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WHAT ARE SOUNDPROOF WINDOW INSERTS?
Soundproofing window inserts are 1/4″ thick, laminated glass panels, installed between your existing window and your window treatments (blinds, shades, shutters, curtains, drapes). We do not have to replace or modify your existing window in any way.
We have three types of soundproofing window inserts:
- Operating insert – This insert operates just like a regular sliding window. The lower sash slides up and down or side-to-side to match the operation of existing sliding windows. With existing windows that crank outward (casement style), we use the type that slides up from the bottom to provide access to the crank handle. This insert is the best choice for customers who regularly open their windows on the noisy side of the building. This is the most expensive option due to the higher cost of manufacturing.
- Single-piece insert – This removable panel is the most popular soundproofing window insert. It is the least expensive and most effective insert because it has the least number of places to contribute sound leakage. You remove it by pulling to release the magnetic frame from the steel frame. It meets the fire code for ingress and egress and has no cross bars to interfere with your view. It’s the best choice for customers who don’t open their windows daily on the noisy side of the building.
- Two-piece insert – This insert has two panels: an upper and lower. This upper/lower “split” makes it easier for customers to open their existing windows, because they only have to remove the lower panel to access the lock on their existing window. The cross bar is positioned in the same place as the cross bar of the existing window to lessen interference with your view. This insert is a good choice for customers who regularly open their windows on the noisy side of the building but want to keep costs down. We also accommodate customers who have a left/right sliding configuration.
The frame is two parts: the magnetic/vinyl that fits around the edges of the laminated glass and the steel L-angle that attaches to the wall. The magnetic half of the frame sticks to the steel half of the frame, creating an active seal. The steel frame is 26 gauge, coated galvanized steel with a rolled edge. We brad-nail it to the wall and caulk it to form a tight seal. The magnetic frame is vinyl with a UV inhibitor, rated at .9 pounds per linear foot of holding power.
All components are warranted against defect and workmanship as long as you own your home.
HOW DO SOUNDPROOF WINDOW INSERTS WORK?
When we install soundproof window inserts at least 2″ away from your existing windows, it creates a sound trap.
There are three important elements to a good sound trap: mass + air gap + seal.
Sufficient mass – The laminated glass we use is made from two 1/8″ thick pieces of annealed glass, held together by a flexible adhesive membrane, to form one solid piece of glass slightly more than 1/4″ thick. The flexible membrane keeps the glass from vibrating with sound waves and helps dissipate the energy of sound waves. The weight of the glass helps absorb and block sound.
A good air gap – The two-inch air gap we prefer is not a magic number but a good rule-of-thumb when trying to stop sound that you find annoying. The bigger the gap, the more sound waves are trapped.
A good seal – The seal of our soundproofing window inserts is important because sound can act like water, seeping through openings. Our infiltration rate is less than .01 cfm/lineal foot, which far exceeds the International Energy Conservation Code (IECC).
The air gap is also the insulating layer against energy loss. Our soundproofing window inserts add an R2.5 to your existing window. For example, when installed over a single-pane window, the R rating increases to 3.3, the same as a double-pane, argon-gas-filled window. That is a 60% increase in energy savings per window.
WHY DON'T STANDARD DOUBLE-PANE REPLACEMENT WINDOWS BLOCK MUCH SOUND?
First of all, most double-pane replacement windows are designed for energy efficiency, not for sound abatement. Soundproofing requires mass + air gap + seal. Double-pane windows are made with two thin panes of glass (very little mass), held slightly apart (insufficient gap) and have spaces around the sashes so that they can easily slide up/down, side-to-side or inward for cleaning (insufficient seal for sound). The small gap is often filled with an inert gas like argon to provide resistance to energy transfer and moisture. But all gases have almost no mass (because they are gas), and therefore they can’t physically stop sound. Due to these inherent limitations of standard replacement windows, some manufacturers now make soundproof replacement windows to tackle sound issues as well as energy issues. (See below)
HOW DO SOUNDPROOF WINDOW INSERTS COMPARE TO SOUNDPROOF REPLACEMENT WINDOWS OR TRIPLE-PANE WINDOWS?
Soundproof replacement windows, sometimes called triple-pane windows, are made with different designs and materials than standard replacement windows. Sometimes they use laminated glass (like our soundproof window inserts), but the air gap is limited in size because the window has to fit into the standard wall thickness. STC ratings for soundproof replacement windows are usually 38-40. The cost is usually twice that of our soundproofing window inserts that have a 48 STC rating.
HOW LONG DOES IT TAKE FOR YOU TO INSTALL THEM?
It usually takes a day or less for most residential properties. Commercial buildings vary significantly in size. We can do small retail strip center suites in one to two days. Office installations vary from a day to a week, and hotels can take up to three weeks.
WHAT DO SOUNDPROOF WINDOW INSERTS LOOK LIKE AFTER THEY ARE INSTALLED?
In most instances, they are barely noticeable from the inside and can’t be seen from the outside at all. Our interior window inserts have a very small frame measuring slightly less than an inch. They come in standard white, ivory or dark bronze, or they can be painted to match most window frames or wall colors.
HOW LONG DO THEY LAST?
The materials we use have been in real-life conditions for more than 28 years without degradation. Plus, our windows are warranted for as long as you own your home. The warranty is transferable when you sell your home.
CAN YOU MAKE ARCHES AND OTHER NON-RECTANGULAR WINDOW SHAPES?
Yes. We custom-make windows to fit most shapes and sizes.
CAN YOU SOUNDPROOF SLIDING-GLASS PATIO DOORS?
Yes. We have two solutions for sliding-glass patio doors: our standard window inserts or an additional laminated glass sliding door. Our standard magnetic windows can be removed each time the sliding-glass patio doors are used, which, if used frequently, is inconvenient. However, an additional laminated glass soundproof sliding door best matches the function of your existing sliding-glass patio doors by allowing you to open them conveniently.
WILL I STILL BE ABLE TO USE MY WINDOW TREATMENTS?
In most cases we have room to install window inserts behind the existing window treatments and keep the window treatments inside the window opening. If necessary, we can move the window treatments to the upper edge of the window opening. There is usually no cost to reposition window treatments. Some exceptions are motorized blinds/shades, custom valences, blinds that are embedded in the existing window’s glass, etc.
IS TINTING AVAILABLE?
Yes. Both bronze or gray are usually available.
It is important to note that tinted glass warms up quite a bit in the direct sun. Although it will effectively block infrared rays (IR) from entering your interior space, the hot surface of the glass will still transfer heat to the interior space. Therefore, we recommend solar screens instead of tinted glass where HOAs allow them. Installed on the exterior of the window, solar screens block infrared rays (IR) before they ever get past your primary window. Or, 3M makes a variety of films for your existing windows.
HOW DO I CLEAN THEM?
Our windows are glass, so there are no special cleaning requirements.
DO YOU HAVE WARRANTY?
Our warranty lasts as long as you own your home, and is transferable when you sell your home.
WHAT IS THE LARGEST SIZE YOU CAN MAKE?
There is no limit to the size of multi-paned windows we can handle. For one-piece picture windows we can go up to 5’X10′ in a single piece. If you have a very large window that you would like to access frequently, we recommend dividing the window insert to make it easier to handle.
HOW MUCH SOUND WILL THEY BLOCK?
Our 1/4″ laminated glass inserts reduce sound an average of 85%. The percentage based on 65dB of outside noise, which is a maximum loudness in decibels of typical city ordinances.
HOW DO YOUR SOUNDPROOF WINDOW INSERTS COMPARE TO EXTERIOR STORM WINDOWS?
When professionals install exterior storm windows, both the soundproof type with laminated glass and the standard kind, they must penetrate the seal so moisture can escape. Typically, they drill holes called “weep holes” in the bottom of the storm window frame to allow moisture to flow out. Otherwise, the inevitable moisture build-up may damage the exterior of the window. Of course, a loose seal will let sound in, significantly reducing the effectiveness of exterior storm windows.
Traditional exterior storm windows are often quite noticeable from the outside. Most homeowners associations in Texas will not allow exterior storm windows for aesthetic reasons.
WHAT IS LAMINATED GLASS?
Laminated glass is made from two 1/8″ thick pieces of annealed glass, held together by a flexible adhesive membrane, to form one solid piece of glass that is 1/4″ thick. The membrane keeps the glass from vibrating with sound waves and helps dissipate the energy of sound waves. For example, car windshields are made of laminated glass with tinting added. Laminated glass has an STC rating of ~35 by itself. When installed in conjunction with your window, the STC rating can be up to 48.
Laminated glass is not the same as double-pane glass used in standard windows. Double-pane glass is two pieces of 1/8″ glass held apart (not touching as with laminated glass) by a small gap filled with inert gas. Double-pane glass is designed for energy efficiency. The small space between the panes filled with gas acts as an insulating barrier to energy transfer. But the panes of glass can easily vibrate with sound waves because there is no flexible membrane to eliminate vibration. Plus, the gap between the panes is unfortunately too small to act as an effective sound trap. Many customers find out the hard way that double-pane is not the same as laminated glass and are very frustrated when their double-pane replacement windows do little to fix their sound problem. The STC rating of single-pane windows is ~23, and the STC rating of double-panes is only ~27, so there’s very little difference in sound reduction.
SOUND AND NOISE ORDINANCES
SOUND METER APPS FOR SMARTPHONES
Sound meter apps can help you determine differences in noise contribution of your walls and windows. Although, they are not as accurate as dedicated sound meters in terms of decibels, they will give you direct feedback regarding where the biggest sound problems are. Review the study by the CDC on smartphone sound measurement apps.