Big stained glass windows look beautiful in church sanctuaries, but they don't last forever. Stained glass windows typically last anywhere from 70 to 100 years. At this age, they begin to sag. The can become loose and need to be replaced. If you regularly attend a historic church that has aging stained glass windows, suggest replacing them with double-paned stained glass windows -- which will both keep your church's sanctuary quiet and not break your church's budget.
Churches Must Balance Two Challenges
When selecting windows for a sanctuary, churches must balance two challenges: sound and price.
Church sanctuaries are to be places of retreat, where people can come to meditate and pray in peace. They're designed to be refuges from the worries -- and noises -- of the world. In short, church sanctuaries should be quiet. Noises from outside, including car horns, sirens and other traffic sounds, should be minimized as much as possible.
Second, most churches have tight budgets. They typically don't have an unlimited amount of money for any activity or building improvement, including replacing windows.
Sound Comes in Through Windows
The quality of windows installed in a sanctuary greatly affects how much outside noise comes into the sanctuary. Not only do church sanctuaries typically have many oversized windows, but sound also goes through the glass in windows easily. According to SFGate, windows are among the least efficient building materials.
There are Four Window Options
When choosing new windows to have installed, your church will have four options:
The sound insulation that each of these windows provide is measured by their STC rating. All building materials have an STC rating, so it's easy to compare how much protection against sound two different materials provide. Here are a few examples of some STC ratings:
At one extreme, single-paned windows are inexpensive because they only have one sheet of glass. They, however, will do little to keep sound from coming into your church's sanctuary. Single-paned windows have STC ratings between 24 and 26, placing them on the border between "very poor" and "poor."
At the other extreme, soundproof windows block out almost all noise. They'll lower noises by 75 to 95 percent. They're also the most expensive of the four types of windows, though, because they offer unparalleled sound insulation.
Double-Paned Windows are the Best Solution
Both double- and triple-paned windows offer a better balance between insulation and cost than either single-paned or soundproof windows do. Between the two options left, double-paned windows strike the best balance.
Double-paned windows will cost more than single-paned models because they require two pieces of glass. They also, however, provide much better sound insulation. Standard double-paned have STC ratings between 31 and 33, and laminated ones have ratings between 35 and 38. This places them in the "fair" and "good" ranges of the chart mentioned above.
While you might expect triple-paned windows to provide even better insulation, they don't. Because the glass and air gaps in triple-paned windows are thinner than those in double-paned ones, sound waves can actually travel through triple-paned windows faster than it can through with only two panes of thicker glass. In this case, the cost of adding another pane of glass doesn't correlate to better sound insulation.
Suggest Double-Paned Stained Glass Windows
As your church discusses what type of windows to replace its failing stained glass ones with, propose using double-paned stained glass windows. Explain why double-paned windows are the best value when it comes to sound insulation, and then offer to help look for a window installation company that will install double-paned stained glass windows. You should be able to find one that will help reduce the noise in your church's sanctuary without breaking the church budget -- and your sanctuary will look just as beautiful once the windows are put in.
You may also want to consider replacing some of the other windows in the church, including those that aren't stained glass. Consider calling around to window specialists, such as Smith K L Inc., to get a few quotes and determine if this financially plausible for the church.
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