So you’ve got a band, and you’re practicing in a garage. Now ain’t that special? But I’m willing to bet that your neighbours are not appreciating your greatest hits collection.
The noise coming out of your garage will ruin your relationship with them, and you might get a police visit and a fine as well.
If you’re here, you’re probably looking for ways to avoid this. And I’m here to give you the answers you need.
First of all, don’t expect complete silence if you’re playing death metal or have really loud drums. But you CAN isolate the sound pretty significantly, depending on how many of my methods you apply.
If you follow this step-by-step guide, you’ll be more than happy with the results
1. Soundproof the garage walls
In order to soundproof your garage, the first thing you need to do is add density to the walls. Some people place mattresses, but that doesn’t work very well. The reason is because the material used in mattresses doesn’t have soundproofing qualities. Mattresses look big and all, but that doesn’t mean that they work. Just like your girlfriend tells you all the time, “size doesn’t matter”.
#1 Simple Option – Acoustic Panels
My first suggestion is to cover the wall(s) with acoustic panels, and preferably those that are at least 2 inches thick.
The main result you will get from them is a reduction in echo and reverberation, which is pretty important for overall noise reduction.
It will also improve the overall sound of your instruments.
In this article you can find my review of the best ones and how to install them without damaging the wall (which can happen when using spray adhesives).
Thick moving blankets can also be used to cover the wall and improve acoustics and reduce noise to an extent.
HOWEVER, in case of impact noise you may want to take it a step further.
Impact noise is also called “structure-borne” noise because it can easily travel through walls and doors. In fact, if they’re not thick enough, the noise gets amplified as it produces vibrations.
Think of bass noise and drum noise, or the noise made by a washing machine. To block that type of sound you need a heavy, but flexible material such as Mass Loaded Vinyl or Rockwool (mineral wool batts).
#2 Best Option for Louder Noise – MLV
MLV is a heavy material that is both heavy and flexible. It’s arguably the best soundproofing material available, because it blocks airborne and impact noise equally well. For that reason it’s often used for soundproofing vehicle cabins, engine compartments, walls, doors and any other surface under the sun.
The best way to install it on the wall is directly on the studs. So it would require opening the wall to reach the studs and then nailing or screwing the MLV sheets on the joists.
If you’re unable to do this, you can use screws, nails or a spray adhesive to install it directly on the wall’s surface. Here’s an example of installation directly on the studs:
I love MLV and have used it multiple times. It’s pretty affordable and simple to install. It comes as a rolled sheet of black vinyl, which you can cut to size with a knife and use on any surface regardless of how big or small it is.
You can learn more about it in this article.
#3 Alternative to MLV – Mineral Wool Batts
Mineral wool boards or batts are also great for tackling airborne and impact noise.
These boards are typically placed between the wall studs. Basically to cover all of that empty space. This makes them quite effective, but placing them there can be a hassle. Because you have to open the wall to reach the studs in order to do this.
Also, working with mineral wool requires wearing a mask, glasses and gloves because the small particles can be irritating for skin and lungs. All of these reasons are why I generally avoid this method.
But if you’re already in the process of constructing a wall, it’s certainly a welcome addition, both for thermal and sound insulation. To learn how to install mineral wool boards inside a wall, check out this article.
#4 Install Additional Drywall
Drywall is a simple and popular method of adding mass to the wall. And with mass comes thermal and sound insulation. While this is definitely an option worth considering, I personally don’t like it for a couple of reasons.
First is the price. If you hire a professional to do it for you, the labor costs can skyrocket the price of the drywall and it ends up being quite expensive. Especially if you use soundproof drywall instead of regular one.
It also takes away space from the room, unlike the slim MLV and acoustic panels. The results are good, but these factors, plus the time it takes to install it don’t make it worthwhile in my opinion.
But it’s certainly more worthwhile if you’re already in a wall construction phase, as an additional project.
So overall the best methods are covering the wall with either thick acoustic panels or MLV. Acoustic panels can work well for lower amounts of noise and if you’re not dealing with low bass frequencies or drums. If you are, MLV would be a lot more effective.
2. Soundproof the garage door
It’s hard for me to give advice on soundproofing a garage door because there are different types of garage doors.
But the problem areas are always the same:
- the door is not thick enough
- there are gaps betweeen the door and the door frame
If it’s a metal garage doors, another problem is increased sound reverberation. A metal garage door is a large reverberating surface, and when you play instruments, especially drums, the garage door amplifies the noise even further.
Add a noise-blocking barrier to the door
To minimize this issue, it is vital to add thick soundproofing material to the door. How your garage door opens and its dimensions determines how thick of a material you can use.
MLV can be used on garage doors as well. It’s relatively thin and won’t damage the doors functionality in any way. But it’s heavy enough to add significant noise absorption qualities even on metal surfaces (it’s often used to soundproof vehicles for that very reason).
Another option is to install a curtain rod in front of the door and hang a noise-blocking curtain on it. The curtain can be removed or pulled to the side easily. Installing a double curtain rod and hanging two curtains at the same time will insulate the door even better. Check the above link to learn more.
The third option is a heavy moving blanket, hung on the door with screws/nails or a spray adhesive. Alternatively, it can be hung from a curtain rod just like a regular curtain if it has grommets.
Seal the gaps surrounding the door
Once you’ve done that, you’ll also want to make sure that any gaps around the garage door are sealed. It’s crucial not to leave any empty space where sound can move freely even after you’ve done all the soundproofing in other areas.
To seal these gaps, cover them by using a garage door seal made specifically for this project.
3. Soundproof the garage floor
So you’ve soundproofed the door and the wall. What is there left to do? Well there’s a large flat surface you’re standing on that needs to be addressed as well.
Now, you’re not trying to soundproof the floor because you got someone living below your garage I suppose. So this is an optional step that is more about reducing sound reverberation inside the garage.
The key here is to cover the floor with thick, but soft material. This will drastically reduce the echo in the room. Not to mention it will make the garage warmer for your feet and in general.
In order to do this, you can use different materials, such as thick rugs or carpets. My favorite method are rubber floor mats that are typically found in commercial gyms. They’re thick, soft and can last for a very long time. Since they’re designed to withstand heavy gym equipment, they’re very durable as well.
Covering the entire garage floor would be optimal. But if not, at least place some material under the drum set. This is where a huge amount of noise will be coming from and you want to reduce the chance of it bouncing off against the floor as much as possible.
4. Soundproof the garage ceiling
Soundproofing the ceiling is pretty much the same as soundproofing any other wall. It’s just a bit harder due to gravity, because you’ll have to climb on a band member’s shoulders to place the soundproofing material up there. Or on a chair/ladder. Your choice.
So again, you can use soundproof panels, Mass Loaded Vinyl or mineral wool boards.
But I’d leave ceiling soundproofing as the last thing on the list. The other walls and the door are more usually more important. Unless you’re worried about the noise travelling through the ceiling into the room(s) above the garage. In that case you should definitely soundproof it using one or more of these methods.
5. Soundproof the garage windows
Windows and doors are the most vulnerable points for sound leakage. To soundproof a window you can:
- hang noise blocking curtains on a curtain rod (double curtain rod and two curtains is even better)
- alternative: hang a moving blanket
- install dense window shutters
- install an additional window panel or storm windows
- definitely: seal all gaps and cracks
Hanging noise blocking curtains and sealing the cracks and gaps around the window and the window frame is the easiest and cheapest method. It’s applicable to all windows and I highly recommend it.
Installing window shutters can also be immensely helpful, but it requires a bit more work and you need to get the measures completely right.
In any case, you can read my full window soundproofing guide to learn how to apply these methods correctly.
6. Hang bass traps on the wall
If your major concern is blocking the low frequency bass noise, then you’ll be pleasantly surprised by bass traps. As the name says, these traps are designed in a way that “attracts” bass noise to them, and away from other surfaces.
The best thing about bass traps is that you don’t have to use too many to get the desired effect. There’s no need to cover an entire wall with them. Hang them sporadically across the wall and the improvement will be equal.
Furthermore, these bass traps can have a drastic effect on audio quality because they reduce sound reverberation significantly. This is why they’re commonly used in professional recording studios.
You can use a spray adhesive, nails/screws or hanging strips like Command Strips to hang them on a wall or any other surface. For the best results, use them together with the wall soundproofing methods that I mentioned previously.
7. Fill the garage with furniture
Furniture and soft materials will all reduce echo and possibly block some of the sound. For example, large closets, book shelves filled with books (You know what I like more than Lamborghinis… KNOWLEDGE!), boxes filled with old appliance, toys etc.
Basically, any large piece of furniture or objects can used to block noise to an extent. Especially if they have a soft surface that doesn’t resonate noise.
8. Contact your neighbors
Being friendly with your neighbors can sometimes work wonders. Ask them if they would mind if you played with your band mates in the garage and made a bit of noise. Tell them you’re trying to soundproof the garage and will minimize the noise as much as possible. When they see how polite and honest you are, they’ll be more willing to find a compromise.
Also ask them if there’s some time in the day when they wouldn’t mind the noise. For example, when they’re not at home, or inform them or the specific practice time. The thing people hate the most is unpleasant surprises. If you inform them that there will be some noise at a certain time, they won’t be as irritated by it.
9. Build a Soundproof Booth
This is not a viable solution for an entire band because you’ll obviously need a lot of space for all the instruments and people playing. But it can be a decent budget solution for one or two people.
Basically a soundproof booth is an area inside a room that is covered with soundproofing material. So these materials block the noise coming out to an extent and really improve the acoustics. It’s cheaper than soundproofing entire walls simply because there’s less space and less material needed to get the job done.
For example, you could use PVC pipes to create a small structure, and then cover the pipes with thick moving blankets. Or create an insulated space with noise-blocking curtains by hanging them from strategically positioned curtain rods.
While it’s not as effective at blocking noise as soundproofing the garage as a whole, it can be a viable smaller solution. If you’re interested in this method, here are six ways to build a soundproof booth.
Soundproofing a garage for band practice boils down to applying the right soundproofing materials in all the right places. This will not only block noise, but also improve the acoustics of the garage.
Even if you don’t follow all the steps I mentioned, you can still deaden the noise to a point where neighbors can’t call you out for it. So do what you can and upgrade when you have more time and resources to do so.
The methods I’ve recommended here are the most practical things you can do. The only other option is building thicker walls and replacing your current garage door with a super-expensive soundproofed thick door.
That’s not a viable option for most people, nor is it necessary for band practice.
Here is a summary of the simplest methods that work in most situations:
- cover the walls and door with MLV or moving blankets
- seal the gaps around the garage door with a door seal
- cover the windows with noise-blocking curtains
- seal the gaps in the window with foam seal
- use acoustic sealant to seal cracks on any surface
- cover the floor (or some parts of it) with thick rubber mats
If you stick with the proven methods I’ve mentioned in this article, you’ll do great while keeping your spending to a minimum.
I hope you’ve find this information helpful. If you have any further questions, leave a comment and I’ll respond as soon as I can. – Luka Baron