So you’re ready to turn your garage/attic/regular room into a macho heaven? I’ve got news for you buddy – the missus will not appreciate the howling and brawling noises coming out of your cave. You’ll need to keep in the hush which can ruin the awesome fun you planned ahead.
But it doesn’t have to be all gloom and doom. You can soundproof your man cave or at least insulate it enough so that the noise is barely noticeable. In this article I’ll share with you all the information you need to soundproof your man cave in a simple and affordable way.
1. Soundproof the cave entrance
Interior doors are usually pretty thin. Most of them are also hollow on the inside. Not spiritually, but ACTUALLY hollow on the inside. Either way, it accomplishes very little as a sound barrier. But you can reinforce it with these two DIY methods:
1# Add mass to the door
Mass is what blocks sound. The thicker the door, the more sound it can block. It’s the simple logic of soundproofing! And there are many ways to bolster a door with additional mass:
- installing acoustic panels or thick blankets on the door
- hanging thick blankets or noise blocking curtains in front of the door
- installing an extra wooden panel on the door
- filling up the hollow part of the door with soundproofing material
- replacing a hollow door with a solid core door
I personally like the first and second method the best. They’re convenient, cheap and require very little effort. You can cover the door with acoustic panels from one or both sides. Acoustic panels are easy to cut so they’re convenient for installing around the handles as well. To keep them from falling off the door, use either a regular spray adhesive or hanging strips. If you’re interested in doing that, check out my acoustic panels review article where I also explain the best way to install them.
The second type of material to use is one or more thick blankets. I recommend using thick moving blankets that have multiple layers or industrial fiberglass blankets. This is perhaps even easier than installing acoustic panels because all you need to do is tack the blanket on the door. You’ll also need to make a hole for the door knob/handle which shouldn’t be a problem if you have a knife or a pair of scissors at hand. Click here to read more about this method.
The second method involves installing hooks with anchors or a curtain rod above the door or on the ceiling. Then you can simply hang the large blanket in front of the door. A good alternative to blankets is to hang these thick noise-blocking curtains instead. Their sound insulation efficiency is similar. So when choosing between these two options, keep the general aesthetics of the room in mind.
2# Seal the gaps
Adding mass to the door will make a significant difference. But there is one more problem you need to solve, and that is the free space around the door.
You’ll notice that when you close the door, there is a gap between the door and the frame. There also might be a gap between the door and the floor. Any free space lets sound (and bugs!) pass through easily.
To seal the frame gap, use cheap weatherstripping tape on the frame where it meets the door. One layer usually does it. Now close the door and see if there’s a seal. If there is, you did it. If not, do one more round with the tape. That should do it!
For the floor gap, attach a door sweep to the bottom of the door. This is also really cheap and easy to do. I recommend this self-adhesive silicone door sweep because it doesn’t require any tools to install. You might need to cut part of a door sweep with a knife in order to fit in on the other. Once you’ve corrected its size, simply attach it to the door. Until one of these bad boys arrives, try placing a towel or two in order to cover that bottom gap.
And that my friends is how you properly soundproof a man cave entrance. But that’s not the only area of concern, so keep reading.
3# What about garage doors?
Garage doors are typically much bigger than regular doors and they can open in different ways so we can’t use all of the methods mentioned above. Although some are usually applicable even for garage doors. If you have one that requires soundproofing, check out this article where I provide some practical tips on doing exactly that.
2. Soundproof the man cave windows
You’ll be happy to know that soundproofing windows is similar to soundproofing doors. You still need to do two things. Wait fooor iiittt… yes:
1# Add mass to the window
These are the best ways to reduce noise from windows:
- hang noise-blocking curtains or a thick blanket on the window
- use a window plug that’s easy to plug and remove
- install an extra window pane (acrylic ones are the best for blocking sound)
For blocking regular noise, simple noise-blocking curtains or a blanket will get the job done. A curtain rod or hooks with anchors can be used in this case as well. If you want to block more severe noise, then I would suggest installing an extra window pane made from acrylic. Acrylic has been proven to soundproof better than regular glass.
How to make a window plug
If you have the time for doing a small DIY project than a window plug is another great option.
To make a window plug, first measure the window. Next, get plywood or MDF panel that is slightly smaller so that you can insert in in the window frame.
Next, you’ll need to add acoustic foam to one side of the wooden panel. The easiest way to do is to buy an acoustic panel and cut it to size. Then use a spray adhesive to make it stick on the wooden panel.
Next, install a handle on the other side of the wooden panel. It can be any handle that allows you to insert the plug in the window and remove it easily. Either glue it to the panel with superglue or nail/screw it in place.
You’re done! Now you have an effective sound barrier that you can reinforce the window with when desired and remove just as easily when you want to open the window or get some sunlight inside.
But for this window plug to work, you really need to get the dimensions spot on, so make sure that you measure the window precisely before cutting the wooden panels and the acoustic foam to match it.
For most people, the best and cheapest option is to use noise blocking curtains. Plus, most of them look really nice and they add decent thermal insulation to the cave as well.
2# Seal the gaps in the window frame
Just like the gaps between the door and the frame, there are also gaps between the window and the window panel. So check to see if there’s even a few millimeters of space between them. Then seal the gap by applying it to the window frame until there’s a perfect seal when the window is closed.
3. Soundproof the walls
Your man cave’s walls play a large role in sound transmission. Luckily there are three general methods of soundproofing a wall.
The first method involves placing soundproofing material INSIDE the wall, installing it directly on the joists or stuffing it between them. This is the most effective way to do it, but it requires additional work. The second method involves installing soundproofing material directly on the wall’s surface.
So the first method requires more work but it’s more effective and the final result will look better. The second method is easier but it won’t look as pretty unless you invest a lot of money on flat fiberglass panels and cover the entire walls with them.
And there is the third option of building an additional layer of drywall. This is a bit more complicated if you’ve never done construction, and you might need to hire a professional. There are two types of drywall; standard and soundproof. Soundproof drywall costs more but it provides far better insulation.
I’ll now explain the first and second option and how you can do it yourself:
1# Insulating walls from the inside
As I mentioned previously, you will need to do a bit of reconstruction to insert the material. You need to get to the joists. Once you’ve opened the wall and see the joists you can choose one of these methods:
- INSTALL MASS LOADED VINYL ON THE JOISTS – Mass Loaded Vinyl (or MLV) is an excellent blocker of low, medium and high frequency. So if you’re dealing with a lot of bass noise, this is a really effective. To install it, you’ll need to nail it or screw it to the joists. Make sure to cover the entire wall. You may need to cut it in some places with a knife if there are some power outlets and cords in the way. That’s pretty easy to do. This material is not thick, but it’s got the perfect ratio of elasticity and hardness which makes it a great barrier for impact noise. This material is large and heavy so you’ll need one more person to assist you and hold the material while you nail/screw it in place. This is my favorite method of soundproofing walls and I highly recommend it for dealing with the full spectrum of sound frequencies.
- STUFF MINERAL WOOL BATTS BETWEEN THE JOISTS – Another very common way to soundproof walls from the inside is to place mineral wool batts between joists. There’s no wisdom required in doing this. Simply fill up the empty space with this material and you’re done. You may need to cut it to size if the joists are too close to each other. Also, make sure to wear a mask, glasses and gloves when handling this material because it can cause itchiness and irritate the sinuses due to some small particles that come through the fabric.
Those are the only two methods worth mentioning really. They’re frequently used by soundproofing professionals and amateurs worldwide in areas that require proper insulation against airborne and impact noise.
2# Applying insulation on the wall’s surface
Regular folks typically prefer this option to the first one. It’s completely understandable if you don’t want to reconstruct the wall. There are two ways to do this:
- hang acoustic panels or thick moving blankets on the wall
- install MLV on the wall
To hang acoustic panels on the wall simply use hanging strips like Command Strips. They hold really well. For moving blankets, either nail/screw them in place or use a spray adhesive. Either way, I don’t recommend using a spray adhesive because it will make them stick really hard and it can ruin the walls. Both options will improve the acoustics in the room by reducing echo, so it adds to the subjective feeling of quietness as the sound doesn’t bounce of the walls.
3# Noise reduction tips you can use today
Doing any activity in an empty room will produce more echo. You can reduce the echo by filling the room up with furniture. Placing larger pieces of furniture on the walls that are letting noise through can also be helpful. Large closets, or even large framed paintings can be used as additional barriers.
Furthermore, any plush materials inside the room such as pillows and toys/collectibles will reduce sound reverberation.
These are of course just additional helpful tips, but they won’t do much if used alone. You’ll still need to insulate the walls for greater noise reduction.
#4 Focus on critical areas
There’s no point in soundproofing all the walls in your man cave, at least not for your first project unless you have a big enough budget to do it all at once. For those with a limited budget it’s better to focus on those areas that bother you the most.
That could be the wall that separates the man cave from the bedroom or living room area for example. And the wall that’s separating the man cave from the backyard perhaps doesn’t require further insulation at all because the noise doesn’t trouble anyone in the yard nor is there any noise coming into the man cave from the yard.
Focus on critical areas and really dial in on them using the best materials and methods that you can afford. By doing so, you’ll get better results and save time, money and effort at the same time.
4. Insulate the floor
How much soundproofing you need for the floor highly depends on the location of your man cave. If it’s in the attic and there’s a bunch of living space beneath you, you’ll probably need to invest more effort to insulate it. However, if the man cave is in the garage, I simply advise placing a thick rug or rubber floor mats to protect the floor, reduce echo and reduce foot traffic noise.
So let’s focus on soundproofing a floor in the attic or on an upper floor in general since this is a major pain in the buttocks. In that case also you can just add a surface layer of thick and soft material on it. As mentioned before, thick rugs, thick rubber floor mats and carpeting will all add some density and reduce noise to an extent.
But if you want to ACTUALLY soundproof the floor you’ll need to do some reconstruction:
- place floor floaters under the joists to stop screeching noises when walking across the floor
- insulate the space between joists with mineral wool batts
- cover the joists with soundproofing tape
- install a subfloor (also known as floor underlay) which acts as thermal and sound insulation barrier
- use green glue on the subfloor before covering it with the floor’s surface material
You don’t necessarily need all five of these things. But each one helps and if you use them together it will make a HUGE difference. If the primary floor construction is any good, after this project you’ll be able to play loud bass and do basically anything without disturbing the people downstairs. Here’s a full guide for all of these tips (videos included).
5. Insulate the ceiling
Insulating the ceiling is the same process as if you were insulating a regular wall. The only difference is that you’ll probably need to climb a ladder or a chair to install the material. Unless you’re Shaquille O’Neil. In that case, please send me an autographed basketball.
You can apply the same tips on soundproofing walls in order to soundproof the ceiling. The only extra practical advice I can think of is using more than one hanging strip on each acoustic panel if you plan on hanging them on the ceiling, due to gravity.
6. Reduce noise from the dartboard
It’s no secret that many caveman like to shoot darts. If you’re one of them, you’ve probably also noticed the thumping sound that the dart produces upon hitting the target. If the dartboard is hanged on the wall, the noise can penetrate through a regular wall easily.
In that case you can enclose the dartboard in soundproofing foam. Or you can use a dartboard backboard that does the same thing. Another useful thing you can do is relocate the dartboard to another wall where it doesn’t cause as much of a problem. A simple way to move the dartboard anywhere you prefer and away from the wall is by using a dartboard stand.
To learn more about these methods and how to implement them check out this dartboard noise reduction article.
7. Create a sound maze inside air vents
Air vents are often forgotten when soundproofing a room. But free flow of fresh air allows noise to pass through undisturbed. So if you have an air vent in your man cave, you’ll need to do something about this problem.
The most effective way to tackle this problem is to drywall it completely. This will unfortunately cut off any fresh air you were receiving. So it can get pretty hot in there unless you have a window available.
So my best suggestion is to create a sound maze inside the air vent by using a few pieces of wood. It’s a very simple project that you can finish in 30 minutes. To learn more about soundproofing an air vent click here.
8. Relocate main sources of noise
Whether it’s an arcade game machine, a drum set or a dartboard, try to keep the loud equipment in your man cave away from the most vulnerable walls of the room. Any distance will help mitigate the noise to a degree.
9. Think about soundproofing other rooms
You don’t have to necessarily soundproof the man cave. Perhaps you can soundproof the neighboring wall of the other room. In case of soundproofing a ceiling, it might be easier to insulate the floor in the upstairs area. Or vice-versa. As long as you’re adding mass between the noise source and the noise recipient, you’ll get good results.
A man cave is a place of refuge, where you can drink a cold one after a long day at work and shoot the breeze with your pals or playing your favorite games.
If you’re worried about annoying the person on the other side of the wall, or you’re annoyed by them as you try to relax, then you should really consider soundproofing the place. I’ve layed out for you 9 simple steps that you can follow to accomplish this goal. You don’t have to use all of them, but I hope you find some of them logical and helpful.
I’ve helped many people soundproof their homes over the years and through trial and error I’ve discovered what works and what doesn’t. These steps work. So I hope you use this information to soundproof your very own man cave that can rival that of Gotham’s finest detective.