Welcome to my beginner’s guide to sound damping. This will be focusing on how to reduce or eliminate annoying rattles and vibrations. My personal experience prior to this project is limited, so I hope you can relate to this learning experience. I will be using a product called Alpha Damp. The example vehicle is a Saturn 4-door sedan, which is badly in need of help to reduce vibrations. This article will show you what CLD tiles are, the things you need, and how to apply the CLD tiles.
What is Alpha Damp?
Alpha Damp is a type of product called CLD, or Constrained Layer Damper. This is explained very well at Sound Deadener Showdown. Basically, it’s a butyl rubber layer bonded with a sheet of aluminum. It adheres to a panel once the backing paper is removed and pressure is applied. No heat gun is necessary!
Things you need:
- CLD sound damping tiles(Alpha Damp)
- Hand tools to remove body panel fasteners, such as a screwdriver and body panel remover
- A wooden roller or a cylindrical object such as a socket or piece of dowel
- Isopropyl alcohol or other light solvent
- Paper towels
- Tin snips. Due to the thickness of the aluminum on Alpha Damp this is essential. A utility knife will lead to frustration.
- Time. You want to have at least a couple of hours at a time so you don’t have to take your panels off again to finish the job.
- A climate controlled environment is great.
- A flat work surface at a comfortable height.
How Do I Put This Stuff On?
Once your body panel is removed from the vehicle you’ll need to clean the surface with isopropyl alcohol and paper towels. It doesn’t need to be perfect but you want the CLD tiles to stick to a clean surface. Next you’ll want to focus on the flattest areas of the panel to treat first. Curved surfaces are more resistant to vibrating and generally don’t need much attention. There is NO need for full coverage! Don at Sound Deadener Showdown has a 25% rule, meaning flat surfaces need only 25% coverage by CLD to have adequate reduction in vibrations. I chose to be a little more liberal since my Saturn is a rattle trap with lots of thin sheet metal and thin plastic.
Cut a sheet into smaller pieces so it’s easier to handle. Press it into place by hand and follow up with your wooden roller so it’s fully conformed to the surface. My photos above show the outer removable panel from the trunk lid and the back of the trunk lid. I went for roughly 50% coverage.
This Product Can’t Do Everything
Based on my before and after tests, one of the things I tried with the Alpha Damp failed. My Saturn has license plate bulb holders which are held in place by clips. I tried placing small strips of Alpha Damp on each holder hoping it would lessen the rattling. I heard the same amount of rattling after, so I need to figure out a different solution.
Revisited(11-1-2012): I went back to the license plate bulb housings and put on a thin layer of black RTV gasket maker. I focused on surfaces that would touch against hard plastic so it formed a barrier. This solution has worked for many months.
What you’re going for is not a total elimination of vibrations and rattles. You want to get this noise reduced so you can hear details of your music better. This works whether you have a factory stereo or the whole works upgraded. Anyone can benefit from this easy treatment!
How Did It Work For Me?
Alpha Damp works wonderfully! I love how easy it is to apply, and the simple job I did over a 2 hour period to the trunk lid greatly reduced rattles from my subwoofer. I have since moved on to the front door panels, which I will follow up with further articles. Please watch for Part 2 coming soon!