The Definitive Guide to soundproof windows and doors.
Soundproof windows and doors are the easiest way to drown out life’s distractions. We understand that noise is subjective, one person’s cacophony is another’s sweet music. The sound of a passing train may be an infuriating intrusion or for some a comforting reminder that life goes on, children playing a hideous din or a sound full of joy. And of course, much of our reaction to noise is also dependent on our own mood, what we found delightful yesterday is a distracting racket today. Effective soundproofing offers the luxury of letting you decide what noises you want to let into your home, office or building.
Let’s take a closer look at the luxury of soundproofing.
We can start with ‘the science bit’
The Science of Sound
We appreciate that the science of sound might seem a bit ‘dry’, but we believe it is important for you to know that we are experts in our field. Hugo Carter engineers are among the finest, and most technically proficient in our industry. Each one of us takes pride in offering the finest service that we can. We do not believe in a ‘one-size fits all’ approach because we know that every project is unique.
We have included here a very brief overview of the science of sound, and for those that would like to read more we have created a concise glossary of terms covering many aspects of our work, we hope that you find this helpful.
You will remember from your days in the classroom that sound is an energy caused by vibrations. When these vibrations are fast you hear a high note, and as you might imagine, slow vibrations are responsible for low notes.
Sound needs a medium through which to travel, and air, water and solid objects can all act as this medium, but sound cannot travel through a vacuum. Sound waves are created by variations in pressure vibrations, these variations cause crests (peaks) and troughs with high-pressure areas represented as crests and low pressure as troughs.
The distance between two consecutive crests or troughs in a sound wave is called a wavelength, a much-beloved term for all radio enthusiasts out there. As waves travel through a medium such as air, water or glass etc. patterns of disturbance are created and we are able to measure this impact.
The maximum disturbance taken against an undisturbed state is called the Amplitude and it is this that regulates the level of the noise that we hear. High amplitude = high noise, low amplitude = low noise. The pitch or frequency of the noise we hear refers to the rate of vibration of a particular wave as it travels through the air. The SI Unit for frequency is Hertz (Hz).
There are two different types of sound, audible and inaudible. The human ear is capable of detecting frequencies between 20 Hz and 20 KHz, an astonishing range. Sounds below 20 Hz are referred to as Infrasonic and those above 20 KHz as Ultrasonic.
Fun Fact: Elephants use infrasonic sounds to communicate with herds many hundreds of miles away.
The loudness of a sound is measured in Decibels (dB), a logarithmic function with base 10. We know that we promised not to get too technical, but this is a really important point because it affects the way that we look at noise.
On the Decibel Scale, the smallest audible sound (near total silence) is measured at 0dB, a sound ten times as loud as 10dB, but a sound 100 times more powerful than total silence is 20dB and not 100 as you might think.
Here are a few everyday examples of typical Decibel levels.
Near Total Silence = 0 dB
Leaves Rustling = 20 dB
Refrigerator = 50 dB
Normal Conversation = 60 dB
Busy Restaurant = 75 dB
Food mixer = 85 dB
Screaming, Truck nearby = 90 dB
Rock Concert = 110 dB
Fireworks = 140 dB
Shotgun = 160 dB
Any sound above 85 Db can cause hearing loss and just so you know, 85 dB can be estimated as a noise above which you would need to raise your voice in order to be heard by somebody else in the conversation.
Caused mainly by machines, aircraft, trains, traffic and sadly, people, noise pollution is a blight on many people’s lives. Government legislation does help, but often there is little or no recourse to action and sufferers are left to either put up with the noise or make their own arrangements to deal with the problem.
Poor town planning can be responsible for much urban noise with the overdevelopment of commercial and residential buildings causing inevitable and long-lasting difficulties. Noise-induced hearing loss is a threat, but so too is an increase in cardiovascular issues and loss of habitat for many birds and animals.
Whatever the cause, noise pollution is a very real challenge and it is one that we can most certainly help with.
Hugo Carter experts visit every location before making any recommendations, this is because not all noise pollution is the same, meaning that the most effective noise reduction techniques might not be the most immediately obvious. By looking at the different types of noise pollution Hugo Carter can help put an end to the misery caused by noise pollution.
Not just an issue for urban properties, traffic noise ranges from the almost constant ‘roar’ of a nearby road to the far less frequent, but no less annoying, occasional disturbance of heavy plant or farm machinery passing by. It can actually reduce your life expectancy.
Read more on our blog about roadside noise pollution.
Aircraft and Flight Path Noise
For some, a minor irritant and others a constant disturbance. The noise from passing aircraft can have a dramatic effect not only on health but also the quality of life. You might be close to a flight-path, or in a rural location favoured by users of light aircraft. Whatever the situation we really do not need to tell you how invasive a problem this can be. Of course, the level of soundproofing required is entirely dependent on your proximity to the noise, and as with all Hugo Carter installations we carefully assess not only the current situation but also ‘future-proof’ our work by considering future developments.
From high-speed passenger trains to the rumble of freight wagons we understand how invasive the noise from a nearby train line can be. Then there are the occasional but fairly regular maintenance crews, lighting up the night with repairs and trackside refurbishments to consider. Our many London clients may have the Underground to contend with, including the attendant bass rumble. There is rarely a one-size fits all solution, and we work hard to address the problems faced in individual properties, saving time and money by reducing the potential to fit incorrect or inappropriate glazing.
This type of noise pollution can be caused by inconsiderate neighbours, poorly managed venues such as pubs and clubs, events like music festivals or just plain old inconsideration. The noise may be intermittent or only occur at certain times, and while legislation exists to help prevent such disturbance the process can be frustrating and time-consuming with the burden of proof lies with the sufferer.
Whatever the cause of your noise pollution, we can help restore peace and quiet to your property. We have helped many people achieve what they had once considered impossible, and in doing so have improved quality of life and added to the value of properties substantially.
Solutions differ from property to property, or even room to room, which is why Hugo Carter specialists carefully assess the level of noise intensity before making any recommendations. You can trust us to make your life quieter.
Soundproofing, how does it work?
As we demonstrated earlier, sound travels in waves, and by affecting these waves we can reduce their impact. We use materials designed to both absorb and deflect the soundwaves, a process that in itself is not difficult. Our expertise is seen in the quality of what we do to make the science work, and look beautiful at the same time.
Here at Hugo Carter we have developed a system that is unique to us, our sash and casement windows feature an engineered solution that we ourselves have developed to achieve astonishing noise reduction without compromising on the finished look.
We have combined timber frames, silicone and rubber sealants, sound dampening elements within the void and the very finest noise reducing glass from market leaders Pilkington and Gobain to create a truly remarkable solution.
Of course, creating such a unique and effective product would be a waste of time, effort and money if we failed to fit the windows properly. This is why all Hugo Carter installation engineers are highly trained, skilled professionals able to fit the very best windows efficiently with the minimum of fuss.
Hear our Silent Windows Soundproof Windows in action
Each clip below features a few seconds of a window open on a very loud high street, and a few seconds of the window closed. They should give you a better idea of what to expect from our windows, much more than any diagram we could produce!
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High Performing Noise Reduction Window 50dB
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To hear more examples, visit our noise reduction tool page.
Here at Hugo Carter we consider ourselves as experts in the subject of soundproof glazing and are always delighted to discuss the various options available. These options fall broadly into three categories-
- Secondary glazing- The fitting of an additional sheet of glass to an existing window. There is no doubt that this is an inexpensive option, but far from ideal due to a lack of aesthetic appeal and effectiveness in reducing noise. Read our blog on secondary glazing.
- Noise reduction glass- The fitting of noise reduction glass into existing frames is certainly a far more effective option and is considerably more visually appealing than secondary glazing. Noise will be reduced to a significant level and this solution can be ideal for some projects. Read our blog on which materials are best.
- Noise reduction windows- The most efficient and best looking by some considerable margin and Hugo Carter windows are designed using the finest noise reduction technology available. The specialised manufacture of our timber frames adds additional soundproofing while the expert fitting guards against the rattling sometimes associated with less robust units. Further information about soundproofing can be found in our free noise reduction brochure. Read our blog on Noise reduction windows.
You might expect us to make a robust defence of timber over UPVC and of course, we will. However, the qualities of UPVC window units should not be underestimated, as they can offer an excellent, cost-effective alternative where the budget is of primary concern.
This handy little table will give you an idea at a glance of the relative merits of Timber and UPVC.
Read our blog on timber vs UPVC.
Our expert team will guide you through the entire installation process, we will tell you exactly what to expect, and offer realistic timescales for production and fitting. Our installation teams work carefully, respecting your property in every way. Ahead of installation, we will be in touch to remind you of a few basic steps that you should take ahead of our arrival. These simple security measures protect your property and belongings from even the remotest possibility of accidental damage. As always, we are pleased to offer help and advice.
Conservation Areas & Listed Buildings
Should planning permission be required we will handle everything with you and our blog Listed Buildings and Architectural Glazing offers much more detail about our expertise and experience in this area. We are used to dealing with local authorities, their rules are there for a reason and must be respected. When it comes to conservation areas there are no shortcuts and even if there were, Hugo Carter would not take them.
Should you be lucky enough to own a listed property or live in a conservation area you can be assured that Hugo Carter shares your passion for beautiful buildings. We assess each property and make sure that any work we undertake is completed sympathetically, enhancing the aesthetic appeal and increasing the value of your most valuable investment.
Installing Hugo Carter windows requires a considerable investment, our craftsmen have built and fitted units to last a lifetime and beyond. In order to keep soundproof windows and frames looking as good as the day they were fitted, we recommend regular care is taken with maintenance. We are delighted to answer any specific questions that you may have.
Read our blog Caring for your Windows and Frames offers detailed advice.
Why Hugo Carter?
There are many fine companies manufacturing and fitting double glazing, and we appreciate just how competitive we have to be in order to succeed. Our continued success is built on our reputation for excellence, and our commitment to service. We treat every client and each property with respect and we hold firm to certain ‘old fashioned’ values.
We are a fair employer, generating a great deal of loyalty from our team, many of whom have been with us since we started. Our pricing policy is entirely honest, we believe in offering the highest quality for the fairest cost. We are also an environmentally aware company, using only timber from sustainable sources and in many cases surpassing industry protocols and standards; for every sale we make, we plant a tree.
The Best Solution For You
This total solution isn't required for all properties, with many homes that suffer from slight nuisances best off seeking out the cheaper and lest drastic option of installing secondary glazing, or replacing the glass.
To see if our bespoke noise reduction sash windows are the right solution for you please call our team who are always happy to help and can provide a great deal more information on our products.
Any inquiries will receive a free consultation from one of our engineers who will be delighted to talk you though the best option for your property.
Any inquiries will receive a FREE consultation
0203 908 0008 from one of our surveyors who will be delighted to talk you through the best option for your property