How to Soundproof Sliding Glass Doors

If you have a sliding patio door in the house, you will have a great view. Maybe a view of mountains, ocean, city skyline, or the neighbor’s patio door. If it is an old aluminum unit it will be colder than a witch’s breast, or hotter than Madonna (a few years ago)–depending on where you live. It will also have virtually no soundproofing qualities. 

Easy and Cheap (Inexpensive) Sliding Door Soundproofing

If you are just looking for a little more quiet in your life, the following few ideas may be all you need to accomplish that. You should be able to easily get it done in one day once you have all of the material you need.

Sealing Around the Door Frame

Not only will noise come through the glass and gaps in your weatherstrip; it will pass through the gaps around the frame. Soundproofing these areas is a fairly quick job and will not cost very much. A can of spray foam, a tube of good caulking, and a little Roxul 80 batting (or fiberglass if necessary) and you are ready. Remove the casing from around the inside of the door, pick out the old insulation (if any exists), and peel off any old caulking from around the exterior of the frame. (Note: Use a utility knife to cut the paint between the casing and wall. This saves you from tearing off paint and drywall paper.)

From the inside, spray foam against the backside of the exterior trim or nailing fin (about 1″ – 1 1/2″ thick). Once the foam has skinned over (usually 30 minutes), pull the Roxul apart and fill the rest of the cavity. Do not pack it tight. Re-install your casing or use new, wider casing to cover the paint lines. Caulk the exterior between the door and exterior wall finish.

If the door sill has a trim board inside where the flooring meets the door, or outside, or both–remove them. If you find a gap under the sill, fill it with foam. If no gap, give it a good bead of caulking, then replace the trim boards. This is a good opportunity to get new pieces. The existing ones could be a little tired, or they broke coming off. Another bead of caulking between the trim boards and door sill and exterior finish should be all you need.

Notes:

  • I will not bore you with the types of caulking and foam I use. Quite often you can only buy them by the case, or they are not available at a retail outlet. What I have recommended is more than adequate to do the job.
  • I know that removing old caulking–specially from stucco–is no fun. But putting new caulking over old dirty stuff is a complete waste of time and money. You will need a utility knife, a glazing bar, and probably beer. (I have used a sawzall on some of that stuff.)

Fixing the Gaps

If your door sash does not seal properly you can replace the weatherstrip. There is a good chance you will be able to find a generic weatherstrip like T & B Self Adhesive Pile or Keliiyo EDPM foamto do the job. But there are so many different door manufacturers using so many different weatherstrip, you may need to visit a specialty supplier like All Glass Parts or WindowDoorParts to get what you need.

Make sure you replace the weatherstrip on the head and sill of the door frame also. You need to replace what is there. It is virtually impossible to add any kind of door sweep that will work. It usually will not allow the sash to slide because of the design, or it will drag on the frame and wear out. 

Soundproof Blankets and Curtains

You can replace you existing curtains or blinds with sound absorbing blankets or soundproofing curtains. The blankets should have grommets for hanging on a rod. Otherwise, you will have to add loops, or use Velcro on the wall, or two-sided tape on the wall. You can even tack them up with nails or pins. This is not a real cute solution but it works.

Another option–somewhat pricier–is sound deadening double quilted fiberglass panels. They are meant to be mounted with hooks and kept close to the wall. They are 48″ x 96″ so you will probably need two of them. They are 2″ thick which makes them bulky to handle and get out of the way of the door. They provide good noise reduction but have a shiny quilted look. You could give some consideration to combining this product with a soundproof curtain to really make the door quiet.

Or, you can use soundproof curtains. Two of the better options are Nicetown Patio Sliding Door Curtain or Moondream Soundproof Curtain. Make sure you have a curtain rod that works for these products. If possible, your curtain rod should be long enough to allow the curtain to be moved right out of the open doorway. 

 

Serious Sliding Glass Door Soundproofing

Here are a few ideas for better, and of course, more expensive sliding glass door soundproofing.

Replace the Glass–if Possible

Replacing glass in your door simply for better soundproofing is probably not cost-effective. But if it you have to replace it anyway (broken, cracked, scratched, or loose); at least give some consideration to improved soundproofing. Because of the variables involved, it is usually best to hire a professional. (Some of the things that need to be considered are glass thickness, overall thickness, air space, door construction–wood, vinyl, aluminum, fiberglass, and the ability to change glass stops and still have an operating door.) Following is a quick look at STC (Sound Transmission Class) ratings of glass.

  • Single glazed (one pane of glass)                    as high as 35
  • Laminated Single Glazed                                  as high as 40
  • Dual Glazed                                                         as high as 40
  • Dual Glazed (one clear lite/one laminated) as high as 45
  • Triple Glazed Clear                                            as high as 45

The following chart will give you a guide to understand the meaning of those numbers. Please see Wikipedia Sound Transmission Class for more information.

STCWhat can be heard
25Normal speech can be understood
30Loud speech can be understood
35Loud speech audible but not intelligible
40Loud speech audible as a murmur
45Loud speech heard but not audible
50Loud sounds faintly heard
60+Good soundproofing; most sounds do not disturb neighbouring residents.[6]

Soundproofing & Security with Exterior Roll Shutters

Adding insulated roll shutters to the exterior of your sliding patio door only makes financial sense if you are trying to achieve other goals such as security. But if you are going to get them installed anyway, make sure you get a foam-filled product–both for soundproofing and insulation value. You can check out Rollac and Rollpro for more information and to get a quote.

Soundproofing With Interior Acoustic Shutters

Shut Eye Acoustical Shutters look like the best answer to soundproofing your sliding patio door. With a field tested STC rating of 30 added to the rating of the door itself, you should be approaching, or exceeding a 60 rating. The product is custom made to your measurements, shipped fully assembled, and simple to install. They come in various colors and styles. And yes, they are more expensive than a blanket or curtain, but seriously better looking and way more efficient. Because of this, you can consider eliminating the cost of curtains. If your home is where you plan to be for a long time, but there are annoying noises, you should definitely consider these acoustical shutters for your doors, and windows.

Hotel Room - French Doors Partial Open

Adding a Second Door for Soundproofing

This just seems dumb, so I am not going to spend too much time on it. If you are going to spend the money, and put up with the aggravation, to add a second sliding patio door; why not just replace the existing unit with a new triple glazed door? Enough!

 

Soundproofing by Replacing the Door

If your sliding patio door has been around since the Beatles were a music group, maybe it is just time to bite the bullet and change it. You can spend a lot of time, effort, and money to fix up an old door to still have an old door that is slightly quieter than it was. Changing it still gives you the option to use any of the suggestions above but you may find that a new door with triple glazing, properly installed, will be quiet enough. Try it for a while–you can always add more soundproofing later by choosing some of the options I have listed.

Soundproofing with a New Sliding Patio Door

If you love the view and light you get from your patio door, consider replacing it with a new one. If installed properly, the new door will be insulated, caulked, and finished properly–which satisfies the first two items I covered–Sealing around the door frame and Fixing the gaps. The glass is obviously the weak point when it comes to sound proofing. Try to find a supplier that offers true triple glazing (Glass has two 1/2″ air spaces. Bigger air spaces provide better soundproofing.) Or one that offers dual glazing with the exterior glass laminated. Both options give you and STC rating up to 45. Adding a decent curtain will get you close to 60 which should be your minimum soundproofing goal. I am a professional window and door installer so I would not hire someone. But unless you, or someone you know, is pretty handy you should consider hiring someone who knows how to do this.

Soundproofing with a New Garden Door

Steel insulated garden, or terrace, doors are another option when replacing a sliding patio door. It might be more difficult to get triple glazing for this unit but it is certainly worth a try. When installed properly you will get the same 45 STC rating as with the sliding patio door. They also seal better than sliding doors. But you will sacrifice about 50% of your light and view. If you live someplace that gets to 30 below zero at times, the sacrifice might be worth the increased insulation value. A good soundproof curtain and your door will very quiet. You might want to consider professional installation. Garden doors are usually more expensive than sliding doors.

Creative Soundproofing

Here are a couple of ideas that will also be soundproofing improvements, add security, and comfort to your house. If you do not want to tackle these yourself, find a creative contractor–with some talent–to get it done right.

  • Install a window – If you do not use the door, give some consideration to building a pony wall about 2′ high and installing a triple glazed picture window, or a bay window. Or a full size window–maybe with an opening awning unit at the top
  • Install a door & sidelite – If you still need the door for access, install a 36″ wide door (with triple glazing if possible) and a triple glazed picture window beside it to fill the opening

You can always add soundproof curtains or shutters.

End Notes

I have installed, and serviced, dozens of sliding patio doors. This short section is not strictly about soundproofing–although the scraping and clunking noises they make as you try to open them is really annoying. Also quite often, the gaps between the venting door and frame are not caused by worn weatherstrip. You may have to adjust, or replace the rollers on the bottom of the door. There should be an adjusting screw accessible on the bottom of the sash–either inside or on the edges. You can adjust the sash by raising or lowering one, or both, of the rollers. 

If there is no adjustment left, you can give some consideration to replacing the rollers which requires lifting out the door sash, figuring out what you need, ordering parts, then installing them. I have used All Glass Parts for years. They carry an amazing assortment of parts for doors, windows, screens, and patio doors. You might also try windowdoorparts.com. Make sure that you have a spray can of silicone lubricant. You can even spray the weather strip for smoother operation. (Not WD40. It drys out and sticks.) Or you can hire a professional door service person.

Note: Before taking out the sash and ordering parts, use a 4 foot level to make sure that the sill does not have a bow in it. If the sill is sagged or humped in the middle, adjusting rollers can be a nightmare. Fixing those issues is getting you closer to door replacement than you want to be.

On a personal note, I used Madonna in my opening paragraph to get the attention of those of you too young to know who Ann Margaret is.

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Terry Schutz
I have worked as a contractor, sales person, and business owner in the construction industry for over three decades--mostly in home renovations and also as a home builder. I have been married to the same wife for 46 years. We have 3 children and 4 granddaughters. I have also been writing semi-professionally for about 20 years--construction articles, personal stories, and politically incorrect social commentary.

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