How to Block Out Street Noise
LESLIE: Now for a trip out west to Oregon where Toni has a window question.
Toni, how can we help you?
TONI: Yes, I have a problem with noise. I live on a busy street. I live in a condominium and my two front bedrooms are right on the front of that street. And I have very deep window sills and I thought I had an idea how to block out some of that noise, so I bought this big slab of about three- or four-inches-thick Styrofoam and wedged that in, you know, the windowsill at night. But it didn’t do anything.
TOM: The problem with having windows in a condominium is that you may not be able to replace those. Is that true?
TONI: Yeah. I know that there are windows on the market that supposedly lock out all noise. Do they really do that?
TOM: Well, they wouldn’t lock out all noise but if you have inefficient, rattly windows now they certainly would probably do a better job with that. But if it’s a condominium, are you allowed to replace your windows, Toni, without getting permission from the …?
TONI: We do have very good double windows. It’s a new condo. It’s about four or five years old.
TOM: Leslie, how about some heavy drapes? Would that work?
LESLIE: Yeah. If you can, I would say put in some really heavy, heavy drapes like a velvet or a really thick, upholstery-weight fabric and even line them and interline them. Because the more fabric you put there, the more it’ll actually absorb the sound. And …
TONI: So fabric does that?
LESLIE: Yeah. I think if you just put up some drapes, even as a decorative detail, the more fabric you have up there, the more noise that they are going to absorb before it actually gets to you in the room. If you have sort of the option of putting some sort of like a plantation shutter or a shutter on the inside that you could open out to the inside of the room, you could even – Tom, could you line it with that foamy, egg crate stuff that’s used in audio rooms?
TOM: That’s a pretty cool idea. Maybe you could do that. We’re talking about audio foam; the kind of foam that’s used in broadcasting studios. It’s available online. It’s not very expensive. It looks kind of like an egg crate or it can just look like a V and you can line the back of the shutters with that. And what that would do is take sound that comes in and dissipate it so it doesn’t come through the rest of the room.
TONI: Now is that a different egg crate foam than what you could buy like in the bedding department?
LESLIE: Yeah, absolutely. The one you buy for the bed is sort of very flimsy and like it’s a yellow or a green and it’s not very stiff. The one that you buy for audio, it’s like a thick gray and it’s really thick and it’s really sturdy and dense so it really will do its job at absorbing the sound. Because that’s what people use when they have a broadcasting studio and they don’t want any sound to come in to disrupt the audio quality.
TONI: Oh, and it’s not all that expensive?
TOM: No, not at all.
TONI: Hmm. And so where would I get that if I’m not online?
TOM: Probably from a music shop.
TOM: Someplace that sells musical equipment and …
LESLIE: Or instruments.
LESLIE: Go in there and ask them. They’ll be able to sort of point you in the right direction. And because they’re local, they’ll probably know somebody locally who can do that best for you.
TONI: Hmm. Well, I really appreciate this. You know, I’ve been, like I said, trying things and checking around and it’s the best answer so far. And even if the windows worked, I probably could not afford them anyway. You know, they’re …
LESLIE: And you might not even be allowed to change them because of your building.
TONI: OK, I’m going to give that a try.
TOM: OK, Toni. Thanks so much for calling us at 1-888-MONEY-PIT, 888-666-3974.