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Soundproof Your Garage Walls (Using My Cleat Method)

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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.
 
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CarlosV12 months ago

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.

j03tv4 years ago
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.
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.
tinker2343 years ago
ow so how much noise dos it block if it works 100 percent im doing it in my home
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.
peterkanton4 years ago
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 http://www.quietrock.com/educational-resources/soundproofing-home-theaters-and-media-rooms.html
 It will take me some time to do it myself. Thanks for all the tips.
Green Glue4 years ago
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 www.soundisolationstore.com.  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.
shreiber5 years ago
Surprised that no one mentions Green Glue I read some great feedback on a lot of posts and simple to use. http://www.tmsoundproofing.com/
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....
HTJames5 years ago
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.
frikkie6 years ago
cool.
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.
aparition426 years ago
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)  aparition426 years ago
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.
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.
aparition426 years ago
Would self adhesive door sealant strips, the kind used to waterproof car doors or boat hatches, work here?
mobilerik (author)  aparition426 years ago
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!
BigEdJr6 years ago
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
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)  soulsust6 years ago
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.
audiomind6 years ago
"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)  audiomind6 years ago
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.
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)  audiomind6 years ago
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.
memo6 years ago
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)  memo6 years ago
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?"
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 http://www.acehardwareoutlet.com/(az54ikv0wey2bzj4psw2mw45)/productdetails.aspx?sku=8163602&source=GoogleBase
mobilerik (author)  bikerbob20056 years ago
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.
Bisquick6 years ago
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)  Bisquick6 years ago
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.
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)  Vestus6 years ago
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.
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).
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 side.center 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
Silence6 years ago
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)  Silence6 years ago
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".
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) 6 years ago
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!
mrthumbtack6 years ago
Man, that is the dangerous way to do a rip cut... Not that I haven't done equally stupid things.
mobilerik (author)  mrthumbtack6 years ago
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. :)
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