You expect a lot from your windows. If two of your highest priorities include energy efficiency and soundproofing, you may be considering triple-pane windows or laminated glass. Explore the differences between them to help you decide if either one is appropriate for your Denver home.
Most modern homes have double-pane windows. These feature two sheets of glass with a pocket of air between them to improve insulation and sound-dampening. Triple-pane windows take this up a notch by including a third pane of glass and two pockets of air.
Double-pane windows are available with a layer of plastic between the glass. The primary reason to install laminated windows is to guard against glass breakage in high-wind environments. As such, laminated glass is also called hurricane-resistant glass.
Sound transfer through an object is measured on the Sound Transmission Class (STC) scale. Here is a chart from soundproofingcompany.com breaking down the STC scale:
|STC||What Can Be Heard|
|25||Normal speech is easily heard and understood|
|30||Normal speech is harder to hear and not understood; loud speech is understood|
|35||Loud speech can be heard, but not understood|
|40||Loud speech seems like a faint murmur|
|45||Loud speech not heard at all; very loud speakers and heavy traffic noise can still be heard, but are muffled|
|50||Very loud speakers and instruments are barely audible|
|60+||Superb soundproofing; almost nothing can be heard|
A standard double-pane window carries an STC rating of about 27. Additional features—such as sound-absorbing spacers, dissimilar glass thickness, and the optimal air space between the glass—can increase the rating to around STC 34. This brings the window in line with the soundproofing capabilities of an average stick-built home.
Three panes of glass should offer superior soundproofing over two panes, right? Surprisingly, testing reveals that triple-pane windows have similar STC ratings as dual-pane windows with dissimilar glass thickness. This is because triple-pane windows have smaller air spaces, allowing sound to reverberate and amply as it passes through the glass. Therefore, the noise level comes through about the same.
Laminated glass offers a slight improvement, achieving around STC 35. Just be advised that laminated glass can increase the window cost by about 30% to 50%, making it fairly impractical if soundproofing is your primary motive.
The most effective way to block sound transfer through any window is to make sure it seals properly. Any gaps around the frame will allow unwanted noises to pass through. Sealing your windows also blocks airflow for more efficient performance.
Triple-pane windows are more efficient than double-pane windows. If your goal is to achieve the most comfortable, low-carbon-footprint home possible, triple-pane windows can help you get there. With an extra pane of glass and every high-efficiency feature available, these windows pass the “touch test” better than double-pane windows, insulating against hot and cold weather almost as effectively as a wall.
As for laminated glass, adding a layer of plastic does little to improve a window’s efficiency. Another glazing technology known as low-E coating reflects heat away from the window to reduce interior heat gain. This is the add-on you should choose to improve window efficiency.
In the end, you’ll get the best results by choosing quality windows and pursuing professional installation. If you’re still not sure what type of windows you need to achieve your goals, we would be happy to help you review your options.
Reach out to us today at (303) 507-5206 to ask questions or request a window installation estimate.