Can we soundproof pocket doors? Many people have asked me this question. I totally understand.
This is because, in some cases, pocket doors do not block sound very well. Also, the pocket door, if not installed correctly, does produce sound itself.
But soundproofing pocket doors is trickier than soundproofing regular doors. The reason is obvious. Unlike regular doors, pocket doors are located in between walls. This means that when the pocket wall installed, it is already fixed in place. You can’t readily add materials to the surfaces, because they may cause the door not to slide back into the pocket any more.
Secondly, many pocket doors contain glass window panes, which transmit sound very well, unfortunately. You probably don’t want to block the windows all the time, so this limits the soundproofing methods and materials you can use. Of course, if creating a soundproof environment is more important to you than being able to see through the door, replacing the paned door with a solid door will help a lot with the soundproofing.
Whether your pocket door is solid or paned, you’ll still need to deal with leakage around the edges – even more so than with a regular hinged door.
Note that, in the photo above, this is not actually a true pocket door. Rather, it’s a sliding barn door. We’ll be talking about the pocket door here. We’ll talk about a sliding barn door another time.
Why are Pocket Doors Noisy?
The main reason why pocket doors produce noise is that they are not installed as tightly as the regular doors. They are held in place by a track, so move in and out slightly, even when closed.
Aside from being noisy themselves, pocket doors cannot effectively seal the room. As a result, sounds from around the house can easily enter your the room.
Although it is difficult to soundproof a pocket door, this doesn’t mean that it can’t be done. In fact, there are a variety of ways to attack the problem. Some are quick and easy, and you can do them yourself. Others are much more extensive (and expensive), and you may need to hire a handyman to tackle them – especially you’re not used to making home improvements on your own.
The Simplest Way to Soundproof a Pocket Door
First, Soundproof the Bottom of the Door
The most obvious place for air (and sound) to leak around a pocket door, is under the bottom of the door.
There are several simple options to soundproof your pocket door bottom. The most basic option is to attach a door sweep to the bottom of the door. This is basically a metal and rubber blade that just screws onto the bottom of the door, and usually glides along the floor as the door is opened and closed. It’s easy to install, using just a screwdriver, and blocks sound well enough, especially if it maintains contact with the floor.
If the door sweep doesn’t contact the floor well enough, you’ll still have air leakage, which will let sound into the room.
If the door sweep doesn’t form a good enough seal, the next step, which is still very easy and inexpensive, is to apply weather stripping to the bottom of the door. This “D shape” self-adhesive weather stripping provides a nice flat adhesive side, for the best contact with the door bottom. The rounded portion seals the space but doesn’t add too much drag to the door, which would otherwise tend to make the door more difficult to open and close, and possibly cause the adhesive to pull away over time. This weather stripping is also very durable, and is very similar to the weather stripping used on car doors, which provide an excellent seal and last for years. Be sure to get the self-adhesive weather stripping – it’s much easier to install!
A word of warning: Before installing the weather stripping, make sure the bottom of the door is very clean – that’s a place where dust and dirt like to gather. If you try to stick adhesive to a dirty door, the adhesive won’t stick well, and as a result, will bunch up under the door, and you’ll need to replace it very soon.
Next, Soundproof the Glass Panes
Obviously, if your pocket door doesn’t have windows, you would skip this step. But, most pocket doors do have windows, and those windows cause soundproofing problems in at least two ways. First, glass transmits sound very well. Secondly, if the panes have loosened even a little bit over time, they can rattle due to any vibration, sound, or air movement.
So, we’ll attack these two problems separately.
Quite often, window panes will move slightly, even when new. To fix this, we’ll apply a small amount of acoustical caulk. We use acoustical or soundproofing caulk for two reasons – the caulk actually absorbs sounds, and it stays soft and flexible, so won’t separate over time. (Happy users report using this same caulk for soundproofing bedroom windows against noise from a nearby very busy road, and call it “a game changer”.)
There’s an additional option, to make the window glass absorb some of the sound. You could add safety window film to each window pane. This self-adhesive film was designed to make windows shatterproof, and to partially block UV rays, but it also dampens sound.
If you decide to use both the acoustical caulk and window film, it’s recommended that you apply the film first, so it lays nice and flat at the edges of the glass.
Now, Soundproof the Edges of the Door
The next step in soundproofing a pocket door is to seal the gaps around the edges. This is a bit more of a challenge, since a pocket door does not fit snugly into a door jamb, so leaves gaps all the way around.
One way to greatly improve the soundproofing of the entire door at once is to hang a sound absorbing curtain over the door. These provide excellent sound deadening, and can easily be moved aside to enter and exit the room. Not only do they block sound from coming into the room through the door, but they absorb lots of the sounds inside the room that would normally be bouncing around. They come in a wide range of colors as well.
Note: You’ll still want to seal the bottom of the door, and the window panes, even when using sound absorbing curtains, to get the maximum soundproofing possible.
deal with the entire second important thing to consider is the size of the gap between walls. The narrower space where the pocket door slides in be tightly sealed, which in turn regulates the sound from passing through. But the problem is that if the gap is so tight, the number of materials can be used to soundproof the door is limited.
For extreme cases, such as for sound recording, where you want the room as absolutely quiet as possible, you might consider attaching a sound absorbing blanket to the pocket door frame. These heavy blankets are made specifically to improve the sound quality in a room by reducing sound echoes and reverberation. (As a bonus for ecology-minded folks, they’re made of a blend of recycled cotton and cellulose fibers, which requires substantially less energy to produce compared to traditional fiberglass and foam acoustic products.)
These steps should be more than good enough for the average person wanting some peace and quiet in their home. They’re probably sufficient for those who need to videoconference from home, or even recording a podcast. However, if you need serious soundproofing, in cases like recording music, you’ll probably need to make more significant changes to soundproof your pocket door. These will likely involve some level of construction expertise, so you may need to enlist a handyman.
Lastly, the frame. You should make sure that the door is strong enough for sound abating. The stronger the frame. the more choices you have in terms of choosing the right materials.
Choosing the Best Soundproofing Materials for Pocket Doors
As mentioned, the materials you use will determine the overall success of your soundproofing project. Luckily, there are lots of choices when it comes to soundproofing pocket doors.
1. Soundproof Padding (aka Mass Loaded Vinyl)
Soundproof Padding (also called Mass Loaded Vinyl) is sound absorbing panel, that comes in rolls of sheeting, and provides excellent sound absorption, while being very easy to work with. ( I mentioned this material in my previous article about soundproofing ceilings in apartments.)
“Mass Loaded Vinyl” sounds technical, doesn’t it? All it means is that the material is made out of vinyl (for flexibility), and has “mass” (weight) added to it, which is what makes it absorb sound so well.
As I said in that article, mass loaded vinyl is versatile and has unlimited usage. You can use it not only in soundproofing the ceilings but also in pocket doors.
This material helps strengthen the fragile pocket door.
2. Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound
Green Glue Noiseproofing Compound is great material that’s used for soundproofing in building construction and renovations. Green Glue is applied just like caulking compound, between layers of materials, where it isolates the sound, and it prevents it from passing through a partition.
In my previous post, I talked about using green glue noiseproofing compound for blocking the holes in the apartment ceiling. It also does a great job of sealing the gaps between plywood and other construction materials.
And, as we’ll show, It also works great for soundproofing pocket doors.
Green Glue is easy to install and can be applied by just about anyone!
3. Resilient Channels
This material can also be tremendously useful in the entire soundproofing process. Although it is commonly used to abate vibration, it helps in the noise abatement process as well.
This material is similar to carpentry products. In fact, it looks like a plywood but is a lot lighter than plywood.
Homasote is designed for insulation projects, but it is a great material for soundproofing doors, floors and doors.
Okay, now you have all the materials, on with the actual process.
How to Soundproof Pocket Doors?
There are many strategies you can employ to soundproof pocket doors.
Strategy #1: Make the Door Panel Stronger
Reinforcing the door panel is the first step to deaden the sound. Most doors, including pocket doors, have gaps and airspaces where sound could easily pass through.
So the first thing to do is to reinforce the door panel itself. This will help establish your defense against noise.
Pocket doors come in many types and grades with different frame ratings.
But the thing is that not all doors are created equal. Some doors are flimsy. Before buying a door, make sure that it has a sturdy or strong frame rating. Only strong doors have the ability to withstand noise.
If you know someone who is a better carpenter, you can have him make the pocket door you want. If you don’t know someone who can make the quality door that you want, you may want to buy a commercial pocket door.
You can try the Johnson Hardware Commercial Grade Pocket Door Frame.
This ready to install frame is of high quality you can rely on. It is sturdy enough for a pocket door.
If you want a heavy-duty pocket door frame, this one can fit with your needs. It’s easy to install and it comes with all the hardware necessary for installation.
A flat and solid wood could also be a great addition. Choose a wood that has a similar size with your existing pocket door.
You can also use drywall instead. This whole process will depend on your material preference. As long as it works, you are good to go.
The main purpose here is to make the door stronger. The reason is simple. You cannot put soundproofing materials on a flimsy wall or door.
Deadening materials need something hard enough to stick with. Even simple insulation needs sturdy walls or frames.
After ensuring that all materials are durable, you can proceed with the actual process.
It will be easier to implement all the techniques and strategies if you have materials that are reliable.
Strategy #2: Use a Soundproofing Rubber
This is another great material commonly used for soundproofing pocket doors. The soundproofing rubber, for instance, neoprene soundproofing rubber does a very good job in sealing the gaps between the door frame and wall.
After implementing rubber materials, examine all the corners. If smaller gaps are still there, you can use the Acoustic Caulk to block all the noise passages.
Completing this step gives you the confidence to continue to the next step of the soundproofing process.
Strategy #3: Use a Door Gasket
Aside from the previous soundproofing materials shared above, there are other materials that could help you attain the level of quietness you always want.
However, the types of materials you can use may be dependent on how much you are willing to spend on the materials.
If your budget is limited, you can go with weatherstripping materials. These materials are inexpensive compared to the door gasket.
One of the best is silicone weatherstripping. Unlike other materials in this category, this one is more durable. The durability comes with special compression properties that give the material extra strength.
However, if you really want high quality and better soundproofing results, your best option is to use door gaskets.
In most cases, door gaskets are being used sealing the top and two jambs. These materials fit the gaps tightly leaving no room for the soundwave to pass through.
Like any commodities, the more expensive the materials, the higher the quality they have. One of the examples of the pricey but more durable soundproofing material is the Basic Door Gasket.
This material is made of high-quality neoprene and anodized aluminum retainer. These ingredients make basic door gasket durable.
Strategy #4: Use an Automatic Door Bottom
Working on the air gaps on the top and side areas of the pocket doors is always a good idea. In fact, it is the best starting point for soundproofing pocket doors.
The bottom may still have the gaps where the sound wave could travel through. The sound always finds a way to enter the room.
The only way to at least abate the sound for about 100% is to seal all the gaps.
However, sealing the bottom of the pocket door is different from dealing with regular doors. But there is a material you can use to do it.
What I am talking here is the Automatic Door Bottom (you can order this on Amazon). This material is designed to seal gaps in the bottom of the pocket doors.
This soundproofing material works well. It fits well too without encountering any considerable problem during the process.
As the name suggests, the automatic door bottom is an automatic system. The seal drops down when the door closes and raises up when the door opens.
Aside from easy installation, this durable soundproofing material is incredibly effective in abating the sound.
The mentioned strategies are great for sturdy and stronger pocket doors. If you have flimsy frames and pocket doors, however, the strategies won’t perfectly work.
Not only you need strong heavy doors, but you also need to tightly seal all air gaps. In most cases, this is challenging.
Not all pockets doors are equal. Depending on the materials and installation of the door, each pocket door may have certain demands.
The biggest challenge is to figure out the best possible way to contain the sound. The problem in pocket doors is that the more materials you incorporate, the higher the chance of getting the door stuck.
As a result, the door won’t slide back and forth. In this instance, the pocket door does not serve its real purpose.
But don’t worry. There are still other available strategies you can employ to achieve the goal of abating the sound in your home.
Try to consider the following:
1. Use two-wheeled doors
You can make your own doors if you are a carpenter. Or, to save time and energy, you can buy two heavy wheeled doors. Then link them together while leaving a space in between.
2. Make a track
The wheels of the doors should be moving back and forth through a track. This looks like sliding van doors the only difference is that, in here, the door is double.
With this setup, the door slides apart as the door closes forming a seal from the front to the back of the doorframe.
When the door opens, it slides back together forming a sealed space in between.
There you go. You have my simple tips for soundproof pocket doors. But the techniques that I shared here are just a few.
There are many pieces of advice you can learn from the experts or even from online sources.
However, not all of them may work in your case. It is important to understand that soundproofing pocket doors are a lot harder than dealing with regular doors.
The key to having a sound abating pocket door is making the right decision in the installation process and buying the durable soundproofing materials.
I understand why so many people have problems with pocket doors. The reason behind this is that the problem only arises after the pocket door is installed.
You think everything was perfect until you hear the water from the bathroom while the door is closed.
That’s the only time you realize that the pocket door does not really contain sound.
If you already have installed the pocket door, there’s nothing we can do than trying to soundproof it.
You can employ the tips mentioned above.
But if you are just about to install your pocket door, this section is for you.
I will share with you some helpful tips on how to successfully install pocket doors.
Tips on How to Install Pocket Door
1. Use Solid Doors
The key to a long-lasting pocket door is the use of durable doors. And I mean the solid doors. Although this may come with a higher price, the benefits are greater than the money you spend.
The best thing about using the solid door is that when you apply soundproofing materials later on, you can easily do it. You don’t have to reinforce the door to make it stronger.
2. Use 2 X 6 Walls
Make the pocket door opening stronger. The way to do this is to use the 2 X 6 walls. In the long run, choosing stronger door opening can have tremendous benefits.
You can easily install accessories on the wall if it is stronger.
3. Use High-Quality Hardware
The durability of pocket doors starts with the type of materials being used. To avoid future problems, I always recommend using high-quality hardware.
For instance, instead of buying inexpensive rollers, choose the heavy-duty ball-bearing nylon rollers.
This is to make sure that the rollers can support the solid pocket doors. Install high-quality door pulls too.
Make sure that you’re using the best soundproofing materials as possible.
4. Don’t Protrude the Fastener into the Pocket Space
One of the common causes of problems in pocket doors is the protruding fasteners into the pocket space. It, therefore, blocks the door’s path.
When this happens, it is difficult to fix. Most of the time, you need to open the wall and fix it. It requires so much work, time, and sometimes, money.
5. Find the Best Carpenter to Install your Pocket Door
If you can’t install the pocket correctly, then find someone who can. Aside from high-quality soundproofing materials, the person installing the pocket also determines the quality of the output.
A great carpenter knows exactly all the requirements and materials for pocket doors. The money you spend will be worth it.
There are hundreds of benefits you can get from having pocket doors in your house.
One of them is maximizing space. Everyone can tell that using a pocket door instead of a regular door can save a lot of space.
However, it does not come without a toll. Pocket doors are not good enough to contain the sound.
That said, you need to apply some soundproofing materials and techniques.
The problem is, unlike regular doors, soundproofing a pocket door sometimes has numerous issues.
And sometimes even cost you money.
But all of these should not discourage you to install a pocket door in your house. The benefits are greater than the problems.
The good news is that you have all the techniques you need to soundproof the pocket door in case you need it.
I hope that this simple article helps you decrease if not totally eliminate the disturbing noise in your house.