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Soundproofing your trailer or the engine in your Class A makes for a quieter drive down the highway or a more restful night at the campground. The process doesn’t require special mechanical skills, but it does require the use of materials that dampen sound and are safe for you and your passengers.
Soundproofing From Scratch
A travel trailer being built from the ground up, or one that has been stripped to its shell, is a good candidate for soundproofing. Install noise dampening products, typically sold as panels or in rolls, before building out the interior. Panels, made from natural or synthetic materials like foam and cotton, usually have an adhesive side that you can simply stick to the walls of the trailer as you would floor tiles to a floor. Rolls can be cut to size. Make sure the product is fire and insect resistant. Consider installing soundproof windows and adding soundproofing material to the floor before you lay the carpet or tile.
Weigh aesthetics against function when adding soundproofing to an existing trailer or motor home. If you rough it in your camper, it may not matter how it looks once it’s soundproofed, but if you entertain, or just want things to look finished, there are some different approaches to consider. Use the same material on all of the walls and keep seams to a minimum to avoid a patchwork look. Soundproofing tiles covered in colorful fabric cost more but they brighten the interior and don’t look like an industrial solution. If you’re adding soundproofing for times when you’re in a noisy campground, don’t forget to do the inside back panels of the cupboards and storage benches.
Dampening Noise From Windows and Gaps
The simplest solution for soundproofing windows for fewer interruptions at noisy campgrounds is to swap out the trailer’s curtains for ones made from sound-absorbing fabric. Choose heavyweight curtains with pleats for the most sound reduction. Consider curtains with blackout properties if you like to sleep in. If you don’t want to make a permanent change, use hook-and-loop tape to hold the curtains in place over the windows when you need sound dampening.
If your rig has an opening between the cab and the rest of the trailer, choose heavyweight drapes rather than curtains. An easy solution for hanging them is to use a heavy-duty spring rod that spans the distance from wall to wall. Stow the rod and curtain when you’re on the road.
Soundproofing the Engine
Aside from a few rattles and road sounds, most of the noise comes from the engine when you’re on the road. Soundproofing the engine is a not a project that should be undertaken with odd materials you have on hand. Manufacturers like Dynamat and B-Quiet sell rolls or panels of fire-rated, sound-deadening material that dampen engine noise. In a Class A, the material sticks to the inside of the “dog house” - the panel that covers the engine hump between the two front seats. Engine noise is not as great a problem in Class C RVs, but you can attach the material to the underside of the hood, creating a hoodliner, to reduce engine noise.
Native New Yorker Meg Jernigan stayed in Washington, D.C. after attending the George Washington University, and worked in the tourism industry with the National Park Service for many years. She has extensive experience in tent and RV camping, hiking, backcountry exploration and cycling.