Is noise keeping you awake late at night and driving you and your family up the wazoo? If it is, come over and take a seat next to me since we’re basically on the same boat filled with cranky and drowsy men and women, who can’t get a decent night’s sleep because of all the insufferable noise.
Because of lightweight home construction, open floor plans, and a horde of noisy contraptions and entertainment devices, today’s houses are noisier than ever. As a matter of fact, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) testified before Congress that 30 million Americans are exposed to noise that is high enough to cause hearing loss. Moreover, 44 million Americans reside in homes that are affected by aircraft or highway noise!
So unless your house is equipped with some kind of soundproofing and we seriously doubt that it is, it can be really unbearable and downright uninhabitable at times.
And it really doesn’t take much to cause a ruckus that leads to a sleepless night. One or two flimsy doors is already a potent recipe that can ruin your sleep or work. Take my word for it; I moved to an apartment in New York (yes, it’s the city with the highest noise levels in all of North America) and I just couldn’t get enough rest to perform what was being asked of me at work.
And mind you, it wasn’t because of loud neighbor but rather because of a thin front door. Footsteps of people coming and going down the hall, conversations, people walking up and down the stairs — I heard all of that.
Worse is that my bedroom door is placed parallel to the front door, which means all of that noise had nowhere else to go but straight to my room. After a few months, I could not take it any longer. I had to do something and asked a few of my friends for advice.
One mentioned soundproofing my door. I did some research on my own and was delighted to find out that I could do it myself. And the best part was it wasn’t at all expensive.
So let us show you how to soundproof a door below. But before we go there, it helps to understand the dynamics of sound so you can effectively control it.
Table of Contents
- How Sound Works
- The Reasons Why You Should Soundproof a Door
- How to Soundproof a Door Yourself
- The Bottom Line
Basically, sound comes from the energy that is generated when an object vibrates, making waves in the air surrounding it. The sensitive membrane in our ears called our eardrum senses these vibrations and registers this data in the brain as various kinds of sound.
The wavelength and distinctive qualities of each sound are what makes different types of sound unique. Different sources of sound hold diverse levels of bass, mid-range, and treble frequencies that create definite “fingerprints” that we learn to eventually identify as unique sources.
Bass (with long wavelengths) and treble (with short wavelengths) are affected in different ways by the materials they come into contact with. Harder surfaces tend to bounce treble while softer surfaces tend to absorb them. This is the reason why a lot of soundproofing materials use different kinds of foam to attain optimal sound reduction across the spectrum of sound wavelengths.
Bass frequencies are more challenging to control simply because they are not absorbed efficiently by soft materials. Aside from that, big flat surfaces like walls and floors tend to reverberate more with bass sounds, effectively transferring these sounds.
The consistency of a surface influences its sound transmission elements. Flat surfaces tend to bounce sound waves around, at times generating a lasting echo effect if the surfaces or walls are directly parallel to each other. The less uniform the surface, the less chances the sound has to bounce off.
In addition, if two walls are not parallel with one another, sound is less likely to ricochet back and forth. This is why the uneven “egg crate” and ridged patterns of soundproofing materials are used heavily in environments where sound reduction is of utmost importance, such as in recording studios or your bedroom.
Now that you have a general idea of what sound is, what exactly is noise then? Continue reading below to find out.
What Is Noise?
Noise is basically unwanted sound. In the home, most people believe noise to be just about any sound other than the sound made by what they’re doing. An example is if you’re talking to someone on the phone, the sound coming from the television in the other room is considered noise. In the same breath, if you’re watching television, a phone conversation being carried on by your sister in the next room can be noise.
Unfortunately, conventional walls and ceilings are only slightly effective at blocking noise because they are built like drums. They have membranes, which are usually made of drywall, on the two outer surfaces of a structural framework that’s filled with air. Sound waves hit one surface and move through the air or framework to the other surface where they’re broadcast as audible noise.
Where there is a very thin wall surface—or no surface at all, such as an open window or door— noise essentially gets a free pass straight to you.
Consider this: controlling noise includes lessening noisemakers and reducing the movement of sound from one place to another. Soundproofing techniques use surfaces that absorb sound vibrations and structures that minimize sound transfer.
That said, let’s now move on to the reasons why you should soundproof your door.
The Reasons Why You Should Soundproof a Door
Here are some of the reasons why people soundproof the doors in their house:
You Work From Home
If you are working from home (like me), a quiet space is a necessity in finishing your work. If you have pets, loud neighbors, or young children, these might distract you from concentrating on your work. This can be mitigated if you soundproof your office doors. This is crucial if your work entails you to use technical instrument. If video recording, voice-overs, composition, or making video is a part of what you do, then you should definitely soundproof your door.
Your Neighbors are Rowdy
If you are unfortunate enough to have boisterous neighbors that just don’t know when to zip it and you are living close enough to hear every word that comes out of their mouths, then this is a problem that needs a sensible solution. Soundproof the doors of your house and not worry about that kind of noise and regain peace and tranquility inside your living space
You Have an Entertainment Room
If you own home theatre or a playroom, soundproofing doors can make the experience even more enjoyable for you, your friends and your loved ones. Once you have soundproofed the doors, you will not have any use for headphones to watch an action movie or play a video game.
You Like to Play Music
Ask any musician, amateur or professional, and they will tell you that they need to soundproof doors to play their instruments. Why? What is music to you can be noise for others. With soundproof doors, you can make sure that your music rehearsals are not disturbing the neighbors (or newborn child). Also, it keeps outside noise from penetrating into the room. This will help you in keeping your focus on practicing your craft in peace.
Now we finally get to the part that you’re probably most interested in: how to soundproof your door!
How to Soundproof a Doorway
1. Shut All the Cracks Tight
More often than not, gaps and cracks in your doors will be the principal reasons in allowing sound through the doorway. Nearly all doors have cracks and gaps and when you are looking to soundproof the doorway, this should be the first place you should check and seal off.
It is highly recommended that you start with this step first since it won’t cost all that much to plug these cracks nor would it take too much time or energy. Some cracks and gaps may be miniscule, and thus difficult to locate. Should this be the case, what you can do is turn the lights off in your room and ask someone to hold a light source on the other side of the door. This way, you’ll easily find them as the gaps and cracks will let light through.
Sealing these gaps should be a breeze with the use of an insulating sealant such as Great Stuff Big Gap Filler. It is an airtight sealant and this makes it ideal for sound deadening. In addition, it is paintable so you can paint it with the same color as your door.
If the gaps on your door are smaller, the filler mentioned above may not work as well. For smaller gaps of less than an inch, the Red Devil Small Gap Foam would be more ideal.
2. Place Weatherstripping Tape on the Door
Weatherstripping Tape is tape made of sound absorbing materials like fiberglass. Most of the time, they come with adhesive that makes for an easy set-up process.
Weatherstripping is originally meant to keep away dust and dirt, but is found to be a good sound absorber. See for yourself and try placing weatherstripping tape like the Duck Brand Self Adhesive Foam Weatherstrip Seal on your door.
While placing the tape, make sure that you are getting enough compression as this ensures that an airtight seal is established between the door and the tape. It is this precise seal that blocks out the sound.
3. Use Door Gaskets
If you have a little extra on your budget, you can choose to place door gaskets as opposed to weatherstripping tapes. They work in a similar way like the weatherstripping tape as they are used to secure gaps at the jambs and the header of doors. By securing these gaps, they block out sound, moisture and light. If you would like to give a door gasket shot, this one is as good a choice as any.
4. Hang a Soundproof Blanket
If aesthetic appeal doesn’t matter to you all that much, then you should consider using a soundproof blanket on your door. Soundproof blankets are often made of fiberglass — a material known to absorb sound well. Heavy soundproof blankets will absorb nearly all of the sound.
These blankets are fairly easy to install as all you have to do is hang them onto hooks at the back of your door. They are also convenient as you can take them down should you find no need for them any longer.
But as I mentioned before, these blankets look dull and dreary and won’t win you any style points.
5. Use a Door Sweep
You have already used weatherstripping tape and a door gasket but sound still seems to seep in. You want to know why? That’s because you haven’t properly dealt with the biggest crack there is — the space between the door and the floor!
This is one of the largest ways through which sound from the doorway can get into the room. Fortunately, it can be solved rather easily with a door sweep.
Door sweeps are simple products that are composed of sound absorbing materials that aid in sealing the gap between the door and the floor whenever the door is closed.
Should you decide to go for a door sweep, you need to be aware that door sweeps are not difficult to install as weatherstripping tapes. You will have to drill and screw the sweep’s fastener into the door.
But having one comes with several other advantages as it also keeps away insects and dust. They are also energy efficient in that they keep cold air from your air conditioner from seeping out.
If you’re willing to try out a door sweep, this one is a great choice as the triple fin used to make this sweep makes it sturdy and durable.
6. Place a Rug
Did you know that rugs are great at absorbing sound? Using rugs as sound absorbers not only stifles the sound but also adds visual flair to your room.
Rugs, particularly the heavy ones, absorb echoes and help in lessening the impact of sound. However, do take note that rugs may not be as efficient as other soundproofing devices.
To increase the efficiency of using rugs, you may place some on either side of the doorway. This ensures that the noise that bounces off the doorway is greatly reduced.
One great benefit to using rugs to soundproof a door is that they don’t require any time or energy to set up. Just purchase one and place it wherever you like!
If you are looking for a rug to use for acoustic purposes, then the Safavieh Hudson Shag Collection comes highly recommended. It is an extra thick rug made of polypropylene fibers that make it strong and durable. You get to choose from a variety of colors and designs as well.
7. Have Some Soundproofing Curtains Installed
Yes, curtains and drapes are used on windows but you’d be delighted to discover that they can be utilized on your doorway. Curtains function as remarkable sound absorbers because they are comprised of thick materials that stifle the impact of sound.
Soundproof curtains are specifically designed to keep sound away. Using them on your doorways will block out most of the noise that you don’t want to hear.
To install soundproof curtains, you will need curtain rods installed right above the door frame. Once installed, you can then use drapes just as you do on your windows.
Using heavy soundproof curtains will also trap heat because they are insulated, which can help you save money on your heat bill during the winter season.
Another benefit to using soundproof curtains is that you can choose any colors and designs that can compliment the current vibe and feel of your room.
8. Dampen The Noise On The Other Side
When soundproofing the doorway, stifling the sound on the other side of the door is also a must.
To do this, you may use rugs as previously discussed above. You can also use heavy canvas paintings or bookshelves with the main concept being to fill the room and hallway as much as possible.
A nifty tip is that you should identify the source of the noise and work towards dampening the sound there. For example, if you are keen on soundproofing the doorway to the hallways, you can place a few canvas paintings in that area.
9. Sound-Absorbing Foam Panels Work Great Too
Foam panels boost the air resistance which then lessens the amplitude of sound waves. These sound absorbing foam panels, therefore, diminish the amount of sound that passes through them.
Similar to a soundproof fiberglass blanket, all you have to do is hang the foam panels on your doors and you are all set.
In putting up the foam panels, try not to use nails as these may cause damage to your door. Instead, use command strips like these which are actually very easy to use. However, they are not attractive to look at so you may want to consider using them in rooms that are not visited often.
10. Use Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass loaded vinyl is a dense material that functions as a great barrier to sound that is conveyed through the air. If you work from home and are distracted easily from the noise coming from the hallway, then mass loaded vinyl is your savior!
Installing the mass loaded vinyl is fuss-free. Purchase the vinyl and cut it according to the size of the door. Then, attach it to your door. To do this, you can either use staples or heavy adhesive. For better results, use double layers of the mass loaded vinyl and attach it to your door.
11. Have a New Door Installed
These days, doors are hollow, making them light and great amplifiers of sound. Take note that the reason why this is listed last is because purchasing a new solid core door is the costliest of all the options discussed in this article.
Solid core doors are thicker and will stifle any sounds that go through them.
If you have plenty of cash to spend on your soundproofing project, buying a new solid door is an option for you.
Installing the door however, is also not easy and you will need some experience and even assistance from a professional to properly put up your brand new door.
But if your budget does not allow you to buy a new door, you can try adding some mass to your current hollow door. To do this, cut some wood that matches the size of your door and attach it to your door. Alternatively, you may also use a drywall on the door. A drywall is simply a board made of sound absorbing materials. They are typically used in interior construction. Dry walls reduce the amount of sound that passes through them.
The Bottom Line
Doorways are most often the weak link in your home when it comes to soundproofing. Fortunately, you have several options to prevent your doorways from becoming a headache.
You can spend a lot of money and time on soundproofing your door but if you are short on both, there are also other things that you can do that incur very little cost and minimal effort.
Nearly anyone can benefit from trying a few of the options above. I know I did as the moment I finished soundproofing the door, I enjoyed sound sleep every night and better work performance every single day!