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Acoustical curtains?
Old 10-05-2010, 12:16 PM   #1
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Acoustical curtains?

Anyone use them or find a good online source?
I have two windows facing the road and they let in a lot of early morning commuting noise. I'm looking to soundproof the windows a bit.

My searching on amazon and google isn't turning up much, other than custom made high end acoutical curtains.

I plan to use some acoustical foam to make window "plugs," then hang curtains.
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:27 PM   #2
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I prefer electric curtains...

I would think that any relatively thick material, especially with a lining, would do. The acoustic foam will be doing most of the work. Make sure it fits tightly in the window.
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Old 10-05-2010, 12:29 PM   #3
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Originally Posted by Bimmerbill View Post
Anyone use them or find a good online source?
I have two windows facing the road and they let in a lot of early morning commuting noise. I'm looking to soundproof the windows a bit.

My searching on amazon and google isn't turning up much, other than custom made high end acoutical curtains.

I plan to use some acoustical foam to make window "plugs," then hang curtains.
Sorry, I've no direct experience with accoustical curtains.

As you probably know, reducing sound intrusion is a tough problem for many reasons. Sound can be efficiently transmitted through even small air gaps and directly through materials, and even a significant reduction in the actual sound energy transmitted often doesn't translate into less perceived noise because of the way our ears/brain "boost" the signals of quiet sounds.

Ideas:
- Windows can be very effective. Double or triple-paned ones with good sealing/gaskets will probably do more than any curtain.
- The window "plugs" you plan to fashion: what's your plan with those? Are you thinking about making the window opaque? If you really don't care if light gets through, then that opens up the options for all kinds of high-mass, multi-layer, sound-decoupled designs that you could make rather cheaply and which would likely be effective.
- If you want light but don't need to see out or have egress capability, maybe consider glass block. I would think the high mass of these things might be effective at reducing sound intrusion.

Good luck.
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Old 10-05-2010, 01:10 PM   #4
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As samclem mentioned, a lot of street noise comes from poor sealing of windows. You could use a cheap stethescope to listen to the edges of your windows to find any leaks. Then use a peelable window sealant to really seal the windows well.

Amazon.com: Dap 18354 Seal 'N Peel Removable Caulk, 10.1-Ounce: Home Improvement
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Old 10-05-2010, 01:19 PM   #5
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I found a nice DIY for window plugs using 2" acustical foam. Cut the foam to slightly larger than the windows, then insert, leaving space between the window and the foam.

They say you can also put an internal window on for even more sound proofing, but I don't care if light comes thru since I rarely open the shades on these windows.

My windows are fairly new, double hung, dual pane, chaulked to the max. I think part of the issue is that my house is half way up a very long big hill, so I hear people accelerating to keep going. Also, I have a big field so I think that acts as an echo chamber!

Over the years the road I live on has become very busy. I used to play on it when I was a kid, but now that would be suicide.

Noise wakes me up at 0400 or 0430 and I get angry (loud motorcycle pipes, those loud car stereos, etc) about peoples lack of consideration, then can't get back to sleep.
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Old 10-05-2010, 01:32 PM   #6
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Noise wakes me up at 0400 or 0430 and I get angry (loud motorcycle pipes, those loud car stereos, etc) about peoples lack of consideration, then can't get back to sleep.
Don't they sell air rifles in your neck of the woods? I think you should recognize this situation for the hobby/neighborhood improvement opportunity that it is.

I would think the acoustic foam would work well. Putting something heavy on the room side of it (maybe a couple of thicknesses of drywall with a gasket of foam weatherstripping on all edges?) would also help, though it would then be more trouble to remove the foam.
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Old 10-05-2010, 01:53 PM   #7
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I don't mind that sort of noise during "normal" waking hours. Heck, I used to run some Vance and Hines straight shots on my old bike (way too loud!).

Yes, the DIY said I could use some OSB or luan, with another layer of foam on the inside if I needed to.

I'm hoping one layer and some insulated curtains will block a lot of the sound, and provide some insulation as well. It's getting cold up here.
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Old 10-05-2010, 02:25 PM   #8
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You would probably some acoustic foam, something 1 1/2" to 2" thick, certainly not less than 1". If you're not concerned about appearance you may find something here. ACOUSTIC FOAM from Parts Express ship same day and come with 45 day money back guarantee. Free Shipping Available. Order free 10,000 product catalog. Parts Express is a reliable store.

As an alternative, a music products store Acoustic Foam at AmericanMusical.com note - I've not dealt with them, but the selection looks good - just pulled it from a google search.

In addition, you might consider a floor fan or air cleaner. The low steady hum is like grey noise and helps offset outside noise, especially engines (but not motorcycles).
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Old 10-05-2010, 02:59 PM   #9
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I'm no acoustic engineer, but I've dabbled in the issues of sound (especially as it relates to worker exposure). Sound is a very complex and often, non-intuitive discipline. I know just enough to be consciously incompetent.

If you're well-fitting windows are not blocking the sound, you may really be up against it as noise may be permeating other areas of your house - not just the windows. From personal experience, we replaced windows for energy savings and noticed an incredible lowering of obtrusive sound afterwards. Thats why I'm skeptical that it's actually your windows allowing in all the sound, but, of course, I don't know.

One other thing you might consider. It might actually be easier, more efficient and more effective to work on your sleeping quarters. If it's just you (or you and a partner) the problem becomes one room instead of perhaps a whole house. Very tight fitting and closed doors can make an incredible reduction in many frequencies of sound. You could even add insulation to your interior bedroom walls. Someone suggested grey (I call it white) noise. With a well sealed sleeping "chamber" and white noise generator, you might find the noise to be well controlled. Of course, you won't hear an intruder breaking into your house, either, but we all have to make sacrifices.

One final suggestion: Hire an acoustical engineer to look at your problem. A good one can diagnose the problem and suggest fixes (and estimate costs). It may not be cheap, but at least you won't feel "stoooopid" for say, blocking off the windows, only to find out that wasn't the problem. Of course, and as always, YMMV.

Good luck!
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Old 10-05-2010, 03:06 PM   #10
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I do have a white noise machine, but turn it down the majority of the time when DD4 is home. I do this so I can hear her at night if she has any issues. I used to use ear plugs too, but don't anymore for the same reason.

I think my house is on ledge as well, so noise may be getting transmitted thru that.

But for the time and money, I figured I'd try the foam and curtains. I also found some sound deadening wall hangings, but they were made for recording studios so looked industrial.
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