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Sound Blocking Doors

The largest opening in most walls is a doorway. One of the most effective ways to minimize room-to-room noise is to install solid doors, something you can easily do whether you’re remodeling or building. sound blocking doors guitar

Standard hollow-core interior doors are poor sound blockers. According to a spokesperson for the National Wood Window & Door Association, “Any one of the particleboard-core, composite-core, or solid-wood doors would work much better at providing a sound barrier than a hollow-core door. But most of the sound doesn’t come through the door, it comes around the door, so you would need to install weatherstripping to provide a seal.”

A solid-core door helps block the transference of sound by eliminating the drum-like construction of a hollow-core door.

Rubber bulb weatherstripping gaskets and a weatherstripped threshold should seal the gaps around the perimeter. Of course, solid-core doors are more expensive, but they are also available in a much broader selection of elegant styles.[GARD align=”right”]

If you were to replace and weatherstrip an interior door, what would be the result? According to the NWWDA, “If you did all of this, you could probably end up with an STC [Sound Transmission Class] rating of 34 to 36.”

When planning for new doors and windows, also consider where sound travels. If possible, stagger doors along a hallway and arrange their swing so that they don’t deflect sound into adjoining rooms. Avoid sliding, bi-fold, and pocket doors where noise is a concern; they not only make noise themselves but also don’t seal as well as the swinging type.

Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Soundproofing Contractor

The Best Noise-Reducing Doors for Blocking Sound

sound blocking doors guitar

[/media-credit] Walls can control noise with solid construction and insulation.

Expert advice about the best doors for blocking sound, including best sound reducing materials, sealing around a door, and other noise control measures.

Doors play an integral role in controlling the movement of sound through a house. They are typically the thinnest barrier in a wall and, when it comes to blocking sound or reducing noise, they don’t benefit from the thicker—sometimes insulated—construction of walls. Here we’ll looking at the best doors for blocking sound and techniques for reducing noise.

hollow core door allows noise

[/media-credit] Hollow-Core Door Diagram

Noise-Reducing Door Structure

A typical interior door has a hollow core—inner cardboard honeycomb cores surrounded by a softwood frame. The door’s surfaces are faced with very thin wood veneers. Between the thin surfaces and the air-filled core, there isn’t much there to block the movement of sound because they’re built like drums.

solid core sound blocking door

[/media-credit] A solid-core door helps block the transference of sound by eliminating the drum-like construction of a hollow-core door.

Solid-core exterior or interior doors block noise more effectively because of their density. Manufacturers sell many types, ranging from expensive hardwood to more affordable Medium Density Fiberboard (MDF). Though most interior doors are 1 3/8-inch thick, exterior doors are typically 1 3/4-inch thick. The thicker the door, the better it reduces noise transfer.

weatherstripping for sound blocking doors

[/media-credit] Door Weatherstripping Types

Sealing-Out the Noise

Of course, it doesn’t matter how the door is built if it’s open, right? Similarly, if gaps exist around the edges or between the bottom of the door and the floor, sound will sneak around the door from one room to the next.

So the door should fit the jamb tightly, and weatherstripping should seal around its edges. Rubber or vinyl bulb [easyazon_link keywords=”door weatherstripping” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]door weatherstripping[/easyazon_link] and a [easyazon_link keywords=”door-bottom weatherstripping sweep” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]door-bottom weatherstripping sweep[/easyazon_link] do a good job of sealing around the perimeter of a door to block noise. If you need a door sweep that doesn’t drag along the floor, investigate an [easyazon_link identifier=”B009UWK98M” locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]automatic door sweep[/easyazon_link] that seals the bottom of the door only when the door is closed.

You can buy recording-studio-grade door noise-reducing materials online as an [easyazon_link identifier=”B00TXGLLX2″ locale=”US” tag=”hometips”]acoustic door seal kit[/easyazon_link].

Rating a Sound-Blocking Door

Sound-blocking materials are rated by an STC (Sound Transmission Class) rating. If you were to replace a hollow-core interior door that has an STC of less than 20 with a solid-core door that is properly weatherstripped, what would be the result? According to the National Wood Window and Door Association, “If you did all of this, you could probably end up with an STC rating of 34 to 36.” For more about STC ratings, please see Soundproofing Walls & Ceilings.

Planning Noise-Reducing Doors

wd-40 spraying door hinge

[/media-credit] Silence a squeaky door by lubricating the hinge with WD-40 or penetrating oil.

When planning for new doors and windows, also consider where sound travels. If possible, stagger doors along a hallway and arrange their swing so that they don’t deflect sound into adjoining rooms. Choose hinged doors; avoid sliding, bi-fold, and pocket doors that not only make noise themselves but also don’t seal as well as the swinging type. To keep a hinged door from squeaking, all you need to do is spray the hinges with a little WD-40 or penetrating oil.

NEXT SEE: 7 Soundproofing Secrets for a Quieter Home

Featured Resource: Find a Pre-Screened Local Soundproofing Contractor


 

Sound Absorbing Surfaces & Materials

Hard surfaces reflect sound waves; soft surfaces absorb them.

Acoustic ceiling panels dampen sound significantly. Photo: Armstrong World Industries

Materials that help control sound within a room are familiar to most homeowners. If you want to minimize sound bouncing around a room, opt for “soft” materials such as acoustic ceilings and padded carpeting rather than hardwood, tile, or laminates.

Companies such as Armstrong World Industries have a wide range of acoustic ceiling materials. Acoustic tiles and drop-ceiling systems offer excellent acoustical properties; people who think the conventional styles are a bit too institutional will like some of the newer styles available.[GARD align=”left”]

For example, Armstrong offers 2-by-2-foot panels that have a step-edged detail or look like embossed or molded plaster. “These are very good for blocking noise generated in the basement and keeping it from invading upstairs,” says a spokesperson for Armstrong’s residential ceilings. “They will give your basement ceiling an STC [Sound Transmission Class] rating of about 35 and even better performance if you install batt insulation between floor joists,” he adds.

With ceilings, as with the entire house, the most effective way to minimize noise is to combine a number of different sound-blocking and sound-reduction methods.

Find a Pre-Screened Local Soundproofing Contractor

Sound Absorbing Surfaces & Materials

Hard surfaces reflect sound waves; soft surfaces absorb them.

Acoustic ceiling panels dampen sound significantly. Photo: Armstrong World Industries

Materials that help control sound within a room are familiar to most homeowners. If you want to minimize sound bouncing around a room, opt for “soft” materials such as acoustic ceilings and padded carpeting rather than hardwood, tile, or laminates.

Companies such as Armstrong World Industries have a wide range of acoustic ceiling materials. Acoustic tiles and drop-ceiling systems offer excellent acoustical properties; people who think the conventional styles are a bit too institutional will like some of the newer styles available.[GARD align=”left”]

For example, Armstrong offers 2-by-2-foot panels that have a step-edged detail or look like embossed or molded plaster. “These are very good for blocking noise generated in the basement and keeping it from invading upstairs,” says a spokesperson for Armstrong’s residential ceilings. “They will give your basement ceiling an STC [Sound Transmission Class] rating of about 35 and even better performance if you install batt insulation between floor joists,” he adds.

With ceilings, as with the entire house, the most effective way to minimize noise is to combine a number of different sound-blocking and sound-reduction methods.

Find a Pre-Screened Local Soundproofing Contractor

Soundproofing Walls & Ceilings

Take advantage of soundproofing techniques when doing remodeling or new construction. Includes batts, construction techniques, and more.

Soundproofing Insulation

During building or remodeling, an effective and affordable way to improve the soundproofing performance of walls and ceilings is to put batt or blanket insulation between studs or joists.

Major insulation manufacturers, including CertainTeed, Johns Manville, Knauf Fiber Glass, and Owens-Corning, market 3 1/2-inch-thick fiberglass or rock wool batts specifically for this purpose. They are both excellent at absorbing the sound that would otherwise travel through the air.

Designed to fit between studs, acoustic batts are 14 1/2 inches or 22 1/2 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches thick. Most are the same as R-11 or R-13 insulation batts.

Kraft-faced batts are friendliest to handle and easiest to fasten in place (a vapor barrier is not needed for interior walls). They should be installed tightly between framing members, and snugly around pipes, electrical boxes, wires, and heating ducts with as few hollows or gaps as possible.

Leaving only a small portion of a wall or ceiling uninsulated can dramatically reduce its sound-reducing performance. Batts can be friction-fit in wall cavities; if temporary support is needed, two or three bands of drywall tape may be stapled horizontally across studs. In ceilings, batts should be installed just above the backside of the ceiling material.

A conventional wood-stud wall packed with insulation yields an STC (Sound Transmission Class) of about 38, better than the 15 to 35 STC of an uninsulated wall but still considered low. Boosting performance to recommended levels calls for additional measures. Using metal studs helps; the same wall, built with 2 1/2-inch metal studs, yields an STC rating of 45.

Wall Construction

Another way to achieve better performance is to apply a second layer of 1/2-inch gypsum wallboard to one side of the wall. This gives the surface more mass, making it less prone to vibrate and transfer sound waves. Adding this layer to one side of an insulated wall increases the STC rating to 40; adding it to both sides pushes the STC to 45.

An even more effective way to build an interior wall is to mount 1/2-inch gypsum wallboard on special resilient channels that run horizontally across the wall. These channels absorb sound so it isn’t conducted through the wall studs, resulting in an STC rating of about 46. Typically, the drywall is screwed to a flange on the channels, not to the studs. Combining insulation, channel-mounted wallboard, and a dual layer of 1/2-inch gypsum on one side achieves an excellent STC rating of 52.

In roughly the same category is a wall with staggered wall studs. Though this requires more labor and framing material, a wall of 2-by-4 studs, staggered along 2-by-6 bottom and top plates with two thicknesses of fiberglass insulation, produces an STC of about 50. Because the wall surfaces are each fastened to an independent set of studs, noise can’t travel through the studs from one surface to the other.

Where codes and safety allow, consider eliminating fireblocking in interior walls; these short blocks, mounted horizontally between wall studs, transmit noise readily from one wall surface to the other. If you’re thinking about doing this, be sure to check with your local building department.

Ceiling and Floor Construction

A floor-ceiling construction that produces an STC of 53 is achieved by mounting 1/2-inch gypsum wallboard to resilient channels fastened to 2-by-10 ceiling joists with 3 1/2-inch-thick batts between the joists. In this scenario, the floor above has a plywood subfloor, particleboard underlayment, carpet pad, and carpet.

Find a Pre-Screened Local Soundproofing Contractor

Soundproofing Walls & Ceilings

Take advantage of soundproofing techniques when doing remodeling or new construction. Includes batts, construction techniques, and more.

Soundproofing Insulation

During building or remodeling, an effective and affordable way to improve the soundproofing performance of walls and ceilings is to put batt or blanket insulation between studs or joists.

Major insulation manufacturers, including CertainTeed, Johns Manville, Knauf Fiber Glass, and Owens-Corning, market 3 1/2-inch-thick fiberglass or rock wool batts specifically for this purpose. They are both excellent at absorbing the sound that would otherwise travel through the air.

Designed to fit between studs, acoustic batts are 14 1/2 inches or 22 1/2 inches wide and 3 1/2 inches thick. Most are the same as R-11 or R-13 insulation batts.

Kraft-faced batts are friendliest to handle and easiest to fasten in place (a vapor barrier is not needed for interior walls). They should be installed tightly between framing members, and snugly around pipes, electrical boxes, wires, and heating ducts with as few hollows or gaps as possible.

Leaving only a small portion of a wall or ceiling uninsulated can dramatically reduce its sound-reducing performance. Batts can be friction-fit in wall cavities; if temporary support is needed, two or three bands of drywall tape may be stapled horizontally across studs. In ceilings, batts should be installed just above the backside of the ceiling material.

A conventional wood-stud wall packed with insulation yields an STC (Sound Transmission Class) of about 38, better than the 15 to 35 STC of an uninsulated wall but still considered low. Boosting performance to recommended levels calls for additional measures. Using metal studs helps; the same wall, built with 2 1/2-inch metal studs, yields an STC rating of 45.

Wall Construction

Another way to achieve better performance is to apply a second layer of 1/2-inch gypsum wallboard to one side of the wall. This gives the surface more mass, making it less prone to vibrate and transfer sound waves. Adding this layer to one side of an insulated wall increases the STC rating to 40; adding it to both sides pushes the STC to 45.

An even more effective way to build an interior wall is to mount 1/2-inch gypsum wallboard on special resilient channels that run horizontally across the wall. These channels absorb sound so it isn’t conducted through the wall studs, resulting in an STC rating of about 46. Typically, the drywall is screwed to a flange on the channels, not to the studs. Combining insulation, channel-mounted wallboard, and a dual layer of 1/2-inch gypsum on one side achieves an excellent STC rating of 52.

In roughly the same category is a wall with staggered wall studs. Though this requires more labor and framing material, a wall of 2-by-4 studs, staggered along 2-by-6 bottom and top plates with two thicknesses of fiberglass insulation, produces an STC of about 50. Because the wall surfaces are each fastened to an independent set of studs, noise can’t travel through the studs from one surface to the other.

Where codes and safety allow, consider eliminating fireblocking in interior walls; these short blocks, mounted horizontally between wall studs, transmit noise readily from one wall surface to the other. If you’re thinking about doing this, be sure to check with your local building department.

Ceiling and Floor Construction

A floor-ceiling construction that produces an STC of 53 is achieved by mounting 1/2-inch gypsum wallboard to resilient channels fastened to 2-by-10 ceiling joists with 3 1/2-inch-thick batts between the joists. In this scenario, the floor above has a plywood subfloor, particleboard underlayment, carpet pad, and carpet.

Find a Pre-Screened Local Soundproofing Contractor

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