How to Soundproof a Garage (for Band Practice)
What better place for band practice than your own garage? Well, there’s one problem with it - the neighbors.
Most of the time, the neighbors will not hear the clear sound but the drums, as their sound is the most problematic one to isolate.
As a part of a teenage band, I jammed a lot. Then, the neighbors started whining almost every single time we started our session. You could hear the doorbell in the middle of our song.
No doubt, it was really annoying for both sides - us and them, so we started looking for a solution.
However, as every teenage rock band, we were short with cash, so we needed a cheap and fast solution to our problems.
As back then there were no developed networks of articles like this, we started searching for the possible solutions in the books, asking our older ones, and even some architects.
Basically, we tried some mixtures of solutions that you will be familiar with, shortly after you’ve read this story. And some of them worked!
Finally, in the name of every single garage band out there that wants to express themselves without fear and refraining of their neighbors’ knocking on the door, I will try to point out some of the easiest ways to deal with outgoing noise from your garage.
Therefore, here are 9 solutions to your neighbors’ problem.
How to Soundproof a Garage Cheaply
1. Soundproof the Windows
Since you are using your garage for band practice purposes only, you do not really need a view.
Therefore, you can do something that you cannot do in your own apartment, office, or similar.
1. First of all, you can brick your own window.
In that case you will have more “wall” and less glass. And we have already learnt that glass leaks the sound very easily.
It is less costly to brick it, than to try soundproofing it with different methods, and, of course, more efficient. That will give you the best soundproofing results.
2. Secondly, you can add something that is called the acoustic plug for windows.
This is similar to something that would represent an additional window.
Firstly, you need to take some measures of your window, and then cut it to fitting dimensions.
This method will make something like an air-seal that will capture some sound inside, and not let it leak outside of your garage that easily.
Here is a great guide on making your own window plugs.
Another great thing about this plug is that it is easily removable.
Some benefits of this method are that you can easily put it on right before your band practice, and take them off once you have finished your session for the day.
3. Next on my list of window soundproofing systems are window blankets and soundproof curtains.
These blankets will be covered in more details further on in the article, so stay tuned.
As for soundproof curtains, they are something that can make your space look more ambiental and add a little to the overall experience of your gig, but the main benefit is that they will help in soundproofing your garage.
These curtains have a layer of soundproof material that captures sound in its threads, and not let that unwanted noise escape that easily.
Furthermore, they are good for drumming sessions as they will prevent the sound bouncing from your windows and walls.
You might like: The Best Soundproof Curtains and Buying Guide
2. Soundproof the Garage Door
The most problematic part is soundproofing your garage door. Since the door is the only moving part of your garage (except windows), the best solution for you would be to use sheets or acoustic blankets in order to prevent the noise going through the door.
Acoustic blankets are mostly made of fiberglass or similar materials that have sound-absorbing properties. They are commonly used for doors, or other movable parts of the garage.
However, they are large, so you would probably have to make some extra effort in cutting them and resizing to your garage door size.
The cheaper solution are moving blankets, which are pretty much the same as acoustic blankets but they cost less, so naturally, you will care a bit less when cutting them, than you would by cutting acoustic blankets.
Once you have finished insulating your garage doors, you are half-way there to completely insulating your garage.
Alternatively, you may want to get a quiet garage door opener.
3. Use Panels or Acoustic Sheets for Garage Ceilings
Most of the sound will be leaking outward instead of through your ceiling.
However, if you want to invest a bit more into your neighbors’ peace, and your own for that matter, you can do the ceiling as well.
Again, you can use aforementioned sheets and acoustic blankets, or you can use a better solution- soundproofing tiles and foam panels.
Soundproofing foam panels are cut in tiles with pyramid or wedge shapes which will drastically reduce the noise as the sound is not bouncing off of flat surfaces such as walls or ceiling.
They will reduce the echo and standing waves by absorbing the sound.
These foam panels can be seen in professional music studios, hence, you can use them for your garage as well.
I would personally recommend panels over the acoustic sheets when it comes to the insulating ceiling. They are somehow cheaper, and will do the job just fine. See our buying guide here.
4. Use Acoustic Blankets and Sheets for Walls
Since the garage walls are mostly thin, you would probably need some kind of insulation for them.
Before trying anything else in insulating the walls, you should probably try with these acoustic blankets or sheets. Since they can absorb over 50% of the noise, they might simply do the work.
With the layer of soundproofing material, these blankets will trap the sound inside the garage and help you keep the neighbors far from your door.
Moreover, by hanging them from the ceiling all the way down to your flooring with using hooks and rods, you will be able not just to prevent the sound going through but also add a personal touch since these blankets and sheets come in many different designs.
Acoustic blankets are an affordable solution to your problems. If you combine them with some of the solutions from this article, you could increase the overall noise reduction by a lot.
5. Soundproof The Garage Floors
In order to reduce the sound reflection, and bouncing from your floor all the way to the walls and ceiling, you will need just one simple trick.
Find whatever old carpet that you have. You just need to put some soft surface on the floor which will absorb some of the noise.
If you don’t have one, there are a lot of them on Amazon, but I recommend you particularly this carpet as you can use it for several different purposes (patio, porch, deck, boat, basement or garage).
With carpet, you will be able to play your instrument barefoot, like some of the successful musicians do. Some would say that this is a hipster thing, but I say it’s classic logic.
Namely, some musicians play barefoot in order to feel the vibrations from the flooring.
There was some talent contestant show which I was watching a few years ago. A completely deaf girl came to sing. Once she started singing, the whole crowd went silent. That was one of the best singing I’ve ever heard. Then, she explains through her translator how she did that.
“Vibrations from the floor” - she said. She was focusing on vibrations that came from her own band through the flooring. That gave her a perfect sense of rhythmics and dynamics of the sound.
Point of the story is that vibrations coming from the floor are too powerful, but the thing is that we learned to ignore them by the time.
Even though we ignore them, they bounce and transform into something else that our neighbors still haven’t learned to ignore.
6. Build a Room Inside the Garage
This solution is strictly following the old well-known rule - “the more, the better”. Each layer that you add to your garage will drastically increase the soundproofing.
One of the best solutions for the garage noise, although it demands a bit more effort, is this one - wall multiplying. All you need for this are wooden pallets and a drywall.
Drywall is a gypsum panel made of sulfate calcium dihydrate (gypsum), typically used in construction or interior walls and ceilings.
For this purpose, drywall will effectively trap high-frequency noises and prevent them from escaping your garage.
What you are doing here is basically building the room inside your garage. The more layers of drywall, the better.
Additionally, you can add a fiberglass as well. As you may already know, fiberglass is one of the best layers of protection against the noise. Other than that, it is commonly used as a thermal insulator.
As one of the cheapest solutions considering the value and the price, you should definitely give a thought to trying out this method.
7. Add Resilient Channels
Resilient channels are an alternative to the previous step. If you want to stop the sound bouncing from the wooden studs of your garage, you should probably add this intelligently designed solution.
Namely, the resilient channel is a slim metal-constructed channel which will essentially increase the noise insulation of walls, ceilings, sheetrock, and drywall.
As they are weighted with springs, they will hold together wooden studs and the sheetrock exceptionally.
The best description was given by F. Alton Everest, who said that these channels affix the drywall to the stud without the two actually touching.
In order to be effective, resilient channels should be placed about 3 feet away from both, ceiling and garage floor.
As the final result, the sound won’t be transferred from the drywall to the wall frames.
Just to give you an insight, for the garage of 8x8 you should probably need a pack of 24 resilient channels. Some estimated cost of this solution would be $500-$600.
8. Bring Your Neighbors to Your Garage
If after everything that you’ve done with your garage neighbors still complain, then, you are left with nothing else but to reassure them that you did everything in your power to prevent the noise going through.
After seeing your efforts, they will probably realize how much energy you have put into taking care of their senses as well.
They might empathize and finally let you be.
However, this should be your secret weapon, if nothing else succeeds.
Remember not to let them pour the cold water on you with their comments. You need to be prepared for any kind of comments.
Most of the time, those comments will aim to discourage you in order to prevent you from “making noise”. Therefore, don’t let your neighbors define your own musical career.
9. Use several different methods
Simply speaking, in order to reduce the noise even more, you should use some of these methods combined.
For example, some of the leading soundproofing companies have explained that a resilient channel will decrease the noise escaping up to 18 decibels.
On the other hand, the method “room inside the garage” will prevent up to 26 decibels going through.
Now, if you use both of these methods, you would be able to increase that number of decibels up to 32.
The best possible combination of these methods is “room inside the garage” along with resilient channels.
Let’s say that your garage is approximately 8 foot by 7 foot in size. Like that, you would need around $1000 for the mixture of “room inside the garage” and resilient channels.
It’s easy to conclude that this one is the best-value solution when you are short with money. It will provide the necessary insulation and it won’t cost you a fortune.
On Soundproofing the Garage
As you may see, all of these solutions are mainly cheap and affordable.
There is no point in offering some high-end solutions to the musicians, right?
Since most of the greatest bands have started from their own garage, I hope that you will remember this article one day as the one that helped your band to refrain and practice without any fears of the neighbors’ complaining.