Super Soundproofing Community Forum

Soundproofing Forum Topics => Soundproofing your single family home from traffic noise and neighbors. => Topic started by: Stuart on February 13, 2004, 08:11:38 PM

Title: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: Stuart on February 13, 2004, 08:11:38 PM

I have been trying to block out freeway noise into our bedroom ever since we bought our house last year.  The window is actually two windows, meeting at a corner. Size is 3050 and 4650.  Here's my experience:

1. replaced old window with Milgard horizontal sliders, speced at STC 36.  Not as great an improvement as I had hoped.  With installation, costy was 1500 bucks.

2. Got an insulation guy in, he said blown in cellulose was great.  So ripped half the wall down to get some older rock wool stuff out.  Net result, no perceivable improvent soundwise.  A bit warmer maybe, and at least I re-wired the room.  Cost was 600, for walls and attic.

3. Got sick of spending more money on 'miracle' solutions, so hired an acoustic consultant, out of the phone book.  They are not in the market of selling you a product, so are unbiased.  A person came out with a meter, measured SPL inside and outside, and showed me real scientific results. Main noise transmission still through the window.  Truck noise is mostly 125hz, and while my STC 36 window was great at reducing high freq noise, only lost a few db at 125 hz.  She provided recommendations, lab results for Milgard windows with STCs of 45, 46, etc.  Money very well spent, even at maybe 100 bucks an hour.  At least now I know what the issues really are and how to proceed.

Oh, and she said resilient channel was SO difficult to get right that it is all but impractical to take that route for walls.

Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: Mitchell on February 15, 2004, 04:47:27 AM

      I have been through a similar exercise to your own with near identical conclusions, but with a few different twists...    original windows in 30 year old  house with new noisy neighbors, low frequency bass as the main offender.    
  At the time, at least, Milgard was the only window manufacturer serious enough about noise abatement to publish  STC data on their products. Glancing at an STC chart, you learn, that the STC rating is a summed average at a somewhat narrow range of frequencies, typically  poorer at blocking low frequency, longer wave length sound.  
If money is no object and bricking off the window space is not an option , I would recommend  
     1) Milgard Quiet Line -  which are double sash vinyl windows , 2 independent windows in same frame, outer windows single pane,  inner window double panes, differing thickness of glass (very important, otherwise, you can get amplification,rather than abatement)
     2) vertical single hung  windows or picture windows, rather than horizontal sliders. Sliders typically have slightly lower STC than vertical hung.I don't think  they don't seal quite as well or have less frame material.
     3) specify laminated glass if low frequency noise is a concern. This will be more expensive, but it  adds 3-4  stc in Quiet Line overall performance, and dramatically improves low frequency blocking.
     3) vinyl or aluminum frames rather than wood.
     4) argon fill in windows may improve STC slightly.  
     5) evaluate weak point in room from sound transmission standpoint. If you have wood siding walls,  putting in STC 45 laminated glass windows will be a waste of money. if you have brick walls, windows become your weak point and you should "fortify" them and more expensive window features may be justified.
     Lastly, remember that whatever you undertake in soundproofing, its effect is incremental, rather than absolute.  Noise is lessened, not eliminated.



Ps-   Forum readers,  react!!  -  there are too few user replies to posts on this site, and too much marketing.
Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: Howard on January 11, 2005, 02:00:23 PM
My reaction is that your experience could be very helpful to me. My wife and I recently bought a house with an interstate in the back yard, so road noise is a serious problem. There's already one of those huge sound barrier walls in our back yard and trees so we're probably left with anything we do being to the back wall, door, and windows of our house. The back of the house is an addition maybe 13 yrs old. It has that modern plastic siding on the outside. (The rest of the house has a stucco exterior. I suppose this counts as "wood siding walls" as per your last posts, so we may need to have something put in the wall itself.
When we get settled in, we may look up one of those accoustic consultants (anyone know any in north NJ?) and see if new windows would be a waste. The back of the house has Anderson windows, but I'm not sure exactly what type of STC they are.

Thanks. Any other experience would be helpful.
Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: Rosey on January 11, 2005, 10:24:37 PM
But why did you buy a house next to the freeway?
Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: Howard on January 12, 2005, 09:18:17 PM
Fair enough. Basically, it was extremely conventient to work and had everything we wanted. Nothern NJ is a tough market to find affordable housing that isn't somewhere near planes, trains, or automobiles.  :-/

Incidently, the traffic didn't sound as bad before I moved in. I don't know if it was leaves on the trees or some possesions the previous owners had (such as clothes in now-empty closets) that absorbed sound, the timing of when I walked-though the house, or just the different perspective of living in the house rather than doing a walk-through. Somehow before I bought the place, the traffic didn't seem as bad in my mind. Maybe it will again when I have time to get used to it and/or finish putting possesions in the house.

In any case, I plan on just living with it for awhile before doing anything.
Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: Joanne on January 14, 2005, 12:51:39 AM
You WILL get used to the noise and it really won't seem too bad after awhile.   And it will actually condition you so that little noises won't bother you anymore either!! And then the result will be that you will be happier than the person who is so used to quiet that any noise or traffic really aggravates them.   But of course we have to suffer a little first before we get to that good stage.
Actually, traffic noise varies a lot by time of day, temperature, wind direction, seasons, etc.  It sounds louder during peak hour times when there are more cars on the road.  It also sounds louder when the temperature is cooler and when the wind is blowing from that direction.   It IS hard to find a house where you don't hear any traffic at all.   I can hear traffic a lot in my house but all the other advantages really outweigh that one disadvantage.   Since the house was cheaper, I will be able to retire earlier and I have more money to use in other ways.  To me it's really worth it and like I said before, you will get used to it.
Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: supersoundproofing on January 22, 2005, 06:38:02 PM
Thanks Joanne
Yes we can get used to some of the small annoyances of life. But, we can also seek to work with them. Recently, a  customer called in with a unique solution. They had a sizeable property on a hill away from traffic but could still hear the freeway.
Their solution included a beautiful fountain whose trickling water attracted attention. They also placed some  relaxing wind chimes in window sills and trees. The pleasant tone of the wind chime helped break up the traffic noise.

I wonder if either of these solutions would work for you? It may just be fun to try.


Super Soundproofing Inc.
Telephone (760)752 3030

Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: T. Gardner on March 08, 2005, 03:29:55 PM
  I too live about 75 feet off a busy road. Trucks are the worst. My house is all brick. My noise is definately from the windows. I replaced them with a "triple" pane glass with aluminum. They are large approx. 60 X 50 with 3 sections, the outer two crank out. I believe they helped but had to do it all over, probably wouldn't of went that route. I believe mostly the problem is that they sit in the brick which helps to catch the sound. I experimented with one smaller bathroom window and sealed a piece of plexaglass to the brick using rope caulking. I truly believe that made a noticable difference, hence reinforcing my thinking that I believe the sound is skipping off the brick but being held in the offsets of the windows. I often thought because I can't open these windows because of the noise, what it would be like to seal a large piece of glass against the brick on the outside of the house to let the sound again bounce instead of being caught inside the inset windows?? At least this way I could look out. I was basically thinking of my bedroom. You do get use to it to a degree. The cars don't seem to bother us as much but the trucks are fairly tough not to notice. We also use a sound machine in our bedroom to help drown out the noise at night, usually a nice ocean wave sound. Also, ear plugs really help if at your wits end.  There has to be something or someone out there that has a affordable idea for this situation that has led us all to this site hoping to find a solution. I would hope if someone does find something practical, it would be posted to share with the rest of us.
Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: Mark Needs Quiet on July 29, 2005, 06:45:04 AM

While this is a technical paper:

it explains that standard triple pane windows will not be better than double.  Windows like the Milgard Quietline windows work more because of a large air gap between two of the panes than from the fact that there are three panes.


Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: supersoundproofing on September 29, 2005, 10:46:17 PM
A link to window options:
Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: Neil D on February 14, 2006, 04:30:59 PM
How about a white noise system hooked up to your stereo?  Does someone make those? Like negative sound waves to cancel out the others. I know they have systems like this for vehicles. Not sure if they are available for homes or not.
Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: jbeth on March 18, 2006, 08:32:04 PM
Instead of a curtain, I use a small down quilt, the kind they make for couch throws as my windows are 5 x 3'6". The thicker the better. Instead of a curtain road, use string and clip on curtain hangers (or clothespegs) so that the quilt is flush against the window wall but not inside the window frame. If you don't plan on opening the "curtain", it is even better if you seal the edges of the quilt to the walls on all sides and bottom with finishing nails or a vertical string and clip arrangement.

Hamilton Beach makes small wall mount "odour eliminator" fans that helps to cut down on the higher frequencies and do not make you bedroom feel like a hurricane zone. Somewhere between you and the window will work best, or else use it with an extension cord and lay under your bed.

There are also cool moisture humidifiers that do not put out a lot of breeze, and have great sounding lower frequency white noise. If the breeze is too much, put a t-shirt loosely over the top of the unit. You do not need to use water for the fan to work.

Have earplugs handy for the busy traffic times. Caution, wearing earplugs on a regular basis can result in your ears trying to hear more, hence, after long-term use, a few months, you will start picking up noise through them. Just my personal experience with earplugs, not "scientifically" proven.

Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: jdurward on March 31, 2006, 09:48:30 AM
     I would like to suggest the book "SOUND STUDIO CONSTRUCTION ON A BUDGET" by F. Alton Everest. It is written for both the technically inclined and the technically challenged. It includes chapters on wall, floor/ceiling, window and door construction and performance.
    The price printed on the back is $29.95. A bit pricey to some, but not too bad for a technical book. It will keep you from making a costly stab in the dark at sound abatement.
    A simple tip to help solve most of your problems is to remember that (for the most part) mass equals sound deadening. Douglas fir used in framing and plywood is 33#/cu.ft., window glass is 161#/cu.ft. and gypsum board (dry wall) is 52.8#/cu.ft. Sorry, I dont know the density of stucco or OSB (oriented strand board). It is common to see plywood and gypsum board in half inch thicknesses. In that case plywood would be 1.375#/ sq.ft, and gypsum board would be 2.2#/sq.ft. Although glass is very dense and would seem like a good sound barrier it is usually quite thin, like 3/32", at that thickness it is a little more than 1.257#/sq.ft. If you double that, (double pane windows) the number starts looking better, but...
     Air space absorbs a lot of sound as does fiberglass insulation. The greater the air space the better, as shallow air space tends to not absorb well. In fact spaces of less than an inch aren't much more effective than no space at all. Most windows will have an STC (sound transmission class) of less than 30(dB). You can buy foam earplugs at the drugstore with an STC of 33.
    Unless you have thin walls with little or no insulation which won't pass a modern building inspection then they are probably not the problem. If they are, then adding 5/8" drywall and fiberglass insulation without kraft facing that is (as I recall) 3#/sq.ft like Owens Corning 703. Be sure to use a use-specific caulking for sound deadening. You should focus on the windows, that is unless you have a door in the room leading outside. In that case I have bad news. doors are almost impossible to seal well and good designs (for recording studios and other commercial uses) often run over $1000!!! At that point it is probably best to learn to live in harmony with the cocophany.  
Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: johnbergstromslc on May 10, 2012, 06:37:42 PM
I was looking for freeway noise reduction as well.   Decided to add some noise reduction plants to my backyard as well.  Really helped.   I was looking at evergreen trees to fill in the back yard to help with the noise.  But they were getting pretty expensive.  One of my neighbors recommended bamboo.  I didnt even realize they had it in their back yard.  There are only a couple of landscapers who specialize in bamboo.  I used they seemed to be the most competitive and experienced. 

They came out and gave me a free site visit with some recommendations.  We ended up going for the 20 foot bamboo.  Really helped reduce the noise and now I cant even see the highway any more.  Also looks really beautiful and has become one of the main focal points of my back yard. 

Great guys, good price and really helped with my problem.  If your having the same problem you should give them a call.


Bamboo is lightweight and rigid.  In other words, useless for blocking low-frequency sound.

Post your ads somewhere else....
Title: Re: My experience trying to reduce freeway noise
Post by: Chris J on July 11, 2012, 11:41:49 AM
We have planted various evergreens and deciduous trees and bushes in the 8 ft of space between our house and a very busy 2 lane road with positive results.......we also harassed the city until they planted a row of trees on the sidewalk in front of the row we planted in our yard. This combined with a wood fence has brought the levels down a bit......the trees are also far more pleasant to look at than a steady stream of cars and trucks.  The traffic noise is still there to be sure but a little more in the distance. This combined with Laminated glass SPW's inside has made living in this home on a busy street far more pleasant.