I’ve spent most of my weekends this summer working on soundproofing a shed in order that the african drummer has somewhere to go to a)store his drums and b) not be horrendously loud when practicing his drums.
We found a kit shed at Tipples sheds that I thought would do. with delivery it cost around 2500, which did not include installation or a foundation. It came in pieces which sat against the side of the house for ages.
We built the foundation using cement joist holders and floor joists from bunnings. They had to be level and square, this took time.
We laid the floor frame, then put the floor ply down, then tried building the walls. It took three of us to move the panels and then one person to hold and two to put it up, which involved predrilling screw holes, dipping the screws in gear oil for lubrication and putting it together.
We had some issues following the instructions, there was a lot of pondering and two total diss-assemblings. I always find the problem with instructions written by someone who knows what they are doing, is that they assume various things are known so they don’t bother to elaborate… So saying ‘put the xyz on the abc’ only works if the xyz and abc are labelled and you don’t have to figure it out, and we could not figure it out. A bit frustrating, to say the least! The Tipples guy had to come out and tell us where we went wrong! I took photos to show where it was going wrong, we didn’t understand how to put it together.
Well we got it done, including the roof, the next time we started. Took a good day, three people, to assemble. Then we drank beer. Beer is good.
When the frame was built what we had was a weather board shed with a window and a door and a colourbond roof. I had assumed this shed would have a timber framed roof which I could then attach things to for sound proofing – but the roof was instead self supporting steel, and no timber, this was a bit of a problem to solve because I was relying on a frame. That threw me for a while.
There are two parts to music rooms: acoustics – the way the sound bounces around internally, and sound proofing – the way sound gets out of the room. Things like fabrics, egg cartons, these are acoustic and have no sound barriers. I had to deal with the sound getting out. TO THE INTERNET!
In order to sound proof, you have to add enough bulk to stop the sound getting out (stop the soundwaves), and you have to make sure there are no gaps. So the shed needed to be lined, a lot, with bulky materials.
I had a plan. I worked out sizes and what I’d need. All my plans look like this.
First I gap filled the frame as much as possible, then lined the inside wall cavities with insulation foil/foam (everything from now on was from bunnings). It’s very thin and was more about gaps and weather proofing than thickness.
I went to bunnings and ordered a lot of ply and mdf (about 800 dollars worth) and also I had to build in a sort of mock internal ceiling, so I bought a lot of structural pine. I had to get it delivered, no way any of that would fit in my hatchback.
I also bought a giant roll of carpet foam underlay, and I found a thing online called ‘car sound deadener’ which is a type of super vinyl you can lay in your car to stop road noise. I think all in all there were about 20 trips to bunnings and three lots of sound deadener, which is marvelous, thick stuff, feels like lead and is heavy and dense. Super dense vinyl, with a sticky side, you peel and stick.
It got very tiresome goign to bunnings so often, I must say.
The floor consisted of a layer of cork tiles, a layer of auto sound deadener, a layer of carpet foam, and a layer of ply. So five layers total.
We got some electrics cable laid in first along the side. We needed powerpoints, a light, and a fan. Then I put down a layer of ply on all the walls, and sealed it all with gap sealer (I must have used around 30 tubes of gap sealer total in this shed). See below. It got messy in there.
The ceiling was problematic. I couldn’t drill into it and hang anything on it, it was not strong enough. My plans for it evolved (i spent a lot of time writing on the walls and planning what I would do). I ended up running two bits of pine down the middle the length of the shed, two bits along the walls, and then screwing in beams that joined them and were supported by them.
Then I attached light mdf to the beams and to fill the gap between the roof and ceiling, rather a lot of expanding foam filler was sprayed in.That stuff is NASTY OMG.
This also glued the roof to the ceiling and gave it strength. For some reason I didn’t take any photos of this process… but you can see the first beam added on the right side below. I had to make a thing for it to sit on on the gable side, too. Imagine a roof frame built in along the shed roof.
I had to cut out ply and stick it in the gable bits, that was annoying. There were a lot of offcuts and bits of ply lying around for ages, I did a lot of tramping over this. I also had to buy a replacement blade for my circular saw – this was one of those projects that had a lot of technical issues. It killed the staple gun I had too, I had to replace this half way through, for all the stapling of the foam onto things. The act of dragging the giant bits of ply from the side of the house to the cutting area, the marking up and the cutting, the fitting, the recutting, etc, took weeks, just for the ply. My back is bodgey and I had to be super careful to not explode the discs, by leaning and shifting heavy items.
So I had to cut and put in the ceiling, and then do the second lining of the shed after the first ply layer. The walls got two full layers, there are two layers of ply on the gable ends, and a layer of ply, foam, and mdf on the long sides. The side with the window and the door of course were annoying, had to cut out a lot of bits. And at every layer it all had to be gap filled, and I also used an off-cut of ply to make long strips that i used for battons and skirting. Which means those had to be both sanded, applied, and then gap filled too. That was done. And it was not over yet.
The indoor took ages. We had to get the electrics done too and lights installed etc. Once this was done, I did a layer of protective paint (I used ceiling white), then i put in a layer of actual paint. I had some yellow i did the ceiling in, then the actual colour of the walls, which I chose deep blue. I ended up putting the blue on the floor as well because I’d spilled blue on the floor and i thought ‘what the heck’. It was a mess, a lot.
I had this rug in storage and it fit pretty well.
I also painted the outside, in the purple that is on the sills of the actual house. There was a lot of gap filling around the edges that was done too. Painting the fresh weatherboards sucked up a lot of paint, I went through about 6l for just this shed. That was a shock! I’ve painted our house a number of times but there is a difference between painting on painted boards and freshly cut, thirsty boards. It just drank paint!
The next problem to solve was ventilation, cause the whole thing has no gaps and you need to get fresh air in while trying to stop sound getting out. The internet had some suggestions. I made a passive ventilation box, mounted on the far gable wall. This was ply offcuts, and is a long box full of a ‘maze’ covered in sound deadener and foam, that is open to the outside on one side and the inside on the other. The logic is that the sound waves have no straight line to get outside, they get absorbed on the way, cause they don’t go round corners, but air does. Then I made an active ventilation box, which is a similar thing only with a extractor fan installed. I was going to hang this in the ceiling but the thing was so freaking heavy it was decided to mount it next to the door on the floor.
Passive sound box on the wall, with the shiny brackets,in photo below.
This photo above you can also see the table we built in. You can also see the acoustic tiles stapled to the ceiling in a grid pattern with the yellow paint showing through. The dresser on the right is a bit of furniture i’ve been looking to rehome for years, and it totally accidentally fit the spot! so pleased!
Active sound box in the corner in photo below – also makes a nice drum holder.. You turn this on and it sucks air through. You can feel the air coming out the ventilation outside, you can also feel the flow of air from the passive box when this is on. Good. Matt not gonna die in there from lack of O2.
Then the next problem was sound proofing the door. This one took a long time to solve and I was in despair for a while on how to do it. I lined the door in sound deadener, foam, and mdf, and then covered it in red velvet to hide the yukky edges, looked ok. I came up with the plan of putting foam and velvet over strips of wood and attaching it tot he door frame, and then doing the same on the actual door, and screwing the strips onto the door so there were no gaps and when the door shuts it fit snugly. It’s a bit rough and frankly, I don’t care anymore!
We had to build a shutter to go over the window. we were going to have a pully system to lie it flush against the ceiling, but it turned out so heavy it was not possible. I didn’t build this, Dave did it with offcuts of mdf, ply, sound deader, and foam, and reinforced it with strap steel, it took for freaking ever to build. Installing it was a bit of a bastard too. OMG. So finiky. When it was mounted and it swung well, i painted it (blue) and on the inside it got lined with layers of felt and a cover of silk sari (I happened to have a bit of sari fabric). it has a snib that closes it and also when you swing it open, it lies flush against the wall.
You can see around the window gap before I shoved felt into the gaps, it’s a bit like an archaeological dig with all the layers of ply and foam.
I built a step for the front from off cuts of fence post from when we had to replace the side fence, and the bit of ply that the step in our back room was made from. Lots of paint layers to protect this, and I put a mat on it to wipe feet. I really think the door should be a different colour, but this is a ‘one day, not a biggie’ task. I also intend to lay some sort of path so it’s not just the garden mulch, but my care factor has kind of gone away.
Matt brought back a LOT of cool stuff from Ghana to decorate with. So I got frames from IKEA and framed the pictures, got some wood to hang the batik and the outfit on, and put up shelves for the bronzes. Also got a light, and a wall mounted fan.
So after a clean and a tidy up, it’s done. DONE! That’s about 3 months of weekends work. And it does work, you can kind of hear that there is a drumming noise but it does not penetrate the house with the door closed now. I hope the neighbours are not hearing it either.
This is the done list.
All in all this cost around $6500 for all the materials and electrics, not including the labor that was Dave and I and Matt with the initial build -not including the rug or the furniture, but pretty much everything else, and not including the petrol for all those trips to bunnings (nor the cost of the sausages you are obliged to get when you’re at bunnings on a weekend!).