Customers sometimes ask how acrylic window inserts compare to soundproof glass window inserts. Acrylic sometimes seems comparable to glass. However, we’ve offered both in the past and now we’ve chosen to only offer soundproof glass because our customers are so much happier (and enjoying more quiet) with that option.
Laminated Glass vs. Acrylic Window Inserts
From 2008 to 2011, we offered 1/4″ and 3/8″ thick acrylic window inserts for sound abatement. We decided to discontinue acrylic due to disappointed customers who had mid to low-frequency sound problems, i.e. trucks, motorcycles, big dogs, train rumble, A/C units, etc. Laminated glass inserts worked much better reducing noise in all frequencies.
When we first started producing soundproof window inserts, we looked for four basic characteristics in choosing materials:
- Manufacturing Suitability
Those requirements left us with two basic choices of material:
We selected laminated glass.
- Pros: Clear, with high mass and an interlayer that prevents it from resonating
- Cons: Difficult to manufacture and expensive
Of the types of plastic, we chose acrylic.
- Pros: Clear, easy to work with and reasonably priced
- Cons: Low mass and scratches moer easily than glass
At the time, we offered plexiglass window inserts as a lower-cost option and laminated glass as a higher-cost option.
The Issue with Acrylic Window Inserts: Lower Mass
The biggest problem with using acrylic for soundproofing is its low mass (density). The more mass a material has, the more soundwaves it can absorb. For comparison, the mass of 1/4″ acrylic is roughly 1.45 pounds per square foot, while 3/8″ acrylic is 2.14 lbs/ft, and 1/4″ laminated glass is roughly 3.27 lbs/ft – twice the mass of 1/4″ acrylic. Laminated glass simply stops more sound than acrylic because it has more mass.
It’s particularly important to block a greater range of sound in our industry because mid to low-frequency sound is often the most annoying for our customers. For example, many people aren’t bothered by the sound of cars passing, but the low-frequency roar of revving trucks and motorcycles wakes them up.
A Better Option for Soundproof Window Inserts
By 2011, our volume of laminated glass purchases had driven our costs down significantly. Plus, we’d solved the difficulties of working with laminated glass, driving prices down. Many more customers could afford the benefits of laminated glass. The price difference between laminated glass and acrylic shrunk each year, and our customer satisfaction with laminated glass inserts was high.
The scales had tipped. It was time to discontinue the plexiglass window inserts option. Our thinking was that increased customer satisfaction would eventually increase our buying power, driving our costs down. It worked.
We now offer soundproof window inserts made of laminated glass for less than our biggest national competitor (Indow Windows) whose product is acrylic. Plus, glass soundproof window inserts are effective and barely visible.
How Sun and Sound Windows Compare to Indow Windows
Indow Windows offers acrylic window inserts that start at $24 a square foot. While that may seem like a good deal, our products begin at $22 per square foot. Plus, soundproof glass has more mass, and blocks more sound, than acrylic. More mass means that the glass will offer you more savings on your electric bill as well. It also has more clarity and resistance to bending in the Texas heat.
What Is Laminated Glass?
Laminated glass is made of two pieces of glass held together with a vinyl layer. It holds together when broken instead of leaving shards of glass everywhere, which is why it’s used in car windshields. Laminated glass also blocks 99 percent of UV light and reduces noise. How much noise the laminated glass blocks depends on the thickness of the glass and the interlayer. Glass with more mass and more air space in between the layers will cut more sound.
What About Tempered or Acoustic Grade Glass?
Acoustic grade glass can also block sound well because it also has an interlayer between two pieces of glass; however, it isn’t a safety glass like laminated glass is. It also generally doesn’t block much more sound than laminated glass, or at least enough to make it worth the extra cost.
Tempered glass is made for durability, not noise reduction. It lacks the interlayer of laminated glass.
Can I Soundproof My Windows Myself?
You can soundproof windows yourself. However, the strength of your soundproofed window depends not just on the noise reduction quality of your material, but on the proper installation of it to ensure there are no leaks or gaps that sound can waft through. That’s why many customers choose to call on Sun and Sound Windows’ decades of quick, effective installation experience to soundproof their homes or offices.
Want to get a cost estimate for glass soundproof window inserts for your home or office? Contact us.