Doors are the worst parts of your car when it comes to suspicious noises. And they’re notoriously difficult to apply sound deadening to, especially behind the speakers. Not only that, but many soundproofing materials themselves are hard to work with. Fortunately, with a bit of guidance, anyone can learn to soundproof their doors.
Over the past several months, I’ve written many articles about automotive sound deadening materials. In fact, you can read my reviews of the top 10 soundproofing materials right now. However, I’ve come to realize that I’ve never actually explained what the installation process itself might look like. This article should fix that.
As always, before you start trying to pry your door panels off with a crowbar, it’s best to have the basic tools and materials ready for you to use. So, let’s see what you’ll need.
Preparing the Tools and Materials
The first thing you’ll need to do before collecting your tools is actually inspecting the car doors. If you can’t dig up your car manual, at least look up how other people pulled the doors apart on the same or similar models. That will be a pretty important step throughout this whole process since I can’t go into detail on every individual car make.
Still, there are some tools that are fairly universal. Of course, there’s the sound deadening material itself. If you haven’t made up your mind, I’ve written several articles which can help you, aside from my top 10 list. I also have two articles comparing Dynamat to other materials, like Noico (review).
Once you’ve chosen the material that fits your needs, they can all be installed in a similar way. So, here’s what you’ll need:
- Screwdrivers or a drill (bonus points if you get a magnetic tip that won’t let your screws scatter)
- A small pick, to pry off smaller parts
- Rubbing alcohol and a clean cloth
- Knit work gloves (rubber won’t slide across the material as smoothly)
- A utility knife or a sharp pair of scissors
- A roller or other long rounded object
Of course, you’ll want to wear clothes you don’t care much for. And you’re ready! Now, clear your schedule, and let’s soundproof your car.
Instructions for Sound Deadening Car Doors
Once you’ve assembled all of your tools and materials, you can get right to it. You won’t need to put on gloves for first part, but you’ll want to wear old clothes. I also recommend having refreshments nearby, as the whole process might last a few hours, or even a whole day, depending on your skill level.
1. Pry Some Bits Off to Expose the Screws
Assuming that you’ve researched your car model, you should be able to know what you’re looking at once you’ve opened your car door. Depending on the car model, you’ll want to pry off the parts that aren’t screwed on with a small pick or a flat screwdriver.
Remember, the doors are actually made to be taken apart easily, so we’re not going for brute force here. Reading up on your car doors will allow you to know exactly where to press to get these parts to pop off. So, you really should be going in with a light touch.
2. Remove the Screws
When you’ve pried off all of these parts, you should be able to see some actual screws. Aside from the ones on the panel, screws will also be along the side of the door that’s concealed when the door is shut.
Here’s where the screwdrivers or the drill will come in handy. As you start unscrewing each part, you might want to take note or even take pictures of where each of the screws came from. That will help you put the panel back on, later.
If you want to make this a bit easier, using a magnetic drill attachment will prevent the screws from flying off or getting lost inside the door. After you remove all of the screws, put them away somewhere you won’t lose them.
3. Take Off the Panel
Now that the screws are all out, your car panel probably won’t come off on its own. Instead, you’ll need to carefully pry it. Try starting from the bottom and lifting it to get it to dislodge. However, even this might not work on your own car, which is why it’s so important to do your own research beforehand.
Once you have removed the panel, you can also unscrew the speaker if it’s in the door, and disconnect any wires if you need to. Again, taking a picture before you do anything is helpful. If you have speakers in your door, you can remove them at this point, too, as they’d just get in the way.
4. Lift the Protection Under the Door Panel
Most cars have another layer of protection under the door panels. On older cars, they were simple plastic wraps, while on newer ones the protection is also somewhat sound deadening since it’s made of foam or fiber materials.
Either way, you’ll want to make sure to carefully lift this layer, as you’ll likely want to put it back on once you finish soundproofing. It will probably only be attached by a light tacky adhesive around the edges, so it should be easy enough to take off. However, putting it back might require you to either reheat the adhesive or add some new glue, depending on the state of its current adhesive after you’ve pried it off.
5. Prepare for Application
Before you get too excited and reach for the utility knife, you still have to clean the door. The insides of the door may have never seen the light of day, so it’s best to wash it with a clean rag and some rubbing alcohol.
You need to thoroughly clean all of the parts you mean to put sound deadening materials on. After all, dust would prevent them from adhering well. So, rub down both the frame and the inside of the car door through the holes. Wherever you see a flatter surface, make sure that it’s extra clean since that will be the place you’ll be putting the sound deadening materials on.
After you’ve cleaned everything, you may get your utility knife and gloves. Most sound deadening materials are self-adhesive and they come with a protective layer over the glue. The gloves will prevent the strong adhesive layer from sticking to your fingers and clothes.
Many sound deadening materials are also pretty thick. That’s a great thing when it comes to insulation, but the thicker the material, the harder it will be to cut. Therefore, you’ll also need sharp tools to cut them, though you don’t have to use a utility knife if you don’t have one. Also, you should always cut the materials on a surface you can damage.
6. Apply the Sound Deadening Material
You’ll want to start with the innermost part of the door, accessible through various holes in the door frame. Remember, you don’t have to cover the metal completely. However, you should preferably cover at least a quarter of the surface. You can cut out rectangular or irregularly shaped pieces of your sound deadening material.
Then, you’ll peel the protective layer off and just stick the material on. Make sure that there are no air bubbles under the surface by sliding your gloved hands from the center to the edges of the piece.
After you’ve done that, you may also want to use a roller to apply pressure to the material to encourage it to stick. However, you don’t need to use a special roller for this step. You can also use any rounded object you can fit into the inside of the car – the handle of a screwdriver, for example.
Before you start, you can knock on the metal to hear how loud it is to begin with. Keep knocking periodically as you add sound deadening mats, and you’ll be able to hear the difference yourself.
When you’ve applied enough material through the holes in the frame to the inside of the door, you can cover the frame itself. If you want to cover the door in its entirety, you can do it in small sections. Or, you can cut out a one-piece shape from a single piece of sound deadening material.
Just like before, you don’t need to cover the whole surface. However, you may want to pay special attention to areas around moving parts, like wires or bits of metal. After you apply each piece, you should take the time to remove air bubbles.
7. Put Everything Back
Finally, all that’s left to do is put everything back the way it was. You can even read these instructions backwards. So, put the protective layer and speakers back if your doors had them.
Then, put the door panel back and screw it on with your drill. That will be much easier to do if you took pictures of where each of the screws came from. Lastly, pop the other bits, like handles, back on. And just like that, you’re done!
Well. You’ll need to repeat this on all of your doors, and then you’ll be done.
This video shows how to install Dynamat on car doors:
Soundproof Your Car Doors One at a Time
Honestly, there’s no shame in soundproofing one side of your car one day and the other side the next day. If you’ve never done this before, it may prove to be a bit difficult. However, I’m of the firm belief that everyone can and should learn how to soundproof their own spaces. And that includes soundproofing the car.
With that in mind, similar steps can be taken if you decide to apply sound deadening materials to the roof, trunk, or the hood of your car:
- Choose your materials – again, you can consult my top 10 picks
- Prepare your tools – picks, screwdrivers, drills, rubbing alcohol
- Get to the bare metal of whichever car part you’re soundproofing
- Apply the material with protective gloves
- Smooth it out with gloves and a rounded object (a roller, if you want to leave little to no trace)
- Then just put everything back together