By Randy Brown
For hotels and motels located near noisy streets, highways, train tracks, airports or urban city walks, keeping external noise from penetrating into what should be the quiet, peaceful sanctuary of the guest room might seem an impossible task.
With the cacophony of loud sirens, traffic, construction, garbage and delivery trucks, aircraft, and nearby nightlife, guests are often inundated with unwanted noise until the early morning hours. Even a raucous swimming pool or other common area open late for guests can be a source of aggravation.
Such noise can make it difficult for guests to sleep soundly, if at all, during the night or for needed daytime naps. For those conducting business in their hotel room or simply relaxing, excessive noise can lead to frustration and frayed nerves.
The fallout is undeniable. Unhappy guests include frequent requests to change rooms, customers that vow never to return, customers demanding a refund, or negative online social reviews. The negative impact to a hotel’s bottom line can be significant and result in lower bookings and a substantial decrease in revenue if the noise problem persists.
Fortunately, hospitality-specific soundproofing solutions exist that are able to address the primary culprits of noise ingress — windows and patio doors — to cut external noise by as much as 95%, without replacement or major renovation.
Already utilized in many lodging facilities across North America, these cost-effective solutions in many ways still remain a “best kept secret.” This is primarily because there is some confusion about the possible options, which can range from replacing double pane windows to inserting sheets of Plexiglas. Available from various window suppliers, these products have a limited ability to reduce exterior noise.
As a result, many hospitality facility owners and managers are instead turning to the soundproofing industry for solutions engineered for maximum noise reduction to deliver true peace and quiet.
Soundproofing With Replacement Windows
Multiple studies have shown that 90% of exterior noise enters through windows, not walls. Unfortunately, simply replacing the windows seldom adequately resolves the problem. Double or triple pane windows, for example, filter out slightly more noise than single pane, if any. Although effective at insulating from external heat or cold, these products are not truly engineered for soundproofing.
With double pane windows, the two pieces of glass within the frame vibrate, which actually creates more noise. Also, the air space for both double and triple pane windows does little to retard the sound vibrations.
Much of the noise that enters through windows comes through leaking window seals. Conventional window seals fail with age, so any partial relief experienced by replacing windows may be short-lived.
To gain an edge over rivals, some hotels are turning to soundproofing companies that have background and expertise engineering products used in highly noise sensitive environments, like recording studios.
My company has created a “second window” that can be installed in front of the existing windows. The product is designed to match and function like the original window, no matter its design or whether it opens or closes.
This inner window essentially reduces noise from entering on three fronts: the type of materials used to make the pane, the ideal air space between original window and insert, and, finally, long lasting seals. The combination can reduce external noise by up to 95%.
When choosing such soundproofed windows for a hotel project, the most objective measure of sound reduction is the window’s Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating. In this rating system, the higher the number the more noise is stopped. A typical rating for standard windows is 26 to 28, for example. These acoustic soundproof windows, by comparison, earn a 48 to 54 STC rating.
Since external noise can also enter sliding glass doors, which are common on ground floor hotel rooms or upper level rooms with patios, similar soundproofing strategies can also be effectively applied in these applications. Like the soundproof windows, a second sliding glass door can be added, but mounted either inside or outside an existing sliding glass door. This can eliminate up to 95% of external noise entering through the patio door.
Soundproofing hotel windows and sliding glass doors can also provide benefits in reducing energy costs. Adding the inner window provides an additional layer of insulation.
Whether hotel owners and managers seek to protect their customers from stressful external noise intrusion, offer more peace and quiet, or significantly reduce heating-cooling related energy costs, economically soundproofing existing windows, rather than replacing them, can provide a real competitive edge.
Brown is the owner of Soundproof Windows, Inc., headquartered in Reno, NV and founded in 1998. He initially developed the first version of a Soundproof Window to solve his own noise problems. Brown’s background knowledge about windows came from working with his father, who worked for a high quality storm window company.