Dear PoPville – Soundproofing Windows?

Photo by PoPville flickr user ekelly80

“Dear PoPville,

I live right on 18th St. in Adams Morgan. While the noise that comes with the neighborhood in the evenings is something that I have become accostmed to, the jackhammering and general construction noise that now begins directly outside my window at 7:30 each morning is not exactly the way that I like to start my day. My bedroom has 4 extremely large windows that look right over the street, and they arent particularly well sealed.

About a month ago I bought some sound-deadening curtains to help with the noise (before I just had wooden blinds), and that was fine when the works was down the street a bit, but now that the constuction has made its way to directly outside my front door, not so much. I am wondering if anyone knows of anything I can do myself to help reduce the sound making its way through the windows, or better yet, knows of a contractor that might have experience doing this kind of work. I have gotten the thumbs up from my landlord that she will cover the costs of any reasonable installations (my idea to install all new triple-pane windows is not quiet reasonable it appears). The windows are recessed from the wall, so there is plenty of room is put in some layers of protection – I was thinking maybe some large plexiglass sheets cut to size with insulation/foam around the edges might work well. I don’t think that I will be opening any of my bedroom windows until the spring, so removing that access isnt a big deal.

Thanks for the help!”

11 Comment

  • You could go to Home Depot on Rhode Is. and pick up a sheet of the pink rigid insulation foam. It’s easy to cut to the size of the window opening and only costs a few bucks. Granted this is problematic with light but if you are just trying to soften your wake up that is probably not your primary concern

    • That’s a great idea. I don’t think plexiglass would be very soundproofing unless it were very thick. And thick plexiglass is both heavy and expensive.

    • The stuff is really easy to cut with a box cutter/xacto. even if you can’t cut all the way through, just score and snap

  • This is not a snarky reply – but seriously ear plugs are cheaper and much easier to install than new windows, plexiglass or any other solution. Plus jackhammer/construction is temporary.

    Sometimes the cheaper/basic solution is better (see NASA space pen vs pencil).

  • If the noise is louder than it should be, is there also significant air transfer?

    If so, take apart the wood around the windows, caulk all gaps and then put all the window frame wood back together and caulk those joints. Also, make sure the windows are well caulked on the outside too.

  • if it’s from the construction, they can’t start before 6 or 7am and can’t go past 10pm right? why not just wake up earlier and use this opportunity to become a productive morning person?

    they are doing construction next to my building and I was grumpy about it at first, but quickly let go because I realized 1) my neighborhood will be better, 2) they aren’t doing it at unreasonable hours and 3) and I can’t change it.

  • Pink rigid insulation won’t accomplish any sound isolation, especially if the goal is to block low-frequency sound like jackhammer and general construction noise.

    Earplugs is actually the best solution, but another is to build a kind of “window plug” from materials in home depot. Get a piece of plywood, at least 3/4″ thick, and have it cut to dimensions about one inch larger than the interior window frame. Also get a piece of drywall, again at least 5/8″ (or two pieces!) and have them cut to exactly the interior dimensions of the window frame. Use industrial adhesive to glue the pieces together. You can then use this to “plug” the window frame, and hopefully sealing the window tight. Hopefully it will fit snugly enough that you won’t have to worry about it slipping out.

    Home recordists are regularly advised in sound treatment web sites to use this approach to get sound isolation so they can record in relative quiet.

  • OP here –

    Thanks for the ideas thus far. I actually already do wear earplugs; its amazing what a jackhammer 20 feet from your bed can do. And as for getting up early – before I was waking up at 745 – not a big deal there. Its really that its just jarring and difficult to concentrate first thing in the morning. The construction will probably last for 4+ months, so just trying to have some sort of calmness for my mornings!

    I will probably have someone come and take a look at the windows as you noted Anon X – they are definitely not particularly well sealed and could probably use some simply adjustment. Thanks!

  • sleep sound machine. google it.

  • I live on a busy street as well and while there is no construction, there are a lot of fast moving vehicles and loud traffic sounds. I need to keep my windows intact and want to let in light and see the beautiful tree outside of my windows. Are there any recommendations for new windows that will improve the sound barrier. I’ve heard that hurricane glass might do the trick. Do triple pane windows reduce sound? Thanks!

Comments are closed.