October 17, 2007 8:47 AM   Subscribe

Our bedroom has a door-another entrance to the apartment. We don't used said door but it leads into the staircase and we hear people going in and out at both fairly late and fairly early times. More importantly, the dog hears them too. I'd like to soundproof the door with materials that can be fairly easily removed when we move out (renters), and that are not that ugly either.

We have a dresser that lies in front of the door so whatever is around the bottom half is not visible.

Also, our bedroom has three large windows looking over a busy street with occasional partying going on at the bar across the street. I'm thinking of some heavy curtains that would block noise, any brand suggestions?

Also, we do not intend to relocate the bedroom to another room because of the way the apartment is set up (railroad style with the bedroom being at the end).

Also, we just moved into this place and we intend to live here for at least three years.

posted by spacefire to Home & Garden (13 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Some sort of Persian Rug? Its decorative and very thick, maybe even hang some foam rubber behind it or something.
posted by ian1977 at 8:56 AM on October 17, 2007

You could also ask the landlord if they would consider buying a better insulated door.
posted by ian1977 at 8:57 AM on October 17, 2007

If the landlord doesn't want to help you out - you could post a sign in the stairwell requesting people be courteous during late and early hours. Also - you might velcro up some cork underlayment. It's stuff that they put under floors - you can often find it in giant rolls at building supply stores. It's a great insulator and will help with soundproofing.
posted by Craig at 9:07 AM on October 17, 2007

Presumably this is a fire door, to give your apartment two means of egress. You probably don't want to block it with a dresser, since that violates the fire code.
posted by smackfu at 9:28 AM on October 17, 2007

I'd try a sheet of mdf 3 or 4 inches larger than the door*, wrap it in foam or wadding and then cover it with a fabric (if it's visible behind the dresser) then stand it against the door.

* or a larger old door from a salvage yard.
posted by ceri richard at 9:36 AM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: smakfu: we have a fire escape.
posted by spacefire at 9:46 AM on October 17, 2007

I would try getting your landlord over to hear the noise (or maybe tape it?). Sounds to me like this is a MAJOR annoyance and it might get you some perks…lower rent or allowance for soundproofing. I’d go landlord route first.

Also I would hold off on posting signs just yet as you don’t want to be the dick by the stairs with the sign. It also might have the opposite effect
posted by doorsfan at 10:02 AM on October 17, 2007

Wild guess that you're living in a walk-up apartment in Hoboken. :) I lived in an apartment with the exact same layout for seven years.

All you can really do to dampen the sound around the doorway is to hang a rug over it. I also found that putting some thick foam around the perimeter of the door helped tremendously (there also happened to be a lot of light leaking in from the hallway that used to drive me crazy).

With regard to the windows, well, you might try hanging heavily insulated drapes, but it's not going to do much for sound. They will help in the winter with the cold - which will likely be an issue if it's as old of a building as I suspect. has lining that you can tie onto the back of regular curtains, or you can just get heavy felted flannel and either sew or tack it to the back of whatever style window treatments you choose to go with. A kind of interesting alternative is to find some funky Indian/Asian looking quilts to hang in front of the windows. They'll provide insulation from sound/light/cold and look funky all at once. Check out places like Home Goods, Pier One, believe it or not - Target, Global Market, etc.

Unfortunately, a big part of city dwelling is dealing with lots of noise. You do get used to it. In fact, moving to the 'burbs was disturbing because it was *too* quiet in a sense.
posted by dancinglamb at 10:07 AM on October 17, 2007

Re the curtains - I went to a fabric store and asked about soundproofing curtains, and they sold me some interlining.

It's a kind of fleecy synthetic fabric which is placed between the curtain fabric and the regular cotton lining. I got curtains made up with the stuff and used them on a set of French doors that divided my bedroom from a living room and they cut down on noise greatly - it was pretty close to actually having a wall there. I had noisy night owl roomates but they didn't interfere with my sleep. Interlining is not that expensive - here's some on ebay.

Incidentally, Google throws up a lot of hits for "soundproofing curtains", but a lot of them look awkward or expensive (eg remove for cleaning).
posted by tiny crocodile at 10:21 AM on October 17, 2007 [1 favorite]

Best answer: If you really never, ever open the door, and it isn't a fire exit, that gives you some options.

I would start by weatherstripping the hell out of the door. Get some felt or foam "thin" type, open the door, and glue/tape it to the top and sides of the door. The bottom probably has a bigger gap (common to allow doors to open over carpets, etc.). You will want "thick" type foam here, or possibly "caulk backer" foam. OK, close and latch the door.

The foam all by itself will provide an air-cell sound-deadening property and you may be halfway there. The additional step to take now is to get an insulating foam spray like Daptex (which cleans up easily with water), NOT Great Stuff (which has stickiness that extends into the fourth dimension and is for more permanent installation). Spray this along the edge of the door as neatly as possible, then trim down with a razor blade after it dries. This is about the best you can do in terms of preventing sound from coming around the door.

If it were new construction I'd recommend opening up the door trim and using something like Great Stuff in the inevitable gap, but older construction is neither that sloppy/gappy nor as easily opened/reclosed.

OK. That takes care of the gap. If the door is still transmitting a lot of sound (which can be equally true of a modern hollow-core door or a 100-year-old solid panel door, but not so much of a heavy one-piece hardwood door), you'll want to cover it with some type of styro board cut to size. This can then be optionally covered for protection or esthetics (you could just paint it, too).

Beyond that, I think you'll have to rely on curtains or something hung in front as tiny crocodile describes. But why not do a good job behind them first?
posted by dhartung at 12:04 PM on October 17, 2007

Response by poster: @dancinglamb
Were you close to Madison grill?

I don't want to give my address out online :)
posted by spacefire at 12:05 PM on October 17, 2007


I was at the opposite end of town (Mulligan's) but know that part well. :)
posted by dancinglamb at 3:47 PM on October 17, 2007

You might try a car audio place. They have stuff called "dynamat", which is like fabric scraps embedded in rubber foam or something. It's adhesive-backed, and used to deaden vibration in body panels. The adhesive is pretty aggressive to allow it to survive in an automotive environment, but you might find a way to make it temporary, or just count on repainting the door if you ever remove the mat.

A double layer at the edge, lapping up onto the frame, will help catch the sound where it sneaks around the door. Then hang curtains in front of the whole mess. ;)
posted by Myself at 10:08 PM on October 17, 2007

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