window inserts exist, though many people prefer removable ones that offer them more flexibility.
There are plenty of ready-made window inserts on the market, but finding one that’s perfectly suited to your window well is going to be a challenge. Here’s how you can make your own one instead.
Suppose you want to take the DIY route and make a window insert of your own. Here’s what you could use.
1. A dense panel: The foundation of the insert should be something thick, like medium-density fiberboard. That will hold all the other soundproofing materials that you’ll be using as well.
2. Soundproof acoustic foam: This is the material that will absorb most of the sound. Acoustic foam is the same stuff you’ll find on a recording studio’s walls. They’re typically easy to find at music or hardware stores, and even easier to buy online.
3. Handles: Unless you’re making permanent window plugs, you’ll want to place handles on them. That’ll make it easier to place and remove them whenever you need to.
4. Glue or other adhesives: All these materials mentioned above need to stick together, so you’ll need some adhesives to make that happen.
5. Weatherstrips: No matter how perfectly sized your window panel might be, there will always be tiny gaps around it. Add weatherstrips to the window insert to plug up those gaps.
Step One: Measure
Remember the old adage: “Measure once, cut twice”. Be sure to measure the length, depth, and width of your window. Try to be as precise as possible, so your window insert can fit as snugly as possible.
Step Two: Cut And Glue
Next, you’ll cut your panel according to those measurements. The panel will then serve as the base on which you’ll cut and stick your soundproofing acoustic foam.
While the panel helps stop the noise, it’s still crucial that you cover every inch of its surface with the acoustic foam.
On the other side of the panel (the one that faces inwards), you’ll want to attach your handles. This will come in handy for when you want to move your window plug around.
Step Three: Seal Additional Gaps
Suppose you measured and cut your panel perfectly. Even then, there will be some air gaps between the panel and the window well. And wherever there’s air, there’s sound!
One effective method of sealing those tiny gaps is by using weatherstrips. You can get them cheap at your local hardware store.
Apply the weatherstrips on the outer rim of your window plug. Do it in such a way that it fits snugly, but without making it too difficult to place or remove the panel at your window well.
Seal Air Gaps
Whether or not you use an insert, all windows naturally have some air gaps. Sorry for sounding like a broken record, but I’ll repeat it: wherever there’s air, there’s sound. Therefore, another way to soundproof your windows is to seal in any of those gaps.
There are plenty of options for materials to seal window air gaps. Most of them are affordable and easy to find at your local hardware store.
Still, we’re going to stick to the classic solution for this kind of problem in this guide. Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Caulk – It’s the typical filler and sealant used for all kinds of applications, including sealing air gaps in windows.
2. Caulk gun – This helps you apply the caulk in long, consistent lines.
3. Utility knife or caulk remover – Assuming your window already has some caulk applied to it, you’ll need to remove the old before applying the new.
4. Incense – Aside from improving the vibes of the room you’re in, incense is also effective at helping you identify your window’s air gaps.
Step One: Find The Gaps
Stand by the window and light your incense stick. Wherever there are air gaps in the window frame, the smoke will show it to you as it flows out.
Take a mental note of where those gaps are or mark them with a pencil to not forget.
Step Two: Clear The Way
The thing about caulk is that you can’t just apply it straight away. Wherever you plan on putting it, you’ll need to clean that spot first. For instance, if there’s old caulk there already, you’ll need a utility knife or caulk remover to remove every bit.
Then, you could wipe that spot clean of dirt or anything else. Remember: the surface must be clean to ensure that the caulk you’ll apply will stick properly.
Step Three: Apply The Caulk
Load the caulk in the caulk gun and get ready to fire!
Well, not yet. You’ll still need to use that utility knife again to cut the nozzle at a 45-degree angle, and at just the right size. That will ensure that you won’t be pushing out too much caulk too fast when applying it on the air gaps.
Step Four: Smooth The Lines
While applying the caulk, it’s also crucial that you smooth out the lines. The simplest way to do that is to drag your finger along those caulk lines, though you could use the rounded handle of one of your tools to get the job done as well.
It’s normal to assume that this step is just to make the lines look smoother and nicer. But it also ensures that all tiny gaps are covered and that the caulk sticks much better to the surface.
We’ve looked at a few different solutions at this point. Most of them have to do with putting something in front of the window or blocking the window. But is there something helpful that we can apply to the window itself?
Yes, they’re called soundproofing window films (naturally)! Simply put, this is a film that consists of several layers made of different materials. That combination of layers helps to reduce ‘sound transmission’, or in simple terms, it stops the noise vibrations from making it past the window.
Again, this is what you could pay a professional to do. But for all you DIY types that want to save money and feel the pride of doing it yourself, here’s how.
1. Window film: Now, good soundproofing window film is costly. However, other types of affordable window films will still reduce noise. Typical choices include plastic vinyl films and PVC materials.
2. Cutter: You’ll need something to cut the film with, like a utility knife or something similar.
3. Squeegee: This will help you ‘iron’ the film, so to speak, and get all the air bubbles out.
4. Spray bottle: Fill it up with bottled water (which is cleaner, unlike tap water). That will help when you’re applying the film.
Step One: Cut And Apply The Film
When you cut the film according to the windowpane’s measurements, be sure to add about a half-inch extra. Don’t worry, you’ll trim off the extras later.
Give the window a quick wipedown to make sure it’s clean. Then, spray the window with water and leave it wet.
When you remove the backing on the film and press it on the glass, the layer of water will make it easier for you to move the film around. That’ll help you position it correctly, just the way you want it.
Step Two: Remove Air Bubbles And Trim The Edges
Next, grab your squeegee and ‘massage’ out all the air bubbles by pushing them out the edges. Once you’re convinced that the film is perfectly flat, then you can trim out all the extra edges that you had before.
Glass Types and Layers
So, what else can you do to soundproof a window other than covering or blocking it using any of the methods above? Well, you could just change the window itself. To be exact, what we’re talking about here is changing the window pane itself to a type of glass that’s better at blocking sound.
Regardless of the type of glass you use, adding multiple layers of them for one window will increase the soundproofing. The best kind of material would be laminated glass. However, you’d still get excellent results with multiple layers of tempered glass as well.
Changing the type of glass that your window uses isn’t exactly a DIY job, so hire a professional to do it for you. Either way, here are the materials and steps needed to get the job done right.
1. Laminated glass: Using laminated glass for your windows will increase the soundproofing significantly. That’s because manufacturers create this material specifically with soundproofing in mind.
Typically, you can find manufacturers that build single, double, or triple-pane windows using laminated glass. Of course, the more panes, the more soundproof your window will be.
Installing a new double- or triple-pane window is a very complicated process. Even for professionals, that’ll take a whole day or longer.
Here’s a simplified version of what that process may look like.
- Remove The Window Trim and Casing
- Remove The Old Window
- Prepare New Window Opening
- Inspect or Replace The Window Stop
- Dry Fit Window
- Install Window
- Add Insulation
- Add Extension Jambs and Trim Molding
Step One: Remove The Window Trim and Casing
Windows are held in place with trim and a casing. They’ll also be the first parts that must be removed before a new window is put in.
Step Two: Remove The Old Window
Once the trim and casing are gone, it’ll be much easier to remove the actual window. Seeing as this involves handling glass, it would be wise to use protective gear and practise extra caution.
Step Three: Prepare New Window Opening
Suppose the new window has different dimensions compared to the old one. If that’s the case, then the new window opening will need to be sized accordingly.
Step Four: Inspect or Replace The Window Stop
The stop is what kept the old window in place, and it’s supposed to do the same for the new one, too. So, this would need to be checked and potentially replaced to ensure that it’ll work well with the new soundproof window you’re installing.
Step Five: Dry Fit Window
Here comes the ‘fun’ part: actually fitting the new window into place. They call this part of the process ‘dry’ fitting because you’re not sticking the window in place with anything just yet.
Instead, the point of this step is to make sure that everything fits perfectly well.
Step Six: Install Window
Assuming everything fits well, then you’ve got the green light to go ahead and properly install the window. That means using screws and silicone to fix the window in place.
Step Seven: Add Insulation
Remember earlier in this guide when we explored the idea of covering air gaps and insulating the window? Well, in a way, this is kind of similar. You’ll be looking for gaps around the window frame and filling it up with insulation or expanding foam.
Step Eight: Add Extension Jambs and Trim Molding
The window is secure at this point, but you’ll want to make it look more aesthetically pleasing. That’s where jambs and trim come into place. These are fixed on last as the final step.
Exterior Storm Window
Alright, so far we’ve looked at ways of blocking and covering your window. We’ve even looked at applying film onto the windowpane and changing the entire window for soundproofing. What else could you possibly do to soundproof your window even further?
Why not add another window on top of your window? Let me explain.
Plenty of homeowners use exterior storm windows to protect their existing windows. That’s especially true in areas where homes experience a lot of storm damage throughout the year.
Their primary purpose of the exterior storm window is to protect your primary windows. However, they also have a bunch of other benefits, one of them being increased soundproofing.
1. Measuring tape: Before you purchase an external storm window, you must measure the dimensions of your primary window. A measuring tape is the best way to do that.
2. External storm window: Typically, you can find ready-made external storm windows at your local hardware store. Online shopping is also a convenient option.
3. Screwdriver: Storm windows are typically mounted with screws, so you’ll want to use an electric screwdriver or drill to get the job done.
4. Caulk: You’ll want to have caulk on hand to form a tight seal between the storm window and your primary window to prevent noise from coming through.
Step One: Measure The Primary Window
Before you go out and buy the external storm window, you must make sure you have the right measurements. That includes the height and width of the existing window.
With that, the store can advise you on the ideal size for the exterior storm window.
Step Two: Caulk The Storm Window
Before attaching the external storm window, you must apply caulk around the perimeter. That will ensure a tight seal between both windows, preventing sound and water from getting through.
Step Three: Screw The Storm Window Into Place
Lastly, screw the storm window into place. Typically, the storm window will have pre-drilled holes so you’ll know precisely where to insert the screws.