Fenestration: Boost Rental Rates & Reduce Turnover
The Advantages of Soundproofing Patio Doors in Commercial Properties
by Randy Brown, owner, Soundproof Windows, Inc.
(Editor’s Note: Randy Brown is the owner of Soundproof Windows, Inc. headquartered in Reno, Nevada. Brown initially developed the first version of a soundproof window to solve his own noise problems. His background knowledge about windows came from working with his father, who worked for a high-quality storm window company in the 1960s and 1970s. With many requests from friends and family, Brown started Soundproof Windows, Inc. in 1998.)
For the managers of apartment and office buildings, condo developments, retirement communities, hotels, and other commercial properties, the constant din of traffic, roar of aircraft, or clanking of railways can depress rental, lease, and occupancy rates.
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,” said Ryan Sanquist, president, Ryan Sanquist Installations (RSI), a contractor specializing in patio door and window installation for commercial properties.
Fortunately for property managers, the ability to add a second soundproof sliding patio door can quiet loud external noise intrusion by 75% 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.
Property managers are turning to true soundproofing companies that have background and expertise engineering products used in the most noise sensitive environments in the world, like recording studios. One such 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%. 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. An inner PVB layer of plastic further dampens sound vibrations.
Air space of 2”-4” 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.
Raising Multi-Unit Rental Value
“When a large, multi-story apartment complex was built in the heart of downtown Los Angeles, California, next to Union Station, the original patio doors and windows failed to meet the city’s noise compliance code for new construction,” said 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 were added to the project.
“The soundproofing quickly handled the noise issue for the apartment building developer, its property manager, and its tenants,” said Sanquist. “It became a more desirable place to live, and it is capable of satisfying code and sustaining higher rental rates than it otherwise would have.”
Added Energy Savings & 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%. This also helps to stop air infiltration around leaky seals, which improves comfort and increases the property’s perceived value.
Another important side 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 break in protection because it is shatter resistant and tends to remain intact even after repeated blows. Such laminated glass is actually a major component of most bulletproof glass.
Whether commercial property managers seek to enhance occupancy or rental rates by protecting their renters and tenants 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.