Need quieter windows, narrowed to these two

ekoreillyApril 2, 2007

I Hate my house! HATE IT! the road noise from the throughway, about 1/4 mile away seems nonstop. traffic sound Travels through my windows like paper. 've looked at the various soundproof techniques and still don't know what to do, without spending lots of money. We just moved in October '06 and already wouldn't mind moving out, but wife says stay for 3 years.

ANYWAY, 3 pane Weathershield windows wood with alum. clad or do the weathershield 2 pane (one being laminate) or the MArvin 2 pane laminate. My curretnt 1993 windows are Anderson slimline (something like that)

anyone hear of a 3 pane with one of the panes being laminate?

Has anyone ACTUALLY tried a window like this and had success? I met with Loewen windows, but too much (they make a quiet window).

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Without commenting on particular brands, and all else being equal, a dual pane with one pane being laminated glass will significantly outperform a triple pane made with three lites of non-laminated glass.

A dual pane with two lites of laminated glass is even better - at that point you are starting to look at what they install in sound studios or airports.

They do make triple panes with one pane laminated glass - however the advantage over dual pane with one laminate is minimal and propbaly not worth the additional cost.

    Bookmark   April 2, 2007 at 8:17PM
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Hi, do you currently have dual pane windows? I am wondering if it is the windows or the space around the windows.

If it is the space, may be adding insulation and proper sealing will do the trick. If it is the windows, then laminate certainly solves it all but if they are too expensive, a high quality dual-pane may work too.

We only have dual pane without any laminate. Wood chippers, hand held mowers and push lawn mowers nearby sound really loud inside when the windows are open. Somewhat louder than normal human speech volume. If we try to speak to each other from a distance of 15-ft inside our house when our neighbors have those things fired up, we have to yell louder to be heard. Close the windows and the sounds are barely noticeable. Wood chipper being the loudest, it drops to a soft barely discernible whisper. Softer than the fan noise of the computer I am using right now.

I think any good reputable brands like Marvin and Andersen should work as long as you go for the higher performing versions. Lower spec versions may not seal well enough.

We have Marvin dual-pane. A mix of casements and their ultimate double hung. No laminate on any of the panes.

Good luck!

    Bookmark   April 3, 2007 at 12:58PM
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Good luck is right. Called one of the Marvin reps at a local lumber yard and he just didn't get "laminate glass" only stated they had Impact glass for hurracine ares. SO he was of no help because he didn't understand the sound deadening idea. I'll try another Marvin rep later.

I have 1193 Anderson slimline window, single hung 36x54 (many sets) and the glass even seems thin. My wife did mention when the neighbor had hi mower out in November that it was LOUD.

Triple pane with one being laminate, that must be heavy, who has those?

I would think triple pane would help a LITTLE bit more, no?

I don't think it's poor sealing, I mean it really sounds as if it coming right through the panes. Like righ now I hear the birds chirping as if the window were cracked open.

    Bookmark   April 4, 2007 at 4:25PM
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Hi ekoreilly, Oberon is our "resident" expert here so I would defer technical stuff to him. He has always provided very good unbiased information and posted elsewhere a very detail explannation of sound attenuation but I cannot remember exactly where. Sorry.

I am just a homeowner who has similar (but probably less severe) problem with noise in our area. I am sure triple pane will do nicely and better than double pane but was just sharing our experience with good quality dual pane.

Your description of the bird songs penetration reminded me of our old aluminum double pane. Thin glass and thin airspace made them great transmitter of external sound. Useless junk that we had to replace.

Please note that you can also specify thicker glass and even airspace width. That was our experience 4 years ago. Thicker glass and wider airspace between panes help a bit against noise too.

I believe you cannot go wrong with Marvin but I have no first-hand info about Weathershield.

Good luck again :-)!

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 11:45AM
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When I spoke with the Marvin guy he just seemed lost when I mentioned laminated. I hate it when I know more about something than they do (I mean about sound) I guess I just need to be more forceful in stating I want this thickness and this airspace, can you do it? Low self-esteem i guess.

Triple pane will probably be good for me in that it will cut down the noise PLUS some better thermal protection. THese andersons I have do have thin glass, narrow space (thus called narrowline) and no lowe or anything, just air.

PS, It's Frieking EASTER weekend and it snowed 1" today, wind blowing at 40-50MPH, temperature hoveing at 15 degrees? Am I missing something here??

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 8:38PM
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Windows, doors, walls are all rated as to their ability to deaden or attenuate sound based on something called STC or Sound Transmission Class. STC is an average of an objects ability to attenuate sound across the entire sound frequency spectrum. STC does not provide specific frequency-deadening information which may be what is needed if you want to block a specific type of unwanted noise  for example traffic noise.

Sound Transmission Class is a laboratory rating based on some very specific criteria within a very specific frequency range. STC is designed to test the frequency range where the human voice will be the predominant consideration.

While using STC to compare the sound-blocking ability of different window styles or brands is certainly not a bad idea since, generally speaking, a window with an STC of 35 is going to outperform a window with an STC of 31  STC is sort of like mileage ratings on a new car  not always as useful as one might hope.

In order to determine the STC requirement (to block unwanted sound) in a certain window in a specific circumstance or location, it is first necessary to determine the amount of Noise Reduction (NR) required for that particular situation. STC is a rating that is independent of the conditions under which the window will be used  meaning that it does not take into account the actual field conditions of the assembly.

These conditions might include background noise, window area, even the level of sensitivity to noise of the occupants. Noise reduction requirements are affected by these conditions so that windows with the same STC might have very different NR requirements when used in different situations.

There are three primary issues to consider when dealing with unwanted "noise" Â frequency, level, and duration.
Sound frequency and sound level are combined into what is called a "dBA"  or A-filtered value  in order to quantify the sound in relation to the human perception or ability to hear it.

Duration is added because even a relatively quiet sound can be come annoying when it persists for a certain time.

Using figures derived from these three descriptors, a sound professional can determine what is required to attenuate (opposite of amplify) the inappropriate sounds.

Sounds like a lot of trouble, right? Well, it actually is and unless you live next to an airport or train crossing it is usually not worth the trouble to go there. But, I pointed it out to give you some idea of how in depth fighting unwanted sound can be.

As humans we are born with the ability to hear from approximately 20 to 20,000 hertz. Hertz, or Hz, is how sound frequency is measured - like electricity is measured in volts. By the time we are teenagers we have generally lost the ability to hear above about 13,000hz. Since the human voice tends to fall between 500hz and 5000hz, the loss of higher frequency sounds is not usually a big deal.

Traffic noise is a low frequency sound, and unfortunately, low frequencies are much harder to attenuate (opposite of amplify) or block than are higher frequencies - just think how often you hear the bass sounds from the neighborhood kid's car stereo and not the higher pitch tunes when he is coming down the street.

Bird peeping is usually thought to be a positive thing of course - and that is a higher frequency sound.
When considering window glass performance there are three primary products to take into account for maximum possible sound attenuation.

First is laminated glass.
Second is a wider airspace between the lites.
Third is different thickness lites within the IGU or Insulating Glass Unit.
Fourth would be a combination of all three.

Airport windows, as an example, generally have laminated glass on both sides of an IGU in an aluminum frame and with a maximum airspace between the lites. In an airport the primary concern is sound attenuation and energy efficiency is secondary. I mention this because the width of the airspace and the choice of window framing material affects both sound and energy efficiency.

Some folks will suggest triple pane glass for its sound deadening ability, and while triple pane may be a slight improvement over standard double pane at lower frequencies due to the additional density of the extra lite, overall there is no difference in STC rating between triple and double pane provided that the overall airspace between the panes is constant between the two constructions.

In other words, a triple pane with two 1/4" airspaces and a dual pane with a single 1/2" airspace  both using 1/8" glass  the STC will be identical if the IGU's are otherwise the same.

Using one thicker (3/16") and one thinner (1/16") lite in an IG construction may also help deaden sound because each lite is transparent to a different frequency and each lite will then attenuate the frequency that passed thru the other lite.

There are three words to consider when dealing with sound performance of any material  including windows  density, stiffness, and damping.

Stopping unwanted sound thru any material is determined by three things  mass, stiffness, and damping. Increasing the mass of a window by using thicker glass will increase sound attenuation and the change from a single pane window to dual pane or triple pane IGU to a window will add glazing mass and may improve sound performance thru the window; but not as much as might seem obvious.

So why do folks with new dual pane windows, after living with single pane, often comment that the improvement in blocking unwanted outside noise? Often, this is due to the replacement window being tighter than the previous older window, but also the addition of the airspace between the lites of a dual pane - rather than to the effect of the additional lite  can have an effect on sound propagation. So in that sense, the additional lite in a dual pane window improves performance over a single pane by the formation of the airspace. But this doesnÂt always apply when adding triple pane due to the decrease in the airspace between the lites overriding the potential advantage of the additional lite.

And, since increasing the stiffness of glass isn't really practical, what about damping?

Inherently, glass has very little damping ability, but when putting a layer of a more viscous material between two of lites of glass we substantially increase the unitÂs ability to dampen sound  thus the advantage of laminated glass which just so happens to be a product that has a layer of more viscous material between two lites of glass  cool how that works right into the explanation!

A single pane of 1/4" laminated glass consisting of two 1/8" lites with the plastic interlayer actually has as much sound blocking ability as a 1/2" lite of monolithic glass.

There are two primary things that you want to look at when comparing windows (besides the actual glazing options) for their ability to block unwanted sound:

First, how tight are they when closed? That is huge. If the window doesn't sit very tightly in the frame, then you will have sound getting thru the unit.

Second, how "heavy" does the frame feel to you? They will probably feel about the same I suspect, but any flimsiness or anything else that may make you wonder about how "sturdy" the window is, can affect sound.

Next, whichever window you decide to choose, it MUST be installed correctly. I would venture a guess that better than 90% of all window problems involve installation, and if you want to stop sound from penetrating the unit, then installation is vital.

A fixed, versus an operating, window is usually going to give you much better sound attenuation. However, having a house-full of windows that can't be opened is not very appealing to most people, so again we come back to the earlier comment that the window MUST be tight when closed.

    Bookmark   April 5, 2007 at 8:51PM
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Windows on Washington Ltd

As always, great information and presentation Oberon. You are a wealth of info buddy.

You people looking into buying windows should love this guy.

    Bookmark   April 6, 2007 at 12:49AM
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I would love to hear from people who have actually tried methods or these tupe of windows and if it was successful or not, anyone??

    Bookmark   April 10, 2007 at 6:40PM
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I just purchased the dual pane laminated windows with the IGU to retrofit my aluminum windows with thermo break (by the way, I noticed the thermo break broke or cracked after 20 years on the sides that face the sun). The panes were 29" x 25.5" x 7/8". It does do a decent job of blocking out noise, but not as much as I'd hoped for. All the glass used were all of the the same thickness, with one laminated pane. It's now super heavy, and I'm concerned the increased tension I put on the balance may cause it to snap in a short time from now. The traffic(2-way road) noise is less than 20' from my house, and boy, those buses, diesel, Harley's, and noise making mufflers are driving me crazy. I even have real heavy thick embroidered curtains and yet I still hear everything so loud. My house is an old wood framed house, built around 1905, and the studs are 2x4 with lathe, plaster, and an extra layer of just standard drywall. I wish the whole house was build on top of rubber dampeners, but since it's not possible to retrofit that, what's the next best thing to making it quiet?

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 4:09PM
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Are the replacement sashes tight in the original frames? Any air gaps or looseness will affect the amount of sound that gets thru the opening.

I suspect that you may find that the noise is coming thru the walls just as much or more than the windows...old houses can be pretty "loose".

Hard to get very specific about how to stop noise from coming into your home unless you know exactly how it is getting in.

In my previous post I mentioned calculating NR data and that may be what you need to do in order to find out how to stop the noise.

    Bookmark   April 25, 2007 at 8:38PM
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We did a noise-hunt at our house some 10 years ago. We got a cheap SPF meter from Radio Shack and hired a neighbor' kid to run our mower outside :). He moved the mower to each side at our direction and then move to each location at our direction. We used the SPF meter to gauge where entry points might be located. Here is what we found that may help:

1. Uninsulated wall (between studs) was a huge problem.
2. Crawlspace under house if vents happen to face noisy street.
3. Door seals that are thin or no longer tight.
4. Uninsulated space around windows. Not visible due to interior and exterior trim.
5. Thin exterior wall.
6. Poorly insulated attic.

We found that the biggest problem was our wall and doors. Noise came right through the front door and easily penetrated the walls. Replacing and sealing the old beaten front door helped significantly. Removing the old thin siding, replacing the old plywood sheathing and then finished with stucco did the trick. These two changes did the most good but it cost us a pretty penny.

The attic was easy. I just crawled up there and added another 8 inches of insulation. There was practically no insulation up there!

We did eventually fix the windows but we never did have to do anything to the crawlspace vents. Wife just planted bushes in front of the vents and that dampened the noise somewhat.

Finally, our friend who suggested the SPF meter trick to us went a whole step further. He added sound-dampening panels to his walls. This now shields his home-theater :-) and it really works. I never asked about the cost and do not know the brand. When I find out, will post here.

Hope this helps a bit.

    Bookmark   April 26, 2007 at 11:07AM
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Pella is using what I believe is a new industry standard, in addition to the STC. It is called the OITC which stands for outdoor-indoor transmission class. The ratings are found in their online handbook. From what I understand, it factors in low-frequency noise better than STC which is harder to attenuate and so is therefore more accurate. I'm still pulling my hair out trying to determine whether it is worth the money to get a few more OITC points to get the laminated glass or see how it is without it and add soundproof windows later. Probably anything would be better than what we have now - old Oldach windows. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know. The bedrooms are only eleven feet from the property line and my neighbors watch TV outside with the sound hitting my windows directly and the dog barks right into the window when he sees me. On the other hand, I do enjoy the bird songs. I would like to know what others have done. Thanks.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2007 at 6:48PM
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Say, I read a really good article from another member on noise reducing windows. The subject is: RE: Laminated windows for noise reduction.....Posted by Oberon (My Page) on Thu, May 12, 05 at 7:05.

If anyone is interested on how to reduce the outside noise, you should read this posting.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2007 at 8:59PM
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