October 6, 2015

Rock Your Garage with These 4 Soundproofing Tips

After you discover a new riff on your guitar, you practice it several times to make sure you have it down. The only trouble is, you’re playing your guitar without the amp for now-because the last time you used the amp, your neighbors complained about the noise.

Budding rock musician or no, you just want a space to practice in peace. But your garage isn’t soundproof. Too bad it’s the only practice space that really works for you and your band members.

Don’t despair. It’s not that difficult to soundproof your garage so noise won’t disturb those around you. To rock on without fear, just follow these four tips.

Garage band

1. Make Sure You Own an Insulated Garage Door

Massachusetts winters can be brutal. If you don’t have an insulated garage door, you already figured this out. Premium garage doors are an investment, but they provide extra benefits besides temperature control.

To state it simply, that new garage door’s foam insulation cuts extreme temperatures-and noise.

Just like that, you’ve already taken care of a big soundproofing job. Put some extra cash into savings so you can get the best garage door for your money. Both your band members and neighbors will thank you.

2. Pay Attention to Acoustics

As a musician, you probably already understand how sound works. But here’s a reminder:

  • Sound waves travel in a stream of vibrations, setting up a chain reaction.
  • Your garage walls vibrate in response to the sounds coming from your amplifier, a drum rim shot, and so on.
  • Your entire garage either reduces or increases sound transmission. To reduce it, you’ll need effective sound absorbers, sound breakers, and sound blockers.

Here’s an example. Let’s say your garage wall is covered in half-inch-thick drywall. Your sound transmission class, or STC, is probably only at a 30. That rating means someone outside could probably hear you if you talked in a normal tone of voice.

You’ll need a much higher STC if you want to block the high decibels of a rock band. Go for at least 5/8-inch drywall. But drywall is just one step.

3. Choose the Right Sound Absorbers, Breakers, and Blockers

Most home contractors leave garages under- or uninsulated. On the plus side, this tendency makes soundproofing easier because you or your contractor mostly add materials to your current design.

To understand what materials work best, take a look at this list:

  • Absorbers – Your garage can better absorb sound waves if it contains ample insulation. Loose fill can work if you need to blow it into your walls, but batting-style insulation is fine, too. Just don’t cram it between wall studs, or you’ll ruin its acoustic effects.
  • Breakers – To work properly, soundproofed walls require a resilient channel between your drywall and wall studs. Ask a sound recording engineer for the specifics. In general, your resilient channel keeps sound vibrations from traveling through studs.
  • Blockers – To really block noise, you’ll need a “room within a room.” Talk to professionals who have built soundproof rooms before. Essentially, you’ll create a false wall just inside your garage wall. Just be sure this doesn’t interfere with your garage door. Also, when you add batting between wall studs, remember: cotton batting is a better soundproofing material option than fiberglass.

4. Don’t Forget the Ceiling and Floor

If you haven’t already noticed, your ceiling is another sound conductor in your garage. If you want to block noise from going through the ceiling, consider a drop-ceiling system (similar idea to the “room within a room” idea mentioned earlier) or sound-deadening tiles (like those you generally see in recording studios or concert halls).

Remember to protect your garage door opener and door tracks while you work. For this reason, drop ceilings may not be practical for those with roll-up garage doors. Fortunately, it’s not that difficult to install sound-deadening tiles here and there. Consult a sound engineer if you’re unsure of spacing.

To cut the sound and make things more comfortable for your band members, throw down an old rug or some gently used carpeting on the concrete floor. If you don’t want to deaden the sound too much, you can also apply a rubber coating to the garage floor.

Final Tips

If you’ve guessed that soundproofing is a significant project, you’re right. Just remember: every step can pay dividends. You won’t ever create a fully soundproof garage. But soundproofing can save your family’s and neighbors’ sanity, so each step is worth your time and money.

Do you own a double garage? Consider applying your “room within a room” strategy to just one half of the garage. By so doing, you allow space for your car on one side of the garage (a novel idea) and still have plenty of space for your band to really rock out every week.

Go ahead-get your jam on.

Want to know further tips about garage maintenance? Return to our blog often. Thanks for reading!

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