Soundproofing a pocket door
January 5, 2019 12:58 PM   Subscribe

I'm about to move into a rented apartment. My new bedroom is connected to another bedroom by a large pocket door, which we will be keeping closed 100% of the time. The door is thin and doesn't block much sound. What effective soundproofing options exist that will be reversible when we move out?

My goal is a similar level of soundproofing to a standard interior wall. I don't need perfect silence, but I want to be able to have a normal-volume conversation in my bedroom without my housemate hearing every word.

We haven't defined our budget for this yet, so I'm interested in hearing about options at all price points as long as their efficacy justifies their cost. I've done a bit of reading and it sounds like the cheapest and least-invasive options (foam, curtains) are also not very effective.

We have access to tools and are competent DIYers, but our move date is approaching rapidly so we don't have as much free time for elaborate construction projects as I would like.
posted by introcosm to Home & Garden (8 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Do you have a bookcase (or can you put one there)? I was very impressed recently about the efficiency of cheap soundproofing in a sublet I stayed in. The soundproofing of a crappy hollow-core cheap door between two bedrooms consisted of a bookcase on one side, with a bunch of foam between the bookcase and the cheap door. I was on an opposite schedule from the occupant of the other room and was very surprised at how effective the soundproofing was. However, the occupant of the other room probably didn't have visitors while I was there, so I don't remember how well it worked for voices- it worked great for keeping me from hearing the sound of just one person moving about.
posted by twoplussix at 1:02 PM on January 5, 2019 [6 favorites]

At a bare minimum: building a wall slightly smaller than the opening and wedging it in with foam along the edges. Pull it out and throw it away when you move.

Of course this is if it's not the only door into the room.
posted by rhizome at 1:28 PM on January 5, 2019 [2 favorites]

Best answer: I recently soundproofed a door and found this to be a helpful guide. Instead of purchasing the gasket/door bottom (which both involve drilling a fair number of holes) you can use closed cell foam tape to stuff air gaps instead. Caution- that stuff is an absolute beast to cleanly trim lengthwise so measure properly and buy what you need; Amazon has a huge selection and a roll is $15 or so. If there's molding you can also carefully remove that and use the foam tape there too (or spray foam I guess, but I don't love that stuff-- messy and impossible to remove completely).

Fill in all air gaps before you think about whether you need to add density to the door or wall. I did the green glue + layer of drywall option recommended in my link and it worked well-- see if there's a way you can apply that strategy to your situation. There's also drywall product called "Quietrock" sold at Lowes that is basically two pieces of drywall sandwiching the green glue, which would avoid getting glue all over a surface in your place. (I think the glue actually can be peeled off cleanly, but double check the manufacturer).
posted by acidic at 2:48 PM on January 5, 2019

Tall dressers are good for this, they also make mirrors that are as large as doors, the last one I bought was $175 and it was bigger than our closet doors. That is easy to brace and put foam behind, then you have something useful. A console table can hold a big mirror like that in place, and you can put lamps on it to bounce light off the mirror. A desk can fit into a place like that with a backing. I ran across thin, veneered plywood in 4x8 sheets at Home Depot, and was $14.99 a piece. You can do all sorts of things with that, including install it and paint it and what ever is behind it vanishes.
posted by Oyéah at 5:22 PM on January 5, 2019

Response by poster: A clarification: this is a large sliding wooden door that is 90" wide and 110" tall, so sadly it can't be fully covered by normal furniture.

Thanks for the answers so far!
posted by introcosm at 6:35 PM on January 5, 2019

So like a parlor in a Victorian? If so I don't think there's going to be anything at retail for it, and as an SF resident I've seen many houses with the parlor conversion to bedroom (dining room, really), and those doors just were not made to block anything.
posted by rhizome at 7:13 PM on January 5, 2019

Best answer: Ideally, you'd rig up a plywood frame about 6" deep. Drywall one side, lay down rockwool batting (they come in a variety of grades), and drywall the rockwool batting in from the other side.

A few steps down, get a bunch of mass loaded vinyl sheeting and tack those up, then tack on curtains/carpet over that.

The trick here is mass. If you go with just curtains, go for as thick and as heavy as you can afford. Think of those super thick velvet curtains at old-timey theaters/ churches. Ask around to see if any old churches/theaters/music conservatories/hotels are looking at renos - I just missed out on a big load of blackout curtains from a defunct hotel... but that's probably for the best.

Depending on how long you're staying, I'd initially spend towards the top range of your budget instead of the lower end - and find out that it doesn't work and you end up overspending (like I did recently) and still not get adequate sound suppression.
posted by porpoise at 7:43 PM on January 5, 2019

The easiest thing would be to apply suspended ceiling acoustical tiles to the door, held on by self-adhesive Velcro. The tiles are cheap, lightweight, and easy to cut. If you make the tiles fit tightly to the door frame, they will seal the gaps. The Velcro will pull off pretty easily when you move out.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 8:02 AM on January 6, 2019

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