Choosing the Right Area to Soundproof
There are common areas in a vehicle that owners tackle for DIY Sound Deadening projects. Determining which one to focus on first can seem overwhelming, but targeting a small section is more realistic to complete in a weekend. Some popular options include:
The trunk allows for a contained project that is accessible but out of sight. As one of the largest open panels in a vehicle, sound transmission is maximized here. Benefits of reducing trunk noise include muffling road sounds and music thumping.
Under Rear Seating
Areas underneath the back seats are hidden but often lack insulation from the factory. Soundproofing here can cut down on noises entering the cabin from the rear. Plus, the seating must already be removed for this project.
Under Hood/Engine Bay
While more intensive, cutting down on engine rumble and noise entering through the firewall improves the overall audio experience. However, this area requires more disassembly than other options.
Closed Cell Foam Insulation
Thick fire-retardant Acoustic Foam panels provide thermal and acoustic insulation. Foam insulation is soft and forgiving for beginners to work with compared to rigid dense materials.
Doors are a significant path for outside noise. Basic panel removal allows the addition of sound damping materials between the outer and inner panels. Be aware this project requires more time and parts per panel.
When just getting started, the trunk offers a simpler contained area to hone new sound deadening skills in just one weekend.
Material Options for a Beginner
Several handy materials allow first-time DIYers to complete a soundproofing project without complex tools or experience. Here are some top choices:
Mass Loaded Vinyl
This heavy vinyl acts as an acoustic barrier when adhered to panels. At 1/16” thick, it takes some effort to apply but provides sound blocking. MLV rolls are easy to cut with household blades.
Sound Deadening Mats
Specifically made for cars, these sticky sound deadening sheets adhere to sound waves. Rolls of Dynamat come pre-cut to common vehicle panel sizes for simple application.
Tan Cloth Insulation
Added after damping sheets, a layer of cloth-backed insulation fills spaces and adds an extra barrier against noise transmission. It enhances the results of damping treatments.
Any of these forgiving materials allow a novice to complete their first soundproofing project correctly with minimal fuss. Dynamat or MLV offers the strongest sound blocking for a weekend project focused on a small area like the trunk.
Step-by-Step Guide to Soundproofing a Trunk Space
For many, the trunk presents the perfect contained area to tackle for a first DIY soundproofing project in a weekend. With some preparation and the right materials, big improvements can be made to cut down on road noise transmission.
Remove all existing trims, insulation, and parts from the trunk space. This allows access to the bare metal surfaces. Thoroughly clean all metal surfaces using rubbing alcohol. Dirt and grease prevent sound-dampening materials from properly bonding. Allow to fully dry.
Application of Damping Materials:
Begin laying the damping mat over the largest flat areas, working outwards from the center to prevent air bubbles. Smooth by hand with light pressure. Cut materials to fit angular areas and around features like wiring harnesses. Ensure edges butt tightly without gaps for best sound blocking.
Installation of Insulation:
Apply tan cloth insulation over the entire covered area except for edges accessible during trunk lid closure. Tuck excess material neatly out of the way but don’t compress or overlap damping sheets.
Common Tools Needed for a Weekend Project
While advanced soundproofing projects may require specialized machinery, completing a beginner DIY project focused on a small area like the trunk only requires some basic household tools:
An essential multi-tasker for carefully cutting damping and insulating materials to fit spaces. Look for a sharp blade and grippy handle.
Thoroughly cleaning metal surfaces is critical for material adhesion. A stiff brush or microfiber cloth removes dirt and grease efficiently.
The best natural solvent for degreasing and prepping any metal panels before applying sound-dampening products. Look for isopropyl alcohol above 90%.
To temporarily hold insulation materials, a light adhesive spray avoids shifting during installation. 3M Super 77 spray is a popular choice.
Sharp scissors cut insulation, trim, and damping rolls more precisely than a knife for tight spaces. Avoid dull scissors that crush materials.
Marker or Pencil
Mark guidelines before cutting materials to ensure a neat accurate fit. Water-based markers prevent staining if any marks remain visible.
Measuring Effectiveness and Perceived Noise Reduction
One of the most satisfying parts of a DIY soundproofing project is testing out the results. While measuring actual decibel reduction requires professional equipment, vehicle owners can still gauge the perceived noise reduction through simple testing:
Listen for Differences
Switch between genres at different volumes, listening for changes in clarity or reduced booming/vibration noises. Quieter music may now be more enjoyable at lower volumes.
Note Changes Driving
Differences will be most noticeable when driving on loud surfaces like gravel or train tracks. Smooth pavement and highway rumbling may seem more muted after treatment.
Use a Decibel Meter App
While not as accurate as a calibration mic, apps can provide a baseline before/after reading that mirrors perceived changes. Place the phone in the treated area and repeat the tests.
Feel for Reduced Panel Vibration
With bass-heavy music, lightly tap treated sections like the trunk lid while listening inside. Properly damped panels should feel more solid with less thumping transmitted.
Compare to Untreated Areas
Sit in the front and rear while testing. Untreated doors may still allow more noise transmission vs the treated trunk, highlighting the improvement.
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