For the managers of apartment and office buildings, condo developments, and retirement communities, the constant din of traffic, roar of aircraft, or clanking of railways can depress rental, lease, and occupancy rates.
By disturbing sleep and peace of mind, as well as making it difficult to talk without raising your voice, even an otherwise convenient location becomes undesirable without remediation.
While the ability to soundproof existing windows with a second functioning window has been catching on as a quick, lower cost alternative to replacement, perhaps the best kept secret is that the same approach can be applied to sliding glass doors, such as those commonly used on patios and balconies.
“Wherever a quiet, peaceful living/working environment is desired to reduce turnover or increase occupancy and rental rates, soundproofing can provide an easier, less expensive option than replacing sliding doors and windows,” says Ryan Sanquist, President of Ryan Sanquist Installations (RSI), a contractor specializing in patio door and window installation for commercial properties.
Because sliding doors are typically much larger in size than most windows, they can be a major source of noise intrusion if unaddressed.
Fortunately for property managers, the ability to add a second soundproof sliding patio door can quiet loud external noise intrusion by 75 percent or more, which can help raise rental and occupancy rates while reducing turnover.
What’s more, the same approach also offers the important additional side benefits of significantly improving the dwelling’s energy efficiency, comfort, and security, which further enhances the property’s rental or lease value.
To resolve noise intrusion through sliding glass doors and improve rent or lease values, multi-unit property managers are turning to true soundproofing companies like Soundproof Windows, Inc., a national manufacturer of window and patio door soundproofing products, that have background and expertise engineering products used in the most noise sensitive environments in the world, like recording studios.
The company has created a “second sliding patio door” that can be installed easily inside or outside of the existing door. This consists of a surface mount aluminum frame, track insert, mounting fin, and a sound insulated movable aluminum sash with rolling mechanism. The product is designed specifically to match and function like the original door, no matter its design, and can open and lock separately.
Functionally, the second sliding door reduces noise intrusion due to its laminated glass construction, the air space separating the original and soundproof door, and improved long-lasting seals. The combination can reduce external noise by up to 95 percent.
“The first noise barrier is laminated glass, which dampens sound vibration much like a finger on a wine glass stops it from ringing when struck,” said Randy Brown, president of Soundproof Windows. “An inner PVB layer of plastic further dampens sound vibrations.”
Air space of 2-4 inches between the existing sliding door and the soundproof sliding door also significantly improves noise reduction because it isolates the door frame from external sound vibrations.
Finally, the company places spring-loaded seals in the second sliding door frame. “This puts a constant squeeze on the glass panels, which prevents sound leaks and helps to stop noise from vibrating through the glass,” explains Brown.
Raising multi-unit rental value
“When a large, multi-story apartment complex was built in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, next to Union Station, the original patio doors and windows failed to meet the city’s noise compliance code for new construction,” says Sanquist.
Because tearing these out and starting over would balloon costs, soundproofing about 150 existing patio doors and 350 existing windows was the option chosen, according to Sanquist.
To resolve the situation as well as improve rental values, sliding glass doors and windows from Soundproof Windows were added to the project.
“The soundproofing quickly handled the noise issue for the apartment building developer, its property manager, and its tenants,” says Sanquist. “It became a more desirable place to live, capable of satisfying code and sustaining higher rental rates than it otherwise would have.”
Sanquist also points to the successful use of soundproof sliding doors and windows at a prestigious Los Angeles retirement community that required noise reduction due to its proximity to two busy freeways.
Added energy savings and security
Such soundproofing in commercial properties can also provide substantial benefits in reducing energy costs. Adding another sliding door or window provides an additional layer of insulation, which can reduce the heating-cooling portion of energy bills by 15-30 percent. This also helps to stop air infiltration around leaky seals, which improves comfort and increases the property’s perceived value.
Another important benefit to this soundproofing approach is security enhancement, since its construction helps to deter burglary/breaking and entering through typical sliding glass doors.
While standard or tempered glass sliding doors can be shattered by a sharp blow, the laminated glass used in such soundproofing offers significant boost in protection because it is shatter resistant and tends to remain intact even after repeated blows. Such laminated glass is a major component of most bullet-proof glass.
Whether apartment property operators seek to enhance occupancy or rental rates by protecting their residents from stressful external noise intrusion, significantly reduce heating-cooling related energy costs, or deter break in, economically soundproofing existing sliding glass doors and windows can provide a real competitive edge and lasting beauty for years to come.