If you are a keen drummer, you are probably eager to practice day and night. This can be challenging when you have other family members or neighbors to consider who don’t appreciate the sound of your drums late at night or when they are watching a movie or studying. Read on for our complete guide on how to soundproof a room.
These are things you can do to limit the amount of noise that leaks out of your drumming space. It doesn’t require expensive soundproofing materials – though that is an option – just some sensible decision-making and home DIY.
This guide has been created specifically for drummers who are trying to control the noise escaping from their space. You may not be able to keep your drumming completely silent, but you can certainly significantly reduce sound irritation for your nearest and dearest.
How To Soundproof A Room
Choose The Right Space
The first step in soundproofing a room is choosing the right room for your drum kit. If you like to beat the skins in the center of your open-plan living room, you will struggle to contain the sound no matter what you do. A smaller room, with limited points of access in terms of doors and windows, will be the easiest to soundproof.
If you live in an apartment or semi-detached house and you are worried about the noise you are inflicting on your neighbors, you will also need to consider setting up your drum room in a part of the house as far away from any shared walls as possible.
It is not always easy to find spaces that fit the bill, but if you can you have already made big steps toward achieving your goals.
In many cases, the majority of the sound that is escaping from your room is going out the window. While insulated walls and hardwood doors are actually pretty good at blocking sound, glass windows are not.
To help reduce the amount of sound escaping through your window you will need to cover it with heavy fabric. This could be soundproofing curtains specifically designed for the job or blankets. The key is that the material should be thick, and layered if possible.
When hanging your curtains or blankets, you need to be sure that you are covering the entire window, with the curtain covering a few extra inches above, below, and at either side of the window. This helps prevent noise from finding its way through the cracks.
You might also want to consider sealing the edges of the window frame with weather stripping to stop sound from escaping through tiny gaps around the window.
If you have a solid wooden door, it is probably already doing a pretty good job of stopping sound from escaping the room, but hollow doors or doors with glass in them won’t do such a good job.
If you have one of these “lightweight” doors, you might want to consider soundproofing it in the same way as a window by hanging a soundproof curtain or blanket in front of it. You can also attach soundproofing foam or a blanket to the door itself on the inside (more on this below).
If you have a thick wooden door, your priorities should be the gaps around the door, as this is where sound will be coming out. Apply door sweeps and draft stoppers at the bottom of the door, or just put a rolled-up blanket in front of the gap while you are drumming. You might also want to seal the edges of the door with weather stripping.
Soundproofing Walls And Ceilings
If you play on the ground floor, sound may be escaping up through the ceiling. If you are playing on the second floor, it might be coming down through the floor.
If you are playing downstairs, you will want to put a thick rug on the floor in the room upstairs to help absorb the sound on the way up.
In the room itself, you can put soundproofing panels on the ceiling, though this tends to be challenging and expensive. An alternative is “ceiling clouds,” which use the same sound-absorbing material but hang below the ceiling and are easier to install. Check out this example from Primacoustic available on Amazon.
You could also DIY an alternative by hanging thick blankets in canopies below the ceiling, but generally speaking, ceilings are one of the most challenging parts of a room to soundproof.
If you are playing on an upper floor, you will want a rug in your drumming space. You can also use rubber floor tiles, like those used in gyms, as alternative flooring.
If you have good insulation in your walls, they may already be doing a pretty good job of soundproofing. If you are looking for something that will also manage the temperature of your space and reduce heating and cooling bills, it might be worth investing in insulation.
If you are looking for a DIY solution, though, your best option is to attach acoustic foam to your walls.
Acoustic panels come in a variety of different shapes and sizes, but the principle is the same. The absorbent material absorbs the sound. Panels two inches thick are the standard for recording studios, and you probably don’t want anything less than one inch in thickness. The shape of the foam actually makes no difference as far as how well it absorbs sound, so you can choose whatever is cheapest or suits your aesthetic.
You will need to attach the foam to your walls using adhesive or impaler clips. Of course, adhesive can damage your walls when being removed, and impaler clips require drilling. If you don’t want to damage all of your walls, prioritize shared walls or internal walls, which may not be as well insulated as external walls.
What you have in your room can actually make a pretty big impact on how much sound escapes. Things like upholstered furniture are good at absorbing sound, so you might want to put an old couch in front of your drum kit.
Placing bookshelves, wardrobes, and other large pieces of furniture along the walls will also help soundproof walls and stop sound from escaping.
You can also dampen the sound of your drums themselves at unsociable hours. You can place fabric on your drums to reduce their noise and a pillow inside the base drum to reduce its volume and tone.
If you want something a bit more professional, there are a variety of sound mutes available that you can place on your drums and cymbals when you need them. We recommend the Vic Firth Drum Mute Pack, the 10-piece drum mute pack from EASTROCK, or the SoundOff range by Evans Drum.
How can I soundproof a room cheaply?
If you don’t have much of a budget for soundproofing, focus on windows. While insulated walls and solid wood doors do a good job of blocking sound, glass windows don’t. Hang soundproofing curtains or thick blankets over the window, and make sure they extend several inches beyond the window frame.
Can you make a room completely soundproof?
Yes, it is possible to make a room completely soundproof; that’s what recording studios are, after all. You will need to invest in two-inch soundproofing panels for all walls and the ceiling, thick rubber flooring mats, solid wood doors with tight seals, and you’ll need to block any windows.
Are You Soundproof?
Unless you are willing to invest in professional-grade soundproofing (at a professional price) you will probably never stop all sound from escaping from your drum room, but you probably don’t have to. Dulling the sound of your drums and taking the edge off your beat is probably enough in most cases.
There are plenty of affordable DIY solutions for dampening sound. Start with windows, as this is where the most noise escapes, and then look at thinner doors which can be another problem area. If that doesn’t do enough, you can think about soundproofing the walls and ceiling. A rug or mat on the floor under your kit is also a good idea.
The other thing you can do is invest in mutes for your drum kit. While these aren’t as fun to play as your pure kit, they will make a big difference at unsociable times.
You can also read our guide to electronic drum kits for quieter playing at home.