You might notice that even after you’ve soundproofed all your walls and maybe even the ceiling that there are still a few things that you could hear from the outside.
This is what happens when you forget to soundproof your windows or haven’t realized that this should also be soundproofed.
Your windows are basically a thin passage for soundwaves. A window also has gaps where sound waves can easily pass through. It is common that this becomes a loophole when soundproofing a room.
Think of how there are no windows in theatres. You become completely unaware of what’s outside because you can’t hear anything from the outside, no matter how busy it is.
The problem is, it is quite essential to have a window in your home, so you can’t really just decide to not have a window. All you can really do is to have it soundproofed.
5 Ways to Soundproof a Window Without Spending Much
Now, replacing your whole window to make it soundproof can get very expensive, so this is not the way to go if you are on a budget.
Luckily, we found cheap ways for you to soundproof your windows without a total replacement and you spending much, whether you’re just starting to soundproof your window or are just now thinking of it.
If you’re into DIYs, these options we’ve listed could work best for you.
1: Get Soundproof Curtains
There are two main types of soundproof curtains. One is mainly for blocking the sound waves to get into or get out of your house. They’re called sound blocking curtains.
This type of curtain is thick and sometimes even has thermal foam for insulation. It absorbs and reflects sound waves so instead of going through your window, they bounce back to their source.
The other main type are the acoustic curtains. This prevents echoes in your room. This is suggested if you have a spacious room that doesn’t have much furniture.
When getting a soundproof curtain, it’s always best to get a size bigger than your window so that you can be sure that sound waves can’t get past through it.
When hanging the curtains, it would help better if you get ceiling brackets.
The general rule here is to get thick soundproof curtains. Getting wider curtains will let you get them pleated and that will work better than just hanging the curtains straight.
If you can’t find a soundproof curtain that fit your window, there are stores that you could just give your windows’ measurements so that they can have it customized for you.
2: Rearrange Your Furniture
This technique won’t cost you anything. However, there are a few things that could be sacrificed, like the amount of light that can come through your window.
You can put one of your furniture that is made of wood or metal in front of your window as it can serve as soundwave reflectors.
Wood and metal can send the sound waves back to where they came from.
Adding more furniture could also make sound waves travel less. The more things the sound waves pass through, the easier they die and not be loud in your room.
What’s important here is that you strategize. You have to know and visualize how much light you still want in your room.
If you don’t mind not getting light from the window, then you can fully block it with a cabinet or bookshelf.
This alone would not completely block sounds as you wish it to, but this could help other methods to become more effective.
3: To Use or Make a Window Plug
You probably have never heard of this before. Window plugs are made of soundproof mat, which is spongy and rubbery.
This is used to reflect or absorb the sound waves entering from the outside of your window.
Window plugs are literally something that you can plug into your windows. It serves as a cover that you can remove anytime you prefer.
You can’t really get this from a hardware so it would make a good DIY project.
If you’re interested in making one here are the steps you could follow.
Fiberboard or wooden board
Fiberboards are usually light and as much as possible we want our window plug to as light as possible.
If you choose to use a wooden board, just get a ply of wood so it won’t be too thick and heavy.
Remember that if you use a thick wood, you won’t have enough space for the other materials you’ll use, like the soundproof mat and acoustic foam.
A soundproof mat is usually thin and flexible. This is a mineral-packed piece of sheet that could resist sound waves.
This could also help with the acoustics of your room. The thickness of the mat will depend on the depth of the sill and your window frame.
Sound Absorbing Foam or Sponge
This foam is usually made of polyester and can effectively absorb sound waves. This is usually used in studios since it also improves the sound quality in a room.
Wood Glue or Soundproofing Sealants
Sound waves produce vibrations and using a soundproofing glue would help reduce sound waves that are absorbed by the plug you’ll create.
Using wood glue will also do the job. The main purpose of using a glue here is to stick the mat and foam on your board.
2 cupboard handles
This is needed to easily plug and unplug the board from your window. Using one or two handles really depend on your preference.
Steps to follow:
- Measure your window if you haven’t already done this. Aside from letting you know how thick the soundproof mat you should use is, this will also let you measure how big the board should be.
- Once the board already fits the window, have the mat cut at the same size of the board, but make sure that when you plug it in, it won’t press against the window. Leave at least 2-3 inches of space between the glass of your window and the plug itself.
- After the mat comes to the acoustic foam. Make sure this is also the same size as your mat and window. This will help to completely block the sound waves out.
- Get the cupboard handles and attach it where you feel comfortable doing so. You can have it attached on both sides of the board or somewhere in the middle. Think of what will be easier for you if you’ll be plugging it in and out every now and then.
Those are the easy steps to create a window plug. The materials needed are not really expensive and this could last you quite a while if you plan on making this temporary until you actually get your windows replaced.
It’s very important that these window plugs are tailor-fitted to the size of your windows to effectively work.
The key here is to make sure that your window plug is easy to install and uninstall. You need to make sure that it won’t get too heavy.
4: Use Soundproofing Sealant, Tapes, and Putty
A soundproofing sealant or glue, also known as green glue, is used to fill the gaps in your window.
It’s like glue so be careful about using this product if you don’t want to completely shut your window.
What this does is that it stops the vibration or the sound waves that are trying to get into your window even if it is closed. It’s very easy to apply and it dries pretty quickly.
It’s a cheap way to improve the soundproofing of your window.
Another product you can use is a soundproofing tape. This looks like those tape protectors you install for baby’s safety.
It is foamy and squishy. It’s easily customizable and also easy to install to cover the gaps of your windows.
You can have this tape glued to cover the gaps of your window using green glue or you can have this temporarily installed using double-sided tapes.
Simply cut it according to the size and length of your window gaps. It also absorbs and reflects sound waves that are trying to get into your room.
Another similar product you can use is a soundproofing putty. It is a paste-like mixture that you can mold into any shape and size that could fit the gaps in your window.
This is also thick and could reflect and absorb soundwaves that are trying to come in your window.
It is also used to lessen the room’s acoustics, but what’s good about it is that it won’t look as visible as soundproofing tapes.
5: Install a Barrier Panel
A barrier panel is similar to a window plug. Their main difference is that the panels don’t need to have acoustic foam. It could be thinner than a plug, depending on the board you’ll use.
This is made of fiber or wooden panel with a soundproof mat that goes to your window to block sound waves from coming in and to improve the acoustics of your room. This is why it’s also called acoustic panels.
What matters when it comes to choosing an effective sound barrier panel for your window is its size.
Make sure that your window will be fully covered and will go past your window’s surface. This also shouldn’t touch your window’s glass to allow air flow.
The best barrier panels are the ones that are 2 inches thick. You can still go for a thicker panel but there are other things to consider here, like your airflow requirement.
This is also a good DIY project. You can have its size customized, so with that said, you need to make sure that you get the size correctly. You can even have these panels designed to match your interiors.
6: Add Another Window Layer or External Windows
This is basically installing another window on top of what you already have. This is still less expensive than taking down your window and replacing it with soundproof glass and panels.
If you don’t have any experience with carpentry, then you can always hire someone for this.
Adding another window layer will increase sound insulation and so fewer soundwaves will travel through the window.
The first window layer will already do a lot of filtering, so the moment it reaches the second window layer, not many soundwaves will even pass through.
You may use external storm windows to serve as another window layer. Its functionality will depend on the thickness of the glass you will use.
You can also add an acrylic layer or glass sheets to strengthen the soundproofing capability of this extra window.
To make things easier, especially if you are a DIY enthusiast, you can simply get soundproof window kits because the acrylic layer and glass sheet job you’ll need may require some intermediate skills.
Are these Worth the Effort?
Replacing an entire window to make it soundproof can get really expensive and so avoiding taking your current down is understandable. If you’re on a budget, then yes, these options are worth it.
The options presented above are actually good enough to do the job you need to be done, which is to not let too much sound waves past through your window.
In the first place, keep what you are trying to block in mind. Is it the city noise? The traffic? The construction outside? Insects? These should help you decide what will work best.
All the options provided could possibly not work for everybody, so make sure that you assess your window first.
Your preference is also what matters when it comes to choosing a good way to soundproof your window.
You have to know whether you’re okay with total blockage or not and if you’ll have other sources of air if in case you’re going to install a panel on your window.
You can always combine the options provided above if one doesn’t suffice.
Just always make sure to plan the changes you’ll do first so won’t get stuck with a plan that’s not even feasible. Assess, plan, and then work on it. Soundproofing your home can be fun!
Jessica is a Acoustical Engineer, currently based in the San Francisco Bay Area in California. After graduating from her degree in Master of Engineering degree in Acoustics from Solent University in 2014, Jessica worked for a few companies before She will be blogging about her past and current experiences in the studio and sharing her journey as she pursues her career goals. She enjoy the balance of work inside and out of the office, solving practical problems on a daily basis as every project is different and requires a different solution, the variety of work (sound insulation testing, background noise survey, mechanical plant commissioning, external plant assessment, plant room breakout assessments) and the mix of independent and team work.