Barn doors are getting a lot of hype recently, especially in country-style designed homes. They add an appealing feature to the overall façade of a building, but are they any more than that? Can barn doors block noise?
Barn doors are soundproof. Their heavy, solid cores are dense enough to block or lessen the amount of sound transfer. However, despite the mass, spaces and gaps around the door can let noise in and affect its soundproofing performance and ratings.
Fortunately, there are a few effective ways you can keep all kinds of noise out of your barn by adding mass, absorption, dampeners, and some sound barriers.
Material And Considerations For Soundproofing A Barn Door
Sound has long wavelengths and travels mostly by mediums like air and solids. The long wavelengths of sound can easily penetrate a multitude of barriers and are rather difficult to block.
Unlike light, sound waves are great at blending and diffracting through small openings, gaps, vents, or metal ducts. They vibrate according to the intensity and loudness of sound and can travel through any material obstacle easily.
Due to their stubbornness, you will have to take care of certain things when soundproofing a barn door. There are four important factors that you must keep in mind when/before attempting to soundproof a barn door.
Sound dampening means a decrease in the amplitude of an oscillation when overcoming resistive or frictional forces due to energy utilization.
Oscillation refers to the vibrating sound waves in this scenario. A damping material slows down its constant motion as the waves pass through its absorptive surface. Certain materials are better at dissipating energy than others. The thicker and softer the material is, the better it is at sound dampening.
Thus, it is essential to incorporate a sound dampening material when soundproofing a barn door.
Adding mass to any structure is perhaps the best barrier to sound. Your barn door should be made of high-density material. Sound waves travel fast through low density, thin mediums as there is less obstruction to their path.
One effective way of increasing the soundproofing power of your barn door is to add acoustic panels that increase the door’s thickness. Another great material is mass-loaded vinyl. These materials will also reduce echo and reverberation in the barn.
Sound absorbing materials address echoes and reverberations in a room. They do this by absorbing unwanted reflecting sound waves from the room.
Again, your barn door should be made of a sound-absorbing material to absorb most of the bouncing waves. But if it isn’t, you must add an absorptive layer on the barn door.
You can use adhesive acoustic foam or foam panels on the inside of the door to make it heavier. The additional layer will trap any incoming or outgoing sound waves.
The new sliding barn door design sure looks appealing and more feasible. As mentioned before, barn doors are pretty good at soundproofing on their own due to their heaviness, but they need additional soundproofing measures only because of the gaps.
Most of the sound that seeps out of or into a barn is through the gaps or holes around the barn door. Every gap around and above the barn door must be sealed without affecting its functionality and aesthetic appeal.
Even a small gap can allow a considerable amount of sound to pass through it. Make sure you also check the area around the door’s handle to be safe.
What Material is Your Barn Door Made of?
Typically, barn doors are made from wood. There’s a variety of wood types, some good at soundproofing, some not so much.
Barn doors may also be metal, wood, and glass, or a combination of these. The newer, more modern-looking barn doors use a lot of metal. And since metal is a superconductor of sound, it can pass sound waves through it at a speed of 21460 km/hr or 13,330 mph.
Besides what material your barn door is made of, another important factor in determining its soundproofing power.
Barn doors can have a hollow as well as a solid core. Cores can affect the sound transmission class or STC rating of your barn door. Hollow-core barn doors are not actually hollow. They have less dense wood or synthetic materials used inside.
Hollow-core barn doors are generally less expensive than solid core. They are popular for hanging slide doors as they are lightweight.
On the other hand, solid core barn doors have heavier core masses. It could be from a variety of materials. The main idea is to make the door have a dense, noise-resistant property to it.
How Do You Soundproof a Barn Door?
The STC rating for human voices falls somewhere in the range of 125-4000 Hz. Doors and walls that are not acoustically treated at all and are thin have an STC rating of 25 generally.
Solid core barn doors have an STC rating of 30 or 35, or somewhere between them. This means you would clearly hear a loud person who’s talking right on the other side of the door.
No matter how soundproof, dense, and heavy your barn door is, gaps and holes in or around it will lower the overall STC. You need to address these sound leakages properly to obtain a completely soundproof barn door.
Here are some ways you can maintain a standard STC rating for your barn door:
Hang Sound Absorbing Blankets
Editor’s recommendation: for a barn door, a hanging blanket like the Audimute Sound Absorption Sheet would work quite well due to its high 0.85 NRC rating. Find it here on Amazon.
Soundproofing or sound-absorbing blankets are one of the oldest ways of soundproofing doors. Blankets perform better than soundproof curtains as they are heavier and denser in structure.
These blankets are efficient in functionality and can absorb sounds of almost all frequencies. The best part about using blankets on your barn door is that you can multi-layer them if need be.
All you need to do is install a rail and hang the moving blanket to dampen the noise. These blankets are usually made of polyester, mass loaded vinyl, or fiberglass. These materials are 85%-90% effective in the form of a blanket because they don’t really stick to the door or actually fill the cracks around it.
Weather-stripping simply means sealing any gap or opening from outside elements of nature. In addition to keeping the inner area safe from rain, wind, or insects, a weather stripping sealant also lessens the sound transmission through these gaps.
You need to look for any cracks or gaps in between the barn door and the wall or floor. Barn doors usually contain a lot of gaps.
Several materials that are perfect for sealing cracks include vinyl, sweep, brass, and foam. Most of the weather-stripping seals are self-adhesive, so there’s no hassle in that area. You can either put small cuttings on gaps and cracks or you can simply cover the sides of your barn door from top to bottom.
Measure the height and width of your barn door. Cut the weather-stripping into the correct sizes from the measurements. Peel off the adhesive from the back and stick it onto the sides of the door. Cover all the cracks and gaps from the inside for better performance.
Install A Door Sweep
Doors need to have space between the floor and itself to operate smoothly. A gap is left between the barn door and the floor to allow a noise-free and friction-free opening and closing of the door. This space, however, also allows a lot of noise to flow in or out of the barn.
The larger this gap is, the noisier it’s going to get. You need to fill the gap between the floor and the barn door without hindering its operation. The best way to do so is to install door sweeps under the door.
Door sweeps are also called drafts. They block all the possible air spaces under your door. Note that you will need a door sweep even if you have a thick, heavy soundproof barn door.
Check the gap and the size of your door. Purchase a door sweep that will fit and completely cover the gap. Door sweeps are designed as a sound dampening product that will keep sound out and also act as an insulator.
Some door sweeps come as self-adhesive ones, some are slip-on. You can choose one according to your needs.
Get A New Barn Door
If the noise in your barn is unbearably loud and you have the budget for it, you must go for a new barn door altogether.
It is best to replace the existing door with a new heavier one if your existing door is hollow. As mentioned before, hollow core barn doors transmit a lot of sound waves both ways.
Moreover, if you have a sliding barn door you may want to consider switching to a bigger or oversized door for the barn. The large size will eliminate most of the air gaps that otherwise allow sound to travel inside.
Add More Wood
You can dampen a good amount of noise entering the barn from the door by adding more wood to your exiting door. This can be done for both hollow as well as solid core doors.
It is advised to hire a professional for the purpose because the barn door is big and hard to handle. You can use any kind of wood for layering, just make sure it is sufficiently heavy and thick. Most favored for this purpose is plywood or MDF.
You need to get proper measurements of your door’s height and width, some nails to pin the layer down, and some screws and adhesive spray.
Install Acoustic Foam On The Door
This is a common solution to noise in the soundproofing industry. Acoustic foam panels not only balance the sonic environment of a room but also add a layer of mass to the barn door for better noise blocking.
The acoustic properties of these panels are from the thick, porous, and absorptive core which works great for airborne noise and echoes.
Most foam panels are water and dust-proof, so no need to worry about your investment going down the drain in a few weeks. Acoustic foams are durable and can last years on your barn door. Most panels are self-adhesive but some might need hanging strips, green glue to attach to the door.
Get A Professional
You can try and soundproof your barn door on your own but minor variations in the fittings or measurements can make a lot of difference in the soundproofing capabilities of the door.
It’s always better to hire a professional to do a soundproofing job. This is because skilled specialists can tell you exactly the kind of door you currently have and the kind and level of soundproofing you require on it.
Doing it all on your own may lead to inconsistencies and errors that you don’t even know you’re making. However, this is an investment because experts charge a high fee. If you can hire a professional to carry out the whole project, great!
If not, you can get professional assistance at the start of your project and do the handy bit yourself to save costs. You can hire a carpenter for the best results, especially if you are adding more wood to the barn door.
If we’re only talking about barn doors, they are pretty fine at keeping moderate day-to-day noise out of the barn. All noise that enters a barn is from the spaces around or below the door. Spaces that aren’t covered even by a single layer of material.
Such cracks and gaps need to be covered and blocked to stop the transmission of noise. If you want to absolutely block all sounds coming inside the barn, you can add acoustic panels, a layer of wood, or hang a soundproof blanket on the door.
If the door has a hollow core, you might want to consider replacing it with a new heavier one altogether.
Whatever solution is feasible, always ensure that the material you use is dense, heavy, and capable of blocking sound waves in transit.