Sound pollution is now as problematic as light pollution for those who live in big cities. The busier a city gets, the louder it becomes.

Living in bustling urban areas that have roads packed with idling buses, bumper-to-bumper traffic, and never-ending police sirens can become difficult without soundproof windows.

Here’s everything you need to know about sound reduction and impact windows:

Does it Block Out All Noise?

Imagine not being able to hear anything that’s going on outside. You won’t know when it’s thundering, when there’s a roadblock due to a car accident or when the building next to yours is on fire. We need to be able to hear some of the noise coming from outside for the sake of our safety, which is why “soundproof” windows block 90-95% of the noise that’s coming from outside.

Soundproof windows primarily block high-frequency noises like the chirping of birders and the sounds of police sirens. Companies that provide soundproofing services have acoustical consultants that help determine the type of soundproofing a client needs depending on the location of their building.

STC Rating

Soundproof windows are rated based on their sound stopping quality on a sound transmission class (STC) scale; the bigger the number, the more sound it stops.

The average single-pane window usually has an STC rating of 27; dual pane windows have a rating of 28. Soundproof windows typically have ratings of 45, but others can go up to the mid-50s and block out 95% of the noise.

How Do Soundproofing Windows Work?

To minimize noise, there needs to be a barrier between the sound and the ear. The walls, roofing, and windows of a building muffle sound to a certain extent, however, they can’t block out all the noises that come from the city.

Soundproof window manufacturers design windows to increase their STC rating. To increase the rating they do the following:

  • Add mass to the glass (soundproof windows are thicker)
  • Increase the space between the window panes
  • Work with laminated glass. They have a glass-plastic-glass sandwich that decreases noise transmission.

Different Types of Soundproof Windows

There are a few options available for those who wish to soundproof their windows.

Some soundproof windows involve installing inserts behind your existing windows. This adds around 4 inches of sound-reducing are between the old and new windows. Laminated insets typically have STC ratings of 38 and offer around 95% noise reduction depending on the location of the apartment, the types of noise and the size of the window opening.

High-end manufacturers that offer 1 ¼ inches-thick, dual-pane windows can reach an STC rating of 42.

Is Soundproofing Expensive?

Soundproofing isn’t cheap, but it is a necessity when you live in certain cities.

An insert for a 3x5ft window can cost $1000 or more when you include the price of installation. The more features they window offers, the higher the price.

Customers who can afford custom-built soundproofing can spend $10,000 per window—without the cost of installation.

For some people, it makes sense to invest in high-end soundproofing. Architects who take on luxury restoration and construction projects have designed triple-pane, laminated-glass windows for large homes near the airport—these can cost customers more than $250,000!

Want to block out the ear-splitting noises of ambulance sirens and thunder? You’ll have to spend extra to get better sound-proofing.

Are Soundproof Windows Also Impact Resistant?

Just because a window is soundproof, doesn’t mean it’s impact-resistant. Impact-resistanimpact resistantt windows, also called impact windows consist of heavy-duty frames and laminated glass that undergoes a silicone glazing process. These windows are designed to prevent the glass from breaking away from the thick frame.

Impact windows are built with impact-resistant glass that is made up of two panes of glass joined together using polyvinyl butyral.

Heavy debris that is flying through the wind may crack the glass on impact, but the interlayer will ensure that the window stays intact; protecting your home from strong winds and intruders.

Replacing conventional windows with impact windows also increase energy efficiency—something soundproof windows don’t provide.

Do I Need Impact Windows?

Certain parts of the US are more prone to hurricanes and thunderstorms than other areas. Three of the five most hurricane-prone cities in the country are located in the state of Florida; this includes Miami, Tampa and Key West.

Homeowners living in these cities should consider installing impact windows to prevent windows from breaking during extreme weather conditions.

Families living in hurricane-prone areas with traditional windows are at risk. Conventional windows can easily break with strong winds and shatter when they come in contact with furniture and the floor. The breaking of one large window can leave glass shards everywhere.

Depending on where you live, you can benefit from soundproofing windows or installing impact windows. Find a window installation company near you and give your windows an upgrade!

The author of this guest post is a contributor for Alcon Windows, which is a window and door installation company. Their services include installation and repairs of stylish and sturdy impact windows and doors in Miami.