Almost every hotel I've been in has had an enormously heavy door that bangs when it closes. Now, I've been to many homes, offices, and retail outlets with solid doors that have a definite pull-back to ensure closure. But only hotels seem to have that enormous 'slam' that resonates through the hallways.

Is there something I'm missing or is it all in my head. Why do hotel doors have to be so cumbersome? Maybe there are standards for 'star'-qualifications.

EDIT for clarification (as requested): Hotel room doors, almost universally, is what I am referring to. Even with sound-dampening hallways, they are almost always very cumbersome. I understand fire-proofing, but that can be done with less noise. Is there a reason beyond that?

  • 1
    I'm not sure the noise is really related only to the weight of the door, the door closer force but have an influence, to make sure the door actually closes despite the lock in the way (and the weight of the door related to its fireproof nature). In many places where you have door closers, the door does not actually lock by itself, there's actually not even a full contact in many cases, and/or the door will be much lighter. Also it doesn't matter (too) much if many of those doors don't actually close, while an unclosed hotel room door is an actual problem.
    – jcaron
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 11:49
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    Almost every hotel I've been in has not had doors that produce an enormous slam. The fire doors have a soft-close mechanism.
    – OrangeDog
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 14:49
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    Note that the generally long and empty hallways will carry sound further than a furnished room; if you're comparing hotel door slams to home door slams. Not a full answer, but a consideration.
    – Flater
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 16:41
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    Yes. They're fire doors, designed to protect you in case a fire breaks out elsewhere in the building, and to reassure you against the anxiety that such a thing might occur - so that you might sleep more easily at night. Oh, the irony.
    – Strawberry
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 17:37
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    What I don't get is why I'm seemingly the only person alive on the planet who actually closes doors behind him with his hands. Why let it slam? Grr! Commented Feb 9, 2018 at 0:40

6 Answers 6


They're fire doors. They have a fire rating, that describes how long they can survive a fire burning on either side of them. This fire rating means a fire in a room will give safe passage in the hallway outside for a significant period of time (perhaps an hour or more), or allow a fire to rage outside in the corridor while people in the room have a period of safety. They are required by fire codes in various countries.

Similarly, larger apartment buildings in many countries have similar fire code requirements.

You'll notice doors on stairways and in other locations have similar traits, and for the same reasons. These doors must always be closed, or must have some sort of automatic mechanism that will close them automatically in the event that a fire alarm is triggered.

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    That’s not a reason for them to be designed to make a banging noise that wakes everyone in a two blocks radius. I have seen fire=proof heavy doors that close nearly silently.
    – Aganju
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 4:53
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    @Mikey: I think it may be a matter of circumstance. Your office is likely more noisy than the hotel at night, so comparatively the bang may not sound so loud. It might also be that your office interior architect was more careful and the door closes more silently... I'm always amazed at how noisy hotels are, being a quiet-loving person. Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 7:44
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    Mechanisms that prevent a door-slam usually make a door potentially less safe and more expensive.
    – Daniel
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 8:45
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    @Daniel Former security personnel here: Not only do fire doors have to be certified but also door closers. In fact, it is against regulation to not have a door closer for a fire door. I'm guessing that closers which are "good enough" for closing in emergencies are also louder as a consequence. Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 9:17
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    Another extension to this would be that the extra "slam" at the end of the door closer's travel could be to overcome resistance placed by the door latch mechanism, which would be required to make sure the door closes properly and doesn't end up ajar. This would also then be a security thing, if you were walking out of your hotel room, the door didn't close properly behind you and someone was to just walk in and raid your room I'd imagine the hotel wouldn't want to foot the bill for replacing your stuff.
    – RobbG
    Commented Feb 8, 2018 at 10:13

Jim MacKenzie is right that they are fire doors, which is why they are so heavy, but that doesn't address the reason that other heavy doors don't seem to make as much noise.

I believe the greater noise actually has to do with the acoustics of the hotel hallway - almost always a bare unadorned long and narrow space - the perfect shape for echos and reverberations. Offices often have wide open areas such as "cube farms" nearby, they often have many doors on the hallway open at once, and they are much more likely to have people in them whose bodies and clothes deaden the noise.

As proof, I offer two apartment buildings in my neighborhood. One is built similarly to most hotels - long narrow (and slightly curved, but that doesn't make a difference) hallways - and the other has shorter hallways with groups of apartments accessible by different entrances. They both use extremely similar building materials and fire doors, but the first one echoes significantly (you can hear a door close from 20-30 apartments away on the other side of the building) and the second one you can hear your neighbor's door but not the next apartment past your neighbor.


The banging is often due to automatic closing devices, which are required on fire doors in many places, and tend to be set to ensure locking.

These are adjustable in two sections: the main part of the range of movement and the last few degrees. They often come set to close most of the range quite slowly, then to shut the last bit quite quickly to ensure the door closes tightly and latches securely. While it's possible to adjust them to close the last little bit slowly, this isn't desirable from the point of view of security, as the door may rest on the latch and not lock. Realistically these closers are unpacked and fitted, but not adjusted from the factory settings unless the door doesn't shut properly, because that takes time (a few minutes per door IME), and time is money.

I have adjusted the one on a hotel room, because the door closed very slowly and let all the heat into the cold corridor before banging shut. I know what's possible from having set these things up in labs, where the vibration of the door banging would be a problem.

But of course it tends to be the other rooms that disturb you, and you can't do a lot about them. Even earplugs are of limited use for the low frequencies that carry a lot of the power in the noise.


Sure, they're fire doors.

But they are also commercial doors. Any commercial door is going to feel heavy, since it's built out of solid wood or steel. Contrast with a family residence interior door, made of <= 1/8" veneer luaun plywood (already light) and cardboard honeycomb or foam. There's no substantial wood except where hinges and knobs go. They can be fine doors if the honeycomb is glued to the veneer, but they are utterly unfit for hotel-room door service. You could kick right through them.

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This is residential "normal". Hotel doors are the opposite of this.

Doorknobs too - a commercial class 1 lever doorknob can weigh 5 pounds even without the card scanner. Whereas a residential privacy knob set is a few ounces.

The door latch mechanism is also heavy and commercial, and so needs a bit of an "action" to close with surety.

Part of this is driven by ADA requirements (slow closer, lever handles, positive latching) and fire codes too - the tuckback levers are to prevent snagging fire hoses or a fireman's gear and knocking him off his feet.


There is also a noise problem solved by having heavy doors. A normal door like used inside houses would provide poor sound isolation creating privacy problems. Also in the hotel room you would hear people walking and talking in the hallway, even if they were not doing that in a loud way.


They are called "Fire Doors". They're heavy so that they would be able to stop a fire coming into or spreading out of your room. The safety aspect outweighs the noise issue.

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