When I first tried to soundproof my theater room (read how I did it), I did not pay that much attention to the door, mainly because the solutions available on the internet at the time were too confusing and expensive.
But, after all that effort I made with treating the walls, ceiling, and floor already, the door was the one part of the room that played spoilsport. I could not just leave it as it was. After all, it is the least soundproof element of a room, to begin with.
I decided that I had to finally do something about it. But, I realized that without any serious research, I would be wasting my money and time.
The expensive door soundproofing options were definitely not an option for me. I wanted to learn about soundproofing doors in a way that it would not break the bank (or leave me incredibly frustrated, trying to figure out how to do it).
Eventually, I found the perfect soundproofing option for me, and I am going to share what I learned with you. Hopefully, you find that these tips are helpful in your next soundproofing project.
How to Soundproof a Door The Right WayThe key to learning how to soundproof a door effectively is to address each problem area individually. First objective should be to seal all the gaps where sound leaks take place. As far as doors are concerned, there are many such problematic areas.
Given below is a step by step way to go about soundproofing doors.
1. Seal the Door Frames
When assessing the entire door set, you will notice that its frame can be a pretty big weak link. As door frames are shimmed in place, air gaps are created between the frame and the drywall; these gaps can leak a lot of sound and cause issues.
Luckily, there are two options to resolve this:
If you are building out an entire room, the door frame can be installed before installing the wall material (usually drywall). After this, you can add a drywall layer over the frame to close the gaps.
This would mean that you will end up with an exposed edge of drywall, but it would be highly effective in sealing the door frame. There are also ways you can try to mask the drywall edges to blend them in with the surrounding wall.
The second option is best for anyone trying to soundproof a room that has already been built out. This method involves cementing the door frame after it has been shimmed in place. This is the easier option of the two and is the one I chose to do when I was soundproofing my home theater.
With either option, you will need to apply acoustic caulk in-between the layers of the door frame and the drywall or cement to completely seal off the gap and prevent any noise from leaking through. You can find inexpensive acoustic caulk at your local hardware store, or online on Amazon. Note that if you have not used caulk before, you will also need to invest in a caulking gun (Amazon) to apply it.
2. Seal the Door Jambs
Door jambs are the vertical portion of your door’s frame that holds the door secure. The area between the jamb and the door can create flanking paths for the passage of sound. To seal a door jamb, you can use jamb seal kit (Amazon) or weather stripping tape. Both can be found available at your local hardware store or online.
3. Seal the Gap Under the Door
There is no such thing as a door without a gap underneath it. It is impossible to design—the gap is required so that the door does not scrape the floor every time you open or close it.
However, for soundproofing purposes, the gap under the door is definitely not something you want to leave alone. After all, that is one more area for sound to come through. In fact, underneath the door is arguably the biggest way sound can get into (and out of) a room. It is why most door soundproofing fixes involve filling this gap.
The best way to soundproof a door bottom is to buy and install an automatic door bottom (Amazon).
Automatic door bottoms are designed in such a way that when the door is closed, there is a seal that covers the gap. When the door is opened or closed, the seal is automatically lifted through a spring mechanism so that the door can move easily.
4. Choose the Right Material for the Door
There are a lot of material choices (RELATED ARTICLE) when it comes to building walls, and inherently, these materials have good soundproofing characteristics. However, we, unfortunately, cannot say the same for doors.
Doors are practically required to be visually appealing to some extent, and cannot achieve that effect if it is made out of drywall. If it was, it would certainly look funny or out of place—especially if the surrounding wall is drywall, too.
So what kind of material can be used for soundproofing doors that simultaneously blocks sound while looking good? What about wood?
The main problem with wood is that the Transmission Loss (defined as a quantification of how much sound is blocked from traveling through noise blocking treatments) required for something like a home theater room cannot be achieved even from the heaviest woods. This is why soundproof doors are often very expensive, as they are heavy woods that have been modified for soundproofing purposes.
Best Value Soundproof Doors
We have established that solid core doors are best for soundproofing, but there are many options available among home improvement stores and online, so how do you know which is the very best for your soundproofing project?
Let’s explore what solid core doors provide the most value for your money in the market.
In my own research for finding an economical solid core door for my soundproofing project, I came across Jeld Wen as a good brand to explore. Their website has both STC and OITC data for all of their products.
The acoustical data for interior doors can be found on their website. The data is formatted in a downloadable PDF document that you can save and use to compare different solid core door options.
Once you have downloaded the PDF, take a look at the information provided. As can be seen from the data, the Tria R door series would be best as a soundproofing option. You can purchase them for only a couple hundred dollars. Compared to other doors, this is fairly inexpensive, as most will run several hundred or even thousands of dollars!
However, I will say that for the price, there are some functional issues with these doors that I have found. They may do the soundproofing job fairly well, but there can be problems with improper finishing. With that said, when it comes to these doors, it is best if you purchase them from a physical location rather than online to avoid any hassle.
Of course, there are also plenty of other solid core door options out there that do a good job in blocking sound, while not being very expensive at the same time.
Which Type of Door Assembly is the Best?
According to Wikipedia, with an STC of 35, loud speech would still be audible through a building component such as a door. However, the speech would not exactly be intelligible.
A solid core door may not provide sound isolation as high as an STC rating of 60+. The STC of most doors of this type would be around 35 if anything.
According to Egger Industries, a communicating door is the best assembly option for optimal soundproofing. Communicating door assemblies have an STC of above 50, which is very high in comparison to other door assembly types like Dutch, Transom, and Paired Flush Doors. An STC of above 50 is a fairly good figure to achieve for any type of door.
Alternate Methods for Soundproofing Doors
We have seen that communicator door assemblies made of solid core material are best for soundproofing the door area. However, simply replacing a door may not be a practical solution for everybody. The following are a few alternative ways you can soundproof your door while still staying within budget.
1. Solid Core Door + Green Glue + MDF
Some experts suggest that a medium-density fiberboard (MDF) layer can be added to a solid core door with a noise-proofing, damping layer, like Green Glue (Amazon) compound, in-between. This can help improve the STC by a few numbers.
To install, all you will need to do is get a piece of flat, smooth MDF that is the same size as your existing door. Ideally, it should be a half-inch thick; this will help add some density to your door.
Drill a hole to allow room for the door handle to fit through. Apply a layer of Green Glue on the back of the MDF panel or the door, and screw the panel to the door using a set of wood screws.
Watch the Green Glue installation video below.
The benefit of something like Green Glue is that it is quite flexible and does not crack or shrink over time, making it a long-lasting gap-filling solution for stopping sound from filtering through the door’s gaps. It is also quite inexpensive to use.
2. MDF + Green Glue + MDF
Another option for soundproofing that I have found to be effective is to sandwich two layers of medium-density fiberboard with Green Glue in-between.
With this more inexpensive method, you can avoid the costs incurred from buying a solid core door. It can also insulate a wall pretty decently for a room that is not meant to be a home theater. So, if you just want to block out traffic noise and noisy neighbors, the MDF + Green Glue + MDF method works for such purposes.
Medium-density fiberboard is a common choice for soundproofing projects. But why?
For MDF panels measuring 16 millimeters or more in thickness, the STC is 25. This is fairly high compared to other materials such as plywood, which has an STC figure as low as 15.
However, surprisingly, in the case of any material, the STC does not increase with an increase in thickness. This means that there is no additional benefit of having a thicker layer of MDF beyond 16 millimeters unless you just want a thicker door.
3. Soundproof Paint
One alternative to making large, physical alterations to your existing door is applying noise reducing paint to it. Soundproof paint is different from regular paint in that its main ingredient is latex, which provides a rubbery, more soundproofing effect when dry. It is also denser than regular paint, which can help in subduing noise.
However, soundproof paint is not exactly foolproof when it comes to blocking out noise. In fact, it is highly recommended that you use this method as a supplement to other soundproofing options rather than as a replacement or to use alone. This is because soundproof paint is usually only good for blocking part of medium-pitched noises (such as speech). It is not effective in blocking high-pitch or low-pitch noises.
In addition, there are usually not very many color options for this particular kind of paint, and when applied appears a little chunky in places, so if you are considering it as a way to help absorb sounds, keep in mind that it will most likely not be that pretty to look at.
But even with these disadvantages, it is still an affordable and hassle-free alternative to consider.
Read my article on soundproofing paint where I bring out all the pros and cons of the material.
4. Foam or Rubber Tiling
Similar to soundproof paint, this method is not as foolproof as other tried and true options but can help get the job done in combination with other soundproofing methods.
A local hardware store or music supply store may have specialized interlocking tiles that you can attach to your door using Green Glue or staples. These acoustic tiles usually have different noise-reduction levels, so make sure you choose the highest level available for the most sound blockage.
Alternatively, rubber flooring tiles could also be attached to the back of your door with Green Glue and staples. They are much easier to find in stores but do not quite offer the same level of noise-reduction as foam interlocking tiles.
5. Mass-Loaded Vinyl Barriers
Mass-loaded vinyl (MLV) barriers are thick sheets of a vinyl material that can be attached to the back of the door with Green Glue and staples. They are good at reducing noise but are quite expensive compared to other soundproofing methods.
6. Noise Reducing Curtains
If switching up the door or making physical changes to it is not an option (perhaps you live in a rental home or apartment where you are not able to do so), there is still a way to soundproof a noisy room!
If you really want to make a dent in the sound entering or leaving the room, you will need to invest in industrial-grade noise reducing curtains. I know what you are thinking—curtains are for windows, not doors. However, these specific noise reducing curtains are designed to keep noise away and are equally effective when used on a door.
All you will need to do to use them on your door is to install a curtain rod above the door frame. From there, you would just hang the noise reducing drape on it, just like you would a standard window.
Although I personally do not have experience using these curtains, I know of a few people who have used them and found them quite helpful in blocking out sound. Like the MDF + Green Glue + MDF method, it is a great option for rooms not intended to be a home theater.
This is a solution I feel is worth looking into if you really want to avoid the hassle of replacing the door. It is also much more cost-effective!
To learn more about how noise reducing curtains can help block incoming and outgoing sounds from a room,click here to read my article on soundproof curtains.
7. Noise Reducing Blankets
Another option for temporarily soundproofing a door for those who live on rental properties is using a noise reducing blanket (moving blankets work equally well). Simply hang it behind the door using a couple of hooks.
Noise reducing blankets are usually made from an absorbing material, such as fiberglass, which is perfect for sound absorption. Heavier soundproof blankets can almost absorb most sounds.
Although a noise reducing blanket is not the ideal option, aesthetically speaking, it is a soundproofing option that can easily be added or removed from the door as you see fit.
The best noise reducing g blanket to use are those with grommets—those tiny rings that are usually found on the edges of sheets; this feature will make it easier to hang behind the door and will make it easier for you to go in and out of the room.
Below are a few tips for summarizing what we have covered here:
- Assess your soundproofing needs first. Are you soundproofing a home theater, or do you just want to avoid hearing your neighbor’s dog bark at night? The level of soundproofing you need will determine which soundproofing method is best for you and a quieter home.
- Come up with a plan based on your soundproofing needs. Will you be able (and are you willing) to change your door out for one that blocks more sound, like a communicating door assembly, or will you need to use alternative methods for soundproofing? Do you need to save up for a ready-made soundproofed door or buy soundproof curtains?
- Address the gaps in the door frames and seal them as described earlier. Sometimes, all you need is Green Glue or another form of acoustic caulk to do the job; apply the caulk where the frame meets the drywall or cement.
- If you are still hearing a lot of sounds come through your door even after filling the gaps, there may be some hidden gaps or cracks not easily visible or big enough to notice. To find these elusive gaps, turn the lights off in the room and have someone else hold a flashlight from the other side of the closed door. Where you see the light shine through is where a gap remains.
- After you install the door, use a sealing kit for the door jambs and sides. Ensure that there are no gaps remaining and that the door shuts snugly into the frame.
- Door gaskets are another option to consider for filling in gaps and door jambs. They work similarly to weather stripping tape, with the main difference being that it is made up of a pair or set of magnetic gaskets that are meant to be attached to the door jamb. The only drawback to using door gaskets, however, is that they are typically more expensive to use.
- Install an automatic door bottom to close the gap underneath the door.
- Alternatively, you can also use weather stripping tape; believe it or not, although the material is intended to keep away dust and dirt, it actually works quite well as a sound absorber! There are different types of weather stripping material you can use, but rubber weather stripping tape has shown to be more durable and effective compared to foam or vinyl.
Outside of these tips, there are other alternative ways to soundproof your door, from applying a layer of soundproof paint to hanging up a moving blanket or soundproof curtains. You could also try laying down rugs or moving large furniture (such as bookshelves or a decorative chair) next to or nearby the door to help absorb local sounds and prevent all of the noise from getting through.
Of course, to achieve complete noise blockage—and a quieter space overall—you may want to use a combination of the above-mentioned methods.
Soundproofing a door is no easy task; it often requires quite a lot of work, simply because ready-made soundproof doors that you could otherwise swap out are very expensive. However, soundproofing a door to a soundproof room is an unavoidable necessity and cannot be done away with. For serious noise isolation, a cheaper solution is unlikely.
So, pay special attention to the tips I have provided; do not take the issue lightly. Making the right decisions for your soundproofing needs will help you avoid wasteful expenditure. Even enlisting in the help of a professional is not a bad idea even if it will cost a little bit more—at least the job will get done, and it will get done well!
Thanks for reading! Before you go, take a minute out and check out my top recommendations for soundproofing products.