People rarely realize just how much noise pollution interferes with their daily lives. In fact, those of us who have lived in noisy areas our whole lives have almost no frame of reference for how quiet a household should really be.
On average, outside noise often reaches at least 30-35 decibels, especially in areas that get a lot of car traffic during the day. There's only so much noise the average person can endure before they start looking for solutions.
A good solution to this particular problem is the use of soundproof glass. Although you shouldn't rely on soundproof glass to completely eliminate outside noise, it can drastically reduce unwanted noise and bring a semblance of peace and quiet to your household.
What is Soundproof Glass?
Soundproof glass is designed to create a barrier between outside noise and the inside of any space of your choosing. It does so by blocking sound waves to a great extent in a simple yet effective fashion.
Depending on the material construction of the glass, it can block between 90 and 95 percent of all sound waves by capturing their mechanical energy.
This specially designed glass can be used in many ingenious ways, yet people tend to use it for windows. Because of this, soundproof windows are by far the most common element among people who soundproof their households.
How Does Soundproof Glass Work?
It needs to be said that soundproof glass alone isn't going to do much about the noise if it's not incorporated into a window frame with soundproofing capabilities. In fact, glass itself is a bad soundproofing material by most standards.
It is common for soundproof windows to incorporate thicker glass than regular windows because the thickness of the glass determines how easily sound waves penetrate the glass itself. Thick materials force sound waves to dissipate on the surface. This concept also applies to glass.
Now, the problem with thicker glass is that it's considerably heavier than regular glass, so soundproof windows will have to be surrounded by bulkier frames to accommodate the glass panes. This way, the window provides an effective sound barrier while still functioning as a normal window.
Along the same lines, most soundproof windows are double pane windows. The first pane is usually tasked with absorbing high-frequency sound waves while the second absorbs and dissipates low-frequency noises.
Soundproofing Concepts Explained
It is important to note that a soundproof window is made of much more than just a piece of glass. In fact, when we talk about soundproof glass we refer to a combination of elements, each with a specific purpose.
To effectively block sound, soundproofing windows have to meet certain standards of mass, mechanical isolation, absorption, resonance damping, and conduction.
Mass is essential for soundproof glass because sound has a harder time penetrating a thicker material. This is the case with most noise reduction windows and soundproofing glass because of how difficult it is for low-intensity noise to make thick materials vibrate on both sides.
As a concept, mechanical isolation separates materials from one another, forcing the sound to move through the air rather than by direct contact. This dampens the sound considerably. For this reason, the use of multiple panes ensures that noise will have to penetrate multiple thick surfaces separated by air.
We refer to absorption when we talk about a material's capacity to absorb vibration and reduce a sound wave's total energy. This usually applies to a single pane of glass, but absorption can also be measured across multiple panes.
A material's capacity to reduce a sound wave's magnitude is referred to as resonance damping. With most soundproofing arrangements, soundproof glass needs to possess the capacity to dampen sound waves and suppress their mechanical energy. This is particularly important for windows that are tasked with reducing traffic noise.
Conduction is essential for soundproof glass as it transfers energy from one material to another. As such, any sound wave that hits the outside of the sheets of glass has to be transferred to the damping elements in the frame or towards other sound-dampening materials tasked with dissipating the external sound's intensity.
How Do We Measure the Efficiency of Soundproof Glass
To better understand how soundproof glass is measured, we should first take into account that noise travels throughout an environment in two ways: through the air and through material surfaces.
The transmission of noise through the air is measured in Sound Transmission Class (STC) while material sound transmission is measured in Outdoor/Indoor Transmission Class (OITC).
To give you a better idea of what this means in practical terms, know that most soundproof windows have an STC rating of around 26 or so. Bear in mind that STC can vary substantially depending on the window frame and how many panes of glass the window incorporates.
The way by which this glass works is by slowing the transfer of sound waves by managing air space within the window itself. At the same time, the window reduces the noise level by optimizing the thickness of the glass and additional panes.
Types of Soundproof Glass
Although the general purpose of soundproof glass is pretty straightforward, the glass itself can differ in its design and material construction. As such, soundproof glass can either be double-glazed or laminated, each with its own particularities.
Laminated glass is obtained by adding plastic laminate to the glass for the purpose of stopping noise on the outside and making the glass sturdy and durable. For optimal sound reduction, this glass is built with polyvinyl butyral (PVB) on the inside to reduce the intensity of high-frequency sound waves and to decrease noise throughout the glass and the frame.
This type of glass is commonly used for double-pane windows in a build that also contains rubber spacers between the glass and sill. This is intended to prevent the inner air from escaping, which not only helps with the soundproofing but also with the window's insulation.
Double Glazed Glass
The main selling point of double glazed windows is that they combine soundproofing with insulation in a blend that also makes the windows more practical. When sound hits the outside of the window, the glass vibrates according to the intensity of the vibration. With double glazed windows, the gas contained between the glass panes helps reduce the vibrations considerably.
Specialists sometimes refer to this as soundproof glazing, and it is a very practical way to reduce unwanted sound without investing in any major alterations to your household. Speaking of soundproof glazing, bear in mind that double glazed glass also replaces the need for a storm window on account of its thick design, even though a storm window will also make use of a sturdier frame.
Is Soundproof Glass Different From Acoustic Glass?
In many ways, soundproof glass is fairly similar to acoustic glass, almost to the point that people use the terms interchangeably. In principle, acoustic glass commonly enjoys the same design as laminated glass in both construction and general purpose.
Add to that the fact that soundproof glass is cheap enough to significantly reduce the costs of soundproofing a room through any other methods, and you’ll begin to understand why so many people choose to invest in soundproof glass in the first place.
Part of the reason why people opt for acoustic glass is that along with a great degree of sound control, the glass also helps minimize weather impact noise from outside. Some people also use acoustic glass to create office partitions and meeting rooms because it maintains a low profile while maximizing acoustic isolation.
What to Consider When Buying Soundproof Glass
When purchasing soundproof glass, you want to look at the thickness of the glass and the STC rating. Keep in mind that its soundproofing quality is reliant on the number of panes and whether or not it incorporates a soundproofing frame. Additionally, consider the cost and any additional features the glass may offer.
Bear in mind that some manufacturers will also add extra layers of laminate to the glass, which helps with keeping temperatures stable throughout the house. Due to their ingenious design, these windows prevent excess heat and cold from penetrating the glass, thus complementing any air conditioning setup you might have.
All Things Considered
There is no better way to isolate yourself from the bothersome noise that comes from outside other than by employing soundproof windows. The exact type of soundproof glass may change from one window profile to another, but the general purpose of these types of windows is mostly the same.
You will notice that along with their soundproofing benefits, many soundproof windows also provide a high standard of thermal insulation, more so than regular windows by a considerable margin. They benefit from a more intricate and practical design than the average windows.