The right sounds are beautiful. Don't let unwanted noise get in the

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Sound deadening is the hidden secret behind the upholstery of any successful car project. If you didn't already know that, you're in luck because you've stumbled into the right place. If you did know that and have a noise or heat issue, we look forward to helping you solve it.

We're here to help you find the best sound and thermal insulation solution for your vehicle. Whether you have rattling metal distorting your speakers, a car restoration project, or want to create a bubble of comfort for yourself as you drive down the highway, we have the high quality products that will get you where you want to go.

Welcome to Team Second Skin. We'll take the time to explain what's going on in your car, while teaching you some of the science behind noise control. Or we'll keep it simple and just tell you what to do – you decide!

The science behind sound deadening, noise blocking and noise absorption is not complicated, but it can be hard to find good information. We'll fill you in on what you need to know.

The Two Types of Unwanted Noise: Structural & Airborne

Structural Noise

Structural noises travel through the vehicle's chassis, body, and other metal components. You hear them as vibrations, buzzing noises, roaring, droning, humming, rattles, squeaks, and groans. It's particularly bad in older and antique vehicles, and of course, any vehicle that has a killer audio system.

It gets worse. The metal body panels will amplify those structural noises. That is why you hear those aggravating buzzing noises with the audio system's deep bass sound. That's also one of the reasons your car is much louder on the highway – you may have heard the term road noise. Road noise can be anything from a mild annoyance to so loud that you can't hear the person in the passenger seat. It depends on the vehicle.

The two best ways to get rid of structural noise are to dampen it, or block it completely. More on blocking noise in a minute.

Airborne Noise

Airborne noises are sound waves that travel into the car through the air and then bounce back and forth inside the car's cabin. The best ways to silence airborne noise is to block or absorb it. You either want the sound waves to never reach you or, once they're in the car, to stop them from reverberating. Then you get to enjoy the quiet, calm environment you've created.

Think of a recording studio. The studio's walls and ceiling are lined with materials that block, trap, and absorb unwanted airborne noise, so only the music is heard and recorded. The same principles apply inside your vehicle.

We're about to go a little deeper on sound absorption and blocking. As we said, the more you know, the easier it is to select the right products for your project. We want you to love your new car environment, and if we can save you time and money along the way – that's even better.

Car graphic

Sound Deadening, Blocking & Absorbing: How to Get Rid of Unwanted Noise

  • Sound Deadening Materials

    Sound deadening mats (sometimes calling vibration damping mats) are the basic product for reducing noise in vehicles. The core principle of sound deadening is to apply a layer of soft material to metal surfaces that are resonating sound. The soft material will absorb vibration energy and dispel it, stopping the metal from vibrating. The best material for the job is a high-quality butyl rubber combined with a foil constraint layer. At Second Skin, we use our cut, peel and stick Damplifier™ and our twice-as-thick Damplifier Pro™ sheet material.

    • Apply the sound deadening material to the interior of your vehicle: under the carpet on the floor pan, on the firewall (engine side or cabin side), and inside the trunk and door panels. Damplifier™ mats are also great to apply underneath the headliner (on the roof) because it's an excellent thermal insulator too. Our products have an industry leading temperature rating of 450 degrees Fahrenheit (some of our competitors are only rated to 300 F). That matters because lower temperature ratings typically mean more fillers and less rubber. Just make sure you're not putting asphalt in your car.
    • Because our Damplifier™ products also act as a thermal insulator, they absorb some heat transfer as well. Less noise and lower temperatures can mean a big increase in comfort, but keep in mind that sound deadening mats are only one part of the solution. While they are great for dispelling structural noise, they do not block or absorb airborne sound waves.
  • Sound Blocking Materials

    To wrap your head around sound blocking, think about a soundproof room. Special sound blocking (not deadening) materials have been installed in the walls and the door is sealed airtight, all to prevent unwanted sound waves from finding their way in or out. For automotive purposes, you won’t be able to shut out everything because the car’s windows will always be a gap. You can, however, apply the same sound blocking principles to key areas of the vehicle and block a large percentage of the unwanted sound waves.

    • What sound waves would you want to block out? A big one is road noise coming from underneath your car, especially the hum and droning noise that is made by the tires. The other types of noises you want to block are mostly mechanical noises: engine noise under the hood, exhaust noise from under your feet. To block noise, we’d recommend a mass-loaded vinyl product like Luxury Liner™ or Luxury Liner Pro™. Luxury Liner Pro™ is our best noise barrier and one of our most popular products, because it combines a mass loaded vinyl barrier layer with closed cell foam that acts as a decoupler and absorbs some low-frequency sound waves. A decoupler just means it prevents two hard surfaces from smacking into each other.
    • Using Luxury Liner Pro™ will give you a massive step up in noise control over sound deadening mats alone. Using those two products together is the best combination for eliminating unwanted noises, whether you have an expensive audio system or if you just want a quieter, more comfortable cabin.
  • Sound Absorbing Materials

    Sound absorption materials are typically foam products designed to trap or absorb airborne sound waves. There are two types of foams: closed cell foam and open cell foam. Closed cell foam is not great for absorbing sound, although testing shows it does pretty well with low frequency sound waves (road noise, machinery). Open cell foam absorbs mid to high frequency sound waves and is the product you’re thinking of when you imagine a recording studio.

    • Our Overkill™ products (closed cell foam), Mega Zorbe™ (open cell foam), and Heat Wave Pro (treated jute material) are all able to absorb sound. Closed cell foam works best as a decoupler. Jute is a middle of the road sound absorber and top-notch thermal insulator. Open cell foam will absorb a high percentage of sound waves, depending on the foam’s quality and thickness. Each product has its specific use cases, but in general, you want to apply them inside your vehicle, right on top of the Damplifier Pro™ sound deadening mats that you put down first.

Quality Materials Matter for Sound Deadening. Don't Be Fooled.

The best products combine a butyl rubber, elastomeric material with a thick, high-quality foil. That's what we use to manufacture our Damplifier™ and Damplifier Pro™ peel-and-stick sheets. As we mentioned earlier, the quality and the thickness of the rubber and the foil determine the material's overall effectiveness. You can see the thickness of the rubber and the foil on most technical specs – if they're hiding it from you, you may want to avoid that product.

The worst quality sound deadening material you can buy is made from asphalt roofing material. (We don't sell that.) Yes, asphalt will deaden metal. And while it doesn't perform as well, there are always customers who are willing to sacrifice performance to save some money. The only time we'd absolutely say no to asphalt is if you live in a warmer climate, because asphalt will melt and out gas chemicals at temperatures as low as 120°F. We'd rather avoid the sticky mess and the fumes, so we keep the asphalt where it belongs – outside the car.

How do I know if a sound deadener has asphalt? None of them mention asphalt anywhere! (Wonder why that is…) It can be hard, but there are a couple of giveaways. If a product is sold by the roll, like the roofing material in your local hardware store, it's probably asphalt. Another giveaway is the temperature rating. Asphalt melts at a lower temperature, so as you start seeing a lower temperature range – there's something else in there besides rubber.

So there you go – one of the sound deadening industry's dirty little secrets. Use the information how you will.

Back to Second Skin – if you're looking for an alternate sound deadening product to our mats, try one of our sound deadening liquids, Spectrum™ or the thicker Spectrum Sludge™. Both are water-based viscoelastic materials specifically formulated by Second Skin for high performance and easy workability. Yes, they work well. They're also easy to clean up with soap and water, environmentally friendly, and non-toxic. You just apply them differently. Spectrum™ is easy to spray, brush, or roll on. You can use it in place of our Damplifier products or in addition to them, because they can go places where it's hard to apply mats, like your vehicle's undercarriage and inside the wheel wells.

Mats or liquid

Mats or liquid? Which sound deadening method is best?

These can be used together. Many people do just that. The sound deadening mats are great for flat areas, making it an excellent choice for the firewall, floor, roof, or trunk. Mats can follow curves well too, if you trim them to fit, which is what most customers do for their door panels.

Sound deadening liquids are great for those hard to reach places, like under the car, inside the fenders, and inside the wheel wells. We think both products look great – Damplifier has black mats with a ghosted Second Skin logo whereas Spectrum has a dark grey, seamless look once it dries.

You can apply Spectrum inside the car too. The product is really easy to spray or brush on once you've exposed the metal. It typically just comes down to your preference. Spraying Spectrum™ really shines if you have a large area to treat, like the inside of a van, the back of a Jeep, or a truck bed. Be sure to use our PlastiWrap™ and Wire Tape™ to mask off anything you don't want to be sprayed. Don't want to spray or don't have the equipment? No problem. Spectrum™ and Spectrum Sludge™ are easy to apply with a brush or roller. The Sludge can even by applied by hand.

Application FAQ

  • How do you apply sound deadening material?

    We sell our Second Skin™ mat products in easy-to-work-with sheets. If you can measure, peel, and stick you can install Damplifier™ and the twice-as-thick Damplifier Pro™ sound deadening mats. You’ll want to apply pressure with your hand to position the mat, and then use one of our wooden hand rollers to stick it down firmly to the metal surface.

  • Where do you apply it?

    Our sound deadening products can be applied directly to all types of metal. All Damplifier™ sheets use a very strong adhesive, so they can even be applied straight to fiberglass, plastic, and wood surfaces, although those materials don’t vibrate as much as sheet metal or aluminum.

    For the Spectrum™ liquid deadeners, you’ll need to apply a specific primer if you want to apply it to anything but metal (such as plastic or fiberglass). Spectrum also will not adhere to paint jobs that use a high wax or high gloss finish. Check with your local paint shop or call us and we’ll help you figure it out.

  • How much surface area should you cover?

    To see noticeable sound deadening, you must cover at least 25% of the surface with the Damplifier mats. We recommend at least 60% coverage while focusing on covering all the flat surfaces, because the curved parts of the car tend to be more structurally sound. That strategy will get you to 95% total effectiveness. Many customers choose to cover as close to 100% of any metal surface as possible, either because they also want to thermally insulate their car or they just want to max out their results while they have the interior of their car on the floor of their garage.

    For the Spectrum, you should cover 100% of the surface area at 1mm thickness to deaden the metal. You can apply multiple layers depending on how much sound deadening you need. We recommend 2 layers and 2mm of total thickness for most applications.

  • How do you ensure it sticks well?

    Second Skin™ sheets and spray products create a very strong bond with sheet metal – it’s honestly hard to make it not stick. To ensure the best bond, we strongly recommend cleaning the metal surface first and then following the product specific instructions.

    1. Start by removing the upholstery and carpet from your car. Vacuum the entire area to remove loose debris and dirt. Then clean any greasy spots with denatured alcohol. If you use another solvent or degreaser, you may leave behind a film that will prevent a solid contact surface. Allow the metal to dry.
    2. Cut Damplifier™ mats to the desired size with a sharp utility knife. We recommend wearing gloves because the foil edges are sharp.
    3. Peel the wax paper liner from the back of the mat, and adhere the tacky butyl side to the sheet metal. Slowly work the Damplifier™ onto the panel with a hand roller to ensure it bonds.

    For more detailed instructions, check out our Installation Guide. If you have questions along the way, give us a call. We’re here to help.

  • Max out your results by adding a sound blocker

    Have you ever closed the door to a luxury vehicle and felt the world go silent around you? That’s why we recommend our customers combine Luxury Liner Pro™ with their sound deadening solution. Using the two products together will add a layer of airborne protection to your structural sound deadener and give you the silence of a luxury car.

  • Too much underhood noise and heat?

    No problem. Damplifier™ and Damplifier Pro™ products will handle up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, which is a 50% higher temperature rating than many of our competitors’ products, and plenty high to go on the inside of your firewall.

    While the thick foil, butyl rubber combo in Damplifier™ serves as a radiant barrier and reduces thermal transfer, sometimes you need additional heat insulation. If you need even more thermal protection, check out our thermal insulation products.

 

You Can Use Second Skin™ Sound Deadening Around the House and At Work

Any metal that makes too much noise can be quieted with the sound control methods you just read about. A few common examples we hear about are:

  • Generator boxes, RV generators, or any place a generator is stored. Deaden the metal around the generator enclosure to kill the vibration noise. If you use it on the inside of the enclosure, just be sure that it's 2 inches away from generator heat sources. Computer tower walls. It kills the vibration noise that resonates through the metal.
  • Computer tower walls. It kills the vibration noise that resonates through the metal.
  • Screen doors. Apply a couple of small cut outs to stop the cymbal like noise.

We hear about customers using our products around the home in dishwasher enclosures, on HVAC ducting, or to seal up a noisy window. Commercially they've been used in too many ways to count, ranging from coin counting machines to hospital and warehouse carts. If the metal rattles, we can deaden it.

Got Questions? That's Great! We Can Help!

Each project is different. Let us apply our years of experience to help you find the right product for the job. We’re happy to talk through any project with anyone who calls in. We've seen thousands of jobs – let us save you some time. Second Skin is here to help!

Any vehicle that rattles or shakes, and most do, can benefit from sound deadening. Whether you installed a high-end sound system, are fixing up a hot rod, or just want to carve out a little bubble of comfort for your drive to work, Second Skin's sound deadening are best in class. Join Team Second Skin and turn any car into a luxury vehicle!

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