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Is hardboard effective for soundproofing a door?

Postby jamesnorton » Wed Feb 17, 2010 5:59 pm

I want to soundproof a bedroom door against the sound from my stereo, which can be quite loud and bassy. I realise it can't be completely soundproofed but I would like lots of deadening. Unfortunately I'm as poor as can be and so it has to be cheap, and I can't afford to buy the wrong materials and start again. The door has a flat panel and I am not fussy about looks. I can't add more than 16mm thickness to the door or it won't open properly. I am thinking of hardboard - say 3 layers of 3mm. Is hardboard a decent sound insulator? Would it be better to put a gap with something less dense between layers - say cardboard? Heavy felt carpet underlay could be pinned to the door. Rubber seems a bit pricey. I have a couple of rubber car mats I can cut to overhang the edges for a sort of sealing. There aren't gaps though - the sound goes through the door more than round it, I think.
I would appreciate any knowledgeable suggestions.
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Postby acsimpson » Thu Feb 18, 2010 9:18 am

If it's cheap and cheerful you're after the best way would be to use the volume control. Bass can travel very effectively through walls and floors so sound proofing the door may not make much difference.
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Postby Perry525 » Fri Feb 19, 2010 3:45 pm

Noise travels as vibration. I've found that fitting a wood strip 6mm square round the edge of a door and then fitting 6mm plywood, that is only glued and nailed at the edges works fine.
The noise is absorbed into the thin plywood and doesn't cross the space, and doesn't come through the door.
My wife has all the usual kitchen toys, some a quite noisy, especially the TV and this system, means I don't hear them when sitting in the lounge only 10 feet away.
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Postby jamesnorton » Fri Feb 19, 2010 9:08 pm

Thanks for a practical suggestion, Perry525. I'm actually thinking of 2 layers of hardboard (cheap) slightly bigger than the door so it covers the door-frame gap with a sort of air gap between - either cardboard or polythene folded till it's at least 5mm, all as one panel, then just tacking that to the door. Comments on that?
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Postby Perry525 » Sat Feb 20, 2010 12:19 pm

That should work fine. One trick you may like to try is, when you have glued the hardboard to the frame round the edge of the door, paint the hardboard with water, this will make the hardboard shrink to a tight drum skin fit.
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Postby TanyaMadsen » Sat Sep 11, 2021 5:17 am

This question comes up in the forums all the time, so I think it's time to shed some light. When you're trying to block sound from coming through a door, you want something that is both dense and heavy. Here are my thoughts on hardboard.


When hardboard was introduced in the 1930s it was hailed as wood's greatest miracle invention; stronger than steel yet lighter than aluminum. Time has done little to tarnish this reputation though few even know what it is today. It can be purchased under various trade names like Masonite®, Para-Bord®, Thermatape® or Dricore® (but isn't Dricore just CoreForm™?) CoreForm™ is an acoustical sub-flooring material, not really sub flooring. It can be used under carpet or vinyl but isn't very useful for soundproofing a door unless it is the only material you have to work with.


Hardboard's biggest benefit is that it weighs almost nothing. It has an R-Value of .5 per inch which means that if you were to use 1/2" hardboard on your walls and ceiling you would effectively double the thermal insulation in your room. Unfortunately, acoustic properties are more about density than they are about weight so this is not helpful for soundproofing doors. Then again, it doesn't actively hurt either though I have certainly seen heavier materials used incorrectly with better results so don't let anyone tell you that weight is the only thing that matters. The reason I bring this up is because hardboard has a very high fiber content which would make it absorbent so it should be avoided if possible, but you have to work with what you have sometimes.


Hardboard can be cut to fit your door openings but it will break down into smaller pieces that are more difficult to work with. It seems to me that cutting even thin 1/8" hardboard over and over again would eventually damage the saw blade so thicker material would require fewer cuts. Cutting thin material repeatedly will warp the good name of anyone who works with it though so take note if you choose this route. You could also use something like acoust sheathing, which may come in 4'x8' sheets depending on the material.


The next option would be to buy sound panels which would work better than either of the two options I've stated so far, especially if they are vinyl or rubber-backed since they will grip your door frame and not slide around. Still, unless you have them in hand already for another reason it's difficult to know how heavy they might be until you get them home. If heavier is better then that could be a win but what if you can't support what you're putting up? You might well wind up with something that slides down over time unless you secure it properly without blocking too much sound through the door itself. Sound panels come in various thicknesses, R-Values and weights so you would need to research before making a purchase.


One last thing I will mention is that hardboard can be easily glued (with the right adhesive) and offers reasonable impact resistance (R-2 per inch). If you're gluing it directly onto your walls or ceiling, this could help with soundproofing your door while making up for some of its shortcomings. However you would probably want to test it first on a small area where it won't show (like under the bottom of the door?) and wait at least 24 hours before bringing any foot traffic over it just in case.
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