I run a sound recording studio in my home, and also have a young daughter who is very sensitive to noise. So, I set out to soundproof some of my windows. In this blog post I want to share with you some of the things I’ve tried for soundproofing windows. What’s worked, and what didn’t work.
In general, just remember that you need thick, dense materials to block sound from coming through a window. But also, by including soft, plush furniture, drapes, rugs, and other things in the room, you can reduce the echo in the room and make it feel much more peaceful and quiet.
Step 1: Determine If You Can Block the Window
Without question, you’ll get the most soundproofing if you can entirely block the window. Sound cannot be blocked without DENSE materials. The more density you place between you and the exterior of the window, the more sound isolation you’ll get. If you need the window for light or aesthetics, then the soundproofing process will be tougher, but not impossible.
Many homeowners mistakenly purchase acoustic foam panels (like you’d see in a recording studio) because they are inexpensive and seem professional. However, that’s for cutting echo–NOT for blocking sound from entering a room.
If you can block the window, then I recommend purchasing thick insulated panels from Home Depot or Lowes. It’s simply insulation board, and you’ll cut it to fit VERY TIGHT in the window space. This costs less than $15 and will make a tremendous difference in the amount of sound that gets into the room. Blocking the window many not look as pretty (though you can cover it with curtains), but it’s the most effective method.
If you need even more dampening and REALLY need the noise to stop, then you can spend about $100 on a fiberglass soundproof blanket to cover the window. This is far more soundproof than insulation board, but comes at a higher cost.
Step 2: Choose Thick Material Blinds
Your blinds can really help to reduce the echo in the room as well as offering a minimal amount of blocking from the sound. I wouldn’t consider material blinds as effective as sound deadening curtains (discussed later), but if you need blinds anyway, they can certainly improve things a little bit.
I chose honeycomb blinds like these on Amazon for my home office (where I have my recording studio) as well as for the baby’s room which we soundproofed. They did make a difference in the sound dampening, but the difference was not huge.
Step 3: Consider Replacing the Window
You may consider replacing the window entirely. This is an expensive fix which will probably cost $750 and up including labor. However, there are a number of specialty soundproof windows which are extremely soundproof and will give you the best soundproofing available. This is basically the nuclear option. You’ll be spending a lot of money, but it will fix the problem and look the nicest.
One thing to be aware of if you decide to entirely replace the window, is that you need to make sure the install person completely seals all edges around the window. If there are cracks in the sealant or silicone, the sound can still get through. It’s like if you’re inside a window and try to talk to someone on the other side of the window. The sound will be very much muffled through the window, but if you open the window even a tiny crack, it will sound like the person on the other side of the window is right next to you inside. Any cracks will let sound through easily, so make sure everything is nice and tight.
Step 4: Consider Sound Deadening Curtains
I’ve written about sound blocking curtains before on this site. They are not 100% effective, but they can be very helpful in taking the edge off of sound coming from outside a window. Since curtains look nice anyway, it’s a good upgrade because it will make the room look nicer and cover any foam you’ve put in the window.
The real benefit of sound deadening curtains is that they dramatically reduce the effect of echo from within a room. If you’re unfamiliar with this concept, imagine what it sounds like if someone were to yell in a master closet compared to a bathroom. Because bathrooms usually have hard flooring and no furniture, there’s nothing to soak up sound so there is a lot of echo and the room feels loud. By contrast, a master closet has clothing lining all the walls which soaks up sound and makes a room FEEL much more quiet. So while all the other ideas on this page will physically block sound from entering a room, simply reducing the echo in the room is often the best way to make a room FEEL quieter and more peaceful. In fact, it is quieter because sound is being soaked up. Sound DAMPENING is a very important part of soundPROOFING.
Just remember that for sound blocking curtains to be effective, you need to get more panels than normal so that they thickly cover the window area, and also extend far beyond the edges of the window, and up to the ceiling and all the way down to the floor. Any gaps in the curtain will let sound right through. These are the sound blocking curtains I recommend from Amazon (Aff. link).