Whether it is sound that is leaving your apartment or the noise from the streets entering your room, whether your afternoon naps are getting disturbed by the baby crying next door or your zoom calls getting difficult every day because of the construction in your locality, you have realised you need soundproofing.
Having your apartment soundproof need not sound like a big deal. There is no one way to soundproof an apartment window.
Read on to find out various solutions to your soundproofing needs, be it temporary or permanent.
Locate the source of the sound leak
Before starting out on your soundproofing project, it is important to examine and pinpoint the actual source of the noise. Sound waves behave like fluid and may leak out even through the slightest crack. If air can pass through it, so can sound waves.
The unwanted sound that you may be hearing may be a result of sound leaking through your apartment windows or through certain gaps and crevices. Therefore, the first thing that needs to be done when soundproofing is to locate and identify the root cause. Depending on what you find out, you may go for either an inexpensive solution or a complete replacement.
Acoustic sealant to shut out the noise
Often the easiest solution is the most inexpensive one. Acoustic sealant is a specific kind of sealant that is used to fill gaps and cracks in an apartment that has additional soundproofing qualities. In a traditional setting, an acoustic sealant is useful in the reduction of any flanking sound which helps to maintain and regulate optimum sound levels and even improve sound reduction at times.
Although more expensive than regular sealant, acoustic sealant presents an additional set of properties. Even while drying, the acoustic sealant is known to turn into a rubbery, elastic material and can expand and contract sufficiently to fit the appliance or window it is used on.
However, this too comes with its own disadvantages, mainly the fact that it does not tackle the problem directly. Nevertheless, you may combine it with other soundproofing methods to ensure foolproof soundproofing.
Weatherstripping around the gaps in your windows
Although originally intended to provide heat retention at home, weatherstripping might be an effective and economical option for you. The process of soundproofing relies on similar principles as heat insulation and using weatherstripping tape can help you with the same. The tape is used in and around the gaps around the window to make it smaller and absolutely non-existent, if possible.
As the product is easily available online and even in hardware stores, it is an extremely convenient option for many looking to soundproof an apartment window.
However, like acoustic sealants, this too does not do a great job of soundproofing on its own and must be used in a combination of other soundproofing methods. As this is a non-invasive procedure, you will find weatherstripping highly useful if you live in a rental.
Acoustic heavy curtains around the windows
Though not as effective as the other methods mentioned in this list, using heavy drapes around your windows can reduce sound leakage to quite an extent. If budget is not a constraint, use the acoustic drapes specifically meant for soundproofing instead of the usual velvet ones. This will reduce the overall level of noise and make your apartment a quieter place.
Having said that, it is important to point out that these curtains work well only when closed and may not be suitable during the day but if that is not an issue, consider investing in a set of highly acoustic soundproofing curtains.
Moving soundproof blanket to cover hard surfaces
Commonly known as furniture pads, moving blankets are polyester pads wrapped around fragile items. These blankets aren’t often used for soundproofing of a window in an apartment but you may find some acoustic benefit to it if you invest in a thicker and heavier one. The more weighted they are, the better they are at absorbing noise thereby reducing sound reflection and reverberations.
You may even drape a moving blanket on an appliance if they seem to be making noise inside the house or on the floor if your neighbours are audible from the floor below your apartment. Hard surfaces are known to let sound waves bounce around the room which creates more noise, and so covering furniture is also a good way of reducing noise inside the apartment.
Installing bookshelves near window
After investigating the source of noise in your room, if you find that the sound leaks are occurring through the walls that you may share with a neighbour, investing in a good bookshelf can be the solution you need. Even if it is through the window, make sure to place your bookshelf close to the window so it can absorb all the sounds entering the room.
In addition to this, you may consider placing a few heavy books on multiple shelves to create an effective and efficient sound barrier. Although there are a wide variety of bookshelves available in the market, buy a traditional wooden one as it is known to work the best in these situations.
Carpets and rugs to absorb the noise
You must place rugs and mats all over your apartment and invest in a plush carpet for your living room if soundproofing is on your mind. Carpets and fibre are known to absorb sound waves and you must use these along with upholstery for the wall and curtains for your windows for optimum soundproofing. They help lessen the sound of shoes and the sudden noise of things dropping.
Besides, they minimize any echo that may occur if you live in a medium-sized apartment building. Not only will this make your own space quieter, but it will also stop noise from leaving your apartment and into the neighbour’s apartment.
Add a second layer of glass
A method most commonly used by soundproofing companies in NYC is to add an extra slide of glass in the windowpane. Select a thick glass slide that is also laminated and place it alongside the existing window slide with a slight gap between the two. The gap is left to trap air between these two panes and creates a kind of void where sound waves get trapped and are unable to penetrate through the window.
In this regard, it is important to note that the thicker your glass slide is, the more effective it will be in blocking sound. Having a professional company take care of a solution like this is best as they will have the right equipment and tools for the job.
Although this seems like the optimum solution, there are still a few downsides to it. The new pane of glass that you install is going to be fixed for the sole purpose of blocking out sound, so you probably will not have access to fresh air in your room. Your window will lose most of its functionality as a result of this. Furthermore, glass is typically expensive to purchase and install and may not be the most economical solution for everybody.
Have soundproofing panels installed
Soundproofing panels come in various sizes and forms. Once you have found out where the noise is coming from, you may choose either a window panel or a wall panel or even both. Although they will keep out most of the sound, these are a permanent solution and you must not hurry into making this decision, especially if you live in a rental.
Creating a custom size window panel is no big deal. All you need to do is get a barrier which usually is available at 4 feet wide sizes and connect it to the frame of the window using a Velcro attachment. This is a convenient solution for most people as you can insert and take it off at your convenience.
The only con of using these window panels is that it does not fit a lot of styles and may disrupt the interior design in your home, Although light passes well through these panels, some people do not prefer using these simply because they do not like the way it looks with respect to the rest of the house.
Although they work quite well on their own, you will find optimum level soundproofing if you use these along with acoustic curtains near your windows.
Using a window plug as a temporary solution
If you are the kind of person who is good with their hands and does not mind a little DIY project, this is the option for you. Like its name, there is not much to explain about a window plug. It is a temporary solution to reduce noise levels and might be a good option if you rent your apartment.
To build a window plug, first, measure the size of your window and cut out a wooden board to its size. Moreover, you must also check the depth of your window so you know how thick your wooden panel needs to be as the thicker you build it, the better soundproofing you get.
Then, get either a soundproofing mat or a vinyl sheet to cover the inside of the board after which it shall be further covered in acoustic foam and sealed off with glue and sealant. This will help in cutting down the reverberation and the echo in your room. Next, add a handle for your convenience and fit it into the window to get a budget-friendly soundproofing solution.
White noise machine to drown out the noise
Although in technical terms, you may not call this soundproofing, white noise machines are used to drown out other noises in your environment. The machines play a constant broad-band noise signal to put your mind at ease and reduce sounds from your immediate surroundings that may have interrupted the noise level in your apartment.
It plays a non-distracting noise and stops the sound of any other sudden disruptive sounds from entering the room. However, you may not want to invest in a machine immediately and may play the static of the radio to test out if this works for your apartment and your setting. If you do not enjoy the noise from a white noise machine, you can play the sound of your TV or play music over it.
Replace windows completely
Lastly, we arrive at the most obvious and the most expensive option of completely replacing the window. Soundproof windows are available in the market today and should not be too hard to find in your locality. Plus, this will be the most effective of all the options discussed today in eliminating any noise from leaving and entering your room.
If the apartment that you live in is an older property, changing up the windows will be quite an upgrade for you. The best windows to invest in are the double-glazed ones as they already come with two glass panes with a void between them and are highly effective in cutting down any form of noise pollution.
Although these windows are called soundproof, in reality, they only cut down the ambient noise from the streets and cannot do much for the shrill high pitched noises. Even with these installed, you may still be able to hear the siren on the streets or any construction work in your neighbourhood.
The Bottom Line
Whether you live in a rented apartment or have purchased your own condo in the middle of New York City, you may need to soundproof your apartment. No matter your situation, there is a solution to it. Although certain solutions may seem like the best at first glance, they come with their own set of disadvantages. Just remember, that in the end you will never get truly soundproof windows but you can control the level of noise entering your apartment.