Introduction: Soundproof Your Garage Walls (Using My Cleat Method)

Picture of Soundproof Your Garage Walls (Using My Cleat Method)

In this Instructable, I'll demonstrate how to soundproof a wall using a method I developed for my home recording studio. It is similar to the resilient channel method, but it is has advantages of being 1. much cheaper, 2. much sturdier, 3. allows the possibility of securing shelves or heavy items to the wall, 4. is removable in case you'd like to tweak something about it, and 5. uses ordinary 2x4 lumber that requires no special-ordering and associated shipping costs. Compared to the resilient-channel method, one wall can be soundproofed to the same degree as the resilient-channel method for about a fifth to a third of the cost. Sturdiness can be adjusted to your needs - for extra precaution, you may simply "use more". (For reasons I'll describe, I prefer to use as little as I can get away with.) And completely unlike the resilient channel method, you can drill holes in it (!) to secure heavy items such as shelves or cleats to hang acoustical panels and the like.

The trick to this method is that the drywall panels are hung on a pair (or more) of wooden "cleats" made from a sliced 2x4. The upper cleat on the back of the drywall is isolated from the lower cleat on the wall behind by inexpensive closed-cell foam tape. No part of the outer and inner walls touch directly. In practice, very little sound is transmitted through the foam, and the walls achieve a very high degree of soundproofing. The weight of the drywall keeps it in place so surprisingly well, that I use only two cleats: one near the top and one across the middle.

Overall, this method is fairly easy. It's not nearly as quick as using resilient channel, because it involves splitting a 2x4 lengthwise. (In either method, you will want to use foam tape to add extra soundproofing, so this extra step isn't a tradeoff, unless you choose to buy the resilient-channel pre-taped. The parts list is very small - drywall, a table saw or bandsaw, one 2x4 for every 4x8 drywall panel, nails, drywall screws, foam strips, and some pipe insulation. Surprisingly, this method requires much less precision than you would think, because some mistakes are in a sense self-correcting. Of course, the DIY version of this method does assume skill and confident use of limb-shearing power tools to do a potentially-dangerous "rip cut". If you don't have a woodworker's confidence with this step, find someone who can do it for you. A great recommended alternative is to have the lumberyard cut the wood for you upon purchase. In the section on ripping the wood, I'll tell you what to say to get the cut we want.

Since soundproofing carries with it a lot of myths and misconceptions, this Instructable will start with a little soundproofing theory before heading into the steps.

Step 1: Soundproofing Theory

Picture of Soundproofing Theory

First I'd like to 1. clear up some basic soundproofing theory, and 2. explain some typical alternative methods.

"Soundproofing" (as distinguished from acoustical treatment) is concerned with blocking sound.

You block sound with 1. mass, and 2. isolation.

Putting foam or other absorptive things on the inside of the wall is not soundproofing, but acoustical room treatment, which is used to reduce echoes and resonances and prevent excess sound buildup within a room. Soundproofing and room treatment are completely different things. Room treatment improves the sound within the same room. Soundproofing is about preventing sound from getting out or in. Definitely, putting foam on the walls can help keep your neighbors from calling, but it's not because of "soundproofing" -- it's because you have treated your room and in effect "turned down the volume" like they asked you to do.

Soundproofing a wall involves the principles of mass and isolation. A heavy wall will soundproof better than a lighter wall of the same construction. BUT isolation is the trick that will let you achieve the same results with a lighter wall.

A traditional wall involves panels (drywall, siding, stucco) connected to a frame, with drywall attached to the inside. There is usually fiberglass insulation inside the wall. It can typically block about 30dB of sound if constructed tightly. The way it works is mainly through the mass of the wall (drywall + frame) with some absorption by the insulation (effectively "turning down the volume") in the little "room" between the panels.

You can make a better wall by finding ways to isolate one panel from the other. In the staggered stud method, the vertical studs are staggered in depth so that the front and back panels are screwed into different sets of studs. However, they are still attached to the same top and base board of the frame, so some sound will travel straight through.

The ultimate method involves "double wall" construction. You essentially create a room inside a room with no part of the inside wall touching any part of the outside wall. Double walls can block in the range of 55-60dB of sound. A disadvantage is that the extra wall thickness can eat up a lot of space within a small room.

In between these two extremes, there is the resilient channel method, which involves attaching springy metal strips to the studs of the outside wall, then screwing drywall into a flange on the strips in such a way that the wall can flex against the resilient channel without touching the outside wall's studs. When constructed properly, these walls can block into the 50dB range. Other implements can be added to the resilient structure to get into the high 50dB range, such as foam tape and varieties of "isolation clips" that are clever ways to attach the channel to the studs without screwing directly. Of course, the cost of these adds up quickly.

My method is also in between the single and double wall construction, and it is similar to the resilient channel method in creating a "springy" wall that will flex. Unlike the standard resilient channel method in which the channels are screwed into both the stud and the drywall, in my method there is no direct mechanical path from the outside wall to the inside wall. So my performance should be most comparable in soundproofing capability to resilient channel methods with isolation clips. (Exactly how close we come remains to be verified by testing however, so stay tuned for future revisions of this instructable.) I will say, however, that it's "pretty darned good".

Of course, if you're running a commercial operation or otherwise have the funds, definitely look into a well-documented industry-standard soundproofing method like resilient channel or double-wall construction. They've been studied and measured thoroughly, and there's little mystery about why they work and how well they work. But if you're desperate and/or short on funds like many musicians, this method could be just what you need to get excellent results without a lot of investment.

For more information on soundproofing, especially technical aspects of soundproofing and studio acoustics, I recommend F. Alton Everest's books Master Handbook of Acoustics and Sound Studio Construction On a Budget. For non-technical soundproofing advice (mixed with a lot of product hype) see, (which I am compelled to point out I have no affiliation with and am generally critical of, even though, quite coincidentally, they are local to me.)

Step 2: Planning Ahead

Picture of Planning Ahead

This instructable assumes you will be soundproofing over an outside garage wall with exposed studs and insulation. Both are critical for the success of this project. If your wall is already drywalled, you'll need to remove it. If it is not insulated -- we're talking fiberglass batting or equivalent -- you will need to do that first, because it's part of the soundproofing structure.

There are 5 steps to this project:

1. Arrange to slice ("rip") the 2x4 boards longwise with a mitered cut to create a top and bottom cleat.
2. Nail the bottom cleat to the studs and staple foam across the face of the bottom cleat, then set the top cleat in the valley of the bottom cleat with foam sandwiched in between.
3. Cut the pipe insulation to set up a squishy track for the drywall to sit in.
4. Set the drywall panel in the track and screw it into the top cleats.
5. Assuming it's how you'd like it, caulk the seams.

And here are the essential parts, listed in order of use.

2x4 lumber - You will need one 8 ft length of 2x4 for every 8x4 ft panel of drywall. If you choose to use more than one cleat at the top and one cleat in the middle, plan accordingly after reading all the instructions.

Helpful Hint: If you buy the wood from a lumberyard rather than a home improvement store, you can ask them to rip the wood for you. Lowe's and Home Depot cannot do the cut required for this project.

Step 1:

(Optional for the DIYer)

-- Table saw or Band saw (must have miter capability.)

--Measuring tape and pencil to mark the cut line.

(Recommended "No-Power-Saw" Alternative)

-- Ask the lumberyard (not Lowe's or Home Depot) to cut it for you for a small fee. See the section on "ripping the boards", where I tell you what to say to them to get the cut we want.

Step 2:

Hammer and 2-1/2" Nails. You'll be nailing cleats into the studs.

Closed-cell foam tape. Does not need to be sticky. This blue roll is from Lowe's in the insulation section and was very cheap. In general closed-cell foam is identified by little closed bubbles. It does not look like a sponge. It should be about 1/4" thick. The foam tape will be cut and attached between the two cleats and along the front face of the bottom cleat.

Staple Gun. (Needed if your tape is not sticky. If your roll of foam is sticky, you won't need the staple gun.)

Scissors for cutting foam tape. If it works, use it.

Step 3:

Pipe insulation tube for 1/2" pipes. Your drywall panels will sit in these to isolate them from the floor. You should get the "polyethylene" tubes rather than the really squishy black ones. They need to be very resilient.

Utility Knife to slice the pipe insulation in half longways.

Step 4:

Drywall - thicker is better, but you can always increase the thickness later if you desire, by gluing more sheets on the face. There are many advantages to doing it this way, including being able to seal the seams very easily by overlapping them with the new sheet. I used 1/2" thick drywall.

C-Clamp (not shown) - at least 6"

Screw gun for attaching drywall to the top cleat.

Drywall screws. Pick your favorite. I ultimately used self-drilling screws.

Optional (Very helpful): A drywall prybar that helps to lift drywall at the foot.

Acoustical Caulk and Caulking Gun - Acoustical caulk is "Non-Hardening" or "50 year" caulk. An important principle in acoustical isolation is flexibility. Rigidity is an enemy.

Step 3: Be Willing to Break the Rules

Picture of Be Willing to Break the Rules

For any construction heads reading this, I'll take the opportunity to warn you of some ways in which soundproofing construction methodology is different from and often the opposite of conventional methodology:

In soundproofing...

Flexible wins over solid. Sound travels easily over rigidly-braced and strongly-connected construction. We want the opposite. Instead of a strong-as-a-steel-rail metaphor, we are going towards limp-as-a-fish. Of course a fish does not make good construction material, so therein lies the challenge. We need it to be just strong enough. The inside walls don't need to support a roof and hold the building together like the outside walls do; they just need to be heavy and not move. If you don't expect people to be bashing the walls in (mine will often have cabinets in front of them) then there is absolutely no need to do more than prevent it from falling down on you. Therefore use as little traditional construction (nails, screws, bracing, etc) as you can get away with.

Walls before ceiling. In conventional construction, the ceiling comes before the walls. But in soundproofing, this would be problematic for constructing a "hanging ceiling". It's much easier to set up the walls, and then hang the ceiling to either sit atop the new wall or butt tightly up against it.

Vertical may work better. In conventional construction, drywall is usually hung sideways on the walls. That's fine when you're screwing the sheets straight into the studs and cutting the edges flush with the ceiling. But in soundproofing, it's important to get a good seal at the top and the bottom, and it's often easier to get a good seal by letting the weight of the drywall sit on a strip of foam, and to let the ceiling panels sit on the top of the walls. In my case, I will let the ceiling panels butt up against the walls, but the bottom will sit in the groove of the pipe insulation to get a good seal.

Drywall also absorbs bass. The main role of drywall in soundproofing is as a high-mass-barrier. But drywall construction also plays a huge role in room treatment as a bass absorber. Of course, the drywall itself is not very absorptive; but the wall construction definitely is. You've surely experienced that hitting a wall with your fist is like banging a huge bass drum. Banging that drum takes energy. Sound within the room is constantly beating on the big bass drum created by the wall, and thus is losing energy in the bass region. The effect is a lot greater when there is insulation to absorb the sound within the big drum.

This is relevant to the way you construct the walls. Adding more mass in the form of studs or bracing will add to the mass-barrier effect, but depending on how it is done, extra bracing may decrease desirable bass absorption within the room. For example, decreasing the distance between studs to add more bracing has the same effect as shortening the length of a vibrating string: the resonating pitch goes up. You can easily determine the resonant frequency of the wall after-the-fact by banging on it lightly and listening for the tone. Is it higher or lower than you want? Does it seem more broadband (like hitting a normal wall) or more tuned-to-a-note (like a tom-tom). A great advantage of my design is that you can easily remove the wall to adjust the tuning! (preferably before you've caulked it :) In the case of my own walls, the construction of which I am describing in the Instructable, they seem to be tuned in a very broadband way around approximately 60hz vs. my normal house walls which seem to be tuned more tightly around 100hz or so.

Flexible caulking NOT Mud Along the lines of the flexibility principle, we want to use acoustical caulk which is commonly available as "50-year" or "non-hardening" caulk. The seals need to be flexible, because the panels need to flex. Therefore, absolutely no "drywall mud". We use only acoustical caulk to seal the seams.

No short-circuits! Resilient-channel methods are commonly defeated by sloppy or unknowledgeable installation that allows the outside wall to touch the inside wall via a screw or a nail that wasn't tightened all the way in or some other tiny missed detail that allows a direct path from the outside wall to the inside. It is a mechanical "short circuit". My wall is less prone to this, but you must be vigilantly aware of the possibility. The weak points in my design will be the staples and foam, so I will warn again when we get to that step.

Step 4: Step 1: Buy and Rip the Boards.

Picture of Step 1: Buy and Rip the Boards.


After buying your 2x4s (one 8ft board per 4x8 drywall panel)...

You'll first need to arrange a way to slice (rip) a mitered cut longways through an 8ft length of 2x4.

Recommended Easy and Completely Non-Dangerous Way: Go to your local lumber yard and ask them to cut the boards for you. If you buy the wood there too, you can get it all done in one shot for just a small fee. (note: Lowe's and Home Depot cannot do this cut)

What to tell them: "I want to rip each these boards once down the center, mitered at 25 degrees." Show them with your hands how it should be cut, and ask them how much they would charge.

As they cut the boards, set them aside as matched pairs. Tape or tie them together.

If you have to be DIY about it:

Here are the essential steps of the board-ripping stage:

1) Set your power saw to miter at about 25 degrees.
2) Adjust your cutting line so that the mitered cut will rip the board in half evenly.
. . . (For 25 degrees, that works out to be 2" from the right)
3) Rip the board longways, leaving two trapezoidal pieces.
4) Set aside the boards as a matched pair.

Remember that you'll be using matched halves of wood that won't even be touching each other directly, so don't fuss too much about accuracy.

If all of this seems obvious and easy to you, ie. "you know what you're doing", go for it. Since this instructable is not a power saw lesson, if anything about setting up and using the power saw is unclear to you, I highly recommend getting acquainted with the staff at the local lumberyard.

Step 5: Step 2: Prepare the Bottom Cleat

Picture of Step 2: Prepare the Bottom Cleat

Once the cleats are cut from the 2x4s, we need to nail the bottom cleat to the wall and place foam tape across the front and on the top where it meets the studs. Once prepared, we simply lay the top cleat across the foam and move to securing the drywall.

1. Nail the bottom cleats to the wall horizontally. Starting with one 8 foot 2x4 pair, choose one of the halves to be the bottom cleat. Orient it on the wall according to the pictures. (The top surface should slant upwards towards you.) If you've cut them unevenly, I suggest saving whichever one of the pair has the larger small-side to be the top cleat. (The reason is that you will be screwing the drywall to the top cleat's small-side blindly, so you may as well use the one with the larger surface.)

The only real variable here is location. The drywall will be supported against the wall at three locations: the floor, at the middle, and near the top. You interpret where that means for your garage. I chose the middle to be well above the cross members of the framing system, in order to reduce the risk of accidentally shorting out the soundproofing. I chose the top to be about 2 inches below the ceiling, since that would assure that I have room to raise and detach the drywall if I need to adjust something.

Nail the cleat to the studs. I don't believe it's necessary to nail it in more than about 3 times - at the middle and both ends. I recommend using a level, but it's not a big deal if you don't. In any case be sure to line up the next 8-footer with the first.

2. Add foam across the front face. I cut my foam (with scissors) longwise down the middle to make it an appropriate width, and then cut it into 8" or so lengths and stapled them across the face. You don't need to attach them contiguously -- it's better to leave space between them so that the foam can expand sideways. After stapling with as few staples as possible (just one in the middle works fine) hammer each staple all the way in with one blow to make sure it is well below the surface of the foam. Avoid hammering away the bubbles as much as you can.

Upgrade Hint: If you have the patience to use glue for the foam, then you eliminate all stapling issues. I found gluing to be frustrating, but maybe you can find a good way to do it.

3. Apply foam to prevent the top cleat from contacting either the studs or the bottom cleat. Next cut some smaller strips, about 4 inches, and staple the strips vertically to the studs about 2 inches above the cleat. See the photo. Again, hammer the staples all the way in so that they don't short out the whole thing. You can avoid this issue by stapling well above the height of the top cleat.

4. Once you've got everything padded like the photo, simply lay the top cleat in there snugly and move the next step.

Step 6: Step 3: Cut the Resilient Track

Picture of Step 3: Cut the Resilient Track

This step is pretty easy. Using a utility knife, slice a 1/2" (inner diameter) pipe insulation tube in half longways. Here is what I did:

1. One side is pre-sliced. Open it by ripping through with the butt of a utility knife, as in the photo.
2. Clamp the insulation tube lightly in the portable benches, just to keep it straight.
3. Score the other side with a utility knife and rip it open with the butt end.

Once cut, lay each half down as a track for the drywall.

Step 7: Step 4: Secure the Drywall to the Top Cleat

Picture of Step 4:  Secure the Drywall to the Top Cleat

1. Set the drywall panel in the track. This may be the most frustrating part, as the lightweight pipe insulation wants to move under it. Do the best you can before you clamp it. Make the bottom of the wall the same distance from the wall as at the middle cleat.

2. Clamp the drywall to the bottom cleat.See photo. The clamp makes everything so much easier. Since the panel is somewhat flexible, use the opportunity make final adjustments to the track. I found a drywall pry very helpful at this point.

3. Sound Check: Now is a good time to check your acoustical construction. Press your ear up to the drywall and scratch on the top cleat. Compare the volume of that sound to the sound of scratching on the studs behind. There should be a huge difference - scratching on the stud should sound very far away in another room. If the difference is not so great, backtrack to the previous steps and search for signs of short-circuiting, through a staple, nail, or a point where the drywall is actually touching the bottom cleat. Remember that the wall should should flex -- if it's not flexing, there may be a problem in that location. Once the sound check is satisfactory...

4. Double-check the top cleat: Make sure it's snug in the "trench" before you screw it in place. Check again that there are no signs of short-circuiting -- when you wiggle it around in there, it should never feel like you're hitting something.

5. Screw the drywall sheet into each top cleat. Again, for soundproofing reasons don't get carried away with screws. I used just three at each level. Since this is a blind maneuver, you'll find it helpful to pre-mark where you are going to drill, based on the level of the top cleat at the sides of the drywall panel.

6. Check again! Before you caulk it up, it's a good time to check to whole operation. Is the resonant frequency as you'd like it? Is it as sturdy as you require? Is anything too crooked for your tastes?

Step 8: Step 5: Caulk the Seams

Picture of Step 5:  Caulk the Seams

The last step is simple:

Load your caulking gun with some acoustical caulking, a.k.a. "non-hardening" or "50 year" caulk. Apply it liberally to the seams and over the screw holes.

Step 9: What Now?

Picture of What Now?

Are we done?

We'll we're done with one step of a long project. You should now have a pretty solid acoustical wall that both soundproofs very well and absorbs deep bass from within the room. Unlike a resilient-channel wall, which you should NOT screw into since there's nothing solid behind it to block the sound that will come through the screw hole, with my wall, you could even use the top cleats as a way to secure supports for shelving, tools, or acoustical devices. If you try this, I would advise drilling the hole, then filling it with caulk before adding the screw.

But are we really done?

Chances are, like me, you need to soundproof your ceiling, doors, and even floor also to really notice the full difference. It's amazing how much sound will leak through small cracks and seams -- those small cracks can make the whole project seem pointless until you deal with them. I will cover ceiling and doors and floors in future Instructables when I actually get to those projects. I have more nifty ideas for saving money on all of these.

For me, the most pressing problem is the garage door ("solid" plywood-over-frame), which I wish to remain openable, yet completely sealable. The edges around the lever mechanism are a profound soundproofing issue, because the pseudo-scissors-action of the door relative to the wall make it impossible to seal it ilke a normal door, and the lever-mechanism is totally in the way of any plan I might have. I also don't know how to create anything resembling a resilient channel or double-wall construction on a moving door without making it impossibly heavy to lift. Not to mention all the bolts and truss rods and bracing that are in the way. Any ideas?


waraji (author)2016-11-02

On your garage door I would look into weather seals made for garage doors in particular, and yours looks like it is the one piece "canopy" style door. Maybe once you find this type of side seal, you could add to it somehow. Because air leaks are also sound leaks.
I am looking into this for this for my own canopy style door, but I have the added problem of that my door is not square in the frame making the gaps uneven, so I have to fix that first.

CarlosV1 (author)2014-09-18

Just wondering, why don't you advise your readers to use 2x2's instead of instructing them to rip 2x4's? It would save a lot of time and work.

gullinvarg (author)CarlosV12015-01-02

If you look at the picture of the cleats, they need to be ripped at an angle not square.

CarlosV1 (author)gullinvarg2015-01-07

I understand, I noticed that after I posted the comment. What is the reason for the angled shape? Why would square not work?

mmoikeha (author)CarlosV12015-10-24

The cleats are not screwed together. The top one is sitting on top of the bottom one. It is effectively "floating" giving it the best soundproofability possible by not having any solid connections for the sound to travel through.

CarlosV1 (author)mmoikeha2016-02-07

That makes sense... Good technique...

joelchummel (author)CarlosV12016-02-07

The top cleat will rest on the lower cleat, and the backward angle will insure that the top cleat does not slide off - gravity will make the top cleat want to slide "downhill", that is to say, closer to the permanent wall. In order to slide away from the permanent wall, the sound-proofing assembly would essentially have to go "uphill" for the top cleat to unlock from the bottom cleat. So, the reverse angle provides a "bias" that ensures that the sound-proofing assembly will not pull away from the permanent wall. A square cleat won't give you this "bias" - the top cleat would be merely resting on the lower cleat, and it could easily slide either way. If it by chance slides away from the permanent wall, then the whole sound-proofing addition could fall off.

CarlosV1 (author)joelchummel2016-02-07

Great explanation. I didn't know what a "cleat" was when I wrote the comment. I totally get it now. Great method.

joshlenz (author)2015-05-07

What did you do for the garage door?

kathm1 (author)2014-12-04

Making a room truly soundproof room would cost thousands of dollars. Your idea, while it won't be able to keep all that noise out with your DIY method, it can certainly do a lot to help. I never thought your method of soundproofing would be effective until I read your post. Thanks for an informative article.
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j03tv (author)2010-08-29

I see this as a good experiment for a career in studio design and what not. But a garage? Just build an actual studio if you can, not in the garage but as an extention to or seperate from. It just seems pointless. I mean, in the end, your listening experience is in a actual theater or home living room or whatever and now days you dont need to be as technical as before since the challenges were far greater to achieve quality sound and such. But now things have changed and alot of the old recording problems have been remedied. Unless you have serious white noise, alot of outside noise or alot of leaks coming into your recordings then yeah it would probably be worth a bit of effort to minimize, but a solution can be simple as recording in a closet and what not.

WayneEarl (author)j03tv2013-09-14

obviously, you've no power tools in operation in your garage. or no neighbors. :-)

I have in my home, both a recording studio (upstairs) and a machine shop (my garage). sound proofing is the focus in the garage (allows me to cut and file/grind aluminum extrusions without bothering my neighbors as much), while the acoustic treatments prevents slap back echoes and other annoyances while recording/practicing. different goals, different approaches.

tinker234 (author)2011-06-18

ow so how much noise dos it block if it works 100 percent im doing it in my home

daniel.robinson (author)2010-08-03

I think this is the cheapest and easy way of soundproofing. You are explaining all steps in easily understandable format. Anyone can soundproof their wall by using this steps.

peterkanton (author)2010-05-07

Nice article.
I am planning to do up my studio with Quietrock.
I heard that QuietRock is excellent for soundproofing walls. I found some interesting information on their site
 It will take me some time to do it myself. Thanks for all the tips.

Green Glue (author)2009-12-08

HTJames comments and suggestions above are spot on. 

Different ideas on how to isolate sound are common, but really decoupling, damping, mass, and absorption are the only real true ways to isolate sound.  Double stud wall with mass and damping (Green Glue, Decibel Drop, Quiet Glue, etc.) is really the only way to go.  Little tricks and fixes really only add minimal benefit to isolation.  

If you want to talk more about sound isolation feel free to stop by  We would be glad to give you honest and free advice about using products like Green Glue, resilient sound clips for mimicking double stud/staggered stud walls, or even just advice on framing double stud/staggered stud walls.

shreiber (author)2009-09-09

Surprised that no one mentions Green Glue I read some great feedback on a lot of posts and simple to use.

civicbynature (author)2009-07-27

great idea man. I'm Build a music studio like your self currently. I thinking seriously about using your method. But i did have one question. Doing all you walls this way what are you doing about pluging unless your using non. Can plugs and light switches be used in these walls. If so or any idea how to do so please hit me up or leave me a message. Would help me out alot....

HTJames (author)2008-12-20

I really applaud the ingenuity, but there are issues here. This is a bit of a collection of common internet urban myths. "I did it and it worked really great" doesn't substitute for bonafide lab results. People install egg crates on walls and are thrilled... doesn't mean it did anything. Not having the drywall attached will not pass code, but you want them removeable. The foam on the cleats will pass vibration readily, since it's compressed. There's no need for a foam, etc under the drywall. Classic myth. It gives me the creeps to have this wall unattached. But maybe I'm the only one. What would I recommend? Since the studs are exposed, I'd take a small number of 2x4s and modify the existing single stud wall to a double stud. More sturdy, more decoupled. Then I would add something like Green Glue or Quiet Glue between double 5/8" drywall. You get the great mass and you get damped mass. Seal around with caulk, and forget the foams.

frikkie (author)2008-11-22


sonicdemonic (author)2008-09-25

Hi I actually signed up here right after going through this whole instructable, very nice work. I do maintenance at an undiscloded location, and we have these things called "door sweeps" some are rubber and some are kinda like the bristles of a broom, anyway when we have a gap like that on a door, we install these sweeps, and some are nearly water proof depending on how much you let them drag on the door jamb. If this was a problem for me I'd get the rubber ones, and possibly mount one on the front and the back of the door. They're @ home depot, and its just a thought, they're kinda pricey though like $20-$30.

aparition42 (author)2008-08-25

For the garage door layered heavy wool blankets could be arranged to drape over the door while closed and pulled aside when opening. I know they're absorbant rather than blocking, but considering the level of complexity you're up against it could be the fastest, cheapest solution. If you're really into the problem solving side, how about an accordian folded false wall to be pulled out? foam strips (the kind used to prevent drafts around doors) could be used to seal the points where the accordian panels meet.

mobilerik (author)aparition422008-08-25

Airtight soundproofing (as opposed to absorbing) is definitely possible. I haven't gotten around to it yet, but I'll likely set up a removable way to "board up" the sides from the outside. For a second seal within the side cracks, I have some ideas that aren't too complicated.

I've considered a folding wall for a second wall. A difficulty is "where to put it" when the door is open. Since it would want to be taller than the garage door, the only way to move it out of the way would be to push it halfway into the room, right? It MAY be possible to push the accordion off to the side, like they do for conference rooms, if I have space over there. A weirder solution would be to make panels that fold down, so that the garage door could open over it. That's kind of funny to think about. Imagine having a wall inside the garage door with a wide door in it: You roll up the garage door and go in the smaller door. The only reason to open the garage door anyway is to move furniture in and out, and to refresh the air. Otherwise I go in the side door. Hmm.... stuff to think about, measurements to be made.

aparition42 (author)mobilerik2008-08-25

My thought was more like the conference room you mentioned. Not just the width of the door but the entirety of the room, unless of course your garage door is the width of your room. Perhaps two accordions that meet in the middle? I'm looking forward to reading your solution.

aparition42 (author)2008-08-25

Would self adhesive door sealant strips, the kind used to waterproof car doors or boat hatches, work here?

mobilerik (author)aparition422008-08-25

Yeah, the really thick rubber stuff could work really well. But it's much more expensive than the pipe insulation. It does need to be thick -- the pipe insulation is at least 1/4" thick, and equivalent weather-stripping would be really expensive. I'm also not confident on its longevity based on how some of that stuff weathers -- when I've used it for doors, it tends to need replacing quickly. True, under a wall isn't exactly "exposed to the elements", so... I guess you could do some investigation and make the best gamble. Also don't expect it to stick to the bottom of the drywall!

BigEdJr (author)2008-07-31

That looks pretty cool. As far as the sound proofing of the door goes: There is a material that I have seen used to insulate/isolate AC units and even garage door openers from the structure. It is a rubber like stuff, possibly a neoprene. That stuff could go between the garage door hinge and the structure...I'm just throwing this out there by the way. And you can add springs to the door hinges to help open the door so you could potentially add a second layer to it too. Again I'm no expert, but you could at least look into it. Good luck! Ed

soulsust (author)BigEdJr2008-08-24

this is a great idea, do you think putting one layer of soundboard then a layer of rock then your wall is over kill?

mobilerik (author)soulsust2008-08-25

Depending on your application, it's not overkill -- it's very common to add layers. Keep in mind that once you've already made a heavy wall, adding layers only adds a few STC points at a time. To squeeze the most value out of this construction, it's recommended to screw in the first layer, then glue the top layer. In your case this would mean screwing the cleats to the soundboard, but gluing the drywall to the soundboard. The construction will be a little weaker, but you'll gain a teeny bit in resiliency, which will help it out overall. Again, we're talking only a few dB of difference.

audiomind (author)2008-08-17

"This instructable assumes you will be soundproofing over an outside garage wall with exposed studs and insulation. Both are critical for the success of this project. If your wall is already drywalled, you'll need to remove it."

Is there a way to 'soundproof' or "sounddampen" without having to remove the drywall, say in the case of a renter?

mobilerik (author)audiomind2008-08-19

The short answer is, unfortunately, "no" -- at least not to any significant degree. Apartments have lots of ways for sound to leak in and out, and even small leaks can make it pointless. Windows, air ducts, doors, chimney are all very difficult for a renter to soundproof, unless you are able and willing to shut them off totally. While one could float plywood on the floor and conceivably find a way to add drywall to the walls, the ceiling is difficult to do without drilling.

BUT assuming you have a windowless room and don't mind some construction, you would essentially build a room inside that room. With clever engineering, it's conceivable to support the walls and ceiling and do it in an unobtrusive way, even with portable sections. You could start by framing individual 4x8 panels (or even 4x4 panels) and bolting them together. Insulation goes behind. The ceiling would be a challenge.

Of course, if you could get the owner in on it, that changes things. The hottest innovation in soundproofing is Green Glue which is a viscoelastic polymer than you sandwich between drywall panels. The claims are that a few layers of the Green-Glue+drywall sandwich can get a windowless room into the recording studio range of quiet. It's not cheap, but for convenience and ease of application, it's a godsend.

audiomind (author)mobilerik2008-08-20

One more question. What if you don't have a windowless room. My main concern is the window, rather than the walls inside the room. Any good way to 'sound dampen' that? I know there's no foolproof way to completely eliminate the noise, but I'd still like to keep it to a minimum.

mobilerik (author)audiomind2008-08-20

You're right that the window is the immediate concern. The principles are the same: you need to add mass, preferably with an airspace and a way to absorb sound within that airspace. This essentially means that you add another window panel inside the first. Try googling "recording studio window" to see how they are constructed. First things first, weatherseal the main window. It needs to be airtight. Then find a way to hold a heavy piece of glass against the inside frame of the window, with rubber weatherstripping squished between. Maybe you could find a way to clamp it. A thick piece of glass, like from a table, will help you out pretty well. Just make sure it doesn't directly touch any part of the frame. Wrap a log of fiberglass insulation in some fabric and lay it between the panes . It's ok to compress it - though the thermal properties are reduced, it still absorbs sound energy well. Since your outside pane is thin, this won't work nearly as well as a studio window, but the results should be surprisingly good.

memo (author)2008-08-01

Another cheap method for soundproofing a room is by fixing a layer of egg trays. on each of your walls. It also helps reducing the noise in the room considerably.

mobilerik (author)memo2008-08-01

Sorry. Unfortunately egg-carton-soundproofing is an widespread urban myth. (There was a lab study done on this myth, but I can't seem to locate it. Can anyone find it?)

Soundproofing requires mass. (See Slide 2 on "theory") Egg cartons have little mass and do not block sound. While they do absorb and diffuse reflections, the effect is tightly centered around a certain frequency, which leaves a "bad-sounding" room.

Fact: Soundproofing must be HEAVY and airtight. So anything either lightweight or filled with holes -- spongy foam, styrofoam, carpet, thin panels, plastic sheeting -- have little to no soundproofing properties on their own.

These all have uses in "acoustical room treatment" -- for dealing with reflections and resonances -- but they must be applied in the right way, knowing their absorption characteristics and where to apply them for best effect. (ex. many absorbers don't do all that much when you stick them flat on a wall!)

For inexpensively soundproofing a music room -- that is, blocking sound to keep desirable sound in and undesirable sound out -- there really are no "tricks" that don't involve some variation on *drywall*. Your only real choice is "How are you going to attach the drywall?"

bikerbob2005 (author)mobilerik2008-08-08

egg carton wont sound proof anything they will work as a difuser totaly different concept .a flat sheetrock (common wall material ) will bounce sound back inducing reverb the egg carton bottoms will break up the flat surface taking energy out of the sound waves .
I use a mylar coated bubble wrap to line insides of vans and it does a great job of soundproofing its very light (maybe 5 lbs to do entire van) and only 3/8" thick.
i used it to line the inside of a longneck beer box set box over my rock tumbler just so i could sleep in the same room .
stuff i use i get from shipping co used in refer trucks but same stuff as this is

mobilerik (author)bikerbob20052008-08-19

Couple of things:

Soundproofing vehicles like vans and airplanes is a whole different mess than building a recording studio. The level of noise that is considered "quiet" in vans and airplanes would be intolerable in a recording studio. In vehicles, soundproofing needs to be lightweight, and there are great solutions for that. But for recording purposes, lightweight doesn't cut it -- amplified microphones pick up everything.

re Diffusion, egg cartons are too regular to be a suitable diffuser for most purposes. The diffusion effect is constrained around a certain group of high frequencies whose wavelengths are similar in size to the depth of the cartons, and the effect is irregular. Much better diffusers can be made more cheaply and more conveniently by using regular cardboard and following RPG-style principles, using number theory. I'll post an instructable someday on this.

Bisquick (author)2008-07-28

You could also use a Table Saw to rip long sections of boards as well (Cutting fingers off for a soundproofed basement isn't worth it) . I soundproofed my basement for recording using Egg-Crate foam mattress toppers. There is a local discount store called Ollies, at this place they sell queen sized foam mattress toppers that are about 2 inches thick for around 7-10 dollars. These are really large and will cover a wall pretty easily; the only drawback is that they are manila colored ugliness. They worked excellently; especially in my basement where I have cement walls that aren't smooth like a block foundation. *Note if you use this method make sure you get the right kind of glue and don't spray paint foam it dissolves with certain kinds :-) learned the hard way, oh and wear a mask.

mobilerik (author)Bisquick2008-07-29

I would definitely recommend using more standard ways of ripping, such as table and band saw. But I'm curious why the circular saw method so much more dangerous. Unlike the table and band saw, the cutting blade is hidden from your fingers. Projectile splitting is prevented by the clamps. Kickback issues can be lessened by going slow and being observant of the cutting response. Is there something I'm not considering? If so, I'd feel obliged to write it into the instructable or even redo that section altogether.

re: egg-crate foam - Keep in mind the difference between soundproofing and room-treatment (see page 2 of the instructable.on "soundproofing theory"). Foam on the walls is "room treatment" and it's great for "turning down the volume" within the room by absorbing higher-frequency reflections. It "dulls" the sound. But open-celled spongy foam does not *block* sound - which is what soundproofing is about. For actual soundproofing, you need solid reflective mass.

That said, I love finding leads on cheap acoustical foam for room treatment. An important consideration is the density of the foam. The lighter foam usually used for mattress toppers isn't dense enough to absorb all that much, but it's still useful when that's what you need and you know how to use it to best benefit. I'll do an instructable on acoustical paneling at some point. Ultimately you really don't want foam all over the walls, because it makes the room too "dead", and usually in a very irregular way - instead you want just a few strategic places, at primary reflection points.

Vestus (author)mobilerik2008-08-19

Table saws ship with a blade guard, and many guards have kickback palls. Unless you aren't careful and twist the board, there should be no danger of a kickback ripping a 2x4. Doing this with a circular saw will work, but very doubtful you'd get a true straight cut. To mesh correctly you'd need to match both sides of every board to its twin. Most HD/Lowes wont do an angled rip either, especially not on a 2x4. (And a jigsaw will me more sensitive, and will take you forever.) I'd suggest finding the local woodworking group and ask for help cutting. Btw, wouldn't this work just as well using 3/4" plywood for the french cleat, or is the 1.5" pocket significant?

mobilerik (author)Vestus2008-08-19

The foam will push the cleat out from the studs 1/4" or so, leaving a 3/4" cleat with only 1/2" of grab. Also the foam on the top surface of the cleat softens the grab quite a bit. That's why I opted for the 1-1/2" cleat with 25 degree angle. Less than this doesn't feel as secure.

mrthumbtack (author)mobilerik2008-08-13

The circular saw method is more dangerous because the blade isn't fixed. If there's kickback with a table saw, the blade doesn't go anywhere, only the wood moves. When something kicks back it means you're not in control of it, however briefly; so when a table saw kicks back, its an out of control piece of wood, when a circular saw kicks back, its an out of control SPINNING BLADE. As for your comment about the blade being hidden, frankly I prefer being able to see the blade. Also, a table saw set safely should not be drastically higher than the top of your board. Same for a band saw, it has a cover than should be lowered to within a 1/4 of an inch above the surface of whatever you're cutting. If I had to rip cut a board with a handheld power tool, I would use a jigsaw, because the blade won't kick back the same way. In some ways, I feel like I'm being really over-protective with all this information though, because I have seen really experienced guys rip boards with circular saws. I just feel like people should know the risks and the proper way of doing things before they try and use other methods (if you're gonna break the rules, know which rules you're breaking, i guess).

bikerbob2005 (author)2008-08-08

one way to make a more sound proof wall (that a standard 2x4 stud ) is to use for the top and bottom plate 2x6 ,still use the standard 2x4 studs on one foot centers alternating them even flush to one side,odd studs to other the 16"fiberglass batting on the studs so they over lap .not only have 2 more inches of dead space the studs wont carry sound through the wall. one more thing egg carton bottoms make great sound difusers nothing is cheaper than them.not sure if the foam ones work better than cardboard i would go with the first.mount them with a staple gun

Silence (author)2008-08-01

I did some research about soundproofing and cooked up my own idea... havnt tested it yet tho. The basics are air space, isolation and mass. My idea was to make a sandwich of Plastic signboard, carpet underlay (the heavy stuff), and a cheap wall pannel, glued all together then fixed to the wall to be proofed with caulking or double sided tape... think that would work decently ?

mobilerik (author)Silence2008-08-01

How heavy is it? How expensive is it? Drywall is less than $8 a panel and is about 50 lbs. If there is already drywall on the wall, you may be better off gluing more drywall on. This may add another 3dB or so. The only cost-efficient way to get a lot more would be to remove the drywall and start over using some type of resilient construction with some variation on "more drywall".

Silence (author)mobilerik2008-08-03

i was thinkin something i could assemble and dissassemble easily since i live in an apartment. I read an article about a fella who soundproofed his apartment cheaply and it aparently worked well. the best part was he could take it down when he moved. cant remember the specifics tho.

mobilerik (author)2008-08-01

NEWLY REVISED!!! I reshot this instructable, eliminating the distracting dangers of the ripping step. If you must DIY this step, I suggest using a band saw or table saw only if it's obvious to you from experience how to do this step. For the rest, I now recommend that you simply ask the lumber yard to rip your boards for you when you buy them. Ultra-easy!

mrthumbtack (author)2008-07-28

Man, that is the dangerous way to do a rip cut... Not that I haven't done equally stupid things.

mobilerik (author)mrthumbtack2008-07-28

Thanks for the advice. You're probably right. For the benefit of everyone, can you explain more how to best do it safely? I've had no problems with kickbacks and whatnot, but as I've only done this particular cut a total of 9 times, I can hardly claim to be an expert. :)

mrthumbtack (author)mobilerik2008-07-30

The best and safest way is to use a table saw. Personally I would never try this cut with a circular saw. I'm not an expert either but this is the knowledge that other more experienced people have passed on to me. If you absolutely cannot borrow, use or buy a table saw, then my advice would be to: 1) make sure that the board is well supported and immobilized 2) provide even downward pressure on the handle 3) NEVER put any part of your body under the board 4) always move the blade away from your body, 5) never put any part of your body in front of the blade You can minimize dangerous kickback by clamping an equally long board to the piece that you're cutting to act as a guide. Again, I stress that the safest way to make this cut is with a table saw, ask around, some people have small portable ones that they might be willing to lend you (but that comes with another discussion of safety).

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Bio: Cosmic Wanderer, Nature Lover, Rockhound. I blog about DIY RV Hacking For Serious Boondockers, Off-Grid Survivalists, and Full-Time Campers. #SimpleLife Currently building a DIY RV ... More »
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