Deadening, Damping, Dampening and Your Vehicle

Deadening, Damping, Dampening
and Soundproofing Your Vehicle

Deadening, Damping, Dampening and Soundproofing Your Vehicle

Are you someone who likes to drive with the volume on your stereo turned up, but would rather hear the music instead of your car? Are you restoring an old vehicle and are concerned about driving at highway speeds in a box of metal? If so, one of the things you're going to want to consider is soundproofing your car.

However, when doing so, you’ll find that there are numerous methods available. The first key step is to stop the metal panels from vibrating and rattling. If you’ve been researching how to do this, you’ve likely come across what looks like several different methods. Some methods deaden, while others damp or dampen. What’s the difference between these methods? We’re here to provide you with a complete breakdown of how to go about soundproofing your vehicle.

Are you someone who likes to drive with the volume on your stereo turned up, but would rather hear the music instead of your car? Are you restoring an old vehicle and are concerned about driving at highway speeds in a box of metal? If so, one of the things you're going to want to consider is soundproofing your car.

However, when doing so, you’ll find that there are numerous methods available. The first key step is to stop the metal panels from vibrating and rattling. If you’ve been researching how to do this, you’ve likely come across what looks like several different methods. Some methods deaden, while others damp or dampen. What’s the difference between these methods? We’re here to provide you with a complete breakdown of how to go about soundproofing your vehicle.

Understanding Key Terms

The short answer is simple. Our industry uses the terms deadening, damping, and dampening interchangeably. While we act like they all mean the same thing, this isn’t quite true! And we’re perfectionists here at Second Skin, so below, you’ll find an explanation of the three so that you better understand how they are similar and different.

SOUND DEADENING

“Deadening” is one component of car soundproofing. When a car is traveling, its various metal surfaces vibrate, creating noise. To “deaden” the noise, you place a layer of soft material over metal surfaces to reduce the sounds that the metal surfaces emit.

By applying a soft material, like a sound deadening mat, the vibration waves are dissipated, muffling noise in the process. Any time you see the term “deadening”, it means stopping metal from rattling and is usually someone discussing how to soundproof a car.

SOUND Damping

What is damping? “Damping” is the act of reducing energy stored in an oscillation. An oscillation just means that something is moving back and forth in a consistent pattern, like a pendulum. There are many types of oscillatory systems, but they all slow down over time without additional energy. We want to slow them down faster by adding materials into the system.

In a car, the oscillations we want to slow down faster are vibrations. By “damping” the vibrating metal, we reduce the size and duration of the vibrations, thus reducing the noise. Sound damping sounds a lot like deadening right? When soundproofing a car, they mean the same thing.

SOUND Dampening

Dampening is a term commonly used to describe soundproofing a vehicle. When researching soundproofing your ride, you'll run across phrases like "sound dampening," "noise dampening," or"car sound dampening material."

Some people get snooty and say that “dampening” is incorrect because It means to get a material wet or moist. They’re wrong. When we’re talking about sound, dampening means to reduce the wave’s amplitude, or the maximum extent of a vibration or oscillation. Remind you of something you read a couple seconds ago? Oh right. Let’s move on.

How to Soundproof a Car

Now that you understand some of the various terms associated with soundproofing a car, let’s take a look at the products on the market that can help you do so. Below, you’ll find some of the materials commonly associated with vehicle soundproofing.

SOUND DEADENING Mats

One of the easiest things you can do to start soundproofing your vehicle is to install mats. Sound deadening mats are relatively affordable, and the installation process is straightforward. All you need to do is decide how much square footage you want to cover, buy a handful of mats, and adhere them to the metal surfaces in your vehicle. Areas to target are the:

  • Floor
  • Doors
  • Roof
  • Trunk
  • Firewall

You may see sound deadening mats referred to as “soundproofing mats” or “vibration damping mats.” They’re all the same type of product, but they come in a variety of formulations. The best sound deadening mats are thicker (1 to 2mm is good), with a high-quality butyl rubber, a strong adhesive, and a foil constraint layer. A good indicator of mat quality is the heat rating, because higher indicates that the mat contains more rubber and less cheap fillers. Our Damplifier Pro sound deadening mat has the highest heat rating in the industry (450 F). No, that’s not a coincidence.

Sound deadening mats are a useful tool to deaden sounds in your car by dissipating vibrations. These mats won’t replace your floor mats though! You still need to put the floor mats back in after you install the deadener. We love looking at our ghosted black logo, but we don’t blame you for wanting to keep your standard floor mats.

SOUND DEADENING Liquids

Another option you have for soundproofing are liquid sound deadeners. All the good liquid deadeners come in buckets. You may run into aerosol can products, but they are much less effective because it’s just not possible to get the size of rubber particles you need for effective deadening out of the tiny nozzle on the can.

Liquid coatings are affordable and very easy to apply if you have the right equipment. We recommend using a spray gun, but you can use a paintbrush or roller if you prefer. Liquids work best when you have a fully stripped vehicle, because you just get in there and spray everything. Spectrum, our spray on sound deadener, is water based so it’s easy to clean up and you don’t have to worry about fumes like when you spray paint. (We still wouldn’t drink it. Please don’t do that.)

You could use liquid sound deadeners as a substitute for mats. It’s mainly preference, but you get the best results by using the two products in conjunction with one another. We see a bunch of customers use the mats for the interior of their car, and the liquid deadener in hard to reach areas like the wheel wells and the undercarriage.

Mass Loaded Vinyl

Mass loaded vinyl is designed to help block airborne sound waves. This product is another component of a complete soundproofing effort. The best mass loaded vinyl installations serve as the final layer of a multi-layer vehicle sound insulation project. We sell our mass loaded vinyl in sheets that you can cut easily to fit various areas of your car.

When choosing a mass loaded vinyl, you'll want to make sure that it is flexible and pliable. This is critical for two reasons. First and foremost, it will be much easier to install the material in your car, as you can bend it to fit around the vehicle’s curves. Second, it means you're dealing with a high quality product. MLVs have recycled materials in them, and if you get one that has lax quality standards, they tend to break when bent and can even smell after you’ve installed them.

Although you could use mass loaded vinyl as a standalone product, it works best when you combine it with sound deadening to reduce the vibrational noise before you add your blocking layer.

Soundproof Foam

When it comes to soundproofing your vehicle, one of the most critical products is a high-quality foam. Foams improve the acoustics of your car by absorbing unwanted airborne sound waves. You’ll find that there are open cell and closed cell foams on the market.

Open cell foams are excellent for absorbing sound, but you can’t just put any old foam in your car. It needs to be hydrophobic so that it won’t absorb water and start growing critters. Closed cell foam is much denser than open cell foam. As the name suggests, the cells in the former are pressed together and sealed. As a result, it’s challenging for moisture and air to get inside the foam, but it also won’t absorb sound. We primarily use our closed cell foams as a decoupler.

Jute material

Another useful option to decouple sound waves is jute. Jute is a natural denim material that is quite useful for absorbing sound waves and insulating from heat. We make ours with foil on each side so that it also does an excellent job of reflecting heat (97% reflectivity).

Honestly, Heat Wave Pro car thermal insulation works great in a wide variety of applications. While it’s primary purpose is to reduce heat transfer (keep it out if it’s hot, keep it in if it’s cold), jute is a useful tool for a variety of sound reduction projects. For example, we see customers use it in sprinter vans or camper vans because you get a lot of bang for your buck.

Final Thoughts

Many methods and techniques can be used when soundproofing a car. If you don't have much experience with car soundproofing, it can be challenging trying to figure out the best way to go about doing so.

We hope that we’ve helped you move a little bit closer to achieving your soundproofing goals. There’s a wide world of “deadening”, “damping”, and “dampening” out there and we hope we made things a little clearer for you. If we’ve learned anything over the years, it’s that every project is different and you can’t offer one-size fits all solutions. Let us know if we can help.