Noise-Reducing Window Treatments

Updated February 21, 2017

Reducing noise that comes from outside the home can be challenging, especially if you have windows facing a busy street or commercial area. As the need has risen for more noise reduction, the number of products available have also increased. Many interior designers have now incorporated noise-reduction materials into stylish shades, curtains and foam inserts. A homeowner can install these window treatments in a short time.

Window Shades

Noise-reducing window shades are made from a cellular material. The more cells in the shade, the more noise-reduction capacity. These shades fit inside the interior window opening. They not only block out the noise but the sunlight as well. Typically these shades come in single-cell and double-cell material. The sound-absorbing structure is enclosed in a fabric which comes in many colours to match almost any room decor The shades are easily moved up and down in the window opening. The shades do not hide from view when in the full up position, and in some cases may permanently take up the upper 6 inches of the interior window.


Vinyl-backed soundproof curtains are another alternative for windows. Much heavier and denser that a typical curtain, these fabric-covered thick plastic drapes trap sounds. They form an insulating barrier to stop sound by providing a solid air wall. Air, when tapped between a window and a curtain such as these, will help to deaden sound waves as they pass through the glass. Double-paned windows will also help in reducing noise from the outdoors as long as the glass panes are insulated from each other by rubber stand offs or insulators. Vinyl curtains are very heavy and the material must be installed so there is an air gap of at least 3 inches from the glass. The curtain must form a type of sound or air seal around the window in order to trap the sound.

Solid Cellular Sheets

Foam sheets made from dense foam that has a large closed-cell structure can also be used for a sound-reducing covering in windows. The foam must be cut so it fits tightly inside the window opening. Once installed, these foam inserts may be difficult to remove as the foam can be damaged from constant movement. The interior facing foam can be covered in a fabric as the foam is not damaged by certain construction adhesives. This type of noise-reducing window treatment can be used in rooms such as home theatres or bedrooms where noise is a constant discomfort. The foam is relatively inexpensive and multiple layers can be added to increase the noise-reduction capacity. The foam should be held away from the glass to create an air trap for the sound.

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