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If you’re just getting started in the world of soundproofing, or don’t have a massive budget, it’s always worth looking for household items that you can use. Regardless of what else you’re doing to the room, one area that can benefit from soundproofing is the door.
Doors are known to be the weakest area of a room and so realistically need the most attention. Do bear in mind, however, that while these solutions are easy to find and inexpensive, they’ll never fully soundproof a door.
Read my article on soundproofing doors in which I bring out some actionable ways to soundproof a door that actually work.
That said, if you try several together, you should notice a fair reduction in noise levels. So here are my top 8 household items you can use to soundproof a door.
Soundproofing a door with household items
Household items such as carpets, rugs, weatherstripping, foam tiles, curtains, and more can be used to soundproof a door inexpensively. The effectiveness would mostly depend on the mass of the items being used.
Here are the ways in which you can use everyday items to drastically reduce sound transfer through a door.
1. Use carpets or rugs
One of the main rules when soundproofing anything is to add mass. Mass helps to block sound waves by absorbing them as they pass through the surface as vibration. While non-elastic mass is best, you can achieve good results with almost anything dense and heavy.
Carpets are surprisingly effective when soundproofing, and I’d always recommend laying them on your floor if you’re trying to manage acoustics within a space. The reason carpet is so effective is because it’s usually quite heavy because of all the material it contains.
Similarly, a carpet’s structure is pretty good at absorbing sound waves, in the same way that acoustic foam works (RELATED ARTICLE). Carpet, particularly shag or pile, has a relatively open structure, which traps sound waves and stops them from bouncing off the surface.
The first thing you should do is use carpet to plug up the gap at the bottom of the door. Doing this will prevent a large amount of noise pollution that seeps in under the door. However, I wouldn’t stop there with the carpet.
The best thing you can do to reduce sound transfer through a door is to attach carpet to it. Doing so will add mass to the door, and if you cover both sides then the carpet will help absorb a portion of the sound waves before they transfer through the door.
Also, I’d definitely recommend using some underlay, just the same as if you were laying carpet on the floor. Often underlay can be the bit that adds the most mass, and if you’ve got some carpet spare then it’s likely you’ve also got underlay.
Read my article on the underlay I recommend. It’s effective and reasonably priced.
To fix the carpet and underlay to the door, you can either use spray adhesive or nail the materials directly to the door. If you want something less invasive, get some durable string or twine and fix it to one end of the carpet. This can then be hung off nails on the door and is much easier to take down.
Carpet is pretty good at dampening sound, but the major drawback is that adding this much mass to the door will make it harder to open. I don’t mean it’ll be heavier, but if you’ve got a few inches of carpet on the door then it won’t open fully. For this reason, it might be best to only hang carpet on the outer face of the door (the one it swings away from).
2. DIY weatherstripping
Weatherstripping is a great product for filling in small gaps around doors and windows. It’s mainly intended for exterior doors and is actually designed to improve thermal insulation. However, considering sound and heat can both be airborne, they can often be treated in the same way.
I don’t know if there’s really much need to make your own weatherstripping when it’s really easy to buy in almost any DIY store, or online. However, if you’re looking to save money by using things you’ve already got lying around, then weatherstripping is a good place to start.
DIY weatherstripping is basically just tape. I’d never use sellotape or packing tape, as these just aren’t thick enough. At the very minimum use masking (decorating) tape, as this is usually much thicker. The best thing you can use though is electrical insulation tape or duct tape, which are probably the thickest kinds of tape.
The purpose of weatherstripping is to reduce the size of the gap between the door and the frame. To do this, simply start laying strips of tape on the frame, one layer at a time. Open and close the door after every layer to make sure it still fits. You want to end up with a snug fit that still allows the door to shut fully.
You’ll probably find you need to put more tape on the top of the frame than the sides, and it’s unlikely you’ll get much around the hinges. I’d avoid putting it on the bottom of the door frame because it’ll get ruined by people stepping on it.
The easiest way to solve the gap at the bottom is to build a door sweep. Simply get a piece of wood the same width as the door, attach some dense material to it (like some carpet offcut), and then nail it to the bottom of the door with the material facing the door.
3. DIY acoustic door plug
A door plug is basically a wooden frame covered in soundproofing materials that fit over the door. It’s something that you’ll have to remove every time you want to open the door, so it isn’t necessarily the most practical option. However, if you get the right materials then it can make a big difference.
Considering this article is about using household items, I’m not going to suggest using proper soundproof materials in your door plug. Instead, just use the heaviest and densest mass you have to hand, which will likely be something like carpet.
To build your own door plug, do the following:
- Measure the size of the door and then build a frame to fit. I’d make a simple 4-sided frame out of timber, and then cover one side with a sheet of MDF so you get an open box.
- Cover the inside of the box with heavy and dense material. Usually, I’d suggest using mass loaded vinyl, but something like carpet will do.
- Cover this with some foam, such as floor mats or Styrofoam. While floor mats will add more mass, something like Styrofoam will basically act like acoustic foam and so will reduce echo.
- Fix another layer of MDF over the top so the box is sealed, and then add handles to make it easier to remove.
- All you need to do now is fit it in the frame and you’ve got yourself a door plug.
This is a reasonably effective option if you don’t mind having to remove it every time you want to open the door. Realistically, it gives the same benefits as attaching the dense material directly to the door but does so in a less permanent way. If you’re looking for a reasonably quick and non-invasive option, then this could be the one for you.
4. Add foam floor tiles
Foam floor tiles are usually made from EVA rubber, which is quite dense and very durable. These are the sort of things you might have had for your kid’s play mat, or you might have one leftover from when you did yoga. I’d recommend either using interlocking floor tiles or a large yoga mat because these will be the easiest to work with.
Much like with carpet, the easiest thing to do is fix the foam tiles directly to the door, which is easiest with spray adhesive. However, you should also bear in mind that foam tiles are much lighter than carpet, so you’ll definitely want to use several layers.
That said, foam tiles are much easier to work with, and won’t look as odd fixed to your door. I’d recommend attaching them to both sides of the door because the foam will block some sound, but can also help absorb sound waves, meaning fewer will make it through the door.
If you’re really not sold on the idea of having colored floor tiles on your door, simply cover them with something. A piece of fabric will do the job fine, or you could use a thin piece of wood and paint it. However, foam tiles are probably one of the less offensive things you can attach to a door to soundproof it, so I’d probably just leave them as they are.
5. Hang soundproof curtains in front of the door
While you can get soundproof curtains (read my guide) that are meant to drastically reduce levels of noise pollution, I’m not going to discuss these here. Not only are they not really a household item, but they’re not really much better than normal curtains. So just stick with what you’ve got lying around or can find in your local second-hand store.
The key when picking the right curtains or drapes is to find the heaviest ones possible. Velvet curtains are perfect because these are usually lined or backed anyway, which adds a bit more mass to the curtain. A good rule of thumb is that if you can see light through it then it’s not thick enough to be used for soundproofing.
Also, if you’re good with a needle and thread, you can go one step further and sew several layers of curtains together. As ever, the purpose is to add as much mass as possible, which will usually mean several layers of curtains.
Curtains are a pretty good choice for soundproofing a door because they’re easy to open and close, and the soft fabric both blocks some of the sound waves and prevents them from reverberating off the door’s surface.
It’s important when hanging curtains in front of the door that they’re long enough to reach the floor with a bit of extra material. This should hopefully lie in front of the gap at the bottom, which acts as a pretty good sound barrier and draft excluder.
You can either fix the curtains directly to the door or hang a curtain rail over the door, which allows you to still open the curtain. I’ve found the most effective thing to do, particularly if the door opens into the room, is to hang the curtain on the outside.
Not only does this make things easier and mean the curtain doesn’t get in the way, but it also prevents sounds from entering the room. However, if you want this option to be as effective as possible, then also consider fixing curtains to the inside of the door. I’d recommend actually attaching them to the door this side so you don’t have a curtain rail in the way.
6. Add blankets or duvets
Fixing blankets to the door works in much the same way as carpet, but is mostly easier to manage. However, blankets generally aren’t very dense, so if you’ve got some carpet lying around then I’d definitely recommend trying that first.
As always, use the thickest blanket or duvet you can find. A thick, winter duvet will be pretty good at absorbing sound waves, which affects echo, but maybe won’t be the best at blocking sound waves with its mass.
Both duvets and blankets are designed to work by trapping warm air near your skin, which makes them closer in function to acoustic foam than mass loaded vinyl. However, you should notice a difference if you attach enough of either to the door.
Fix the blankets directly to the door using nails or spray adhesive. Alternatively, a better option is to buy curtain clips and hang these off nails in the top of the door. Using curtain clips will mean you don’t have to make any holes in the blanket, and that you can take it down when you need to.
As with the curtain method suggested above, it’s best to have a bit of extra material covering the larger gap at the bottom of the door. This is the biggest source of airborne noise pollution, and so should be addressed along with the rest of the door.
You can get soundproof blankets, which are effectively just made from very dense materials. However, if you’re going out to buy something to soundproof a door, then I’d look for something more effective than a blanket. If you need an at-home quick-fix for your door though, blankets are definitely worth a try.
7. Seal the cracks
This option should definitely be used alongside any other soundproofing method, but it’s important enough to deserve its own point. As I mentioned above, one of the major problems with doors is airborne noise seeping in through the gaps.
Weatherstripping is one way to combat this, but it’s worth paying a bit more attention to the problem. To identify the worst gaps, you’ll need a torch and a second pair of eyes.
Make sure it’s dark enough for the torch to be visible, and then shut the door with one of you on either side. The person with the torch needs to turn it on and then slowly trace it around the door frame.
Doing this will allow you to identify any gaps that need attention. If there are any between the door and the frame, solve this with some DIY weather stripping, but there might also be gaps between the door frame and the wall.
This is much more common in older houses that have had time to settle. Fill these gaps with builder’s sealant. Ideally, use acoustic sealant because this is silicone-based and so remains elastic once it’s dried. However, this might not be counted as a household product, so a good alternative is to use bathroom sealant.
Bathroom sealant also has silicone in it, which is designed to be waterproof and mold resistant. However, in a soundproofing context, silicone actually helps to reflect sound waves. So not only will the sealant plug the gap, but it’ll make it harder for sound waves to pass through.
Some final thoughts
As you can see, there are plenty of household items that can be used to soundproof a door. However, it’s also worth remembering that none of these will be as effective as the dedicated soundproofing products you can buy.
My best advice if you’re looking for household methods is to try several, as you’ll need their combined results to see a noticeable difference. If you’re on a tight budget, these can make a difference to noise levels, but I’d only ever recommend using them as temporary solutions until you can find something more permanent.
Thanks for reading! Also, check out my recommended products for soundproofing.