Soundproofing a door may come off as a daunting task at first. However, it’s actually one of the cheapest, easiest and – for some of us – most necessary DIY projects we will ever have to do.
One or two flimsy doors is all it takes for daily, ambient noises outside to spill inside and ruin your sleep or your work. Take my story – after moving into a new apartment, I had trouble sleeping for a few months. It wasn’t because of loud neighbors, per se, but because of a thin front door. Footsteps, conversations, doors slamming shut – I could hear all of it.
What made it worse is that my bedroom door is just about parallel to the front door. So, all of those noises from outside had one way to go – right into my bedroom. Eventually, I became so fed up that I started scouring for solutions. The one I came across was: soundproofing.
Luckily, what I thought was going to be an expensive and stressful DIY project turned out to be fairly cheap and painless. Still, it’s helpful to read up on the different ways you can soundproof a door first.
Why You Should Soundproof the Door
You may be surprised by just how readily doors will allow noise to come through. I was surprised as well when this problem first arose. I thought that a door, which is a solid object, after all, would do a better job of stopping noise leaks.
However, it’s not as much of a surprise when you consider what a typical door is made of. The doors we see in apartments and houses usually have a hollow core. That means, in most cases, an inside cardboard honeycomb core with a softwood outer frame. The hollow core has air in it, which, as you may have guessed, is a great medium for noise.
A door can also have plenty of gaps through which noise can sneak in, for example, between the door and the door frame. That’s why many of the following fixes involve us plugging those gaps somehow.
12 Ways to Soundproof a Door (DIY)
1. Rearrange the Furniture
While this fix may not be feasible for all of us, it’s arguably the cheapest (it’s free!) and easiest on this list, so that’s where I chose to start from.
The way it works is simple: furniture, like most solid objects, can act as an obstacle to noise. Once noise/sound reaches, say, a closet or a couch, it can either pass through or bounce off. However, either way, it becomes weaker (and thus, quieter).
For instance, a couch is a great noise-blocker because of how dense it is. A closet, when it’s filled with clothes, is even better. Other types of furniture you can try this with include bookshelves, beds, and sofas.
That said, while it’s free and fairly simple, it’s not one of the better solutions out there. For one, it may not even be feasible to try, depending on the layout of your house or apartment. In my case, I couldn’t really put anything between the front door and my bedroom without blocking the doorway.
All in all, if you can do it, try it out. But, if it doesn’t make sense to move your furniture to where it needs to be for this fix to work, or if it will cause you other problems, don’t do it.
2. Plug the Gaps Around the Door Frame
Chances are there is a small, but noticeable gap between your door and the frame. Unless you’ve lived with one of those airtight, vacuum-sealed doors that an airplane cockpit or recording studio would have, that’s probably a normal sight to you.
However, as I mentioned above, that gap is also a great way for noise to sneak in. Thankfully, sealing it won’t set you back by much. You most certainly won’t need to buy a new door!
I’ve found acoustic caulk to be one of the cheapest and easiest ways to do it. Acoustic caulk (also known as acoustic sealant) has a few key advantages over regular caulk. Namely, it will stay flexible over time. That means that, unlike regular caulk, acoustic caulk won’t ever crack or shrink.
You should apply it generously to any seams or gaps in the door/door frame. However, do take care to read the included instructions. Acoustic caulk can contain solvents that aren’t good for certain materials, so it’s best to avoid using it in those cases.
The pros of acoustic caulk are that it’s fairly cheap – anywhere from 7 to 40 ¢ per linear foot – and that it can be painted over later on. It’s also fairly simple to apply, so you ought to be able to do it yourself without problems.
3. Seal the Door Jamb With Weatherstripping
A similar solution to the one above is to seal the jamb of the door. That can be done in a few different ways: weatherstripping, with a door sweep, by installing door gaskets, or by simply getting a soundproof door kit that includes all these products.
Weatherstripping tape can plug the gap between your door and the door frame. The advantage of using weatherstripping tape is that it’s easy to apply and can be removed just as easily.
Weatherstripping tape can come in different forms, such as adhesive-backed foam, rubber, felt or vinyl. Your choice will depend on how much wear you expect to put it through and how it fits your door looks-wise.
I ended up using weatherstripping tape on both my front and bedroom door. Personally, I found rubber material to be the ideal mix for me: durable, not too intrusive or obvious-looking and affordable.
Vinyl costs more, but it’s also durable, simple to install and effective. Meanwhile, foam tape is usually the cheapest, but it lasts a couple of years only and works fairly well. I didn’t like the way foam looked on my door, but if you aren’t as picky as me, it’s probably what you should go for.
4. Use a Soundproof Door Sweep
A door sweep is often used to prevent drafts and to stop insects from crawling under the door. However, if we improvise a little, a door sweep can also be used to stop the noise from leaking through that very same gap.
Think about it – if insects can crawl under the door, it’s no surprise that noise can get in too. And not only noise but cigarette smoke, paint fumes and the wind as well. Whichever way you look at it, a door sweep is a nifty little item.
When I went to buy mine, this one from Fowong caught my eye right away. However, what I found out soon after was that it got dirty very easily. In hindsight, that shouldn’t have been a surprise. After all, the doorway isn’t a very clean part of any home, and while this door sweep is stylish, it’s very vulnerable to dirt. It was also far too lightweight.
Luckily, I found another door sweep, this time from Suptikes, which turned out to be ideal.
5. Install Door Gaskets
Last, but not least, you can also try door gaskets. A door gasket works very much like weatherstripping tape. But, instead of strips of tape, we affix a pair (or set) of gaskets to the door jamb.
It involves a little more work to set up, but door gaskets usually work better than weatherstripping tape.
The three most common types of door gaskets are: brush, magnetic and neoprene/rubber. The ones you want to look at for soundproofing are the neoprene/rubber ones, as rubber is a naturally compressive material and absorbs noise quite well as a result.
6. Tack Rigid Foam Insulation on Top of the Door
While I personally wouldn’t recommend doing it this way (it’s a bit risky and can be a building code violation, depending on the type of foam you use), it’s worth mentioning in any case. Essentially, the idea here is to install a fixed foam cover over your door, which will deaden the noise and cover holes as well.
7. Cover the Door With Soundproof Blankets
It may come as a surprise (it sure surprised me!), but moving blankets are actually fairly good at stopping noise. Thus, they can make for an effective and cheap way to soundproof a door.
Moving blankets are the blankets in which movers like to wrap furniture up so as to shield it from bumps, scratches and other kinds of damage. When you think about it, those blankets have to be thick and dense if they’re going to be of any use. And, as we’ve hopefully all learned by now, thick and dense materials tend to absorb noise better.
I suggest buying a blanket with grommets. Grommets are those tiny rings that are on the edges of curtains, sheets and the like. They will make hanging (as well as removing) the blankets much easier. That’s what you want at the end of the day, not a struggle to hang them every time.
Alternatively, you can install your own grommets or nail the blankets in place. However, they can be harder to hang and remove if done this way, so I don’t recommend it.
8. Soundproof Fiberglass Panels
Another trick you can try is using fiberglass panels. They work similarly to blankets, but they’re quite a bit heavier.
They’re a little pricier than blankets, admittedly, and can be finicky at times, but they’re a less clunky solution overall. Most fiberglass panels have brass grommets on all four sides, which allows you to be a little more versatile with how and where you hang them. Also, they’re clearly made for this sort of job, as opposed to moving blankets, which aren’t.
One trade-off of these panels is that, frankly, they’re not very good-looking. However, if you can stand the sight of them hung on your door, fiberglass panels are a fairly cheap and effective way of soundproofing a door.
9. Put Soundproof Foam Panels on Top of the Door
Soundproof foam panels, the kind you would find in, for example, recording studios, are probably the most effective way to stop noise, short of replacing your door (we’ll get to that!).
They’re made of acoustic foam, which is usually made from polyurethane-derived materials. Polyester, polyether, and melamine are the three most common ones.
Unlike blankets, gaskets, weatherstripping tape, and your home’s furniture, soundproof panels are designed to do one job and to do it well – stop noise. They do so with a specially-made acoustic foam, which is structured in such a way so as to maximize the amount of noise that’s absorbed once it reaches the foam.
This acoustic foam can also be made of fiberglass instead of the PU-derived materials mentioned above. Fiberglass tends to be even better at stopping noise than foam.
Installing soundproof panels shouldn’t be too hard if you follow a few simple instructions. A mistake people often make when setting these panels up in a studio is that they will try to glue them to the wall. What you will have, however, is a damaged wall. That rule also applies to doors. Taking the panels off will be a nightmare afterward, and you can take chunks of the door off with them.
What you want to do instead is use a divider. A cardboard panel(s) will do just fine, as it’s lightweight and you can find one just about anywhere. Start by gluing your foam panels to the cardboard. Then, you can hang the cardboard onto the door with a few strips of VHB (Very High Bonding) tape from 3M, which I recommend. 3 to 4 strips per panel should be more than enough for a door.
All in all, soundproof panels are certainly a costlier solution, but one that’s arguably cheaper than replacing your door completely. If you can afford it, I recommend this fix over most of the others.
10. Hang Soundproof Curtains
This fix is yet another one that sure sounds a little odd at first. However, it can serve as a temporary solution, if anything. That’s especially true if you already have curtains sitting in the closet, gathering dust.
Curtains, of course, aren’t as thick and dense as blankets, fiberglass or foam panels. They won’t drown out most of the noise, but they can help, along with, say, a door sweep.
Learn more about soundproof curtains and how they work.
11. Add a Layer of Soundproof Paint
Most hardware stores ought to keep sound-absorbing interior paint in stock. If you’re able to find it in a color that more or less matches your door, try it out.
Sound-absorbing paint is ideal for blocking out medium-pitch noises (conversations, singing, etc.) That said, it’s not as effective at stopping high-pitch noises (e.g., a dog barking), or low-pitch noises (e.g., an airplane flying over or most traffic).
Still, it’s a cheap and, for the most part, hassle-free alternative.
12. Buy a Soundproof Door
I mentioned above that most doors have hollow cores, which often have trapped air inside. And, as we all know, air is a great medium for noise/sound. Between the thin wood veneers on the outside of my door and the more or less hollow interior, it’s no surprise I had the problems I did.
While I tried several DIY solutions (and a few of them did help!), the noise never went away completely. That’s probably my bad luck more than anything else; my bedroom door is right across from the front door, and both are flimsy. Plus, my neighbors aren’t the quietest folk. My point is – you should try at least a few of the fixes I suggested above before you resort to drastic measures.
Driven by my desire for a good night’s sleep, I ended up doing just that by replacing my front door with a solid core one. It was a little costlier than I would have liked, I’ll admit. But, let me tell you – it’s a day-and-night difference. I wasn’t as keen on it previously, but now I don’t regret it one bit.
There are lots of different types of solid core doors to choose from, including hardwood (which is pricier) and medium density fiberboard (MDF). Materials will often have a Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating. Basically, the higher this rating is, the more effective the material is at stopping noise.
A door with an STC rating in the 30 to 35 range will do a decent job at blocking out most conversations. That said, if your neighbors get especially spirited while they talk, a rating of 40 to 55 could be necessary.
Doors with a high STC rating are fairly costly. That’s why I’d recommend you to do what I eventually did: combine a new door with one (or more) of the solutions we talked about above. I, myself, installed weatherstripping tape on my front door, which really quieted everything down at night.
As for price, it’s hard to say exactly. A hardwood, oak or pine door can run in the low $100 to $300 range, or it can be quite a bit costlier. As a rule, higher-grade and custom-designed doors will cost more. I bought mine for just under $300, so rest assured you wouldn’t have to break the bank to buy a new door.
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Soundproof Your Door and Enjoy the Silence
After replacing my front door with a solid oak one, sealing the jambs of both my front and bedroom doors with rubber weatherstripping tape and putting a door sweep in front of my bedroom door, I finally had the peace and quiet I wanted.
Admittedly, you probably won’t have to go through as much hassle as I did. I just happen to be a very light sleeper.
To recap, if the layout of your home allows it, you can try moving your furniture around a little to see if it helps. If that isn’t feasible or if it hasn’t helped much, you can try using acoustic caulk, weatherstripping tape, a door sweep or door gaskets to seal the gaps in your door. Foam insulation, blankets, and fiberglass panels are also on the table. For a pricier, but a more effective job, consider soundproof panels. And, lastly, if nothing’s done it for you so far, you can always replace the door entirely.
If you think one or more of my suggestions can help, don’t wait around here – go out and try them!