Window Wisdom: Sound Reduction

Whether it’s highway traffic, loud neighbors or birds chirping, some sounds from the outside world are bound to disrupt your daily activities, especially if the noise intrudes when you’re in a bedroom or other area intended as a sanctuary or workspace. While you can’t control what goes on outside, you can block or at least reduce the noise by soundproofing windows using the techniques detailed here, either alone or in combination.

Install window inserts — This is the most effective way to reduce heavy noise pollution. Soundproofing glass inserts are installed in the window frame about 5 inches in front of the interior face of your existing window. The air space between the insert and the window keeps most sound vibrations from passing through the glass. Look for inserts made with laminated glass — a thick glass consisting of two layers of glass with a layer of plastic sandwiched between that effectively blocks vibrations. An insert for one window typically costs between $350 and $800 installed, which is less than or equal to the cost of the next option for soundproofing windows: window replacement.

Replace single-pane windows with double-pane equivalents — Single-pane windows, often found in homes 15 years old or older, have just a single piece of glass in the window frame, while double-pane windows, the standard in newer homes, consist of two pieces of glass with air between them. Single pane windows provide no air barrier between the outside and the glass, so they permit virtually all outdoor sounds to vibrate through the glass, resulting in a noisy interior. Replacing one single-pane window with a double-pane equivalent can cost $350 to $900.

Seal gaps along windows with acoustic caulk — Small gaps between a window frame and an interior wall can let outdoor noise into your home. A simple way to seal these gaps is to fill them with acoustic caulk. Applying acoustic caulk is the easiest and most inexpensive way to soundproof windows (a tube costs between $10 and $20). If there is already silicone caulk in the gap between the interior window frame and interior wall, remove it with a putty knife and replace it with a thin bead of acoustic caulk.

Hang sound-dampening curtains — To soften light noise, hang sound-dampening curtains. These curtains are made of thick, heavy fabric such as velvet and usually have a lining made of materials such as vinyl that absorb sound as it enters a room and minimizes echoes, so that any sound you do hear indoors fades out quickly. Many of these window treatments also have a foam backing that helps block out light. Curtains that absorb sound and block light are a great option for bedrooms and other spaces designed for sleep and relaxation.

Install double-cell shades — Cellular shades (also known as honeycomb shades) consist of rows of cells — hexagonal tubes of fabric stacked on top of each other. These shades block out light, prevent indoor heat gain in the summer, retain heat in winter, and absorb sound that vibrates into a room to reduce the echo. Double-cell shades absorb more sound than single-cell shades, but as with sound-dampening curtains, they’re best suited for people who experience low levels of noise pollution.


Source: “5 Smart Tips for Soundproofing Windows,” Manasa Reddigari and Bob Vila, bobvila.com/articles/soundproofing-windows (accessed Feb. 8, 2021).

The information used to create this article was obtained from sources believed to be reliable to help users address their own risk management and insurance needs. It does not and is not intended to provide legal advice. Nationwide, its affiliates and employees do not guarantee improved results based upon the information contained herein and assume no liability in connection with the information or the provided suggestions. The recommendations provided are general in nature; unique circumstances may not warrant or require implementation of some or all of the suggestions. Nationwide, the Nationwide N and Eagle and Nationwide Private Client are service marks of Nationwide Mutual Insurance Company.

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