Want to soundproof your truck cab? Then, this is just the article you need to read right now. I can guarantee that what I am going to share, is one of the best ways to quiet road noise in a truck.
In my experience, I have come across people who have made some costly mistakes while dealing with this. The common advice out there is to cover the entire interiors with sound deadening material.
While this is not entirely bad advice, it is not the best either. Covering the entire interior space with sound deadening material will only solve a part of the problem.
Let’s find out.
Soundproofing Challenges in a Truck Cab
Before going about soundproofing your truck cab, it is important to know what are the challenges you will be facing. only by knowing the challenges you can do an effective job at tackling the problem areas and effectively soundproofing your truck cab.
There are three challenges which you will be looking to address
- Structure Borne Noise
- Airborne Noise
- Noise Caused by Rattling
Now let’s look at each of these problems individually and discuss ways to tackle them
Structure Borne noises are caused due to the interaction between the tires and the road. While driving, the noise from the wheels is transferred into the cabin through the suspension system. That is why vehicles with a good suspension system benefit from a quieter cabin.
However, in trucks, structure-borne noises will, in most cases, be a primary issue that you will need to tackle.
How to Counter Structure-Borne Noise
For keeping the structure-borne noise down, you will need a constrained layer damping (CLD) material.
How constrained layer damping works is beautifully explained in this article by Soundproofing Company. In simple words, a good CLD material stretches to control or dampen the vibrations. The material consists of flexible layers that will stretch and oppose vibrations of the surface thereby converting the kinetic energy of the vibrations into heat energy.
There are many CLD products available in the market and these are commonly known as sound deadeners. They are effective for cars and definitely effective for soundproofing a truck cab.
The industry leader is the famous Dynamat and is the most effective. The downside is the cost. There are other competitors like Hushmat, Fatmat, Noico, and others which are cheaper but not as effective as Dynamat.
With a CLD material such as Dynamat, you will tackle only the structure borne noise heard in the truck cab and only a little of the airborne noise. This is where most people get it wrong by assuming that soundproofing can be achieved just by covering all the surfaces with Dynamat. This will help in countering only one of the three challenges.
The airborne noise is the one that is caused by road noise (not to be confused by structure borne noise caused by the movement of the tires on the ground), traffic, horns, etc.
For effective soundproofing, you will need to have high mass sound barriers. CLD materials do not have that much mass and that is the reason that they are not very effective against airborne noise.
The ideal material is Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) which has a lot of mass and is flexible for vehicle applications. It is easier to apply on the interior surfaces of a truck cab owing to large surface areas.
Mass loaded vinyls are not cheap, but saving costs by using a thinner MLV will do. Check the Amazon prices of the one inch thick MLVs.
Noise Caused by Rattling
Most common places which cause rattling are interior trims and it is the doors which require the most attention.
You don’t need expensive stuff for controlling rattling, just the closed cell foam will do the job.
How To Go About Soundproofing a Truck Cab
I know of somebody who employed the method mentioned below and I observed that his truck was much quieter as compared to other ones that had been treated with materials that costed more or less the same.
The soundproofing materials he used were:-
- Dynamat Xtreme Bulk Value Pack – 01 (check prices on Amazon).
- TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl – 100 Sq Ft (check prices on Amazon).
- Noico Green 170 mil 18 sqft Closed Cell Foam – 03 (check prices on Amazon).
Approximate Cost of Soundproofing Material : $420
The ideal way to go about soundproofing the cabin of a truck would be to prioritize the areas which need most of the attention.
The cabin floor should be the top priority for soundproofing as most of the vibrations and noises are caused by the tires which are located underneath.
As brought out earlier in the article, tires cause structure-borne noise as well as airborne noise due to their interaction with the road while traveling.
The noises from the transmission system also originate from the bottom and that is why the floors are the topmost priority.
To start with, you will need to remove the seats, the carpet and all the trim pieces so that you have clear access to the floor and can work freely.
The first layer should be of CLD material. You do not need to cover the entire floor. Some portions would have already been layered with damping material. There would be no significant benefit in covering these portions.
The thin panels that vibrate the most, should be covered completely. Thereafter, go for the large and flat panels. This will reduce the structure-borne noises coming from the floor of the truck. Pay special attention to the areas just under the feet of the driver and passengers as these are the areas from which most of the sound is heard.
After laying the CLD material, the next step is to cover the floor area with mass loaded vinyl. In this case, you should aim for maximum area coverage. If resources are at a premium, the topmost priority is the surfaces below the feet that will definitely need to be covered with MLV.
The MLV, as brought out previously, will deaden the airborne noise.
After this, you need to line the trims on the floor with closed cell foam.
The floor of the truck cab is now soundproof.
After the floor, the next priority should be to soundproof the doors of the cabin for which the same methodology would have to be adopted.
Cover the flat surface areas with CLD material. I suggest putting 5-7 pieces of 10” x 6” CLD pieces on the outer skin and 2-3 pieces on the inner skin depending on the size of the door.
After this, hang the mass loaded vinyl and line the door trims with closed cell foam.
Back Wall and Roof
Having taken care of the floor and doors, it is time to move on to soundproofing the back wall and roof.
Here you can afford some cost saving by doing away with mass loaded vinyl for the roof. However, the mass loaded vinyl is strongly recommended for the back wall.
The methodology used would be the same as covered before, that is CLD material on the first layer followed by mass loaded vinyl and closed cell foam.
The principles that I have described above are demonstrated in the car soundproofing video below.
A Few Handy Tips
- Make sure that the surfaces are clean before sticking the material. Use rubbing alcohol for the same.
- While sticking the material on to the panels, it is best to use a small roller for application of pressure so that the adhesive sticks on firmly.
- Avoid asphalt based CLD materials as they tend to melt in high temperatures.
The Gains in Soundproofing A Truck Cab
- The first and the obvious – quiet and peaceful rides.
- Pleasant conversations with co-passengers without disturbances.
- Music will sound better owing to the quiet environment and less work load on the speakers.
Is the cost actually worth it? It actually depends on individual needs.
How much does the road noise bother you, do you drive a lot, etc are the questions you need to ask yourself. The answers to these questions itself will help you make the right decision.
If still undecided, go find someone who has soundproofed his truck cabin and request him for a drive. That will be all you need.
Thanks for reading! Also check out my post on Best sound deadeners for vehicles