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Old 08-23-2007, 02:25 PM
 
23 posts, read 120,456 times
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Default Drapes or soundproof windows

Would anyone have recommendations on how to reduce traffic noise heard inside a house? My living room & bedroom is in the back of the house and behind it is a busy 2 lane road. I can't see the road, but hear it and need help figuring out the most cost effective way to drown out the noise.

I read that heavy drapes help reduce the noise and echo. I've also read up on soundproof windows that go inside the windows (no need to replace them).

If anyone has any suggestion, I'd love to hear them. TIA.
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Old 08-23-2007, 07:42 PM
 
Location: Las Vegas
7,853 posts, read 13,741,117 times
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I am a day sleeper so I know how annoying this can be. I had triple pane soundproofing windows installed in my bedroom. Then I cut a piece of styrofoam to fit the windows exactly. It slides under the bed when not in use. Drapes on top of the styrofoam. I also use a fan for white noise. Now the bedroom is totally dark and I can't hear a thing.

Would be hard to do this in a livingroom but it works great in the bedroom.
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Old 08-23-2007, 08:34 PM
 
Location: WA
4,027 posts, read 12,945,798 times
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I shopped for windows with a good sound rating (many don't test for it) and installed triple pane windows when I had a bedroom overlooking a busy street. The windows combined with drapes solved the problem for me.
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Old 08-26-2007, 05:27 AM
 
1,847 posts, read 5,268,121 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arfwoof View Post
Would anyone have recommendations on how to reduce traffic noise heard inside a house? My living room & bedroom is in the back of the house and behind it is a busy 2 lane road. I can't see the road, but hear it and need help figuring out the most cost effective way to drown out the noise.
I read that heavy drapes help reduce the noise and echo. I've also read up on soundproof windows that go inside the windows (no need to replace them).
If anyone has any suggestion, I'd love to hear them. TIA.
As a very light sleeper I researched this a while ago. You'll have best luck among your two ideas with sound-reducing windows. Heavy drapes willmake a difference, but very minimally.

Unfortunately that might not solve all your problems. Especially if you have a "builder's special" constructed home (where they took shortcuts), the sound might actually be traveling through the walls and roof as well. In such cases, insulating/reinsulating the walls and roof will help as well. Overall, my research showed that there is no affordable solution. The new windows (or window-add-ons) are very pricey, especially if you opt for maximum sound insulation. Reinsulating existing walls and a roof is likewise an expensive and time intensive process. Other options exist as well such as layers you can add to the inside-facing portion of your walls (things which can be mounted over your existing drywall).

After looking at the prices for these things I decided to just purchase a nice white noise machine which in combination with ear plug use works for me pretty well.

In the future, my next home will have a few features which will certainly be different.
#1 - it will be of Insulated Concrete Form (ICF) construction versus the US-traditional stick-build construction technique. ICF is much better sound-absorption-wise (on average 30% quieter than stick-build) as well as much more energy efficient
#2 - it will have an ICF-type of roof (more energy efficient + sound reducing just like ICF walls)
#3 - it will have sound proof windows (I'll pay the extra and get 95% sound reduction windows for at least the master bedroom)
#4 - location is everything, I will opt for a home in a very quiet vicinity

If you opt to do anything regarding your sound issues, let me know how it works out. I'm always interested in new thoughts or ideas in this regard.
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Old 08-27-2007, 12:56 AM
 
Location: Fairbanks Alaska
1,675 posts, read 4,339,081 times
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If your somewhere that it is green year round, plant bushes or trees on that side of the houe, or a sound reducing fence may help also. Sound through walls can be a big issue like the previous poster said.
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Old 03-28-2011, 12:56 AM
 
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I've had quite a bit of experience soundproofing both my primary residence and a condo that I own. On the home I had heavy storm windows mounted outside and then heavy storm doors with full size glass panes (Emco I think is the brand) and that solved the problem quite well and good energy savings too.

On the condo since outside storm windows were not a possibility so I went with inside sound insulating windows from [url=http://www.soundproofwindows.com]Soundproof Windows - Eliminate Your Noise Problem[/url]. My condo is right under the PHX flight line. I can be standing at the window watching a plane take-off and only hear a slight rumble. If I stand back a few feet I hear nothing. Closer investigation revealed that the rumble was actually coming through the wall, not the windows (as someone above mentioned). So the windows are now more soundproof than a brick wall with drywall inside. Pretty impressive! It was a very complicated install since I have two 8'x8' double hung windows in the condo. But it was done very well and you would not realize there were inside insulation windows unless I took you up to the windows and showed you. Excellent product!

A few important points I learned while researching this issue extensively.

1. Windows and doors are the first place to start on any home as they are always the weakest link.
2. Sound insulation requires mass. You're trying to get enough mass to make it harder for the sound energy to vibrate the material. This is why glass and drywall are both very good. They are very heavy, whereas even the heaviest curtains aren't very heavy by comparison. This is also why a storm door that is full pane glass works pretty well whereas a storm door that is mostly aluminum will not (aluminum is very lightweight).
3. Even small leaks can have a dramatic impact on sound insulation. For example, a 1"x1" hole cut in a 20'x10' drywall wall will leak more sound than the rest of the entire wall. Seal all leaks so that they are airtight.
4. Double and triple pane windows are only marginally better than single pane windows. They add more mass which is good. But, the rate at which sound drops off with the distance between panes grows with distance. That is, the exact same two window panes with a 1/2" gap in between the panes (e.g. typical double pane windows) will cut out SIGNIFICANTLY less sound than if those two exact same panes were seperated by 3". The knee in the curve is at about about 3-4" between panes. Beyond that it is diminishing returns. This is why an insulating window (either inside or outside) with a large gap between the panes of glass is FAR better than normal double or even triple pain windows which have a tiny gap between the panes. If your structure allows it you should definitely go for inside/outside insulating windows before upgrading to double/triple pane windows. Most window seals easily allow for 3-4" of separation if using an inside insulating window.

Incidentally, to illustrate point #4 above I had a VERY bad sound problem at the front door to the condo. Neighbor's dog was 1' away barking at the top of it's lungs all day long. Fortunately the structure was amenable to building a small vestibule inside the front door. So I enter the outside door and walk through a 10' vestibule to another interior door. That door is a wood frame, full length glass pane, exterior, french style door (with a good seal since it is designed to be an exterior door). Since the distance between the exterior door and the interior door is very large (10') it is SUPER soundproof. Any dog could be standing with it's nose against my door barking it's head off and I would not hear a thing inside.

In short, the main key's to good sound insulation are: mass, insulating gap, and seal.
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Old 03-28-2011, 01:04 AM
 
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Oh btw, studies have shown that things like planting shrubbery and fences as arctic thaw suggested have practically no effect. Don't waste your time.
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Old 02-06-2012, 02:38 AM
 
Location: Los Angeles, California
1 posts, read 30,632 times
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Default Blackout curtains can reduce noise

MOD CUT LINK
"Soundproof curtains" are sometimes a better solution than soundproof windows because they will allow you to still get some fresh air in while sleeping. The page I cite above has some links to Amazon "sound proof curtains", so you can check them out.

Best of luck experimenting to find what works for you.

Last edited by Ultrarunner; 02-06-2012 at 10:37 AM..
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Old 02-07-2012, 08:57 AM
 
Location: West Orange, NJ
11,761 posts, read 8,696,388 times
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I would check for any air leaks on that side of the house first. Sealing up those leaks with caulk might help damping some noise that's easily slipping through. Next, I'd hang some thick curtains. Then I'd embark on the more expensive stuff like shrubs, fence, insulation, windows.
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Old 02-07-2012, 12:16 PM
 
Location: Austin, TX
14,312 posts, read 20,082,323 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KellyCa View Post
Oh btw, studies have shown that things like planting shrubbery and fences as arctic thaw suggested have practically no effect. Don't waste your time.
I wanted to repeat this, as I recall from my acoustics class, shrubbery would have to be at least 50' thick before it provides much reduction in sound. A masonry fence would be far more effective, but it has to be quite tall or the sound just travels over it.

The first step should definitely be to seal any cracks on inside and outside of the wall and around the windows.

Sound absorbing batts fitted tightly inside the window opening would be the most effective, but would not allow any light in.
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