How to Soundproof a Garage
If you’ve got a garage, you know what a great feature they are in any home. They keep our vehicles warm in the winter and keep them protected in inclement weather. They also serve as a great space for workshops, band practice rooms, and man caves. To get the most out of them, ingenious owners insulate them for both heat and sound.
Creating a thermally insulated and soundproof garage are two sides of the same coin. If you do it right, the same materials can serve both purposes. It’s not as hard as you may think, and there are some great benefits associated with doing so.
Benefits of a Soundproof Garage
No one likes being subjected to too much noise. At lower volumes, it can increase stress and diminish our ability to focus. At higher volumes, it can create hearing damage. Not only will building a soundproof garage deliver health benefits, but it will keep your neighbors happy. No one appreciates a neighbor who keeps them up all day and night.
Once you soundproof your garage, you’ll also find that it increases the amount of useful space in your home. It’s the perfect place for the messy and noisy jobs that you don’t want to do inside your home. If you want to find out for yourself how great a soundproof garage can be, you’ll have to build one.
How to Soundproof Your Garage
If you’ve decided to get the benefits of a soundproof garage for yourself, you’ll need to know how to do it. Luckily it’s not that tough. Let’s look at the simple products and steps that will turn your garage into your new favorite room.
Soundproof the Walls
The biggest barrier between your garage and the outside world is the walls. Shoring them up will go farther toward creating a soundproof garage than nearly any other effort. To effectively soundproof them, you’ll need to add mass and density.
Use the Right Insulation
The first step in garage soundproofing is to add insulation. If your garage is unfinished, this step will be easy. If not, you may have to open them up first. If you’re uncomfortable doing so, you’ll need to hire it out. Once the studs are exposed, you’re ready to start.
The gaps between your studs should be the exact same size as the insulation rolls. You simply roll them into the gaps and staple them to the studs. You can hire this out as well, but with a little research, you can easily do it yourself. Make sure you use the right kind of insulation, too. The standard rolls that are made for thermal insulation only won’t stop sound. Make sure the insulation you choose is rated for both.
When you’re finished with the insulation, you’ll most likely want to finish the walls. Drywall is the most popular option for doing so. Choosing thicker drywall will give you more mass, which means more sound stopping power. Just make sure the studs are equipped to handle the additional weight. If you want to up the ante, add a bead of green glue between the studs and the drywall.
Green glue decouples the drywall and studs. It also dampens vibrations. That means it turns vibrational energy into heat energy, preventing those vibrations from passing from one surface to the next. It’s a simple and affordable solution that will go a long way to creating a more soundproof garage.
Add Mass Loaded Vinyl
To make them better able to handle sound waves, adding mass loaded vinyl goes a long way. Mass loaded vinyl, or MLV, is an incredibly dense material that’s easily rolled out onto existing walls. The simplest way to apply it is to simply roll it onto your walls. If you prefer a more finished look, you can add a second layer of drywall on top of the MLV. Not only does it look cleaner, but it adds additional mass, making the wall more resistant to sound passage.
Soundproof the Windows
As part of your walls, the windows will need some attention as well. Old or inefficient windows can allow a lot of sound passage. The first thing you’ll want to do is determine whether or not your current windows will suffice. A soundproof garage demands decent windows, so making sure they are up to par is step one.
Check to make sure they are well-sealed, and that there are no gaps around the edges. If you’ve got old windows with loose panes, they’ll need to be sealed around those panes. You’ll also want to make sure the window frames are well sealed. As a general rule of thumb, if air can pass through, so can sound. Even well-sealed, single paned windows can leak a lot of noise, however. To make them more efficient, you’ll need to add a pane of glass or two.
You can add panes by purchasing new windows, but that can get expensive quickly. If you want to increase your current windows’ soundproofing power, you can use window inserts. Window inserts are cut to fit your current frame, and deliver the benefits of new windows at a fraction of the price.
Soundproof the Ceiling
While we’re shoring up the exteriors, let’s not forget about the ceiling. It’s likely the largest surface in your garage, and can allow for a lot of sound passage. Creating a soundproof garage ceiling is a lot like soundproofing the walls. You’ll want to add insulation and mass.
A simple way to apply insulation to the ceiling is by using spray foam insulation. This step can be tough to accomplish on your own, so if it’s a concern, you’ll want to hire a contractor to do it for you. As an alternate solution, you can roll out the same kind of insulation you used in the wall in the ceiling. Again, it’s going to be a little on the difficult side, but it’s not impossible.
Soundproof the Garage Door
While it’s incredibly difficult to completely soundproof garage doors, we can make them substantially better than they are. The best method to soundproof garage doors is to apply moving blankets or acoustical curtains. Moving blankets do a decent job of absorbing sound waves, and many people have them littering their garages already. This could be a good use for them.
If you want a more effective solution, acoustical curtains are a great way to go. They can be mounted to rails, making them easy to move when you want to open the door. They also provide a whole lot more density than moving blankets. In the world of soundproofing materials, the denser the better. They’re also affordable, so you don’t have to break the bank to stop sound from passing through the garage door.
The garage side entry, the man-sized door that leads outside, can leak sound too. Don’t forget to give it some attention. Swapping your old door with a heavier one will keep a lot of sound contained. Seal the gaps with a door seal kit, and your neighbors will barely even know you’re in there.
Soundproof the Garage Door Opener
Electric garage door openers can create a lot of noise. When we open and close the door, the machine creates vibrations that pass from the unit into the joists above. The best way to reduce those vibrations and create a more soundproof garage is to stop vibrations in their tracks. Placing a garage door silencer between the mounts and the studs does just that.
In a conventional setup, the rails are mounted directly to the studs. This allows the vibrations to pass into the joists. Garage door silencer kits are mounted between the two, and prevent the vibrations from passing between surfaces.
How to Soundproof a Garage Workshop
Of all the rooms in our homes, garages may be the most versatile spaces we’ve got. Many of us simply park our cars there, but they can serve all kinds of purposes. One of the most common ways people use them outside of parking cars is as workshops.
A garage workshop is incredibly useful in tackling the honey-do list, but it can also get loud. Compressors and power tools produce powerful vibrations and harmful amounts of noise. If left untreated, that noise won’t make you many friends in the neighborhood. Along with the garage soundproofing steps we’ve covered already, there are some workshop-specific steps that can reduce sound even more. Here’s how to soundproof a workshop.
In order to create a truly soundproof workshop, you’ll need to tackle the vibrations caused by your power tools and compressors. The best way to do that is to use pads underneath to isolate the vibrations and keep them from spreading. You can get specialty isolation pads or mats that do a great job.
If you like your tools to be more mobile, swapping the plastic casters for rubber wheels will help. The dense rubber and air gap keep vibrations where they belong much better than hard plastic. If things like compressors will live in one location, you can hide them behind acoustical materials like curtains or panels. They’ll lower the overall volume and make the workshop a much more comfortable place to work.
Use Acoustical Treatments to Keep the Noise Down
A big part of soundproofing any space is keeping the noise down so you have less to contend with. Soundproofing garages is no different. Acoustical treatments can absorb a good deal of those sound waves before they even reach the exterior walls. One of the most effective ways we acoustically treat rooms is with acoustical panels.
Acoustical Panels are made of porous materials that allow sound waves in, but not out. Not only that, but they look great. They are available in multiple styles, made of numerous acoustical materials. Many are even wrapped with fabric, so you can use them to decorate with any color or design you like.
Their versatility doesn’t end with their appearance. You can mount them on your walls or ceilings, and you can even suspend them to hide any pipes and wires that run along the top of the room. By strategically placing them around the space, you’ll have far less sound to contend with.
How Much Does it Cost to Soundproof a Garage?
With all we’ve covered so far, you may be wondering how much this soundproof garage project will run you. It’s a valid concern. Whenever we embark on construction projects, the price tag can get high quickly.
The amount it will cost to soundproof your garage will depend upon a few factors. First, how much sound stopping ability do you need? Another consideration is whether your garage is finished or unfinished. You may be able to utilize some parts as is, but need some work on other parts. The distance between where you’re at to where you want to be will determine how much the job will cost.
Also, labor is one of the biggest expenses in any construction job. If you and a handy friend can handle some of the labor yourselves, you can save a lot. You may even be able to bring a job worth a couple thousand down closer to a couple hundred. Those savings will allow you to buy the best soundproofing materials available.
Consult with Soundproofing Pros
No matter which route you go, make sure you get the lowdown on what materials work and which don’t. Whether you’re soundproofing a garage workshop or creating a space for your band to practice, the results will only be as good as the materials you choose. Get the most out of your soundproof garage project by making sure it’s done right.