Why make a big noise about acoustic windows?

Tue 27 Sep 2016

David Bickley of Arden Windows shares his experience of the increasing interest being shown in the acoustic performance of windows and doors.

Recently we’ve noticed a big increase in enquiries about our acoustic windows. It seems that noise reduction performance is finally being viewed as a fundamental characteristic of modern window or door design, with specifiers and purchasers (including homeowners) beginning to realise that the noise reduction performance of different door and window systems can have a big effect – and can vary substantially.

It’s not hard to see why noise has become such an issue over recent years. Air traffic, even at quite unsocial hours, busy roads, the sirens of emergency vehicles, roadworks and the increasing density of new-build developments mean that now, more than ever, the choice of appropriate acoustic windows and doors can improve both the quality of life for those occupying a property and the building’s re-sale value.

When you’re specifying acoustic windows, it’s important to know two things. Firstly, the level of noise you’re trying to mitigate, because increasing the acoustic performance will add cost. For example, heavy traffic in close proximity, or an aircraft taking off at a distance of 300 metres, can generate around 85dB.Typically, a double glazed casement window can deliver noise reduction of between 32dB and 48dB.

Secondly, the true acoustic performance of the window or door. Some manufacturers will simply provide acoustic values for the glass. But whilst the glass is the single most important element of the window, it is vital that all of the window’s components are taken into account – including the frame design, seals and even the hardware. Experience has shown that performance characteristics for the whole window can vary dramatically between different window systems even though they incorporate the same glass specification. To give a true indication of performance, the manufacturer should subject the entire product to an acoustic test under controlled laboratory conditions in order to determine the weighted sound reduction value for the product (Rw).

An increasing number of Wood Window Alliance members will be able to provide detailed test evidence for the acoustic performance of their windows and doors. They will be happy to give you advice on the specification required to achieve varying levels of acoustic noise reduction across a whole range of different window types and styles – including vertical sliding sash.