Blocking out the outside world

Phil Brown, European regulatory marketing manager at Pilkington UK, discusses the growing trend of sound-insulating glass being used in residential properties.

Insulating building interiors against noise is a major design criterion of many new commercial builds like airports, city offices, bars and restaurants, for example.

However, noise control glazing is now becoming increasingly popular for residential properties; homeowners are looking to filter out the increasingly noisy outside world, with property developers and landlords acknowledging the importance of sound insulation, especially for high-end properties.

This increase in popularity may come as no surprise when considering city centre properties. City residents have to battle against everything from 24/7 traffic and noisy nightlife to the crash of a bottle bins being emptied in the early hours of the morning.

The ability to filter out the noise of the city can be a blessing for residents and lucrative for landlords, too. The problem, however, cannot be understated as simply being a nuisance.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), one in five Europeans are regularly exposed to sound levels at night that could damage health. The WHO’s guidelines for community noise is recommended at less than 30dB(A) in bedrooms during the night for a sleep of good quality. However, 44% of the population in EU countries are said to be exposed to road traffic noise exceeding 55dB(A). That’s similar to trying to get to sleep in a fairly busy restaurant environment.

In the suburbs, noise-control glazing is more of a necessity for homes under flightpaths, near rail lines or busy main roads. However, some suburban homeowners are simply looking to secure some peace and quiet from the subtler causes of noise pollution, such as the babble from the nearby pub, barking neighbourhood dogs, or even from the chorus of lawnmowers on a Sunday.

What’s more, people are increasingly working from home too. In fact, in the UK, more than 1.5 million people are doing so, adding to the importance of homes needing to be a space uninterrupted by noise for both work and relaxation.

While ordinary insulating glass units (IGUs) offer some sound insulation, the best insulation is achieved by using an acoustic laminated glass, which controls noise by reflecting sound back towards the source and absorbing sound energy within the glass. The distance between panes helps too, particularly for secondary glazing, where the larger the gap between the panes the better the insulation.

Pilkington’s Optiphon range of sound insulating laminated glass has been given the seal of approval by Quiet Mark, the international mark of approval from the Noise Abatement Society Charitable Foundation. The range has a special polyvinylbutyral (PVB) interlayer to reduce noise without compromising on light transmission.

Achieving improved sound insulation doesn’t mean homeowners have to compromise on energy-efficient glazing either. Pilkington Optiphon can be combined with other Pilkington products for a multi-functional noise reduction IGU providing additional benefits such as: thermal insulation, solar control, and self-cleaning glass.

Whether it’s to get a good night’s sleep, some peace and quiet, or to avoid health issues, acoustic laminated glass is the solution for sound insulation in the home.