How to Soundproof a Door (13 Cheap Ways to Do It Yourself)
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 the door.
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.
You probably know that windows are the weak spots, but you may be surprised by just how readily doors will allow noise to come into your home. 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.
13 Cheap DIY Ways to Soundproof a Door
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 are small but noticeable gaps between your door frame and the wall. Unless you’ve lived with one of those airtight, vacuum-sealed doors, that’s probably a normal sight to you.
However, as I mentioned above, that gaps are also a great way for noise to sneak in. Thankfully, sealing them won’t set you back by much. You most certainly won’t need to buy a new door!
I’ve found acoustic caulk (learn more) 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 around the 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 or by installing door gaskets.
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.
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 (see on Amazon) 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 Mr. Rice, which turned out to be ideal.
5. Using Household Items as an Alternative
While you’re waiting for that draft stopper you ordered to arrive, there are several temporary solutions you can use. Basically, this tip boils down to improvisation. We’re pulling out all the stops, so use whatever you can. Towels, cushions, rags — just jam whatever you can fit under the door.
Ideally, the result could end up looking presentable, but it doesn’t really have to. When I was growing up, I used pretty much anything you can think of under my door because the gap was so large. But if you’re someone who likes to put in a little more effort, you can also make a draft stopper with the things you already have lying around.
I’ve actually explained how to do it in my article on how to soundproof doors using household items. You can just glue or sew an old pair of jeans into the shape of a draft stopper. And once you have the general shape, you can fill it up with pillow stuffing or rice.
The result would be as good as any door sweep and you’d probably only end up paying for the rice stuffing. And really, when were you going to wear those jeans again? If you don’t have any pants to spare, you could just modify a pillowcase in a similar way.
6. 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 magnetic gaskets to the door jamb.
This one only works if your door has metal skin so that the magnetic strip can adhere to metal and seal the door. It involves a little more work to set up, but door gaskets usually work better than weatherstripping tape. You can see how they look here.
7. 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 where you live), 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 insulate your room from heat as well.
This video from Craftsman should give you an idea of how it’s done.
8. 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.
Read more about using blankets to soundproof a room.
9. Use 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. These Singer Safety 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. They act as a sound barrier and actually stop the sound from passing through. But they don’t just reflect the sound waves back into space – they absorb them, and this way prevent them from bouncing around (no echo too).
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 simple and effective way of soundproofing a door.
10. Try Soundproof Foam Panels
Soundproof foam panels, the kind you would find in, for example, recording studios, are another way to treat your door. They’re made of acoustic foam, which is usually made from polyurethane-derived materials. Polyester, polyether, and melamine are the three most common ones.
Installing soundproof panels (full guide) 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 high bonding velcro strips, which I recommend. 3 to 4 strips per panel should be more than enough for a door.
All in all, soundproof foam panels are a very cheap and simple solution. They are not the greatest at stopping the sound, but they help in other ways. They do so by maximizing the amount of noise that’s absorbed once it reaches the foam. This way they reduce echo and make the room feel quieter overall.
11. Hang Soundproof Curtains over the Door
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 a curtain rod sitting above your door.
Curtains, of course, aren’t as thick and dense as blankets or fiberglass. They won’t drown out most of the noise, but they can help, along with, say, a door sweep. If you want to learn more about soundproof curtains and how they work, then read this full guide below:
12. Add a Layer of Soundproof Paint
Most hardware stores ought to keep soundproof interior paint in stock. If you’re able to find it in a color that more or less matches your door, try it out.
Soundproof paint is decent for blocking out medium-pitch noises (conversations, singing, etc.) That said, it’s not 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.
13. Buy a New Solid-Core Door
I mentioned above that most doors have hollow cores, which often have trapped air inside. And, as we all know, air is an excellent 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
More on Soundproofing My Apartment Doors
After replacing my front door with a solid 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, curtains, and blankets are also on the table. For a pricier, but a more effective job, consider soundproof fiberglass 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!