We explain 5 simple ways you can soundproof a door at home. Soundproofing doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive, and the best bit is you can do it all yourself.
For many people, especially those that live in an apartment, the door is a weak link when it comes to soundproofing your home. Typical doors have hollow cores with a cardboard honeycomb, which doesn’t put up much of a fight against intruding noise.
A quick fix would be to replace an old hollow door with something more substantial, but this isn’t always possible. Thankfully, there are other ways we can make a difference in the amount of noise that enters our home in this way.
In today’s post, we’ll address how to make a door soundproof and make unwanted noise less of a problem.
Soundproofing a Door: 5 Tips for a Quieter Home
We’ve got 5 different treatments that range in price and difficulty. For the most part, these are solutions that you can do yourself. You don’t have to be a DIY master to improve the sound insulation of your home.
Here’s how to soundproof a door according to HomeRecordingPro.com.
1. Seal any air gaps.
Sound is lazy. Just like us, it would rather take the easy route and not use any energy. But when soundwaves retain more energy they make more noise, so it’s really important that we don’t give them the opportunity to take “shortcuts”.
The easy route that I mention tends to describe air gaps. Air gaps allow sound to travel unopposed and retain its energy (and therefore noise). If we can block these air gaps then we can decrease the amount of noise that is transmitted into the home.
The average doorway is a prime source of drafts and air gaps in a home. If cold air can make it past the doorway, then you can be sure that noise is entering your home this way too.
So, our first treatment involves blocking air gaps and obstructing unwanted soundwaves from entering our home easily. By giving these soundwaves solid obstacles to try and pass, we can dramatically reduce the amount of energy they retain.
Thankfully, this treatment is not an expensive or complicated one to implement either. It also has the added bonus of improving the heat insulation of your home too (you’ll find this is a nice side effect of many soundproofing treatments). It’ll also improve the efficiency of your air conditioner.
So, how is it done?
Air gaps exist in two places in a doorway:
- Between the door and the door frame.
- Between the door bottom and the floor.
We can treat both of these weaknesses relatively easily, and in some cases, this can make a big difference.
To treat the door frame air gap we can use a high-density foam tape. This is easily applied around the perimeter with the tape’s adhesive backing.
These tapes are relatively cheap and will seal air gaps in the doorway area. There are two big benefits to this:
1) No more cold drafts. This means you can save on energy bills.
2) A reduction in airborne noise entering your home.
It’s important to use a high-density material for this as it will stop more noise than a regular tape. The denser a material is, the more effective it is at blocking sound. We recommend something like this one from M-D Building Products.
To treat the air gap under the door we can use something called a door bottom sweep or under door seal. These can be fitted onto the bottom of your door with a few small screws or in some cases they can even just clip on.
They provide a rubber seal at the bottom of the door that stops any airborne sound or cold drafts coming through. Acoustic companies sell special soundproof door bottoms at inflated prices, but all you need is a regular draft stopper.
This door bottom sweep is well reviewed and affordable. It is easily attached with a few small screws that limit the visible impact on the door. Be sure to get the right size as it comes in a variety.
This door soundproofing treatment of sealing air gaps is essential before trying any of the others. If you allow sound to travel easily and unopposed through air gaps then you’ll just be undermining the effectiveness of the other treatments.
These are two great ways to help soundproof your door cheaply. You shouldn’t just stop there though. Read on to see what other soundproofing treatments you can use.
By combining multiple treatments you can increase the soundproofing effect.
2. Add another layer to your door
This treatment bumps up the difficulty level from the first, but it can be really effective if you have a flimsy door that can’t be replaced.
Ever wondered how to make a soundproof door? Well, that’s what this treatment basically is. By adding some special layers to the door we can really boost its sound rejection properties. The key here is adding mass. Mass is the arch-enemy of unwanted noise and our ally in the fight against it.
Note: It’s really important that you carry out the previous treatment before applying this one. There’s no point bulking up your door if sound can easily bypass it through air gaps.
The image below illustrates our ideal set-up with multiple layers each chosen for their excellent sound rejection properties. They will add significant mass to your door and make it much harder for sound to pass through it. Remember mass is our friend and these materials are incredibly dense, therefore giving as much mass per unit area as possible.
The first material we have suggested is a piece of medium density fiberboard (MDF) or even better sound deadening fiberboard (available at Home Depot).
Fiberboard is available in a variety of thicknesses, with thicker being better at stopping the noise. This would have to be attached using screws or a very strong adhesive and cut to the size of your door.
To make our door extra soundproof we can apply a layer of Green Glue noiseproofing compound between the door and fiberboard layer. This stuff is a bit of a building trade secret and is designed to reduce sound transmission from one surface to another. By applying it between two surfaces here, it acts as acoustic damping and reduces the sound vibrations transferred between the door panel and fiberboard layer.
This step can make a big difference in how effective our new door layer is. It acts like the suspension on a car and reduces the vibrations traveling from one surface to the next. Sound travels through solid objects by means of vibrating and if we can stop this we can make it much harder for noise (in the form of vibrations) to be transferred from one layer to the next.
Acoustic mat gives an extra layer of sound absorption. It is designed to be extremely dense and effective at stopping sound transmission. It will also act as a layer of heat insulation. It comes with an easy to apply adhesive layer.
Another idea would be to hang an acoustic soundproof panel on the door. These come in door shaped sizes and offer a really effective barrier against sound and noise.
Acoustic panels are designed to reduce sound transmission through surfaces like doors. They are really thick and dense in construction. They will help to reduce the noise coming through your door, but they do tend to be quite expensive.
For the most effective treatment then the acoustic mat, fiberboard, and Green Glue layers should be used. This would increase the mass quite substantially and also reduce vibrations.
This would have a huge impact on an existing hollow door in reducing the amount of noise coming into your room (providing there were no air gaps).
3. Hang acoustic curtains/drapes
This method works in much the same way as the last and adds another dense layer between you and the noise outside.
We went into this solution in some detail in our ‘How to Soundproof Windows‘ guide. We are doing exactly the same here, and that is to add a thick, dense layer of material over our problem area.
Blackout or thermal curtains are ideal for this as they are designed to be thick enough to keep light out and heat in. They are relatively inexpensive but don’t expect any pretty patterns as they are definitely more functional than fashionable
Ideally, we want to pleat or drape the curtain to make it “thicker”. This makes it more effective at keeping the unwanted sound out. To get this effect we need to get curtains that are 2-3 times wider than the doorway. We need it to cover the door too, right from the top to the floor. Another hack to increase the effectiveness of this treatment would be to hang more than one set of curtains.
These are ideal for keeping out unwanted sound, and they can be quite attractive too. They are thick and heavy, and will also improve the heat insulation of your home.
They’re also available in a variety of colors and styles that’ll be suited to most homes.
Alternatives to curtains
- A less attractive but very effective solution is to use moving blankets. These are super dense and heavy which makes them great for sound insulation. They are used by recording studios as a cheaper alternative to expensive acoustic panels. They too can be hung like curtains, but you’ll need to do a bit of sewing work to set them up.
- This may seem like a strange suggestion but soundproofing requires a bit of ingenuity sometimes. Use a rug. Yes, a rug. Rugs can be really quite heavy and dense which is exactly the kind of material that we need in our fight against noise. They are actually quite cost effective too.
4. Improve the door construction
As we mentioned in the introduction, most old doors have a flimsy construction. In our fight against unwanted noise, mass is key. The heavier and denser the construction of a door, the better it will keep out the sound. The more mass something has, the less easily it will transmit noise as vibrations.
A solid wood door is better at blocking out unwanted noise than a hollow door. If you have a hollow construction door, you would do well to upgrade it to a solid core door made of hardwood or medium density fiberboard (MDF). Special fire doors are also very effective (exterior doors should always have a solid core and good seals). These doors are denser in their construction and more effective at keeping out sound. However, they can be expensive, so if this isn’t an option for you then check out our other cheaper solutions.
Acoustic companies all sell special soundproofing doors too. These are effective at reducing unwanted sound, but they’re priced accordingly.
Further door weaknesses that need addressing
- If your door contains a window then a quick fix would be to cover this with extra sound absorbing layers. Windows are really poor at keeping out noise (despite being so expensive) and this is something that needs to be sorted. One fix would be to use adhesive velcro to attach dense panels of material over the problematic area. Something like an acoustic mat would be a good choice to use here.
- Cat-flaps or doors for pets are also a real problem. This leads back to the air gap problem we highlighted in treatment number one. Consider having them closed at night, and again a layer of dense material to cover the area would be ideal.
- Any cracks or holes in the door need to be treated. These areas only offer sound an easy pass to travel. They can be filled with a dense acoustic sealant. This stuff is built exactly for this purpose and is really effective at blocking out noise.
5. Install an extra door
This is the last resort and it won’t even be an option for most.
This option will only work for those with a particular set-up. If the door that is causing you problems has a hallway at either side, then you could install an extra door. By adding this extra barrier with an air gap in between, it will reduce the amount of sound allowed to travel through. An air gap of at least three feet would be ideal.
This would be more of a last resort, but it could be incredibly effective if done in the right way.
Extra Soundproofing Tips
Soundproofing can be done in ways that don’t have to compromise the look or style of a room. Check out these simple steps you can take to reduce unwanted noise in the home.
- If the source of the noise is another room in the home, then try placing rugs on hard shiny surfaces like wood and tiles. The rugs will reduce high-frequency reflections and absorb some sound.
- Covering walls with bookcases is a great way to add an extra layer to them without compromising on the look of your room. By adding extra mass to the wall you are making it more effective at rejecting external noise.
- Thick wallpaper is better than glossy paint at absorbing sound.
- Use vibration pads under speakers and under loud appliances like washing machines. These will reduce the amount of sound transmitted through surface vibrations.
- If all else fails then get in contact with a local acoustics company. They’ll help solve your problems, but it might be expensive.
If changing the door really isn’t an option then the best way to soundproof a door is to use a combination of treatments 1, 2, and 3 would be ideal. These can all be implemented with very little DIY skills. Furthermore, if you’re sure the door is the problem then they’ll make a real difference.
Treatment one is crucial and the others will be a waste of your time and money if you skip this step. Air gaps are the easiest route for unwanted noise to enter your home. If you don’t fix this you’ll really be limiting the effectiveness of the other treatments, should you install them.
Treatments 2 and 3 both operate in the same way. You’re adding barriers of heavy, dense materials that absorb noise. The drawback with these is that you will be changing the appearance of your home. This is especially an issue if you’re not the homeowner. Speak to your landlord if this is an issue, sometimes they’re a lot more understanding than the common stereotypes would have us believe.
That concludes our article on door soundproofing. Our suggestions won’t suit every home, but hopefully, there’s something here that can help with your problem. If you have any questions about sound proof doors then please get in contact, we’d be happy to help in any way we can. We promise to reply promptly too.
This was the fourth installment in our complete guide to soundproofing. If you’d like to find out how else you can make your home a quieter place then please check out the other parts. We’ve got an awesome guide to soundproofing floors and ceilings too.
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