Don’t Let the Noise Come In Your Home

Doors are another common source for noise and air infiltration. A prime door and a storm door act much like the thermal pane windows and storm windows in that the combination of the doors with the air space in between increases the acoustical integrity of the unit. The installation of new doors with weather-stripping, a new threshold and a bottom sweep will give you the greatest benefit; however, any of the following modifications will give you some decrease in noise and air infiltration. Acoustically rated prime doors, or doors that carry an STC rating around 40 or higher, can be very expensive. If cost is a concern, or if you purchase a door with an STC rating below 40, install a prime and storm door combination.

Replacing Prime Doors

Pre-hung wood solid-core doors should be used. Steel or metal doors are generally not acoustically acceptable because they are constructed of a thin outer layer of metal filled with cork or foam, and do not have sufficient mass to provide adequate sound reduction. A pre-hung door has less tendency to warp than a solid core door that is installed into an existing frame. The installation technique should include removing the existing door and jamb, filling all voids around the door with wood blocking and insulation, and installing the prehung unit. Weather-stripping should be applied around the top and side frames, and a sweep installed on the bottom of the door.

Two critical aspects to look at when choosing a prime door are: (1) the seals and (2) the weight or mass of the door. The better the seals and the greater mass the door has, the better the door will perform against noise. When looking at the seals of the prime door, make sure there is good contact b between the weather-stripping on the door frame and the top and sides of the door itself. Make sure the door sweep is made of a durable material and that it makes solid contact with the threshold. Check to make sure that there e is no light infiltration along any of the perimeter seals.

Replacing Storm Doors

As with prime doors, the acoustical performance of a storm door is also dependent on the door’s seals and mass. There are acoustically-rated storm doors available from several manufacturers. However, if you’re willing to sacrifice some acoustic reliability for a more cost-effective alternative, a solid core storm door that has a minimum of 3/16” laminated glass is preferred. Once the storm door is completely installed, there should be no light penetration around the perimeter of the door. Keep in mind that a storm door only has acoustical benefit when the storm window is in place. Consider self-storing glazing units if you occasionally want to use the screens for ventilation purposes.

Weather-stripping Existing Doors

A properly weather-stripped door will provide resistance when you close the door. It is important that weather-stripping be applied on both the prime and the storm doors. Most hardware stores and lumber yards carry weather stripping intended for homeowner installation. We recommend that the weather-strip be of sufficient thickness to compress at least 3/8” when the door closes against it. To check existing weather-stripping, close the door from the inside and carefully inspect the entire perimeter of the door where it meets the frame and sill. There should be no light visible. If there is, the weather-strip must be adjusted until no light is visible or new weather-stripping should be installed.

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