The first thing to note is that there are two different kinds of barn doors.
The first kind of barn door is the traditional and literal barn door.
These doors have solid cores, are heavy, and are generally soundproof.
The second kind of barn doors are the ones used in interior design.
These doors are often hung to become sliding doors. In some cases, these doors are repurposed barn doors, although most times they are styled doors.
These doors are just as soundproof as traditional barn doors, but the way they are put up is what lessens this quality.
The spaces created between the barn door and the door frame when the barn door is hung up are what allow more sound to travel into or out of the room.
The barn door itself provided it is an authentic barn-style door, will still be soundproof.
What Are Barn Doors Made Of?
Authentic and traditional barn doors are generally made from solid wood.
This is what gives them such a good soundproof rating.
The exact kind of wood the barn door is made of will vary, depending on the area and what is most commonly available.
Some people may even request that their barn door be made from a specific type of wood.
Although, in this case, farmers would generally be happy as long as the barn door does what it is supposed to and can withstand exposure to the elements.
The best woods to use for outdoor barn doors are cedar, bamboo, and teak as they are the most weather resistant.
Common types of solid woods used to create traditional barn doors include pine, oak, cherry, or knotty alder.
Two very popular types of wood that are also used are mahogany and rift white oak.
Modern, interior barn doors can also be made from a number of different types of wood.
Repurposed barn doors will usually still be made from solid wood, and on the rare occasion, newly made barn doors for home decorating may be too.
In most cases, it is likely that the barn door is made out of a different kind of wood, however, due to the heavyweight of solid wood.
Lighter barn door designs may be more popular because they will be easier to hang and operate than heavy barn doors.
These doors are commonly made from composite wood or plywood, and most likely have hollow cores.
Many people are even building their own farm-style barn doors as a DIY project for their home improvement. In these cases, the barn doors could be made from reclaimed wood.
There is no limit to what type of wood the barn door can be made from.
However, not all of these types of barn doors will have the best soundproof quality or rating.
The best choice for a soundproof option is to have a barn door that is made from solid wood.
These doors are often thicker than any other kind of barn door and do not allow much sound to travel through them. The downfall, however, will still be the way the door is hung.
The space between the railings will let in sound despite the soundproof quality of the door.
Do Barn Doors Give Privacy?
Barn doors used in interior designs give about the same amount of privacy as regular doors.
Like with barn doors, regular doors will let in a slight amount of sound in the gaps between the door frame and the floor.
Sliding interior barn doors, however, may have a slightly larger gap at the bottom, especially if it is hung higher than it needs to be, however there are numerous ways to help close these gaps such as using an acoustic threshold to seal the gap at the bottom and better soundproof the door.
The one downside to having a sliding barn door in your house that reduces the overall amount of privacy it provides is that it cannot be locked.
Although, there are ways around this. One of which would be to apply a bolting mechanism to the door.
This, however, will only be able to lock the door from one side at a time. If the bolt is on the exterior of the door, anyone would be able to unbolt it, unless it is properly secured with a lock.
Are There Any Completely Soundproof Barn Doors?
The closest you are going to get to a truly soundproof barn door, either indoors or outdoors, is a solid wood or solid core barn door.
These are thick and do better at keeping sound out. If hung precisely and properly, there will be minimal gaps between your barn door and the wall and door frame.
This will help to limit the amount of sound that travels through the gaps.
Unfortunately, there is not much else you can do to reduce the number of gaps around your hung barn door.
The sound that gets through the gaps will, however, likely be minimal.
Whilst barn doors themselves may be soundproof, the way the door is put up or hung can affect the overall soundproof rating of the door.
The hung door may end up with gaps at the floor and by the railing which will let in sound and reduce the overall effectiveness of the soundproof barn door.
And, although barn doors are a popular choice for interior designs, they do not offer as much privacy as regular doors.
While they work out to be about the same where soundproofing is concerned, they do not come with locks.
Barn doors will need to have other arrangements made in order to lock them.
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Sliding doors save so much space yet so few people use them, probably because of poor design. You’ve pointed out many of their deficiencies and it is challenging. But it would be worth it to persevere as the benefits are huge. Opening a traditional inward swinging door into a room is just stupid.
The biggest issue for most is the sound transmission because of the gaps as you mentioned. What is needed is a way of drawing the door into the wall when its closed, on to a type of cushioned weather seal. Many thermal windows use a clasp mechanism to draw the window in when closed. Maybe something similar could be used with these doors. And it could be locked but you’d need to go through the wall. They could slide into a housing to prevent it from being easily kicked open.
Sliding doors are used wherever space is at a premium, like boats and RV’s. They make a lot of sense.
Thanks Neil, you’re absolutely right, would love to get some in my house tbh to save on space one day.