The Problem? A Noisy Apartment

I think noise in an apartment is one of the most frustrating problems to deal with. You want the space to be your own, to be able to do what you will while still maintaining respect for your fellow neighbors. We recently had a question about noise in the apartment, specifically dealing with the doors. I will post the question first, followed by my response.

I live in a rental apartment building in Lower Manhattan. The walls, ceilings and floors are very soundproof. The doors are not, and I want to soundproof my entry and bedroom doors to reduce or eliminate hall traffic sounds and to provide more privacy in my apartment. Here are the descriptions of the two doors I want to work with:

  1. The entry door is 36″ x 80″ x 1 3/4″ with a 2″ frame surrounding it all the sides and top. I believe it’s a fireproof hollow metal door, but it has been painted many times, so it’s hard to tell. It enters into a small foyer that turns into my living room through a 42 1/2″ x 95″ opening.
  2. The bedroom door is 32″ x 80″ x 1 1/2″ and seems to be a hollow wood door. The inner frame is 1/2″.

Recommendations received so far include:

  • Covering doors with a medium density fiberboard, foam or multi-layered composite.
  • Taping edges where the door shuts with closed-cell foam tape.
  • Hanging a soundproof doormat on the door.
  • Using a soundproof blanket attached over the door or the living room foyer with grommets or Velcro.

I would appreciate your recommendations at your earliest convenience, as I’m eager to move forward with the project this week.

The proper way to deal with improving the soundproofing of a door would be to install a door soundproofing kit.  The kit will stop all the sound from the perimeter of the door as long as it is installed and adjusted properly. The idea here is that you are trying to close off the areas that would “leak” the sound. You can check out an earlier post on the difference between sound blocking and absorbing for more details.

After you have taken care of the perimeter, the next area to focus on is the rough opening. To help with the noise through the rough opening you will want to use an acoustical sealant. Take the decorative trim off and that is where you will put the sealant.

The last weakness is the door itself. To get the best performance, you would want to start out with a solid core door. The hollow core doors can be replaced with a solid core door to give you better performance. You can also choose solid wood acoustical door to get the best performance.

In response to some of your previous recommendations, I would like to respond to them.

Covering doors with a medium density fiberboard, foam or multi-layered composite.

This is hard to achieve on hollow core doors unless you use a lightweight acoustical panel. Otherwise there will be balance and functionality problems with a lightweight hollow core door. It is also not going to look as finished, depending on the product you would choose.

Taping edges where the door shuts with closed-cell foam tape.

This can be effective for thermal needs, but is very ineffective for noise control. The reason being that the seals need to apply positive pressure and be adjustable to fit the needs of your door.

Hanging a soundproof doormat on the door using a soundproof blanket attached over the door or the living room foyer with grommets or Velcro.

The door mat or blanket option will not work unless it is sealed 100% around the perimeter by mechanically attaching it. Keep in mind, if you don’t get it sealed all the way, a 1% gap will allow 30% of the sound to escape and a 5% gap will allow 90% of the sound to escape. This would also be highly inconvenient as you would have to remove the entire curtain in order to use your door.

What do you think of this problem? Do you have any other solutions to this problem?


2 Comments

  1. michael

    Hi I have a new aparment in a building where theres a lot of noise in the hallway as well as sometimes in my house where I can here in my room. I also would like to play instruments and soundproof my room so noone else can here. It has 2 windows and 1 small door. Any recommendations and prices on the materials I need.

  2. Layla Wenz

    I enjoy, lead to I found exactly what I was looking for.

    You’ve ended my four day lengthy hunt! God Bless you
    man. Have a great day. Bye

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