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As much as I love open-plan spaces, not having a door can be a big problem when it comes to noise transfer. If you’ve ever had this problem, you might have asked how to block noise without a door.
I found a few solutions to block noise without a door:
- Build a door plug
- Use acoustic room dividers
- Hang acoustic curtains
- Use blankets
- Create a temporary door with furniture
- Place your furniture strategically
In this article, I’ll look at the best options for soundproofing a room without a door. I’ll also take a look at some of the science behind soundproofing that’ll help you better understand the solutions.
Also read: Inexpensive ways to soundproof a room
What’s The Science Behind Soundproofing?
When it comes to trying to block sound transfer through an open space, your options are slightly more limited than if you were trying to soundproof a wall.
Doors are particular weak spots in rooms when it comes to any soundproofing project. Typical interior doors are hollow, meaning they’re not great at blocking sound transmission.
But when it comes to blocking noise without a door, your starting point is arguably a better blank canvas than if you were working with a door.
There are several main principles involved in any soundproofing project. These are:
Decoupling is the only one not relevant to our current project, as you can’t decouple an open space. This option is only really for walls, although you could consider creating a decoupled barrier for the doorway.
Here’s a bit more information on the principles we’ll be using below.
Damping is the principle of reducing vibrations through a surface. Sound waves are vibrations, and so preventing a surface from vibrating reduces the ability of sound to travel through it.
You wouldn’t use damping on its own though. It’s better as an addition to other soundproofing techniques, and in this instance will dictate some of the materials you’ll use in the open doorway.
Absorption is often confused with damping, but the 2 are different things. Absorption is the process of “losing” a sound wave’s energy when it comes into contact with a surface.
When sound waves meet a surface, such as a wall, some of the wave is reflected, some is transmitted, and some is absorbed.
You can increase the amount that’s absorbed by using materials with open-celled structures.
The sound waves enter the material and the vibrational energy causes the material’s fibers to bend. This process converts the sound waves into heat energy.
But absorption isn’t about blocking sound, it’s about reducing its resonance and echo. This improves acoustic clarity but also means there are fewer sound waves bouncing around a space, so is useful in this project too.
Mass is probably going to be the most useful principle in soundproofing a doorway because it’s the one thing the doorway is already lacking.
It’s a fairly easy one to explain too. Lighter objects have more potential to vibrate when sound waves hit them; there’s less structure to move.
Therefore, making something heavier by adding mass means it can’t vibrate as much. Sound waves then either dissipate or deflect off the surface.
Using mass in soundproofing is about blocking sound rather than acoustic management.
To get the best results when blocking noise through an open doorway, you’ll want to use a combination of these principles.
By starting with a mass-rich base material, you’ll block a large portion of the sound from entering.
But by combining this with damping and absorbing materials, you’ll only make it more effective.
How To Block Noise Without A Door
Before getting started on the solutions, it’s worth considering a few things:
- How invasive can your solution be? Can you drill holes or put up nails?
- How permanent can it be? Must you be able to take it down when not in use?
- How much money are you willing to spend? You’ll generally get better results if you can spend a bit more.
- How loud is the noise you’re trying to block? Louder noises will require a bit more work.
1. Build a door plug
My first suggestion is to build a door plug. This is basically a soundproof door that isn’t attached to the frame, so can be removed and stored elsewhere when you don’t need it.
You’ll need some materials for this. These are:
- Medium density fiberboard (Amazon link)
- Mass loaded vinyl (Amazon link)
- Acoustic panels (Amazon link)
- Nails or screws
- Acoustic caulk
- Screwdriver, saw, measuring tape
While you could use any base material, MDF is a good choice because its structure is fairly good at damping sound waves. Something like plywood is more rigid and so would contribute to sound transmission.
You could use sound deadening mats (my top pick) instead of mass loaded vinyl. Either is fine, but deadening mats would add slightly more thermal insulation if that’s important.
Here’s the method:
- Measure the doorframe. Your door plug needs to sit snugly inside the frame, so be careful with your measurements.
- Cut a piece of MDF the same size as the doorframe, and then 4 pieces to be the sides. These should ideally be the same depth as the doorframe, if not a bit deeper.
- Fix the side pieces to the back with screws or nails, and then seal with acoustic caulk.
- Reinforce the structure with small triangles of MDF on each corner and a length in the middle running from side to side.
- Stick down a layer of MLV or sound deadening mat inside the frame. Seal the edges with acoustic caulk.
- Add another layer or 2 if you want. The more mass you add, the better it’ll be at blocking sound.
- Stick down some acoustic foam over the MLV. Be careful not to use too much glue as this’ll block the foam’s cells.
- Attach the handles to the backside of the box and you’re done.
I recommend having the soundproofing materials facing the direction of the noise you’re blocking. Either facing out of the room if you’re soundproofing your room or into the room if you’re stopping noise from getting out.
Also, if you have concerns about how securely it’ll stay in the frame, you could fit a couple of hook and eye latches (Amazon) to hold it in place.
Fitting a door plug is probably going to be the most successful option, but can be inconvenient. After all, you’ll have to find somewhere to store this door-sized piece of wood when not in use.
2. Use acoustic room dividers
Acoustic room dividers (Amazon link) are used in offices to partition open-plan spaces and reduce noise pollution.
They’re designed to dampen airborne noises and offer a level of sound absorption too. While they’re not amazingly heavy, they do add mass to the empty doorframe.
Be sure you buy a high quality acoustic room divider for best results. You’ll have to be careful about the size you buy, as many are designed to sit on desks.
While these have been specifically designed for the purpose of damping airborne noise, you’re going to encounter a major flaw using them to block a doorway.
They’re not the same size as a door. You’ll find they’ll be at maximum 6ft tall but maybe less, and will definitely be narrower.
Also, you have the gap around the feet to deal with, but removing the feet will make them unstable.
To get around this, you’ll need to plug the gaps with something. You could use cushions or blankets, or other soft household materials you have lying around.
Alternatively, you could make it larger by fixing on some acoustic foam panels. These are a similar material to the divider and will at least help to reduce any gaps.
Be aware that a room divider won’t block noises but will muffle them. If you’re only trying to block out the sound of a TV or similar, this should be enough.
3. Hang acoustic curtains
Noise-reducing curtains (my top picks) are a more budget-friendly and convenient option than room dividers, which can get expensive.
What’s more, using curtains means you can draw them back when not needed, which removes the storage issue associated with the 2 options so far.
Noise-reducing curtains are simply curtains with extra layers of fabric. Depending on the brand, this could be wool, synthetic fibers, or something else.
The most invasive part will be hanging a curtain rail above the doorframe, although this isn’t a particularly difficult task.
You’ll need a hammer drill for masonry or a normal drill for stud walls, along with the appropriate wall plugs and screws.
The downside with this option is that noise-reducing curtains won’t block outside noise. They will dampen it, and their soft surface means it’s difficult for sound waves to reflect or transmit through them.
But they’re just not very rich in mass. Curtains are curtains after all, and there’s only so much you can do with some fabric.
If you don’t want to buy noise-reducing curtains, consider velvet drapes. They’re surprisingly mass rich and will do a good job of muffling unwanted noise.
4. Use blankets
Hanging blankets in an empty doorway won’t be as effective as noise-reducing curtains, but I’m suggesting this on the basis that you already have blankets lying around at home.
But if you do have a bit of money to spend, consider buying some heavy moving blankets (Amazon). These will be more effective than your standard blankets.
You’ll need to use the heaviest blanket you have for best results, or several if you can fix them up properly.
This is going to be your biggest challenge with this option: holding the blankets in place. Mounting tape or duct tape would probably be your best option, but this doesn’t guarantee security.
Or you could use some C-clamps (Amazon) that you fit over the doorframe.
5. Create a temporary door with furniture
If you’re in a rush to block sound coming through the open doorway, you can try making a temporary barrier using the furniture you have at home.
There’s not really a hard and fast rule about which furniture to use, but the more mass you put in the doorway, the better it’ll be at blocking sound.
My top suggestions would be:
- Sofa cushions
A twin-sized mattress will be a good fit for most doorframes. While you can use larger mattresses, it’ll be better if you can get quite a snug fit.
Sofa cushions can also be an acceptable option because their padding is not dissimilar in structure to other sound damping materials. At the very least they should muffle some of the sound.
You could always try using several different items, or using sofa cushions to boost the effectiveness of your room divider.
I wouldn’t recommend this as a long-term solution. For starters, it’s really not going to look very nice having a mattress wedged into a doorframe.
Also, using something like a table could be a potential hazard if it slips out of place and falls on someone.
6. Place your furniture strategically
This isn’t really an option for blocking sound coming through an open doorway but is a final suggestion if none of the above are suitable for any reason.
Rather than trying to block the sound, you can manage it by placing your furniture in strategic locations around the room.
Soft items, such as sofas and beds, will absorb and dampen sound, while hard items, such as wardrobes and cupboards, will reflect sound.
In short, you can use furniture to deflect sound in directions away from your room and muffle at least some of the unwanted noise that is bouncing around.
Think of how a room sounds when it’s empty compared to fully furnished, and this should give you some idea of the difference this’ll make.
You could always do this anyway along with blocking the doorway, as this’ll reduce the amount of noise bouncing around the room.
Some Final Thoughts
As you can see, there are a few options for how to block noise without a door. They all come down to adding as much mass as possible while also damping sounds.
Luckily there are options for all types of budgets, so hopefully, you’ve found a suggestion that’s right for you.