Living with the sound of doors slamming?
February 28, 2020 9:06 AM   Subscribe

I moved into a new apartment a month ago in a cement construction building with thick walls. It is, for the most part, blessedly quiet. However, what I *can* hear is are the sounds of the front door to the building and the door to the trash room slamming shut whenever someone is less than careful in closing them. The sounds happen often. What are my best bets for muffling these noises and/or learning to live with them?

I sleep with foam earplugs and a white noise machine going, but am still regularly startled out of sleep at around midnight or 6 a.m. by people leaving or entering the building.

The only poorly insulated part of my apartment at this point is the door; it is thin compared to the walls, and old. Based on the heft of it, I think it's just wood. I've put weather stripping around the frame, but there is a gap where light comes through from the hallway. I'm not sure to what extent the sound is being transmitted through the walls, and to what extent the sound is coming through that crack.

I am at the other end of a very long hallway from the offending doors.

I cannot hear my neighbors talking in apartments next to mine, or hear neighbors walking around above my head. I *can* hear people talking if they are in the hallway. That noise doesn't bother me nearly as much as it is drowned out by white noise + ear plugs, but I feel like that detail might point to the door being the weak point in the apartment.

My walls are currently mostly bare, as I moved in about a month ago with minimal "stuff." The apartment is a studio, so there is only the one door between me and the hallway.

Building management has signs posted asking people to be careful when closing the doors, so this is clearly a known issue.

I have considered taking the following steps to reduce the noise:
- Getting a draft stopper to block the gap beneath the door
- Hanging something on the back of the door to stop sound travelling through it
- Hanging more things (especially cloth things) on the walls in the apartment in general
- Moving the head of my bed away from the wall as much as possible in a studio apartment (really, I can only maybe move it a foot away, though maybe I could put bookshelves in that space that would help deaden the sound if it's transmitted through the walls)
- Putting little rubber or felt dots in the frames of the offending doors to stop them from slamming in the first place (my landlord may not like this, especially if it makes the main door less likely to latch, so it wouldn't be my first choice).

Which of these steps would be most effective in reducing the sound to the point where I might be able to sleep through it? Are there ways to reduce noise that I haven't thought of?

On the mental/living with it side of things: What mental tricks do you recommend in learning to live with noise like this? Can you tell me about a time that you got used to intermittent slamming noises like this?
posted by bridgebury to Home & Garden (14 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If the option of adding a second door inside the main door, doesn't need much space in between the doors, is not an option, then I would get some heavy acoustic fabric and hang over the door, overlapping the edges of the door as much as possible. This should help to deaden the sounds quite well that are generated from the hallway.

However, I feel that the direct sound from the doors slamming is not the main issue, but rather the vibration through the concrete walls that connect those doors with your studio. We have this issue in our building as well, and there's just not much that can be done. Management could put door closers on the doors to stop them from slamming, but there's an expense associated with that that might not be high on the management's priority list.
posted by wile e at 9:17 AM on February 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

I would try the little rubber dots on the doors first. Even invite a friend over to help close the door while you're in your apartment and also to see how easily it does latch or not. It's a small financial investment compared to everything else and easily removed if it causes a problem
posted by raccoon409 at 9:23 AM on February 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

Just buy a door closer for each and fit 'em.
posted by DrtyBlvd at 9:27 AM on February 28, 2020

Fiddling with the front door in any way is unlikely to endear you to your landlord, I fear.
posted by praemunire at 9:27 AM on February 28, 2020 [8 favorites]

I would use low-density foam weather stripping on the noisy building front door, trash room door, and your own door frames. It compresses well, so doesn't impede door closing, also not super noise-deadening, but worth a try. Easily removed if there's any sort of fuss. Rugs help. I'd find a nice-looking not-too-heavy throw rug for the back of your apt. door. You can mount it with wreath hangers

Talk to your neighbors; does anybody share your concern? Expressing shared concern to the landlord is likely to get a response.
posted by theora55 at 9:30 AM on February 28, 2020

Put a multi-hook coat rack on the back of your entry door and hang all your coats on it.

And make sure the door closers on the entry and trash room doors are properly adjusted -- there's a separate valve for "latch" that should be set very differently than the main valve. These are adjusted with screwdrivers. (If there's no door closer WTF not, this should be de rigour.)
posted by seanmpuckett at 9:33 AM on February 28, 2020 [7 favorites]

the front door to the building and the door to the trash room slamming shut

The building code and/or fire code where you live might require self-closing hardware on one or both of the doors in question. Might be worth checking that to see if there's a code violation there (or if they exist, they are in need of adjustment to make for a softer close as suggested above).
posted by mandolin conspiracy at 9:56 AM on February 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Soft furnishings/wall hangings will help with noise. Is the studio carpeted? What is your bed set-up? I do think you need to move the bed away from the wall, and try anti-vibration pads under each leg. Other ideas.
posted by Iris Gambol at 9:57 AM on February 28, 2020

Studio has hard wood floors, but I have put down two large area rugs in the living area.

My bed setup is a queen memory foam mattress on top of a metal foundation. It's in a nook that is just large enough for the bed, so I can't move the side away from the outer wall of the building, but I could definitely move the head away from the wall about a foot if that would help.
posted by bridgebury at 10:16 AM on February 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

Heavy draperies hanging over the door to the floor from a rod near the ceiling. I've seen that in films set in France and wondered why they were there. Probably for insulation, but would probably work for noise, as well.
posted by poppunkcat at 10:24 AM on February 28, 2020

Yes, and get a lot of padding beneath that foundation. (I would even look into the DIY 'upholstered' bed frame tutorials, for ideas to wrap padding around the metal itself -- some use foam and re-purposed thick curtains or blankets.) I think you're being shaken awake when those doors slam.
posted by Iris Gambol at 10:26 AM on February 28, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've seen that in films set in France and wondered why they were there

Just FYI, they're called portieres.
posted by praemunire at 12:42 PM on February 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

In the US, typical steel frames (called "hollow metal" in the trade) have small rubber bumpers called silencers installed in small holes drilled in the frame. Typically there are 3 on the jamb the door closes against. Either that, or a rubber gasket if smelly/noisy things are being excluded.
Check to see if the silencers are missing, cheap easy fix. Commercial hardware supplier would probably just hand you a few.
I'd also think that a trash room door and an entry door would be equipped with door closers. Although a few types are designed to just "drop" the door from 3" or so to ensure latching, most have a cushion of one sort or another built in to keep the door from closing hard.

If aluminum front doors, there is supposed to be some weatherstripping to, you know, keep out the weather. It also keeps metal from hitting metal.

Most folks have no idea about door hardware maintenance. It may be a maintenance issue they are unaware of.
posted by rudd135 at 6:46 PM on February 28, 2020 [1 favorite]

The slamming doors almost certainly have a spring door closer thats making them slam. These are normally adjustable, in every apartment I have lived I have had to go up a ladder, remove the metal cover and adjust the spring with a large screwdriver. They are a pain to get right - expect to be going up and down the ladder ~ 10 times adjusting and testing the door, but it is worth it when you finally get the door to close with a nice quiet click.
One thing to be aware of is that any wind can affect the door closing speed, so don't overdo it or you may find the door doesn't close at all when the wind is blowing in the wrong direction.
Also I wouldnt worry about getting 'permission' from someone to make this adjustment, you have a right to have the doors working properly and it's not like some irreversible change to the buildings fabric.
posted by Lanark at 2:12 AM on February 29, 2020

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