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Homeowners Seek the Sounds of Silence - Manufacturers Cater to the Quest for Peace and Quiet

The chug of a refrigerator sparking to life in the middle of the night. The rumble of an idling car engine in early morning. The rhythmic thrum of a stereo system that is not your own. At a time when homeowners regard their living space as a sanctuary from stress, they are still bombarded by annoying noises at every turn.

In fact, noise is the number one complaint Americans have about their neighborhoods, surpassing crime and litter, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. More than 4 million people said noise in their neighborhoods was so bothersome they wanted to move.

Researchers say that consistent exposure to noise, even at the level of a conventional dishwasher or raised voices, can elevate stress hormone levels, blood pressure and heart rate. That’s no surprise to anyone whose pulse has quickened to an alarming noise in the wee hours of the morning.

Building products and appliance makers are tuning in to this trend by putting their R&D muscle behind “quiet” technology. From kitchen appliances so silent users need visual cues for “on” and “off,” to windows and doors that dramatically reduce sound transmission, manufacturers know how to capitalize on the many intangible ways people define the comforts of home.

Doors that Block Unwanted Noise

Shutting out unwanted noise often takes more than simply closing doors and windows.

Homeowners in search of peace and quiet should consider high-tech materials with acoustic benefits, such as ProCore® The Quiet Door® from JELD-WEN, the world’s leading manufacturer of reliable windows and doors.

These doors represent an affordable way to isolate annoying noises. A single door costs hundreds less than replacing an aging, big-ticket appliance like a noisy refrigerator or dishwasher. Up to 50 percent quieter than hollow interior doors, ProCore® The Quiet Door® from JELD-WEN has a sound transmission class (STC) rating of 31, at the higher end of the scale described below. These molded passage doors are also tested to withstand the dents and dings of daily life.

“Customers who grew up with the proverbial ‘paper-thin’ doors and walls at home are amazed to learn about ProCore,” said Chris King, JELD-WEN’s marketing manager for interior doors. “Once people understand how to keep rooms quiet, they start to think about all the ways they can benefit from this, like creating yoga rooms, a home spa or simply upgrading a home office.”

Understanding Laminated Glass and STC Ratings for Windows

While passageway doors help isolate unwanted sounds within a home, laminated glass windows can keep street noise from breaking in. Lamination refers to panes of window glass with invisible interlayers sandwiched together, creating a strong barrier against flying debris. This type of glass provides a multitude of benefits. It is primarily touted for its impact resistance and safety, particularly in regions with extreme weather and hurricanes. A lesser-known benefit of laminated glass is its sound transmission class (STC) rating.

“Understanding how STC ratings work for windows is as important as understanding R-values for insulation,” said Patrick Hooper, JELD-WEN’s product marketing manager for vinyl and aluminum windows, which are the most popular types in use today. “It’s one of the key decision-making factors that homeowners and builders should be aware of.”

An STC rating is a standard defined by the American Society for Testing and Materials. A higher STC rating indicates a greater sound-reducing effect. For example, single-pane glass with no lamination has an STC of 26, considered low because voices from outside can be clearly heard. Dual-pane insulating glass, with an air space between the panes, has an STC of 28. Even better, laminated glass has an STC of 35. Laminated glass can help homeowners turn down the volume indoors. At this STC rating, loud speech from outside can be heard, but not clearly understood.

Other Ways to Reduce Noise at Home

A few tips for homeowners who want to reduce annoying noises: If budget allows, upgrade aging appliances. Manufacturers are adding quiet features to dishwashers, clothes washers and dryers, vacuums, leaf blowers and even cooling fans. Insulated washing drums and silent lights, rather than buzzers, for “on” and “off” are now par for the course for big-ticket home appliances. Replace insulation with new, high-tech materials now available. Some wall insulation systems offer STC ratings of about 40 or higher. In addition to interior and exterior walls, target attics and basement ceilings. Take an inventory of noisy rooms. At least 25 percent of a room should have sound-absorbing materials, like carpet or furniture, to prevent noisy footsteps from carrying throughout the home.

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