A loud machine like an air compressor can be hard to dampen, but that’s what a soundproof box is for. Using a few simple materials, we’re confident you can have an outstanding, fully functional soundproof box made from scratch.
Building something as complicated as this may seem intimidating, but we hope this step by step guide to how to build a soundproof box will give you the confidence to create the perfect sound proof box for your needs.
In order to maximize your box’s sound absorption, follow our guide closely!
What is Soundproofing?
Soundproofing is the best way to interrupt restless soundwaves that would otherwise keep going. Although a characteristic of soundproofing, sound absorption is not the same thing. Instead of absorbing sound, we’re showing you how to block the loud sounds of your machine from escaping a small space.
Building a soundproof box is an important feature of limiting soundwaves from entering or leaving a specific area. When you’re building your soundproof box, you need to think about mass, damping, decoupling, and lastly, absorption.
The basic rule of thumb is any heavy or thick piece of material will block sound. In the case of your soundproof box, try adding more layering to your walls and see to what degree that blocks the sound. Additionally, a vinyl layer can be added to your foam-covered walls in order to further add mass to your box.
Generators and air compressors create a lot of low-frequency noise, and damping is one of the best ways to deal with it. In order to complete this practice, you will need to apply a damping compound like Green Glue between your wall panels and screw them together.
Doing this right will actually turn sound energy into heat energy through friction. This is one of the most effective ways to reduce noise and certainly has its place while creating an optimal soundproof box.
Decoupling is creating space between your panels in order to disturb sound vibrations bouncing around. If you’re looking to fully take advantage of decoupling, look for resilient channels. Resilient channels will prevent sounds from leaving your box’s walls and should lead to a much quieter experience on the outside.
By far the most effective material you can use to absorb sound is acoustic foam. However, each of these soundproofing methods (decoupling and absorption) will not work on it’s own and must be used together in order to maximize your results.
The Right Sized Box
Before you do anything else, it’s time to decide what size box is best for your needs. Moving and appliances boxes are always a go-to, and should provide an adequate sound barrier. You can also use smaller boxes, but it’s important to remember the size of the machine you’re trying to quiet, as well.
Air compressors and generators can be quite large, so keep in mind the dimensions of your machine and your box. Once you’ve chosen a box for yourself, it’s time to start working towards insulating it.
How to Build a Soundproof Box
After you’ve chosen the right sized box, you’re going to need a series of materials in order to soundproof it. All of these tools and materials can easily be purchased online or in a brick and mortar store.
Here are the most essential items you’re going to need:
- The box you’ve chosen
- Foam boards
- Foam panels
- Soundproofing adhesive spray
How you’re planning on using your box will determine how many of its walls you need to insulate. If you need the box to close completely, you’re going to need to insulate all 6 walls, but if you’d like one open wall, you only need enough foam board and panels for 5.
To create a clean workspace, take your newspaper and cover the countertop you’re going to be working on. The newspaper will also keep your surfaces safe from adhesive spray and other potentially damaging materials you’re using to create your sound proof box.
It’s important to ensure your workspace is large enough to accomodate the size of the box you’ve chosen. Foam boards and panels will take up more space than you might think, so planning ahead is key.
If you’re planning on insulating all 6 walls of your box, you’re going to need all 6 measured and cut foam boards attached inside the walls. In order to get the best cut of your foam boards, take advantage of your blade, knife, or scissors to get the job done.
Once the boards are ready to be attached, it’s time to use your adhesive spray. Most sprays can be used on a multitude of surfaces and should spray clear so you don’t have to worry about odd colorations or the look of it.
Simply spray your adhesive onto your foam boards and carefully stick them to the inside of your box. This is a bit time consuming, but if done right will leave you with a good starting point for insulation thickness.
Adding the Foam Panels
It’s important to consider the difference between sculpted foam panels and flat foam panels before incorporating them into your cardboard box. Sculpted foam panels have raised surfaces in the pattern of egg crates, ridges, or pyramids. Flat foam panels are just that, flat and extremely versatile.
Just like the foam boards, it’s time to carefully apply your adhesive to the foam panels and stick them to the inside of your box. Press the foam until you feel it’s in place and then you can take a look at your creation.
Now it’s time to test your sound proof box. Whether you’re dampening the sound of an air compressor or generator, you need to see if the layers of materials you’ve equipped your box with will be able to perform the task at hand.
Loud generators or a noisy air compressor will be harder to manage, but with the right absorbent foam, we’re confident you’ll have a decent soundproof enclosure. Learning how to build a soundproof box is all about testing and reconfiguring your box until you’re satisfied, so be sure that you don’t skip the testing phase.
After you’ve properly tested your soundproof box, you can make adjustments, if needed. If you’ve never done this before, we suspect you’ll see some areas that need improving, and that’s okay! Generally, beginners will need to add a little extra adhesive here and there to ensure that the foam panels and boards are properly in place.
If you have additional room inside your box, you may want to incorporate more soundproofing materials like an additional layer of foam mats. We’ve found that acoustic foam works best for a soundproof box, but there are certainly other kinds of foam that provide similar results.
If you’re using sculpted foam panels, it’s important to keep them as in-tact as possible because of their design. Their shape helps them absorb and reflect sound better than almost anything else, so it’s important not to obstruct it in any way.
It’s hard to overstate how many uses a soundproof box has. Generator boxes and air compressors are the go-to for most, but there are tons of other noisy machines that will fit perfectly inside a soundproof box.
When you’ve decided what will go in the box, it’s time to consider if there are adjustments you’re going to have to make specific to that piece of equipment. For a generator, more than likely you’re going to need ventilation holes for airflow and wires to travel through.
How Effective is Soundproofing?
We hope by now you’ve learned how important soundproofing really is, and why you should build a proper soundproof box for your equipment. The reality is, we can’t leave our electronics off all day, but we can inhibit the amount of sound that escapes the workspace.
Even if your soundproof box can’t get rid of all the sound, having one is much better than the alternative. Additionally, you may want to have acoustic sounds in the background like wind chimes or fans in order to take the attention away from your generator or air compressor.
Lastly, if you really can’t escape the sound, it’s time to buy some ear plugs. The combination of a soundproof box and ear plugs will give you the best chance at a quiet workspace.
Frequently asked questions
We know you’ve got questions, and luckily, we’ve got answers! Figuring out how to build a soundproof box can be pretty intimidating for first-timers, but we’re here to give you some expert advice on how to move forward.
Q: What if I Need Adequate Ventilation?
A: Should you require more ventilation for your box, simply poke a few holes around the walls of your box so that heat from your equipment can escape. The more ventilation holes you have, the more sound will escape, so it’s important to find the right balance of heat and sound maintenance.
You can also leave one wall completely open in your box. This will greatly reduce the amount of sound you can trap, but will leave an open space for ventilation to flow freely. You will also only need 5 foam panels instead of 6!
Q: How Can I Apply More Foam Materials?
A: Appling more foam panels is easy, it will just take additional foam and adhesive to improve the thickness and scale of your walls. Thinner walls are convenient and will maximize the square footage of your box, but won’t trap nearly as much noise as thicker walls.
Adding both foam boards and panels will improve the quality of your soundproof box, it’ll just take extra time to glue them down and hold them in place until they’re ready.
Q: How Can I Test My Soundproof Box?
A: Once you’ve figured out how to build a soundproof box, you may be asking “how do I ensure my box will trap as much sound as possible?”. Thankfully, this question is easily answered through testing procedures.
Whether you’re using an air compressor or generator, it’s important to run your machine at full power to determine how much of the sound is being contained.
If there seems to be considerable noise leak, it may be time to incorporate thicker walls. It’s also important to feel around your box and make sure heat isn’t being trapped inside. If your box is at an uncomfortably hot temperature, poking ventilation holes into your walls is the best solution.
Q: How Do I Get the Most Out of Soundproofing?
A: Paying attention to mass, damping, decoupling, and absorption is important, but you may not need all of these features to build a box suited to your needs. These tools are here for you to use, but we don’t want you to feel bogged down by too much information or required materials.
Simply stick with our required list of materials and follow these instructions to build the perfect soundproof box.
The size of your box also has a lot to do with how much sound you’re trying to dampen. A small box with thick walls may trap the most sound, but more likely you’re going to need a much larger box that will cover your air compressor or generator box.
We hope this guide has given you the best information when it comes to building a soundproof box. Never again will you have to ask yourself how to build a soundproof box, as you now know the answer! Although an intimidating project, having a perfectly sized box will greatly reduce the noise of your air compressor or generator box.
No matter your workspace, we’ve created a soundproof box tutorial that anyone can follow with the right materials. If you’re looking to further your education on home shops, DIY studios, or air compressors, go check out our comprehensive list of product reviews and guides.