Soundproof window plugs with Dr.Bob

Published: 02nd April 2008
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Windows that just don't have the sound blocking ability of drywall or other wallboards many times cause soundproofing issues and therefore the window becomes the proverbial weak link in the soundproofing chain chain. What do you do if you have lots of sound passing through your windows?


Lets look at the basics of non-laminated windowpanes. In older homes the windows generally consist of wooden window frames either double hung or casement type windows. Generally the window frames are old and dry. When these old frame dry out, the allow air leaks to occur and wherever there are air leaks there are always sound leaks as well.


So Dr. Bob, what can I do, the sound of traffic is keeping me awake at night. Well, I'm glad you asked. You have a few choices that I will briefly touch on. One is to replace your windows with a more soundproofing window. Milgard's Quiet Line series of window is a great way to go if you are inclined to replace the existing windows in your house. Now that being said, when shopping for a soundproof or sound control window, always look for a window with a 40 or Higher STC value. Once your hit the 40 STC point with your windows you are nearly doubling the cost with each subsequent STC point your new windows are rated at.


Now we all know that replacing your windows can be quite costly not to mention installation costs. Your next best option is to purchase a "window Insert". This is a glass or Plexiglas window, much like a storm window, but the insert goes on the inside of the window. As a rule these inserts are less costly than replacement windows, but they are still not the best or the cheapest option. The window inserts do work well and you can find them on the West Coast online at www.soundproofwindows.com ask for Randy or on the East coast by going to: www.petitindustries.com and ask for Matt Petit . Both of these companies offer an excellent window insert and they will be more than happy to help you. Just tell them that Dr. Bob from Soundproofing America referred you.


Now the last option is not exactly the prettiest one, but it is still quite effective. I am talking about the window plug using the America Mat closed cell vinyl nitrile foam. This foam is 2" thick and comes on a roll that is 4 ft wide. To make your very own window plug, you simply measure the length and the width of your window and then call the experts at Soundproofing America. The will cut you the right amount of 2" America mat and will provide you with detailed cutting and installation instructions.


Here's how to make your window plug. The America mat is a very stout closed cell foam (soundproofing foam), it also comes on a roll so it has a memory and likes to try to roll back up. This is why we recommend going to Home Depot or to Lowe's and picking up a 4' X 8' piece of wood paneling or Luaan (a philipino mahogany wood paneling) either panel will work as a backer board for your window plug. You don't want to use plywood or particleboard as it is too heavy and will pull the foam plug out of the window frame. I like to take my wood paneling and cut it to where it is 1" larger around the perimeter than my window opening, that way when I plug the plug into the window it will stop the plug before it touches the glass, this is provided the window frame is deeper than 2". Now I see that question mark on your face, your dying to ask me, how do you cut this foam, it is pretty thick and I don't want raggedy edges. Well I am glad you asked. The absolute best way to cut any thick foam mat is to use a common electric kitchen carving knife; you know that one your mom was so proud of back on Thanksgiving in 1977. I remember them critters well. The are great doe cutting the America mat because they are accurate and will give your cut a nice factory edge even if you need to make more than one pass.


This article is getting a little long so I will cut to the chase. You will cut the America mat to where it is 1 inch longer on both the length and the width of the window. In other words if the window opening is 3' X 3' you will cut the America mat 3' 1" X 3' 1" which will give the plug ½" of extra foam around the perimeter and allow it to fit tightly into the window opening much like a cork fits into a bottle.


Now lastly, if the window plug is 4' or longer on either dimension it is recommended that you glue it to the wood panel type backer board. The backer board can be equipped with a couple of kitchen handles for ease of installation and removal from the window. Just a reminder, cut your wood paneling or your Luaan to where it is 1" wider than the window opening, that way when the plug is inserted, it will automatically stop before it touches the window panes. This dead air space between the outside window and the window plug is now a sealed dead air space and will help greatly with the soundproofing. Well I thought I'd never finish this article, thanks for sticking with me on this one. The window plugs do work but of course they will also block the light the normally would come through the window, but if the window in question is a bedroom window, you really shouldn't be concerned about light at night when you're trying to sleep. If this article helps only one person, it has served it purpose. This is Dr. Bob....Out!!!!!


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