stop noise

Dealing with noise from outside can be a tricky thing. Noise comes in from all kinds of places, through a floor, a ceiling, a wall and of course through glazing. A lot of it though, comes straight in through gaps around doors and windows.

Does Draught Proofing Help reduce noise?

Well yes, it most certainly does help.  Simply using good quality and complete draught seals makes a significant difference to the ingress of noise from outside. Many times I’ve been really surprised at the difference that just regular draught seals make. The time that you really notice the effect is after the draught proofing is done and you step back outside or open a window. 

However, you can make an even bigger difference by using seals that are specifically made for acoustic purposes. Yes, they stop all the same things like draught, smoke, pollen, dust but they are especially good at reducing noise ingress.

The Benefits of Acoustic Seals:

  1. Improved Energy Efficiency: By sealing gaps and preventing air leakage, draught  seals help maintain indoor temperatures, reducing the workload on heating and cooling systems. This leads to energy savings and lower utility bills.
  2. Soundproofing: They significantly reduce the intrusion of noise from outside sources compared to other seals. This makes it particularly useful for homes, offices, and commercial buildings located near busy streets, airports, or other high-noise areas.
  3. Dust and Insect Prevention: Acoustic seals offer an effective barrier against dust, dirt, smoke, and insects, ensuring a cleaner indoor environment and offering added protection against potential allergens.
  4. Increased Comfort: With the elimination of drafts and air leaks, occupants experience increased comfort levels, regardless of the outdoor weather conditions.
  5. Comprehensive protection. Acoustic seals are generally quite robust. Even strong gusts of wind cannot penetrate the silicone seals. 

Before You Start With Acoustic Seals

Yes, acoustic seals can do an awesome job of reducing the ingress of external noise. When thinking about external doors, the seals will be a lot more effective if you have a solid core door. Lots of front doors are fitted with some glazing and this will reduce the overall effect.  Thicker glass is much better than thin glass when it comes to acoustic performance.

Unfortunately, lots of our homes are fitted with hollow core back doors. It’s a curious thing we do. And hollow core doors are basically just two sheets of very thin material on each side and a honeycomb of cardboard inside. In effect, it’s a drum! Acoustic seals will help but a lot of noise is still going to come straight through the hollow door.

To get the most out of your acoustic seals for doors, you should fit solid core doors first. If you have glazing in the door then replace it with a minimum 6mm thick glass.

Which Acoustic Seals Are Best?

And now, a word about brand. We have been using Raven brand draught seals for well more than 20 years. There are some advantages in using the brand that invented the seals that others now copy. We know that the seals have stood the test of time.  And we also know that quality is integral at Raven. In fact, in more than 20 years we have had exactly one quality problem and zero pick packing errors. That’s an amazing record, and that’s why we are still using Raven seals.

Even within the Raven range, there are a lot of seals to choose from. We have done the hard work to zero in on the seals that not only work well, but are also aesthetically acceptable and are also easier to fit. 

And now, let’s get started.

Acoustic Seals For Doors

Lets begin with external doors because that’s the natural place to begin. When we think about doors we are going to need a “perimeter seal” to seal the head and sides of the door. We are also going to need something for the bottom of the door and we call that an “automatic draught excluder”.  Automatic because these things move seals up and down by the action of the door opening and closing.  Sometimes, external doors are double doors and in this case they are also going to need an “astragal” seal to treat the centre join.

Perimeter Seal – RP78

Description: The acoustic perimeter seal of choice is the RP78. This performs very well acoustically but is slimline and reasonably easy to fit in most circumstances. The beauty of the slimline profile, just 6mm thick, is that it will not interfere with your fingers even if your door knob is very close to the jamb.  

This is a static seal, it does not move, just sits there in its acousticness, waiting for the door to be closed onto it.

It comes in single and double door sets. It is simply square cut to length and screwed onto the door frame. 

Things to Watch Out For: The fitting instructions that come with the seal are quite good.  Do watch out for these things though:

  • The silicone seal is easily damaged. Remove the seal before cutting the aluminium carrier.
  • The screw cover strap is also easily damaged so remove that also.
  • Take great care when positioning the RP78. You should not be pushing hard onto the door. The screw holes are a little slotted but this does not afford much adjustment.
  • Take great care when screwing in the screws. They are little screws and it’s easy for your driver to slip off the screw and into the silicone seal. This will destroy the seal. OUCH!
  • The screw cover strap shrinks over time so cut this a little on the long side and scrunch it up a bit.

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Automatic Draught Excluder – RP35

Description: The RP35 can be a bit tricky to fit. But, long after you have forgotten that, it will still be working flawlessly. In fact, these have been tested to a million operations. It will probably outlast your door and possibly you too, though that’s hard to contemplate!  We have never had to replace a single one.

These have an adjustable actuator which is fitted to the hinge side of the door. As the door is closed, the actuator is pushed in and that causes the seal to be driven down onto the threshold. As you open the door, the pressure is released on the actuator and the seal springs back up inside of the RP35 housing.

These come in set lengths and they each cut down to the next size down.  Don’t cut them any more than that because you will be destroying the internal mechanism!  If your door jamb is 800mm wide, get the 820mm RP35.If it’s 900 then get the 920.

Things to Watch Out For: The fitting instructions that come with the seal are quite good.  Do watch out for these things though:

  • The seal drops a maximum of 13mm but that does not mean that it can only seal a 13mm gap. The RP35 is screw fixed at the top (hey, don’t try to fit this onto a hollow core door) so you can hang it down lower than the bottom of the door if you need to cover a bigger gap. Just don’t hang it so low that your door won’t open.
  • Use a couple of 6 or 7mm spacers laid onto the threshold and rest the RP35 on these before fixing onto the door. Draught Dodger fitting packers are perfect for this purpose.
  • The RP35 seal is very good but not very tolerant of a non-flat threshold. If your threshold is worn in the middle, you will want to use a threshold plate to straighten the threshold.
  • If your threshold has the little upstand under the door you are going to need a threshold plate. This is because the RP35 blade does not lift quickly enough to clear it and so it trips on the upstand. See the RP95 below.
  • Be sure to file down the internal section 1mm shorter than the external cut size.  It’s in the instructions and you need to do it.

Astragal – RP16

Description: The RP16 can also be a bit tricky to install. However, if you have double doors it is absolutely essential to providing a complete acoustic and draught seal. The RP16 is screw fixed into the edge of one of the doors. Whether you fit it inside or outside, onto the active door or onto the inactive door, will depend on the exact configuration of your doors.  It is generally preferable to keep it on the same side as the draught excluders.

You are going to need a minimum of 2.5mm of space between the door in order to maintain smooth operation of your doors. The RP16 has a silicone blade that presses onto the opposite door in order to make an effective acoustic seal.

Things to Watch Out For:

  • Sometimes, the RP16 needs some rebates machined in them.  This requires the RP16 to be face down on a saw. Ensure the seal is taken out first and line the bed of the saw with clean material that will not scratch the face of the RP16.  This is a difficult process.
  • To ensure a large enough centre gap it is usually preferable to check in one or more hinges rather than trying to plane the centre of the door.
  • The fixing screws are near to the face of the door. Be sure to pilot the screw holes to avoid splitting the door face.

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Acoustic Seals For Windows

Hinged Windows

Let’s begin with hinged windows. That covers casement windows, the ones that open like a door, and awning windows, hinged at the top, with a winder at the bottom. 

Both of these can be treated with the RP78 perimeter seal but there are some things to watch out for. 

  • The seal on the hinge side normally must be mounted on the window sash rather than on the window frame like the other 3 parts. This is because the closing action of the window normally wants to pinch the seal on the hinge side into the jamb.
  • You will want to remove the beads from around the awning window and clean up any paint or varnish residue. Also remove any nails left behind.
  • Casement windows can have an almost infinite variety of hardware attached to them.  You will need to determine if the RP78 can slip under the hardware or if the hardware must be removed and fitted back on top of the RP78.
  • There is not an RP78 window set, so you will need to decide what set is best for your window application.

Double Hung (Sash) Windows

Unfortunately these windows are simply very draughty systems that are difficult to deal with. and therefore noisy items. Draught Dodgers for Double Hung Windows is an effective draught proofing system that will stop most of the draught but only help somewhat acoustically.  

The next port of call is to use one of the services that build an aluminium framed window fitted onto the inside of the existing window. This is aesthetically challenging but acoustically effective.

Sliding Windows

Whether they are timber framed or aluminium framed the answer is the same. Either replace them or else use the extra aluminium framed window fitted on the inside of the existing window. This is aesthetically challenging but acoustically effective.

What Else Is There?

The other thing that makes the biggest acoustic difference is to seal up all of the other gaps in the house. That includes using Fuller’s UltraClear sealant to treat gaps of all kinds.

If you have fireplaces then ecoMaster’s Chimney Draught Stopper is the best way to treat those.

You are going to have trouble trying to acoustically treat your exhaust fans. The next best thing is to draught proof the internal doors to the wet areas that have the exhaust fans in them. The ecoMaster Internal Door Draught Proofing Kit is made for this purpose.

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What’s Next?

We hope this article has helped you learn how to use simple ways to save on your utility bill. This in turn will help you on your energy and thermal efficiency retrofit journey to make your home more comfortable all year round, and reduce your costs and carbon emissions.  

Next, explore Four Reasons Why Using Silicone Sealant is a Draught Proofing Mistake.

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