We’ve spent a lot of time showing you how to make your garage look great and easier to enjoy your hobbies in. For many people, soundproofing is essential to making your garage more comfortable.
And not just people who use their garage as a workshop or a rehearsal stage for their kid’s band, either.
Soundproofing your garage helps absorb outside noise from lawnmowers and barking dogs while also shielding the inside of your home from your power tools or noisy garage door opener.
Whatever the case, this article will show you how to soundproof a garage door, ceiling, walls, and floor. Usually, adding a little soundproofing material results in significant noise reduction and prevent sound from going where you don’t want it.
But first, it’s important to understand what problem you’re trying to solve and why you want to add soundproofing.
Keeping Sound In vs. Keeping Sound Out?
In general, most people will have one of two goals with soundproofing: to keep the outside noise out of their garage or keep the noise of what they’re doing inside the garage from escaping.
There’s a third case as well, which is to improve the sound quality inside the garage, but that will only apply to a small number of people.
While most solutions will help achieve both goals, there are some specific things you can change, depending on which is more important to you.
Let’s discuss each in more detail.
You Want to Keep Noise Out
If you use your garage as a gym or where you work on your hobby, outside noise can take you out of the zone.
If you can hear any of the following inside your garage, some simple changes can be a huge help:
- The neighbor mowing their lawn
- Dogs barking outside
- Loud music
- Children playing
- Cars and trucks driving by
Most basic soundproofing solutions will keep outside noise from disturbing you while working in your garage. You’ll want to focus primarily on soundproofing your garage door and any windows you may have.
You Want to Keep Noises In
Sometimes you want to block noise from inside your garage and keep it from disturbing anyone in other rooms.
- Power tools
- Band practice in your garage
- Loud garage TVs or stereos
You’ll still start with soundproofing your garage door and windows. If you have an attached garage, you’ll also focus on the walls and ceilings. However, creating a completely soundproof garage is less important with a detached garage away from your house.
You Want to Improve Indoor Sound Quality
In rare cases, you’ll want to improve the sound quality of your garage itself.
This is mainly for people who record video or audio in their garage or even use it as a recording studio.
Your soundproofing solution will add elements from both sections above. Additionally, you’ll focus on how the sound waves travel in your garage, adding sound-dampening panels to cut down on echoes and reverberations.
The basic idea behind soundproofing your garage, or any room, involves closing gaps and adding soundproofing materials to block or absorb sound waves.
That statement has a lot to unpack, so let’s dig into it more.
As you’re probably aware, sound travels in a wave-like pattern. Higher frequencies have shorter wavelengths, while lower frequencies have longer wavelengths.
We perceive higher frequencies as directional while lower frequencies are omnidirectional. Note: that’s not technically true, just how the human ear perceives it.
Part of the reason for this is because it’s easier for high frequency\short wavelength waves to be absorbed or reflected.
These waves are reflected differently, depending on the material type and their roughness or absorbency characteristics.
For example, smooth, empty walls will reflect sound waves back to the source, causing an echo. However, a carpet or foam panel will absorb more sound waves, and the varying texture will reflect the waves in different directions.
Thus, soundproofing involves placing things that absorb or reflect sound directly in the path of how the waves travel.
It’s not necessary to put panels on every square inch of the walls, just where the sound is most likely to hit.
That’s why you’ll see strategically placed foam panels on the walls of music recording studios.
We’re going to follow that same logic to soundproof your garage.
Here’s the sequence of steps to follow:
Step 1: How to Soundproof a Garage Door
Without a doubt, the biggest soundproofing challenge you’ll face is dealing with your metal garage door.
The walls of your garage are usually made from either concrete blocks or some kind of paneling over wood or metal studs. In either case, there are several different layers for sound waves to penetrate.
In contrast, aluminum or steel garage doors are designed to be thin and lightweight, which makes them easy for sound waves to penetrate.
Not only that, but most garage doors are incredibly noisy when they open and close.
Despite this, you can do a few things to soundproof your garage door.
Note: these tips focus on the garage vehicle door, but they also apply to the door from the garage to the house.
Seal the Gaps
As I mentioned, soundproofing involves eliminating gaps and adding material.
Your garage door has gaps running along the bottom, sides, and top of the door. You’ll want to ensure these gaps are covered completely. One way to find them is to stand inside your garage during the day, with the lights off. The outside light will shine through the gaps, showing you exactly what needs your attention.
The most common issue is the bottom corners of your garage door, where they meet the floor. Over time, the seal will compress or be eaten by rodents or other common garage pests.
When this happens, replacing the existing garage door seal is usually best.
Next, go outside and look at the rubber seal along the left and right sides of the door. Look for any missing pieces, cracks, or damage. The door seal should fit snugly along the door, not allowing air (or sound) to escape.
Insulate the Door
Most garage doors are constructed using a single steel panel with no added insulation.
Not only does this make your garage uncomfortable during extreme temperatures, but it also provides almost no protection against sound waves. Adding a layer of insulation goes a long way to absorbing noise.
The least expensive way to insulate your existing garage door is with foam panels. You can purchase them at your local hardware store, measure the door and cut the material to fit. Alternatively, you can buy a garage door insulation kit, like the one I have from Matador.
Finally, some people take this a step further and install acoustic foam panels or sound absorbing acoustic blankets over their garage door. Blankets contain dense material that helps absorb sound waves. They’re a temporary solution, however. You’ll need to pack them away when you want to open or close your garage door.
A word of caution: acoustic panels attached to your garage door may interfere with its operation. Be sure there’s adequate space for the door to move along the tracks.
Replace the Garage Door
You could upgrade to a new insulated garage door for the ultimate in soundproofing (and insulation).
Over the past decade, there have been several major advances in garage door construction. Today’s garage doors are more sturdy, more efficient, and, yes, quieter than their predecessors.
That said, purchasing a new garage door is a significant investment. I recently priced a new insulated garage door for my home at almost $5000 installed.
Step 2: How to Soundproof Garage Walls & Ceiling
Soundproofing your garage door is a great first step, but sound bounces off your walls and ceiling too.
Let’s give them some attention now.
The key to insulating your garage walls and ceiling is adding material on top of what’s already there.
This isn’t as complicated as it may seem and can be done by adding insulation, wall panels, or (ideally) both.
Most garage walls are constructed from cement blocks or thin paneling over top of wood or metal studs. Many garages don’t even have plywood or OSB paneling and are simply unfinished walls over exposed studs.
No matter where you’re starting, it’s relatively simple (if time-consuming) to add a soundproofing layer to your garage walls. Best of all, you have various options for how to do it.
Bare studs: The best case scenario is if you have an unfinished garage with bare studs and no wall panels. Adding batt, not blown, insulation to your empty wall panels is easy and inexpensive. From there, you can cover it with drywall or plywood.
Concrete blocks: The most common case is for your garage to be constructed from concrete or cinder blocks. While it’s not as easy to cover as bare studs, you can still add drywall or wood paneling. Since concrete is porous, attach thin treated wood studs directly to the concrete, then hang the drywall on the studs. You can also add insulation by framing the wall with regular 2×4 studs.
Finished Garage walls (drywall\plywood\OSB): If your garage already has finished walls, you can still add an additional layer to them. In this case, opt for a thicker, 5/8″ drywall panel and mount it directly on the wall panel. Stagger the joints to avoid having a panel gap directly on top of another panel gap.
Alternately, you could remove the wall panels, add new insulation, and put new drywall in the garage.
How much garage ceiling soundproofing you need to add depends on whether you have living space above it.
For example, my house has a bedroom directly over it, so my garage ceiling is well insulated and finished with drywall panels.
However, adding insulation to your garage ceiling is well worth the expense if you have an unfinished garage ceiling. Not only will this add a layer of garage soundproofing, but you’ll also save on your energy bill.
Many solutions for soundproofing your garage walls will also work on your garage ceiling, so review the section above to see what works for your situation.
Take Soundproofing to the Next Level
Regardless of your garage wall panel, vibrations often occur when the panel is attached to the stud. We can add dampening material between the drywall and the stud to fix this problem.
A resilient channel is a metal channel that goes between the studs and the drywall. This helps to absorb sound waves, so they don’t vibrate from your drywall into the studs.
Similarly, Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is a thick, flexible vinyl layer that also goes between wall panels and studs. When secured with a green glue adhesive, it effectively absorbs sound. Alternatively, you can use Gorilla Glue, just don’t get it on your hands.
Unfortunately, it can be rather expensive to layer an entire wall in MLV – often costing more than the drywall itself.
Finally, acoustic foam panels are an excellent way to jazz up and quiet down the garage. They provide targeted sound absorption by absorbing sound waves and result in an overall noise reduction.
Installing acoustic foam panels on the ceiling is an easy way to reduce the noise from your garage. Sound waves bounce off smooth surfaces, which is what the textured soundproofing ceiling tiles prevent from happening.
This can result in a very dramatic reduction of echoes. Best of all, adding acoustic foam panels doesn’t require professional help. It’s a simple DIY project that may take an afternoon to complete.
Finally, simple foam panels provide exceptional soundproofing properties. They are easy to install, and you can usually find a variety of foam panels that fall within your budget range.
Step 3: Soundproof the Windows (If Applicable)
Although adding windows to your garage is a great way to increase natural light, they provide gaps where noise can escape.
The tradeoff is that garage soundproofing involves covering up the windows, so you need to have adequate interior lighting.
There are several options for soundproofing your windows, including:
- Installing a custom acoustic plug from materials such as egg crate panels and untempered hardboard closes gaps between the windows.
- Hang noise blocking curtains or acoustic blankets in front of the windows.
- Installing soundproofing curtains that also help put your personal touch in the garage.
Step 4: How to Soundproof a Garage Floor
You’ll see the most significant improvements from the previous steps, but soundproofing your garage floor can take you the rest of the way.
Thankfully, this is the easiest and cheapest step.
As we discussed, sound waves continuously bounce from the ceiling, wall, and back to your floor. Hard, flat surfaces, like concrete or epoxy, only seem to amplify that noise as it echoes through your garage.
Luckily, you can reduce noise transmission with a few simple solutions.
The simplest and most cost-effective way to soundproof your garage floor is strategically placing mats in open areas. Floor mats are usually inexpensive, starting at around $100.
The soft, cushy material helps absorb sound waves while making your garage floor more comfortable.
In addition to soundproofing, garage floor mats have several significant benefits.
You can find garage floor mats designed to soak up oil and grease, protecting your garage floor. Alternately, foam mats can help alleviate the stress of standing on hard concrete for extended periods.
A word of caution, however. Although carpeting is a great way to inexpensively soundproof an interior room, we do not recommend carpeting your garage floor.
Carpet will soak up spilled oil, gasoline, and chemicals, causing potential safety risks.
Interlocking Floor Tiles
Although they’re not as comfortable as floor mats, interlocking floor tiles can also help to soundproof your garage floor.
Vented garage floor tiles, like Swisstrax Ribtrax or RaceDeck Free-Flow, are designed to allow liquid to drop through the tile, keeping your garage floor dry.
However, the venting also dissipates sound waves by reflecting them in multiple directions. This helps to reduce echoes in an otherwise empty garage.
Special Use Cases
We’ve above how to soundproof a garage, but there are situations that need more specific solutions. Two of the most common are soundproofing a garage workshop for woodworking or metalwork and soundproofing for a garage band practice.
The basics for these special-use cases are still the same as what I’ve detailed above. However, each will have some additional steps that you can take to lower the noise levels even further.
How to Soundproof a Garage Workshop
If you use power tools for any length of time, it’s critical to take extra steps to soundproof your garage workshop.
A hand drill can hit up to 98 decibels (dB) of noise, while a circular saw tops out at 118 dB. Even Shop-vacs run at 123 dB. (source)
Prolonged exposure to sounds over 85 dB can damage your hearing, while noise above 120 dB can lead to immediate harm.
The best solution is to isolate your loudest power tools from the rest of the garage. Then, the person operating the tool can wear ear protection while protecting everyone else in the immediate area.
To do this, you can build a room-within-a-room with its own dedicated soundproofing insulation and wall panels. This effectively decouples the smaller room from the garage as a whole.
This is often more cost-effective than soundproofing the entire garage. Because the area is much smaller, you can splurge on better sound absorption panels or mass-loaded vinyl barriers.
Soundproofing your garage workshop allows you the freedom to work without worrying about affecting other people.
How to Soundproof a Garage For Band Practice (With Drums)
I play guitar in my spare time, so I know how loud musical instruments can be. My 50-watt guitar amp hits 115 dB, and a set of drums ranges between 90 dB and 130 dB.
Soundproofing drums is incredibly challenging because you’re dealing with high-frequencies (cymbals) and low-frequencies (bass drums). Low frequencies have a longer wavelength that penetrates rather than reflects off other objects.
That means to effectively soundproof your garage for a band, you’ll need a combination of acoustic panels and thick floor coverings.
Building a room inside a room (decoupling) can help keep low frequencies from drums and bass from traveling outside. However, you can modify this decoupled room to direct the sound where you want it.
Arrange three small, framed walls with soundproof panels in a ‘U’ shape to direct the sound from the drums towards the other musicians but block sound from the rest of the house.
Additionally, add a thick rubber mat with sound absorbing properties underneath the drums and guitar amps. This will absorb any low frequencies that would otherwise resonate throughout the structure during band practice.