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Doors have an essential role in preventing sound from easily transmitting through a household. However, they are usually the thinnest barrier in most residences. For that reason, many have sound problems within their home.
If sound insulation is something you are looking for, investing in a decent soundproof door is essential. This is one of the first and most significant investments to make if you necessitate a quieter interior overall. Check out my guide on soundproofing doors which includes 15 best techniques that give results.
Whether your reason for a soundproof environment is to prevent music and video noises from leaving your room or stopping other sounds from entering, the interior doors are usually the biggest problem.
Numerous people struggle with interior sound issues because most residences have regular hollow core doors. The reason for this is the fact that doors with soundproofing ability are expensive.
Further, we will go through essential characteristics you should keep a look at when acquiring a soundproof door. As well as look at the best door options for a soundproof environment.
What is important when looking for a soundproof door?
Before choosing the perfect door for your household, there are some characteristics most people usually overlook when searching for a soundproof door.
In order to make it easier for customers to choose and compare soundproof assemblies(walls, doors, windows, ceilings, etc.), scientists have classified their soundproof performances.
This is called the Sound Transmission Class(STC), and it is widely used by manufacturers to declare the soundproof ability of their doors.
Before you start looking into door options, you should always be aware of STC your door. STC ratings are described by using numbers. The lowest ratings usually start from twenty, and they can go up to sixty.
Higher STC values indicate that your door will do better in preventing sound from transmitting through it, and the other way around. Doors with low STC ratings are usually hollow core doors, and they have the most insufficient soundproofing ability.
Doors with higher STC rankings have been tested in specific labs for sound transmission loss. Only after, a door can earn a high STC rating.
For this reason, house elements can be classified into specific categories depending on their STC levels.
- STC 20-25 – Normal speech can be heard clearly
- STC 25-30 – Loud speech is understandable, and normal speech is barely heard
- STC 30-35 – Loud speech heard, but not understandable
- STC 35-40 – Loud speech sounds like a barely noticeable background noise
- STC 40-50 – Loud speech hardly heard at all
- STC 50-60 – Loud noises such as musical instruments are barely heard
STC levels above sixty are usually used for party walls, hotels, theaters, etc. These soundproof levels come at a much higher cost and are generally not needed for average interior doors.
Elements of Soundproofing
The perfect soundproof door should have the right balance of the following elements: Decoupling, Absorption, Mass, Damping. The doors with the highest STC ratings are usually the ones that are designed in a way that incorporates these elements the best.
Doors and windows are usually considered the weakest soundproofing points of a room. For this reason, it’s essential to choose an adequate door with decent STC levels.
Doors are connected to a wall through jambs. Having that in mind, your door is already partially decoupled from the walls. This will prevent vibrations from traveling through a barrier. The absorption is usually the most prominent problem average interior doors have because they are typically hollow.
Hollow doors also don’t have the required mass to prevent sound from penetrating through. By adding damping in between the door layers, the sound vibrations will be massively reduced. However, we will explain this in further sections.
That being said, when looking to soundproof a room, don’t overlook the door. You can create the perfect soundproof environment by insulating the windows, walls, ceiling, and floor. By doing so, you can create a room with STC levels above sixty.
However, if you use a regular hollow-core door, it may all be for nothing. These doors have STC levels of twenty, or even less. For this reason, choosing the perfect door should be a high priority for your soundproof environment.
If you are further interested in the STC, consider doing some additional research. (https://www.soundproofingcompany.com/soundproofing_101/understanding-stc-and-stc-ratings)
Apart from the STC levels, when looking for the perfect soundproof door, search for the ones with the best seals and make sure that the framing can keep up with your soundproof door.
When stating their doors STC levels, some manufacturers only test the door panel. This is why you need to be careful with your door framing as well. Also, make sure your framing fits perfectly into the door jamb because sometimes a gap can be found in between.
Door jambs also play a crucial part in your soundproof environment. Most doors use regular wood jambs, which are not the best for sound insulation.
If you are building a room from scratch, consider making concrete-filled jambs. They are expensive and difficult to install, but will undoubtedly improve your STC levels.
Now that we went through the essential information you need for purchasing a soundproof door, let’s look at the options.
Best soundproof interior doors
After researching the most popular soundproof interior door choices, we have the five most significant and best choices customers usually go for.
Keep in mind that each of these soundproof doors has specific characteristics that make them a good use for some circumstances. It’s on the customers to decide which one fits them best. The criteria could be the STC levels, the aesthetics, the buyer’s budget, etc.
1. Solid wood doors
Such doors were always considered the best and premium choice when picking a door type for your household. However, technological advancements have allowed people to move away from solid wood doors and use aesthetically similar hollow-core doors. And all this for a much lower price.
However, when it comes to soundproofing, the difference between hollow and solid wood doors is not comparable. Doors made from solid wood are much denser and heavier, which automatically means they provide better sound insulation.
Solid wood doors can be created from a solid wood slab or the more common option of a frame-and-panel construction with natural wood. The woods that are most commonly used include pine, oak, maple, etc. For soundproofing purposes, it would be best if you chose hardwoods.
The wood panel door looks like it’s made from a single piece of wood. However, that is not the case. The door is constructed from several panels (usually from two to eight) combined with mullions, stiles, and rails. When this door is painted, it looks like a solid wood slab with decorative outlines.
Solid wood doors usually have an STC value between thirty and thirty-five. That being said, it won’t provide you the most immaculate sound insulation available on the market. However, it will certainly do a job for not hearing regular conversations, but loud noises will be heard.
These doors are the perfect solution if you’re looking for both aesthetic looking doors made from natural materials and doors that will provide you with decent soundproofing.
If you think about acquiring a solid wood door, you can choose from many different manufacturers specializing in creating solid wood doors for soundproofing reasons. Such manufacturers can provide you STC levels of over thirty-five.
2. Solid core doors
These doors are becoming more popular day by day. They provide decent sound insulation for a lower cost than solid wood doors. The similarity between these two-door types is that both are solid within, heavy, and dense. Solid core doors can be used both for indoor and outdoor purposes.
However, Solid core doors are created by using a more advanced technique when creating their core. They are usually made from wood particles combined with glue that is pressed in a way to form a panel that will be used for the door. After this, the panel will get a door look from a wood-look coating covering it.
The other way solid core doors are made is by using two veneer sheets. Between these two sheets is the core made of woodblocks. All of this is glued together to form a slab.
These doors do such an excellent job in soundproofing because of their unique and dense core. If you plan on using the doors with a wood particle core, expect to get an STC level between thirty and thirty-five. This might be a suitable choice if you are looking for a cheaper option that will still provide you reasonable sound insulation.
The woodblock core doors are a good solution if privacy and silence is something that is very important to you. These doors will provide you STC levels between fifty-five and sixty, which gives them the ability to mute musical instruments. However, these doors do come with a much higher price tag.
Because of the interim construction method used to make such doors, they can be heavier and more robust than solid wood doors. This is because engineered wood has a higher density than regular wooden slabs. These doors also offer good fire resistance and don’t expand and contract due to humidity like solid wood doors.
For these reasons, many users have chosen this exact door type and have been satisfied with the outcome.
3. Communicating doors
If you feel like doing something out of the box, creating a communicating door system is the way to go.
This door system suggests that you will be adding an extra door in front of your current door. Creating such a system may be a great way of even further improving your soundproof environment.
If you use only one solid core door with the appropriate bottom seal sweep and adequately seal the gap between the door and the frame, you will already have decent sound insulation. So the results when using two must be satisfying.
Communicating door systems are designed so that one door opens inward, and the other opens outward. Both doors are being placed in separate frames. Of course, the knobs and hinges are placed diagonally opposite of each other.
By separating the frames, you are also decoupling the sound. If the frame isn’t divided, your improved soundproofing efforts may be useless.
It would be best if your door were twelve inches thick because this way, your doors won’t acoustically mess with one and another. However, the system of communicating doors can be created on walls between six and twenty-four inches wide. If your wall is thicker than this, you might consider building a small hallway instead.
Communicating doors can usually only be used in households. They are recommended for individuals that work or study from home and require a soundless environment. Certain commercial buildings have strict regulations about every door having to be open outward in case of emergency, so communicating doors can’t be used in those cases.
By adding another door to your existing one, your results will be twice as good and will provide you STC levels of over fifty. However, installing such doors is not an easy task, and it’s easiest to perform when creating a room from scratch.
There is only one solution better than using a communicating door system, and that is to use acoustic doors. However, as already said, if you are looking for a household soundproof door setting that provides STC levels above fifty, creating a communicating door system is the way to go and will cost much less than the acoustic doors.
4. Acoustic doors
Acoustic doors are considered to be the kings of all doors when it comes to soundproofing. These doors are specifically designed to block and absorb any sound frequencies that may happen. For this reason, they are used for music production studios, theaters, or even offices that require pure silence.
The reason why acoustic doors are so good at soundproofing is because of their unique design. They are usually made from wood, fiberglass, metal with laminated layers of insulation, and MLV.
Also, knowing these doors are designed for soundproof environments, the door jamb and the frame is made so that the door fits perfectly into it, not allowing any air gaps to cause problems.
The panels used for acoustic doors are much thicker and heavier than with other door types. Which automatically adds mass and absorption capability to your door. The seals used for acoustic doors are either significantly improved or even magnetic, depending on the manufacturer. All of this makes acoustic doors the perfect soundproof solution.
Apart from soundproofing abilities, acoustic doors can also be used as fire-rated doors and other protective purposes. They can also provide you the perfect aesthetic design if that’s something you are looking for. They offer various decorative veneers.
Acoustic doors provide an STC value between sixty and seventy. The sound insulation you get with these doors is certainly impeccable and non-comparable to other door types. However, all of this comes at a high price. This is why it’s infrequent for average households to use such doors.
5. Glass doors
Glass doors are often used for aesthetic purposes. However, in certain unique circumstances, the purchaser requires the glass door to be soundproof.
This is achieved by inserting a glass pane into a wood or steel door. The size and dimensions of the glass pane can differ depending on the manufacturer. For soundproofing purposes, the thickest and double-paned glass will do the best in insulating sound. However, don’t forget to choose the right framing material, as well.
When it comes to the STC levels, regular glass doors have an STC value between twenty-eight and thirty-five. However, soundproof glass can have STC levels from forty-eight to fifty-five and even higher.
Check out my guide on soundproofing sliding glass doors.
Improving your current door
If the solutions listed above are expensive for your budget, there are ways of improving your current doors STC levels significantly without spending hundreds or even thousands of dollars.
There are a couple of important elements you should know before improving your current door. Your hollow core door is by itself thin and not dense enough to prevent sound from transmitting through.
If your door isn’t aligned with the framing adequately, the gaps between them create a sound path that must be patched. The most significant gap is the bottom one because it creates the most significant sound leak.
Now that we have identified the most usual problems with your standard hollow-core door let’s find out how to make it better for sound insulation.
First, to prevent sound from going through your door, consider buying an MDF wood panel the same size as your door. After, add Green glue Damping Compound on your current door and screw the MDF board to the door. This step will add mass and absorption ability to your door.
To patch the gaps between your door and framing, use weatherstripping. This material is cheap and easy to use. All you need to do is stick the weatherstripping around the edges. To patch the bottom hole, consider using door sweeps.
These measures should significantly increase your STC levels. Maybe not as much as buying a decent soundproof door, but it will do the job if you’re working on a budget.
Thanks for reading! Check out my recommended products for soundproofing.