Room Acoustics

Best Door for Your Home Theater


Maybe you are renovating, maybe you are upgrading. It doesn’t matter. You are considering adding or upgrading a door to your home theater room. This is great for bass and makes just about every aspect of designing a home theater easier. But what kind of door is best for your home theater? Well, there are lots of choices (really, there are) and some are better, and more practical, than others. So, let’s run through them all.

Hollow Core Door

If you ask a construction professional to install a door, they are going to grab a hollow core door. A hollow core door is exactly like it sounds – hollow on the inside. If you are lucky, they have a wood veneer but many only have a thin (think 1/8th inch) fiberboard face. This is so thin, they can only be repainted and not even sanded very vigorously.

As you might expect, hollow core doors are not the best for your home theater. They transmit sounds very easily which is bad for soundproofing (or just not disturbing others in the house). The advantage is that they are light and cheap, which might save on the pocketbook early, but you’ll pay for it in sound transmission later.

Solid Core Door

When planning a home theater, we think the best plan is to install at least a solid core door. These are much better at controlling sound transmission (almost as good as your wall). The problem is that they are heavy, harder to install, and more expensive. Retrofitting a solid core or into an existing frame can also be problematic. Their weight means you might need to reinforce the hinges with longer, stronger screws or risk them slowly pulling out of the wall.

The advantage of the solid core door can’t be understated. They will block much more sound than the traditional hollow core door. Their additional cost and difficulty of installation aren’t that great and they (can depending on your décor) look exactly like the hollow core doors you have elsewhere in your home (meaning they won’t stick out). When designing or planning a home theater, a solid core door is a must.

Exterior Door

If you really want to step up your home theater game, you’ll install an exterior door. Your exterior door is a solid core type but it also is usually solid wood. It is much heavier, much better at blocking sound, and much more expensive to buy and hang. They usually only come with an attached frame which makes them near impossible to retrofit.

The exterior door is best at blocking sound (double a solid core door) but it comes with some real problems. The space between the bottom of your door and the floor is meant to be an air exchange for your room. This means that as your AC pushes in cold or warm air, the space under the door allows the existing air to move out of the room. Exterior doors are meant to block that air transmission (for obvious reasons). You’ll either have to remove the bottom weatherstripping or even cut the bottom of the door. The other option is to add an air return to your room but that is even more expensive and not without its problems.

Airlock

The gold standard for home theater is a room-within-a-room. This is when your home theater is completely decoupled from the rest of your home. The floor is floating on some soft material, the walls aren’t mechanically connected to the other walls of the home, and the ceiling is not connected to the rafters. This completely isolates your home theater from the rest of your home and creates perfect soundproofing.

To complete the effect, you need what is essentially an airlock between your home theater and the rest of the home. This often takes the form of an airlock (or often called “Communicating Doors“). Imagine it like the double doors between two adjoining rooms in a hotel. The doors would probably be solid core (because they are best for soundproofing) and have weatherstripping. You’d need dedicated air ducts and air returns that require additional soundproofing, but, if done right, it really works. You could stand outside the home theater and put your ear on the outside door and hear nothing. Even with the home theater blaring. Is it expensive? This is one of those, “If you have to ask, you can’t afford it,” situations. It’s crazy expensive. But when you have to have the best…

Conclusion

If you are looking for the best door for your home theater, the solid core interior door is the way to go. They aren’t that expensive compared to hollow core doors and don’t cost that much more to hang. They block sound much better than a hollow core door and can actually increase the value of your home. If you are planning a home theater, or to upgrade your current theater, the best door in our opinion is a solid core.


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