Having loud roommates or family members who wake you up at night or don’t let you concentrate when you need to study is definitely something that we all had to deal with at some point in our lives and generally speaking, the door is the main culprit as far as noise transmission goes.
Luckily, you can soundproof your door and reduce the level of noise by quite a lot, if done correctly.
I will divide this post up into three distinct sections: Sealing the Gaps, Adding Mass to the Door, and additional ways of reducing sound, and I will be covering all of the necessary steps to do all of this as well.
But first, there’s something we need to get straight before we go any further!
Soundproofing vs Acoustic treatment
Soundproofing is designed to essentially block noise, lowering the amount that can get from one side of a structure to another, for example, a wall, whereas Acoustic Treatment works by absorbing the sound energy that is traveling through the air in order to reduce the echo and reverberation inside of a room.
If you live on a very busy street or if you have extremely noisy neighbors that are playing loud music constantly, then you need soundproofing since this will keep as much of that noise out as possible.
On the other hand, if you live in a big space that is echoey (generally the way huge and empty rooms sound like this), then you need acoustic treatment in order to absorb those sound waves to make the room feel quieter, although you won’t be blocking outside noise.
Essentially: Soundproofing = blocking sound, whereas acoustic treatment = sound absorption.
You can learn more about the differences between soundproofing and acoustic treatment here.
In addition to this, it’s extremely important to understand how sound behaves and how it’s transmitted through a door in order to make the right decisions.
How does Sound travel through a Door?
Sound is an energy that travels through a medium (air, water, glass, wood, etc.) in the form of vibration. For the purposes of this article, we need to mainly focus on airborne sound, the one that traves through the air, since it can get through any small gaps between the door and the frame, or between the door and the floor (this one is generally quite big).
In order to keep sound out, you need to block 100% of the gaps otherwise it will still be able to get through, which is why we need to soundproof where the door meets the frame and between the door itself and the floor first before doing anything else.
How to Soundproof a Door
In order to soundproof a door, you will first need to apply weatherstripping tape to the frame to create an airtight seal once the door is closed, use acoustic caulk to seal any cracks that may have formed between the frame and the wall, and install a door sweep.
These are the absolute basics, but if done correctly, and if the door isn’t made out of cardboard, then this should have a big impact on the overall noise reduction.
However, if these steps aren’t enough, then there are plenty of additional ways of soundproofing the door even further which I will talk about later in this post.
But now, let’s start with the most important step of all… sealing all of the gaps!
Seal all the Gaps
Sealing the gaps is both the easiest and the most effective way of soundproofing a door since it completely blocks the path where sound can get through, and best of all, it’s extremely cheap to do!
Here are the things you’ll need:
- Weatherstripping tape.
- Acoustic Caulk (if there are cracks between the frame and the wall).
- A door Sweep.
Weatherstrip the Door
Cheapest and most effective way!
Applying a weatherstrip to the door’s frame is by far the most important step in this whole process since it will create a perfect seal between the door and the frame once it’s closed, plus it’s really affordable and easy to install.
Important Note: When choosing a weatherstrip, make sure that it’s not too thick since you might go through all the work of taping it to the door’s frame only to find that it can’t be closed… and yes, this happened to me the first time I tried it.
How to weatherstrip a Door
Here is a step-by-step guide where you’ll learn how to do it.
If you don’t want to watch the video, I’ll give you a quick summary of how to do it.
- Use Rubbing alcohol to clean the frames.
- Start by taping the weatherstrip from the bottom all the way to the top making sure to not leave any gaps.
- On the part of the frame where the hinges are, make sure to adhere the tape along the hinge edge so it doesn’t get ripped out once the door is closed.
And that is really it!
This Is the weatherstrip I recommend since it’s affordable and of extremely good quality and should last you for a very long time.
Tip: If air can come in, then so does sound. This means that in order to test the results, you should close the door and feel if there’s any air entering through any gaps.
This could be done by having someone blow from the other side of the door, or another way to check would be by using a flashlight. If everything is sealed up perfectly, no light should be seen between the door and the frame.
Install a Door Sweep
You’ve just gone through all the trouble of sealing the door using a weatherstrip, but what about the huge gap at the bottom of the door? Well, here’s where a door sweep comes in handy. You should get a door sweep like this one, cut it to the size of your door and then install it.
Any door sweep will do the trick, but for ease of installation, I’d recommend getting one with an adhesive backing.
Also, if you don’t want to install one, then getting a draft stopper is the next best thing.
Use Acoustic Caulk
Applying acoustic caulk is extremely easy to do, plus it’s fast and very effective.
You need to get an acoustic sealant like this one and, using a caulk gun, you can begin the process.
How to use Acoustic Caulk
Note: Acoustic caulk is designed to fill small 1/8” gaps to ½” gaps and should be applied between the frames and the wall, plus it’s for interior use only, so it shouldn’t be used on the exterior, so take note of that!
To apply it, simply use the caulk gun to push the sealant into the gaps that need to be sealed and then leave it to dry for at least 48hs.
Here’s an in-depth video guide:
Add Mass to the Door
Once you sealed every tiny crack where sound can get through, you may want to consider adding mass to the door, or in other words, making it thicker and heavier since this will keep all that sound energy, or vibrations, from getting through the actual door.
It’s worth noting, however, that doing this is nowhere as easy as going through the previous steps I mentioned and it’s generally more expensive as well.
Use Mass Loaded Vinyl
One of the best soundproofing materials available is Mass Loaded Vinyl. It’s more commonly used for soundproofing a car, but it works for anything that needs some insulation in the form of mass.
MLV is great for soundproofing because it directly blocks sound, contrary to what some other materials do which is absorb some of it.
Important Note: Even though MLV might be excellent for soundproofing purposes, it’s black and very heavy, which is why I wouldn’t go this route unless there’s no other choice.
How to Install the Mass Loaded Vinyl on a Door
Cut the vinyl to the exact measurements of the door and then use one of these methods to attach it:
- Staple the vinyl to the door, which is a good way of doing it if you don’t care too much about ruining the door and if you plan on leaving the vinyl on forever.
- Use a very strong adhesive.
Using mass-loaded vinyl on your door means that the door will now be ruined, aesthetically at least, which is why you might want to consider replacing it instead.
Add Rigid Foam insulation to the door
Rigid foam insulation has the same effect as mass-loaded vinyl in the sense that, well, it adds mass to the door, with the advantage being that it’s a lot lighter.
To install it, simply cut a piece of the foam to the exact measurements of the door and nail it against it (again, the door will be ruined and you might prefer to replace it from the get-go instead of doing this).
Additional ways of reducing noise transmission through a door
The most effective way of soundproofing a door is by sealing all the gaps with a weatherstrip, a door sweep, and acoustic caulk, but there are other cheap and simple-to-use items that you can resort to if you need just that little extra sound isolation.
Use acoustic blankets
One pretty effective and super affordable way to help soundproof a door is by using a sound absorbing blanket.
While soundproofing blankets on their own won’t do that much to help insulate the door, if combined with the first steps I laid out on this list, then they will definitely aid in reducing unwanted noise transfer.
These soundproof blankets are quite easy to install since all you have to do is hang them from the door, but I’d also make sure to attach them fully to the sides and bottom of the door, forming as close of an airtight seal as possible.
One con is that most of them don’t look too good, so if you don’t mind compromising the aesthetics of your door, get one!
Install Soundproofing Curtains
Acoustic or soundproofing curtains are mostly used to soundproof a window. However, since they provide some sound absorption, they can also help with soundproofing a doorway.
Read this article if you want to know more about how soundproofing curtains work, but basically you will need to hang them right over the door, and they should be long enough to reach the floor.
The longer and thicker the curtains, the more sound they will absorb.
Just like I mentioned with the blankets, acoustic curtains don’t provide sufficient insulation on their own, but when combined with weatherstripping, caulking, etc., they do make a difference.
Place a Rug in the entryway
Rugs, especially the really thick ones, may give you the additional absorption you need.
Using a rug as the sole soundproofing element in the room won’t do much, they will never work as well as some of the other methods I described, but it’s one of those things that adds up to the overall sound absorption in the room.
Still, getting a rug for the sole purpose of absorbing sound doesn’t make that much sense, so only get it if you need that little extra and if you like how it looks.
Dealing with Doors that have Glass
If the door you’re trying to soundproof has glass in it, then it’s no wonder you’re having noise issues since glass isn’t particularly known for its sound blocking capabilities.
It may be that the glazing putty is old and needs some replacing, so a good option is to purchase some since it isn’t expensive at all and replace it.
The second option would be to replace the glass for either acrylic glass, which has a plastic cover that helps with sound absorption, or for a double-pane or even triple-pane glass.
Note: A professional should do this since the installation has to be perfect. If you don’t seal it perfectly then there’s no point in changing the glass in the first place.
What should you prioritize?
By far, the most important step in this whole guide is weatherstripping since it works the best, is affordable, and doesn’t require you to hang stuff on the door or do anything to it.
After applying the weatherstrip, you should check to see if there are cracks between the frame and the wall. If so, seal them using acoustic caulk.
Lastly, install a door sweep.
You should start with plugging every gap you can find with acoustic caulk and weatherstrip since this will be the most effective and affordable way to go about soundproofing a door.
Next invest in some soundproofing paint if you can afford to paint the door without completely ruining the way it looks.
Once you are done with these steps it’s up to you to choose the next one; maybe a rug could help, or some soundproofing curtains might be the way to go.
Last Updated on May 11, 2022 by Facundo