How to soundproof a garden shed on a budget


I get it – your garden shed is not the quietest place on Earth. That’s the place where you can flex your muscles without disturbing the missus. Repair your kid’s bike. Or try out your new power drill. Just because. But you also noticed that too much noise escapes through the shed. You have no privacy, your neighbors are giving you the cold stare and your wife ain’t too happy about the situation either. So you’re wondering; for Christ’s sake, how can I soundproof my garden shed?

To soundproof your garden shed, you will need to add density to the door, walls and windows. To do this effectively, it’s best to use soundproofing materials that block both airborne and impact noise. Fiberglass panels and Mass Loaded Vinyl are the top choice for the walls. For the windows, you can make window plugs or hang noise-blocking curtains. The door can be covered with fiberglass panels. Also make sure to cover the gaps and cracks in doors and windows using weatherstripping tape.

That’s the overview of the process. The step-by-step guide is below. But before we start, please read this:

Soundproofing a garden shed is impossible

You’ll NEVER soundproof your garden shed completely.

Why would I say such a cruel thing?

Well I’m sorry, but someone had to say it. If your garden shed is made of almost paper thin material, it will pass sound even after you’ve buffed up that weak construction with soundproofing materials.

You can’t build a fortress on weak foundations. So if you’re looking for complete soundproofing to do Bay Harbor Butcher stuff in there without anyone noticing, it won’t happen. Really loud noise will still be able to pass through.

Now, here the good side:

Although you can’t expect COMPLETE soundproofing, you can still block a lot of the noise if you use the RIGHT material.

Using standard foam panels (acoustic panels) will NOT do a good job. Using egg cartons will NOT do a good job either. You can check out the science behind egg carton soundproofing and why it sucks here.

But here’s my simple explanation – these two options are actually OKAY for reducing echo in the room. But they won’t block the noise from going inside or outside to any significant degree, especially if you’re dealing with thin walls. That’s also true if you’re trying to block impact noise (vibration noise like people jumping, drum bass, throwing heavy objects on the floor etc.)

The only method that works is covering the shed with materials that can block airborne AND impact noise. My best advice on that front are Mass Loaded Vinyl and fiberglass panels.

This is how you can properly reduce the noise coming in and out of your garden shed:

1. Soundproof the garden shed walls

As I said, use either fiberglass panels or MLV. Fiberglass panels work great and look great, but they’re also pretty expensive. You can check out the price for yourself. Those are the ones I recommend for smaller projects, but not for soundproofing the entire room because it costs way too much.

A more affordable option that works equally well is Mass Loaded Vinyl. This material is exceptional for blocking impact noise, which is why it’s often used for soundproofing vehicles in order to block road noise and engine noise. It’s used a lot for wall soundproofing as well.

MLV is easy to cut to size with a knife, and it’s not as thick as foam panels, so it takes barely any space away from the room. You can apply it directly on the wall (from the inside of the shed), or inside the wall on the wall joists, depending on your situation and how you prefer it.

It doesn’t look as nice as the fiberglass panels, which are designed with aesthetics in mind. But it’s functional and it’s cheaper. If you’re not using the garden shed as a bachelor pad for some wind-in-your-hair adventure climax, it’s usually not a problem.

I’ve order Mass Loaded Vinyl before from this retailer on Amazon and I was happy with the delivery and the product. You can also get it at Home Depot.

Before buying any material, make sure that you order enough to cover all the walls, the ceiling and the door. Yes, you can install MLV on the door as well.

2. Soundproof the shed door

To soundproof the door, first seal off any gaps.

For the gaps between the door and the door frame the cheapest AND most effective solution is to tape the door frame with weatherstripping tape. Tape the parts where there are gaps when the door is closed, until there’s a perfect seal when you close the door. It’s that simple.

To block the gap between the door and the floor, use a door sweep. I recommend getting this cheap rubber one because it works on any door AND you don’t have to drill the door and use screws to install it. It has a self-adhesive on one side so it’s enough to just stick it to the the door and you’re done with it. By sealing off these gaps you’ll also prevent nasty bugs from entering the shed.

After you sealed the gaps, install either Mass Loaded Vinyl or fiberglass panels on the door.

Id you decide to use fiberglass panels, don’t use an adhesive directly on the wall. That’s the standard method, but it sucks because it ruins any surface you use it on. Instead, place 2-3 Command Strips on the back of each panel and then stick em on the wall. It will be much easier to remove the panels and re-use them later on if you want.

Installing MLV on the door is the same as installing it on the wall. So you can refer to the video above to see how it’s done.

3. Soundproof the shed windows

To soundproof the windows in your shed, first seal of any gaps. You can use the same method you used for the door, and seal the window frame with weatherstripping tape.

For soundproofing the actual window, there are a few different methods you can use:

  • make a window plug (most effective, but then you won’t have any light coming through the window when you use it)
  • hang noise-blocking curtains (work okay for reducing echo and reducing noise, also won’t have any light from the window when you use them)
  • hang moving blankets (same as noise-blocking curtains, only worse. Also won’t have any light when you cover the window.)
  • install an additional window pane (acrylic windows work best for blocking sound. Also, you’ll have light coming through if you install one.)

The easiest method that delivers reasonable noise reduction are noise-blocking curtains. They’re pretty thick and heavy, and they provide thermal insulation as well.

You can read more about each method in this article and decide for yourself which one you prefer.

4. Soundproof the shed floor

The question is – should you even soundproof the shed floor? Well, if you don’t have any people living under your shed (an your probably don’t), then answer is no. At least not to block sound going down.

But there are two good reasons to add soft and dense materials to the floor:

  1. to reduce the echo in the shed
  2. to absorb the sound of you walking, jumping and throwing things on the floor.

The thick rubber mats that are used in commercial gyms work pretty well for noise reduction and floor protection. Plus, they’re pretty affordable and there’s no installation required, other than placing them on the floor like carpet pads.

If you don’t like how they look, you can cover them with a large carpet.

Should you soundproof the garden shed ceiling?

Yes, you should. Unlike the floor, the ceiling and the roof of the shed will pass through noise if they’re not soundproofed. Again, all you have to use are either Mass Loaded Vinyl or fiberglass panels and you’ll get satisfying results.

By the way, f you decide to use MLV, ask someone to help you install it. It would be difficult for one person to hold the material in place and secure it to the wall at the same time. Two people working together can cover the entire room in an hour or less.

Conclusion

Whether you’re lifting heavy weights and grunting, or you’re a wood-working fanatic, or you’re Dexter Morgan – you know how cool it is to have a garden shed.

But it would be even cooler if you had more privacy and didn’t have to cause a disturbance with every step you take. By using the approach I explained in this article you can soundproof your shed so that regular noise is not heard by anyone outside.

Louder sounds will still be heard, but their strength will be reduced after fighting through the powerful obstructions you placed in their path.

P.S. If you have any difficulties soundproofing your shed with these methods, shoot me an e-mail at soundproofadvice@gmail.com. I check my e-mails every day and I’ll help you out with specific questions as much as I can. You can also shoot me a thank you e-mail and share your results as well. I love getting those! Talk to you soon. – Luka Baron

 

Peter Bone

Soundproof expert and a staunch opponent of noise. This website is a free source of information on how to 'keep it down a notch'. I update the content regularly to keep up with advancements in the soundproofing industry.

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