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.
I hope that this simple article helps you decrease if not totally eliminate the disturbing noise in your house.