If you have a hard time focusing on anything because of the noise coming from outside of your home, it might be the right time to start a new DIY project. Having dealt with noise myself, I decided to go ahead and soundproof my own windows. Not only did I achieve my goal of noise reduction, but I did it in a cheap way, too!
So, I wanted to share some tips and tricks, which you can use to successfully soundproof the windows all by yourself, without having to replace them!
After I explain the best window soundproofing methods you can use, I’ll take a moment to share with you some tips for buying the soundproof windows your home deserves. But first, let’s talk about why you should even bother soundproofing your windows.
Why Do Windows Let In So Much Noise?
If you think about it, windows are essentially holes in your walls, so the amount of noise they let inside the house should come as no surprise.
To begin with, the issue could lie in the fact that the window frame itself was installed poorly. That would result in gaps all around the frame, which would let noise in along with the air. Depending on the season, that kind of deficiency could put a real dent in your wallet as you try to maintain a satisfactory temperature indoors.
Then, there’s the fact that windows are generally far thinner than the surrounding parts of the wall. Single-pane glass is a particularly problematic aspect of windows that face the street. In order to block out the sounds of traffic, raised voices, barking, and other miscellaneous noises, you’ll want your windows to be as thick as possible.
Yet, most windows simply aren’t built to withstand the sheer volume of sound they are bombarded with almost daily. Consequently, most of the noise that ends up wearing away at our nerves is comprised of the sounds that manage to weasel their way through the gaps in our windows. That makes them the perfect place to start soundproofing your room.
13 DIY Methods to Soundproof Windows
Of course, there are plenty of ways to go about soundproofing your windows. Depending on the type of noise you’re dealing with and the kind of windows you have, some solutions will work better than others.
With that in mind, let’s talk about your options, so you can see what works best for you. I’ll begin with the simplest methods to implement and gradually progress to more advanced techniques.
1. Block the Windows With Furniture
We all know this – noise travels around. It usually moves through the air until it reaches a surface. Here, it either passes through the surface or bounces off. The thing is that every time it does one of those things, it loses some of its energy and as a consequence, it dies out more quickly.
One way to add more obstacles to the sound’s path is to rearrange your existing furniture or add some new pieces. You can place soft, uneven surfaces that will absorb the sound waves and stop them from bouncing around your room — reducing echo and reverberation along the way. On the other hand, the flat and sturdy ones will block the sound from leaving or entering the room and reflect it back to where it came.
Depending on your lighting preferences, you have two strategies on how to deal with this rearrangement. You can either block the window completely, by placing closets, bookshelves, couches and other similar stuff IN FRONT of it. Pay attention, though, as this option will lead to the complete blockage of the outside light.
Or, if you don’t want to lose the precious light, you can start by placing the furniture AROUND the window or NEXT TO it. This way it will still absorb some of the sounds that are forcing their way through your windows, but to be fair, I wouldn’t expect any miracles.
This first method is not going to cost you anything, so there’s absolutely no excuse why you shouldn’t try it out!
2. Seal All Gaps With Acoustic Caulk
Has it ever crossed your mind that the outside noise can force its way into your home through those tiny gaps between the wall and the borders of the window? It’s crazy how we never pay that much attention to these tiny details. So, what we need to do is block these small pathways and prevent the sounds from pushing through.
That’s when acoustic caulk comes in handy! It will give you great effects, and you won’t have to redo it for at least three, or even four, years. It’s a quick fix with a high level of durability, and that’s why it’s so awesome.
Using acoustic caulk comes with a number of benefits. Firstly, it efficiently seals gaps, providing a robust barrier against external noise. Moreover, it’s designed to stay flexible, preventing any shrinkage or cracking that can compromise its effectiveness. And, impressively, it offers greater durability than its regular counterpart, enhancing its longevity and performance.
If you’re interested in learning more about acoustic caulk, understanding why it’s superior to regular caulk, and discovering how to use it around your windows, simply follow this link for additional information.
3. Install/Replace Weatherstripping
There’s one more way you can reduce noise leakage and energy waste. In order to do that, you’ll need a weatherstripping tape! This tape can be bought in various forms, and it can be made out of many materials. Some of the materials used for these tapes are foam, rubber and silicone, but the list doesn’t end there.
You can determine which materials best suits your needs by taking into consideration the amount of friction your window will receive, the exposure to weather and the overall look of your window with it. My personal favorite is the Open-Cell Foam Tape. However, you should see for yourself which material is going to work for your windows.
All in all, the weather-stripping sealers will serve as powerful gap blockers. It will take you just 30 minutes or less, to cover your whole window (and half of this time you’ll be cleaning it). You basically need to do:
- clean the surface
- cut the strip to the desired length
- apply the strip to all four sides of the window jam
If you’re more of a visual person, here’s a short video about weatherstripping:
Finally, not only is weatherstripping cheap and easy to apply, but it also offers a variety of additional benefits. These include reducing dust and noise, preventing cold wind and water leakage, and serving as a barrier against outside intruders like insects.
4. Hang Soundproof Curtains
Another budget-friendly solution is to get thick soundproof curtains. I have to warn you, though. This method won’t block the noise entirely. However, it can be useful as a complement to other methods.
What these curtains will do is help reduce the echo. Also, from the aesthetic point of view, the large, thick curtains that cover the entire window will be a great addition to your home decor.
What’s more, you’ll actually kill two birds with one stone by making this purchase. You’ll have something to help you reduce the noise, but also make your interior look good and keep the unwanted light out of your home. What more can you ask for?
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I bought these curtains, and I absolutely adore them! You shouldn’t expect them to block all the incoming noise, though. I mean, we’re talking about the cloth hung on the wall. However, they have proven to be extremely helpful as an addition to other methods I used. And, I just love the cozy feel they give to my house. So, in my opinion, it’s a win-win situation.
If you’re interested in learning more about soundproof curtains, how they work, and exploring some of the best products, click this link:
5. Cover the Windows With Soundproof Blankets
One more thing I tried using were the soundproof blankets. The same goes here as for the curtains. These blankets are great at reducing the level of noise coming through the windows. However, they can’t cancel the noise leakage completely.
If you’re now asking yourself “How can a blanket improve the sound?”, let me explain. In general, professional movers use moving blankets to wrap up furniture in order to save it from damage during transportation. The reason for that is that they are made of heavy layers of dense materials, like woven cotton, polyester, fiberglass, and mineral wool. These features are the reason moving blankets became popular among people in the DIY soundproofing and got the name “soundproof” blankets.
I’d recommend that you look for blankets with grommets. The reason for that is the grommets will make it so much easier to hang the blankets over the window. You’ll just need to place them on a curtain rod, or you can even add the hooks.
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You need to know that the cheaper blankets most likely won’t have grommets on them. So either you’ll look for the ones that have them and spend some more money, or you can install them manually. In addition, you can also nail/screw the blanket to the wall. Choose the way of installation that’s going to be the easiest one for you, and you’ll immediately notice the difference these blankets make!
You can learn more about soundproof blankets here:
6. Build a Soundproof Window Plug
In case you’re on the lookout for a fun and simple DIY project that’s going to keep you busy, I suggest you try and build a soundproof window plug. These plugs are a great solution as they’ll save you from messing with the window. What’s more, they are extremely affordable, and you’ll be amazed at how well they will block the sound leakage!
You only need to plug them in a window opening when you need some peace and quiet. Afterward, simply remove them. A highly effective method that lets you completely control the level of noise in your home environment.
And the best thing about this method is that it’s going to cost you very little to buy the materials, and it will be a fun little project for you to indulge in.
7. Install Thick Blinds or Shades
One more way to reduce noise levels in your home is to install thick material blinds or shades. If you go for this kind of option, you’ll be very pleased with the purchase. The installation is pretty quick and straightforward, so it won’t be a hassle to install them on your windows.
Of course, this method won’t completely cancel the noise. However, it will help reduce it. And, you’ll see a significant change if you decide to combine this method with another one from the article.
Additionally, apart from the noise reduction, these blinds and shades will serve as a great way to control the amount of light you let in your room. Basically, thanks to them, you can have a sense of privacy and peace and keep the unwanted light out of the room, whenever you feel like it.
My recommendation would be to get Cordless Single Cell Shades. Firstly, they are thicker when compared to the regular shades. And, secondly, they have a unique “honeycomb composition”, which enhances their ability to absorb and dampen the sound waves.
8. Install Window Shutters
Window shutters are one of the cheapest yet most effective ways to block noise from entering your home. Typically, shutters consist of two panels affixed to either side of the window. Like curtains and blinds, their main purpose is to ensure the privacy of the homeowner and the security of their home.
However, they can also protect the windows from harsh weather conditions, such as hailstorms, and prevent heat waves from impacting the temperature inside your home. Still, not all shutters could effectively prevent extreme weather from damaging your windows.
Aside from protecting your home from potential damages brought on by unpredictable weather, exterior shutters can also improve the overall look of the building from the outside. Still, you should keep some things in mind before you decide to get traditional exterior shutters.
As the most popular exterior shutters on Amazon, these vinyl shutters have plenty of excellent features. However, the features that could potentially put a damper on your attempts to soundproof your home are the open louvers. As you can imagine, the horizontal slats that should let air into your home would also admit sound — and we don’t want that.
Still, some shutters do have operable louvers you’d be able to move. However, the only way fixed louvers might prevent noise from entering is if you also closed the windows. Even then, you’d be better off closing the openings or getting shutters that never had them in the first place. Either vinyl shutters or wooden ones would do — just be sure to weatherproof unfinished wood.
However, exterior shutters are also somewhat inconvenient since you’d have to open the window to adjust them. If that doesn’t sound like something you’d be willing to do, you might want to look into interior shutters.
Unlike exterior shutters, interior shutters don’t need to be made of weatherproof materials. However, for the purposes of soundproofing your home, they should still be relatively sturdy. Once again, it wouldn’t do to get shutters with fixed louvers.
Now, there are two camps of people when it comes to the question of how aesthetically pleasing interior shutters should be. Some people don’t really mind if their interior shutters aren’t particularly attractive since nobody outside of their home can see them. Personally, though, I’m in the second camp — so I’d rather have the shutters be a stylistic element of my home.
With that in mind, I’d recommend fitting your interior shutters in with the rest of your room decor. You’ll find plenty of decorative vintage and rustic-looking wooden panels online if you want to add a country element to your home. Additionally, if you don’t like those options, you can always build or custom order your interior shutters.
9. Use Window Soundproofing Kit to Add More Layers
Alright, we arrived at another DIY project. I have to warn you, this one is not so simple.
In order to reduce the noise levels coming from the outside, we can attach a piece of acrylic or glass over the inside of the window. This method is pretty effective when it comes to DIY ways of soundproofing windows. But be careful, though. Without laminated glass or an acoustic grade glass, there won’t be a huge acoustic difference.
You have to make sure that the new layer will hug the window as tightly as possible. To achieve this, you will need to install a metal frame on your window. Then you’ll need to use special magnets that will hold the glass sheet to the frame.
A simpler way is to buy the soundproofing window kit explicitly designed for this purpose. It comes with all the parts necessary (note that acrylic and glass are not included) to build your own version of a soundproof window, and a screwdriver is the only tool you’ll need.
Using soundproofing window kits has several pros and cons. On the positive side, it allows you to maintain natural daylight and can be removed for cleaning. However, on the downside, it may take more time and effort to install and is generally more expensive than previous methods. Therefore, it’s worth considering this method as an alternative option if other strategies don’t meet your requirements.
10. Install Soundproof Window Inserts
If the aforementioned DIY project doesn’t work out, go for the professional solution. Companies like CitiQuiet make soundproof window inserts that ought to leave your windows fully functional.
Essentially, these inserts are basically sliding panes that go over the interior side of the windows. As you can see in the company’s insert installation video, their product can make even the noisiest environment go quiet. At the very end of the video, you can hear the amount of noise the inserts are keeping at bay when they slide them open.
The main difference between this solution and the previous one we talked about is that the CitiQuiet insert and others like it require professional installation.
In my opinion, soundproofing kits can be just as effective if you’re an expert in home DIYs. However, if you’re not, you’ll run the risk of leaving tiny gaps around the window. So if you’re not sure if you’ll be able to effectively create that additional barrier yourself, and if you have some cash to spare, hire the pros.
11. Attach Window Soundproofing Film
Now, with any kind of window insert, you’ll add a separate layer of glass. While inserts are still the most effective way to soundproof windows, there is an obvious drawback to those methods. You’d have another layer of glass to keep clean. Fortunately, there is another product I want to share.
Whether you want to retain the window’s transparency or not, vinyl window film might be the perfect solution. These kinds of products are basically window stickers. You peel off a corner and press the film directly onto clean glass until it covers the whole window pane. If you find that the product you ordered is too large, cut off the excess with a utility knife.
Obviously, acoustic window film won’t eliminate a lot of noise. However, it will get rid of vibrations and small cracks in the glass. Still, if you opt for this method, you’ll likely have to use acoustic caulk around the window frame. That should take care of any cracks in the wall.
In the article I’ve linked to, I recommended several window film options with various transparent, frosted, colored, and opaque designs. Even if your windows are perfectly soundproof, you might still want to check out the products I’ve found, if for no other reason but to add a new and interesting element to your home decor.
12. Use Professional Acoustic Panels
Another hack to try are the acoustic panels, which might look similar to the previously mentioned blankets. However, you should know that acoustic panels are way thicker and bulkier! And, the greater the mass, the lesser the noise will be. So, here’s a perfect example of that kind of a high-mass product — Singer Safety Fiberglass Panel.
What you need to learn is that these panels are made out of quilted fiberglass, which acts as a sound barrier. Hence, this material actually works as a sound stopper and doesn’t let the sound waves pass through! In addition, thanks to their uneven surface, they will significantly reduce the echoes and absorb the sounds on both sides of the panel.
It’s not going to be too much of a hassle to install these panels, as they have brass grommets on all four sides. Therefore, you can easily hang them on hooks or nails to whichever surface you want. Just pay attention to the fact that the closer you place them to the windows, the better the effect will be.
There are some disadvantages — the price and the looks of the panels. When we compare this method to all the previous ones, this is clearly a more expensive option. However, brand new soundproof windows are much more costly, so this option will end up looking very cheap.
And, as far as the looks go, I just wanted to warn you that these panels are not entirely visually appealing. However, they are very effective, and they will block the noise effectively. And, if you really can’t seem to make peace with the visual effect, just throw on some beautifully made curtains, and enjoy both the style and the functionality!
13. Block the Window Entirely
My final solution for you is to get rid of the window completely and entirely. If you live in a very loud neighborhood and none of the previously mentioned options seem satisfactory enough, I would suggest that you block your window entirely.
That way, you will undoubtedly get rid of the noise. On the other hand, you need to think twice before making this decision. You do understand that after blocking it, there will be no window at all?
That might not seem like a big issue, but you need to know that windows are put where they are for a reason. Aside from the annoying sounds, the windows let the sun rays into your home. Also, they give you fresh air and maybe even a nice view.
So, before opting for this complete blockage method, take everything into consideration. If you still think that this would be a good solution then go ahead and do it. You have three steps to complete this process:
- start by removing the existing window
- continue by filling in the cavity
- finish with the installation of drywall over the cavity
On the other hand, if you think that removing the window is not a viable option, then pick one of the 12 other tips.
You can read this article to get a better idea: Soundproofing With Drywall.
A Quick Recap and Comparison
Here is a table that lists and compares all the methods we discussed. This can help you decide which one is better suited for your needs, lifestyle, and budget.
|1. Furniture||Position large furniture strategically in front of windows.||Easy, no additional cost.||Limited effectiveness, may not be practical depending on room layout.|
|2. Acoustic Caulk||Apply acoustic caulk to gaps and cracks around window frames.||Easy, cost-effective.||May require occasional re-application.|
|3. Weather Stripping||Add weatherstripping tape to gaps between windows and frames.||Easy, inexpensive.||Temporary solution, might not block all noise.|
|4. Soundproof Curtains||Install one or two layers of heavy insulated curtains.||Effective, aesthetically pleasing.||Not all curtains offer significant soundproofing.|
|5. Soundproof Blankets||Hang soundproof blankets or moving blankets over windows.||Moderate results, can be decorative.||May not be aesthetically pleasing.|
|6. Window Plug||Build a widow plug using soundproofing materials.||Very effective, temporary or permanent solution.||Can take time and effort to build.|
|7. Thick Blinds and Shades||Combine other methods with thick blinds or shades for better results.||Easy, budget option.||It doesn’t help much on its own.|
|8. Window Shutters||Install interior or exterior shutters on windows.||Also offers privacy, can be aesthetically pleasing.||May not be fully effective for soundproofing, depends on the design.|
|9. Window Soundproofing Kits||Use special kits to install additional layers of acrylic or glass on windows.||Effective, retains daylight.||Takes time and effort to install, pricier than other methods.|
|10. Soundproof Window Inserts||Professional-grade inserts that slide over the window.||Very effective.||Requires professional installation, can be expensive.|
|11. Window Soundproofing Film||Apply soundproofing film directly onto the window.||Retains transparency, easy to apply.||Won’t eliminate a lot of noise, may require additional sealing.|
|12. Acoustic Panels||Thick, quilted fiberglass panels hung over windows.||Very effective.||Expensive, not visually appealing.|
|13. Block the Window Entirely||Completely seal off and cover the window.||Guaranteed noise reduction.||Permanent, blocks light and view, significant modification to home.|
Things to Consider When Shopping for Soundproof Windows
So far, we’ve discussed several methods that should soundproof your existing windows. But what if you do everything you can, and you still don’t get the results you wanted? At that point, it’s time to consider replacing your old windows with newer, soundproof ones.
In the following sections, we’ll examine the key features you need to keep in mind when buying soundproof windows.
Unlike regular windows, soundproof windows need to meet certain criteria in order to earn a high STC rating. Sound Transmission Class measures how well the various materials that went into making the window fare when confronted by sound frequencies ranging from 125 Hz to 4 kHz.
Ultimately, the higher the rating, the more decibels the windows can block. In fact, many building regulations now require windows to have an STC rating between 50 and 55. Still, even a rating of 40 would be able to lower the amount of noise you hear by 40 decibels. So what makes a window particularly effective at blocking sound transmission?
To begin with, your soundproof window would have to have a thick sheet of glass. The sheet should be between an eighth of an inch and half an inch thick, though not all of that is solid glass. Instead, the best soundproof windows sandwich a thin layer of transparent vinyl — PVB or EVA — between two layers of glass. As a result, the sheet of glass is sturdier and less penetrable than those used in regular windows.
Number of Panes
Most of the best soundproof windows manufacturers use double or even triple-pane glass. Basically, they stack several layers of glass behind each other to create a window with a higher STC rating. Double or triple-pane windows generally have a much higher rating than single-pane products. However, the multiple layers of glass aren’t exactly what keeps the noise at bay.
Instead, the sound waves are actually trapped in the air between the panes, which allows the noise to dissipate before penetrating the following layers of glass. Usually, the windows that have wider spaces between the glass panes are better at that aspect of noise control.
Frame Material and Quality
Last but certainly not least, the soundproof windows you get must have an appropriate kind of window frame. If you’ve been looking for windows, you probably know that PVC frames have become the most popular option as of late. After all, they’re probably the easiest frames to clean. However, they don’t offer much in the way of soundproofing due to their low mass.
If you’re looking for sound absorption, you ought to find a window with a wooden frame. If nothing else, it’s safe to say that wood is a significantly better sound dampener than vinyl. Yet, as someone who’s had to sand down and restain more than my fair share of windows and doors, I can confirm that wood maintenance can be a tricky.
Overall, metal is the worst material you can have for your window frame. While it certainly has more mass than vinyl, it’s not a great sound dampener by any means.
Openable vs. Fixed Window
Aside from the material of the frame, you should also think about whether you need the window in question to be openable. The fact of the matter is that windows that can open usually have lower STC ratings. So if the room in question already has a decent ventilation system, consider getting a fixed window.
Alternately, you can just make sure that the rubber weatherstripping gaskets create a good seal when the window is closed. From there, it’ll only be a question of installing the window properly, so there are no gaps between the frame and the surrounding wall.
By the way, if you’re interested in learning how to open windows quietly, I recommend checking out the article linked here. This resource could prove invaluable in maintaining your newly achieved peace.
Final Thoughts on Window Soundproofing
If you’re having problems with outside noise, it’s high time you take things into your own hands and start working! Once you’re finished, those projects will be something you’ll be very proud of.
Let me remind you that some of the DIY soundproofing methods I mentioned earlier are not going to be 100% efficient, so you might want to combine two or more options. It all depends on how much noise you’re dealing with and how big your budget is.
If you are willing to spend a fair amount of money, you might want to consider getting soundproof windows. This solution will surely help block out the unwanted noise, it’s well known how efficient these windows can be. In fact, sometimes, they can reduce the noise level by 50% and more.
Just make sure that the installation is done professionally. You don’t want to spend all that money on the windows and then install them poorly, do you?
Have you tried something else? Leave a comment!
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2 thoughts on “How to Soundproof Windows: Budget-Friendly DIY Methods”
Great suggestions I never even thought of, thank you!
Thanks for this article, been going out of my mind for years due to noise penetrating my home.
I thought I was just crazy and have considered even bricking up the windows. It’s great to see an article like this give credence to my issues.. seems I am not alone!!
One you block the windows and sound proof you do need to consider positive ventilation for the space as soon as you plug the gaps there is less fresh air and so you need to provide an alternative fresh air input.
It would be good if you could add ideas for how to bring fresh air into rooms that have had their noise issues solved. E.g using the roof and ducting to bring fresh air in and expel air for upstairs bedrooms and to turn them off if neighbours are burning leaves or smoking substances in the garden and you want to aviod smells and pollution.