How to Block Distracting Outside Noise by Sound-Proofing Windows

Let’s face it. We live in a noisy world. Have you ever sat inside your home and said to yourself, “it’s so noisy out there, I can hardly hear myself think?” 

Sources of Outside Noise 

Noise can come from excessive traffic noise (like an over-revved motorcycle,) lawnmowers, leaf blowers, recycling trucks, honking car horns, blasting music from next door, emergency vehicle sirens, barking dogs, overhead air traffic, nearby construction projects, and more. 

What Does Outside Noise Do? 

Outside noise can be an annoying distraction, such as interrupting a good conversation, interfering with watching TV or listening to music, or impeding concentration on a work project. And it can be very irritating such as disrupting at-home schooling or waking a sleeping adult or child.

Beyond earplugs, a not-so-desirable solution, what can someone do to block those distracting noises? 

soundproofing windows

Reduce Noises by Soundproofing Windows

While outside noises can’t be eliminated, there are good ways to block or reduce noise by sound-proofing windows

  1. One simple way is to install double-cell window shades. These are cellular window shades that have rows of hexagonal cells that block out light, resist heat gain or loss and absorb sound. 
  2. Another simple way is to install sound-dampening curtains to absorb and dampen outside sound. These curtains feature heavy fabric, along with a thick lining. 
  3. A decorative way to block some sound is to install shutters in the window areas. 
  4. Seal gaps around windows using acoustic caulk. The caulk bonds with the window frame and wall material to seal any gaps. Gaps can let sound into a home as well as reducing the insulating properties of a window. Alternatively, use self-adhesive foam steal strips to close any gaps. 
  5. A more expensive but more effective long-term approach is to replace single-pane windows with double-pane windows. That will significantly improve the insulating effect of the windows as well as reduce outside noise. And double-pane windows will increase the value of the home. 
  6. A different option is to install external storm windows on the outside of a home. 
  7. An interior glass or acrylic sheet can be attached over the inside of an existing window. This approach, however, will block the effective use of a window for ventilation. 
  8. Soundproofing window inserts are a viable option. The most effective of these are laminated glass. Install them about 5 inches in front of the window facing, to create a “dead air space” between the window and the insert.  
  9. An inexpensive way to block sound is to install an acoustic foam mat on the inside of a window. This will block a little bit of the outside sound but will also block the light from entering. 
  10. Consider more aggressive and more permanent solution where the windows may not be particularly necessary nor visible to the outside. These are carbon absorption panels or an installed vinyl sound barrier. 
  11. Planting thick shrubs in front of the windows will also help to reduce and dampen noise. 

Closing Thoughts on Soundproofing Windows

You don’t have to suffer the effects of outside noise pollution. Some of the suggested solutions for sound-proofing windows can be done as simple DIY projects. Others require professional assistance.