Reducing noise between doors
June 27, 2012 11:17 AM   Subscribe

How to temporarily reduce sound through a shared door?

In a few weeks I will be moving into a new place. It's a house-mate rental situation, and due to an odd design in the house, there is a door between my bedroom and that of my house-mate's. What I would like to do is figure out an attractive way to help to reduce the possible noise factor between the two rooms.

I need a solution that is temporary--no building extra walls.

I need a solution that is attractive--I really really don't like those hippy wall tapestry things. My style tends to skew pretty shabby chic/minimal/whites and soft blues and greens.

Ideally I would like for this to be a cheap solution (under $150ish) as I have very little money to spare.

Also, I am not handy but the people I'm living with are, so they might be able to help. It should be noted that we don't have any kind of building equipment or space to build anything (Brooklyn apartment).

This isn't a matter of us being able to hear each other breathing at night or anything, it's just more of a preventative thing.

Any ideas?

posted by greta simone to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
A bookcase full of books would do the job. You would probably have some extra space behind it, so you could stuff some foam padding in back for extra dampening.
posted by Cat Pie Hurts at 11:21 AM on June 27, 2012 [7 favorites]

I'd upholster the door.

Get some cotton batting, ribbon and a pretty fabric. You should be able to do this with thumbtacks.

Layer 1, tack the cotton batting onto the door.

Layer 2, Wrap the door, up to the top with fabric. Trim so it doesn't show on the other side of the door, and tack into place. Flat head tacks shouldn't interfere with the door closing. do this around the door, tucking attractively at the hinges.

Layer 3, Ribbon. Make a diagonal criss-cross pattern with ribbon, sticing tacks in at each intersection.

posted by Ruthless Bunny at 11:23 AM on June 27, 2012

Don't overlook the gap under the door; a good weather seal (ten bucks, maybe) is the best thing I've done to seal living-room noise out of my home office.

If it's an empty-core door, I'd drill a hole in the top and fill it with beanbag pellets.
posted by Kakkerlak at 11:25 AM on June 27, 2012

Thanks for the ideas so far. I should probably mention that neither of us plan on using this door to go into each other's rooms.
posted by greta simone at 11:26 AM on June 27, 2012

I'd get a nice simple wood screen, and layer a couple of blankets over it, and put a pillow or rolled towel against the door gap.
posted by tilde at 11:35 AM on June 27, 2012

Get a cheap quilt and tack it up so that it covers both the door and the door frame. Or go to Home Depot (or similar) and get rigid foam insulation, tape it to the wall, cover it with paper and make it your ever-changing wall of art by tacking or taping pictures to it.
posted by mareli at 11:48 AM on June 27, 2012

A towel on the bottom of the door works wonders. Also a roll of stickem'type door dampeners/weather strip along the door work good too. If its an apartment, you could also get a better door, they generally use the cheapest thinnest door available.

When using weather strip, first attach a small section and try and shut the door. The strip my impede the door closing all the way if it a tight fit and that would negate the benefit of the strip itself.
posted by couchdive at 11:49 AM on June 27, 2012

Get a sheet of plywood just a little larger (height & width) than the door + frame.
Paint the plywood in abstract designs in your preferred colors. If desired, make a 'frame' for it out of molding --- several different styles are available (and can probably be cut to size) at your local Home Depot/Lowes.
Nail the "painting" over the doorway after stuffing the gap between the plywood with some sort of sound-deadener, like a batting or two of insulation, the thick foam that's available at craft stores for seat cushions, or hell, even loads of foam peanuts.
Admire your new artwork.
posted by easily confused at 12:32 PM on June 27, 2012

make that *stuffing the gap between the plywood and the door*
posted by easily confused at 12:33 PM on June 27, 2012

I did this (below) in an apartment. It is cheap and looks very elegant.

Buy some king sized flat sheets in an attractive color from a clearance bin somewhere. You want enough to cover the entire wall, with some gathering. So you probably need two or three sheets for one wall. (I had one wall that needed two sheets and another that required three.)

You can either buy clip on curtain hooks, which look a little more shabby chic. Or you can take the sheets to a seamstress and get them slightly altered so the pole can go through the fold area. I have done both. Actually, if you don't wash too often, you can just take out a little bit of seam on the end of the fold so the pole will go through. I have done that too but it does not hold up to frquent washings, so I eventually took it to a tailor.

Spend a dollar or so on plastic closet rod supports. Put them up near the ceiling, close to the wall in question but on the end walls. If the wall is over ten or twelve feet, you might to buy an additional support hook for the middle.

Measure the wall. Measure it real carefully. Go to a place like Home Depot and purchase one inch copper piping (this should come in lengths up to 20 fert) cut slightly longer than your wall. Buy pipe nippers so you can trim it. Take away a little at a time until you have a perfect fit between the closet rod supports.

Depending on your preference, you can hang the sheets to a tailored-looking length of just brushing the floor or let it elegantly and casually puddle, depending ceiling heights and stuff, I guess.

I did several walls in my apartment plus draped the end of the hallway with a matching twin sheet. So seven king and one twin sheet, four sets of closet rod supports, one hook to provide rod support in the middle of the longest wall, nippers and a couple of copper pipes cut to fit. Total was probably around $150 at the time, though that was a few years ago. It covered an ugly closet door, provided soundproofing, broke up a too open floor plan into more distinct areas, etc. I loved it. The dining room had two walls done this way. It was like being in an elegant tent of the sort you might see in "Lawrence of Arabia".
posted by Michele in California at 12:55 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

Drummers use old carpet to sound-proof practice rooms. If you call a carpet installation place they can probably hook you up with some for free. Cut a few pieces to cover the door, then conceal that with something more attractive.
posted by qxntpqbbbqxl at 2:20 PM on June 27, 2012

The door is recessed into a doorway right?
Why not just use insulation. I mean, insualtion is what a contractor would use to dampen sound.

The insulation paper extends beyond the edge of the insualtion itself, so you can use the paper to tack the insulation into the door frame.

Once it is insulated, then pin a piece of plywood behind a piece of furniture in place to cover the door. You can paint the plywood white first.
posted by Flood at 2:30 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

fyi: i am an acoustical consultant, and treating something like this effectively would generally require a site visit and sound level measurements. this is a quick, general tip that is likely to apply in your case.

be sure to understand that there is a difference between absorbing sound that is already in your room and preventing sound from transmitting through your walls and door from outside. you want to create a good seal around your door (rubber/nonporous seals, think weatherproofing) and if that is not sufficient, add a massive (heavy) barrier like a bookshelf. chances are there are other paths for sound to travel in from outside your room, but the gaps around the door are an obvious weak point.

curtains, insulation, and other absorptive treatments may help deaden the sound once it's in your room, but treating the transmission is an easier first step at this point, in my opinion.
posted by maximum sensing at 2:40 PM on June 27, 2012 [2 favorites]

Is it just a regular door? Get a new door, the heaviest possible, i.e. solid core. You can probably find one on Craigslist.
posted by rhizome at 4:24 PM on June 27, 2012 [1 favorite]

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