Doorways are one of the main culprits when it comes to letting in noise and is thus great candidates for soundproofing. The fact is, noise pollution is a massive problem in modern life. Whether it’s from a busy street, a television in an adjacent room, or a loud conversation that echoes throughout an open-plan house, it’s sound you want to eliminate. Noise travels through windows, walls, ceilings, and floors. Often, the doorway to a room is often overlooked as a place where sound can enter.
To soundproof a doorway there are 3 areas to address:
- Door- Covering the door can mitigate noise. Replacement should be the last resort.
- Frame- The sides and top of the door can be filled with sealant, weatherstripping, and/or gaskets.
- Floor/Door Gap- A door stopper or excluder is an easy and effective soundproofing solution.
There are several low-cost methods that you can undertake to reduce the noise pollution coming through your doorway. Many are simple, and you can do it yourself with a few hours of labor. There are some temporary options available that are best suited for those in rented accommodation. These quick fixes are always worth trying before taking the expensive route of replacing the door entirely.
Soundproofing a Doorway – The Methods
When you think about soundproofing, no gap is too small. Think about it in terms of a fire. Anywhere smoke could penetrate a door, is where noise can also slip through and reverberate around the room. The weight of the door is also a significant factor. The bigger and heavier your door, the less sound can travel through it as the door’s materials absorb it. By considering each aspect, in turn, a strategy can be devised to soundproof a doorway effectively.
There are three aspects to soundproofing a doorway:
- The door itself
- The frame around it
- The floor or gap at the bottom of the door
Let’s look at each individually and the part they play in the overall noise pollution problem and how they can be rectified.
Soundproofing the Door Itself
The most obvious thing that might come to mind is that you just may have a thin or hollow door. This isn’t always the case but it should not be overlooked as part of the solution. You can fill gaps as much as you want but it won’t completely solve the problem if your door construction is cheap or shoddy.
Should I Just Replace It?
While a door seems like a solid object and appears to be a single thick piece of wood, most doors have a hollow center, made from a honeycomb structure. Consequently, the door doesn’t have much mass as you initially think to keep sound out.
Replacing a hollow door may seem like a drastic solution, and it should only be considered in a permanent location after other options have been exhausted. Despite its expense, replacing the door with one with a solid core will have the most significant impact on soundproofing.
Doors come with a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating. The higher the number, the more noise it will exclude. A score of 30-35 will be sufficient for most indoor doors, but you may want a 40-45 rating for an exterior one. If you opt for a new door, don’t let that investment go to waste. Use the other soundproofing solutions listed here to close any gaps and cracks as well.
Consider Adding Curtains
It may sound visually unappealing, but a soundproof curtain, like this one found on Amazon, can exclude a lot of noise through a doorway. Install a curtain pole above the door frame and close the curtains when you need a little more peace and quiet. This is an inexpensive solution as soundproofing curtains are fairly cheap. They are also easily portable from place to place, making this desirable compared to some other options if you are renting your home.
In place of curtains, you can also hang thick blankets, such as moving blankets, over a door frame. You can also purchase a soundproof blanket that is designed to hang over the door. Whatever you chose, the denser the material, the better it will be at adding mass and absorbing sound.
Instead of covering the door with curtains or blankets, you can opt for placing fiberglass panels like these found on Amazon. While these are more expensive than a curtain or blanket, they are highly effective at absorbing and reflecting sound. They are, however, easier to install than moving blankets over your door.
If fiberglass is out of budget, then you can place soundproof panels onto the door. They are made from polyurethane derivatives that dampen sound.
Don’t affix these panels directly onto the door, as they will ruin it if and when you remove them. Instead, use several strips of removable adhesive tape per tile, such as command strips, to hold the weight.
Just keep in mind that these panels will do very little to block sound without filling in the cracks and gaps of the rest of your door. However, they add mass to the door and absorb sound. What may be more noticeable is that it will reduce the echo in your room, which may make it seem quieter.
Soundproofing the Frame
When soundproofing, you want to fill all the cracks and gaps around the frame. Luckily, solutions to solve such issues are affordable and don’t take much labor skill or time to complete.
The first step is to locate all the gaps and cracks. To do this, stand in a completely dark room and flood the other side with light. If you can get someone on the other side of the door to trace the frame with a flashlight, that’s ideal. That way, you can see precisely where light and thus the sound is coming in. Here’s how you fill in those gaps.
An excellent way to fill in gaps for soundproofing is to use an acoustic sealant (acoustic caulk), like this really good kind found on Amazon. It is specifically designed to be used in a soundproofing project, and it has several properties that make it far superior to ordinary caulk.
First and foremost, it is flexible. Regular caulk shrinks, becomes rigid, and will crack after time. An acoustic sealant won’t break and recreate the gaps you are trying to eliminate in the first place. Regular caulk will need to be redone, whereas acoustic sealant is a once and done product.
These sealants are made from a latex-based material, which gives them a rubber-like quality. They are specifically designed to prevent sound and vapors from getting through it. They are safe to use in the home as they are non-flammable. It isn’t as water-resistant as regular silicone-based caulk, though, so don’t use this product on the exterior side of a doorway. Aesthetically, the sealant will hardly be noticeable, as some brands dry clear, and others can be painted over to match the décor of the room.
You can apply the sealant between joints of materials, including any panels you may have affixed to the door. While using, make sure the room is well ventilated, and the surfaces that you are applying the sealant to are clean, so it adheres properly. Akin to preparing for painting, use painter’s tape to keep the caulk in the correct location. Allow up to 48 hours for it to dry completely.
Weatherstripping is a quick and inexpensive method for sealing the frame of a door. Frequently, you can buy adhesive-backed options (Click to see Amazon Listing), which makes installing weatherstripping a fast and mess-free task. It is available in various materials, including foam, rubber, felt, fiberglass, or vinyl.
The material and thickness you choose will depend on the door and how much it is used. However, most users will opt for rubber weatherstripping. It is durable, relatively cheap (vinyl is more expensive), and comparatively unobtrusive visually. Foam is the most affordable option and is the right solution for temporary housing.
Whichever you chose, ensure there is enough compression of the weatherstripping once you’ve installed it – otherwise, it won’t restrict sound successfully.
Door gaskets, or metallic weatherstrips, are ideal if your door has a metal skin. Instead of compressing a pliable material, like rubber, when the door closes, it creates a magnetic seal. You can even get strips to adhere to each side to bind together to create a metallic frame. It’s a far better seal then you will get with weatherstripping tape, but it is more expensive.
Soundproofing The Floor
The gap between the bottom of a door and the floor is a big area for sound to get through. Don’t overlook it. It’s even the easiest thing to fix today by using any cloth that is lying around.
Draft stoppers, also called door sweeps, are commonly associated with stopping air coming through a door. However, anything that can prevent a draft can be used to stop sound too. There are many options available to you for these products, from soft, removable excluders, to fixed plastic sweeps (what I recommend).
Draft excluders made from plush materials can be placed under a door, much the same way you can place a towel, cushions, or a spare blanket. These are favorable as they can be portable from room to room. Frequently, Velcro is used to hold the draft excluder in place. If you can’t afford a draft stopper but have a large gap to fill, you can make something permanent out of old clothing and use dried rice as the stuffing.
Instead, you can purchase a fixed door sweep. Like the weatherstripping, it can be made from a serious of materials and finishes that can match your décor effortlessly. It is advisable to get door sweeps that are multilayered, as more mass equates to higher noise restriction. Whichever model you install, make sure it touches the floor as even the smallest gap will negate the work of the door sweep.
Doorways are an excellent point of entry for noise, and they are an ideal choice for a soundproofing project to eliminate exterior sounds. There are gaps between the door and the floor and along with its frame. Each unsealed point is a place where noise can enter. There are many low-cost solutions to soundproofing a doorway that can be utilized before opting for replacing the door for one with a higher STC.
- Your first steps should be to use sealant and weatherstripping to close up all the cracks and gaps around the doorway.
- You also want to add a door sweep to the bottom of the door to eliminate sound traveling through that gap.
- You can also increase the bulk of the door with fiberglass or soundproof paneling.
- There’s also the solution to cover the door with soundproof curtains or heavy cloth-like moving blankets.
Once these methods have been exhausted, you may have to resort to replacing your hollow door with a solid one to get the peace you seek.
Helpful Related Products
Here are a few items that I recommend for soundproofing. You may also want to check out my other article that covers soundproofing a room.
- Soundproofing Panels
- Fiberglass Soundproofing Panels
- Rockwool Insulation
- Soundproof Curtains
- Bottom Door Seal
- Metallic Door Gaskets
- Window Weatherstripping
- Acoustic Caulk
How Can I Make My Door Close Quietly?
Slamming doors are irritating, alarming in a quiet house, and is something most of us can live without. While a heavy hand can be easily rectified, there are possible issues with your door and simple solutions to correct it.
One reason is that the door isn’t entirely vertical, i.e., it’s out of plumb. The weight of a door can make it swing trying to find a balance. First, you’ll want to check that the hinges are level and adjust them until they are. Note, you can fix a hinge one at a time, so you don’t need to remove the door altogether.
If they’re level, try options to dampen the sound. Add felt pads or weatherstripping inside the doorway to absorb some of the kinetic energy as it’s closed. If that isn’t sufficient, install a pneumatic closer to your door. These are especially useful for solid core doors, or a lighter door on the back porch.
What’s the Best Way to Stop Squeaky Door Hinges?
If your door squeaks each time you open and close it, you probably go beyond irritated toward insanity. Luckily, it’s an easy thing to fix.
The reason it squeaks is that wood is rubbing against wood. All that needs to be done is the pin in the hinge needs to be lubricated. First, try putting some oil (use a silicon-based product) into the hinge pin without removing it. Most of the time, that’s all it needs to stop squeaking.
If that doesn’t work, remove the hinge pin with a hammer and nail punch. Check for rust and, if detected, clean with steel wool. Once cleaned, cover the pin in white grease and place it back into the hinge. That should do the trick!