An air compressor is a great help in the shop, around the house, or on a worksite. Whether you use it for pumping up tires or to operate pneumatic nailers, wrenches, cutters, staplers, saws, jacks, or just to blow off the dust, it’s a noisy beast. With all those tool options, consider building a soundproof box for air compressor noise suppression so you can enjoy using it more.
To help you out, we’ve pulled together 19 cool ideas for DIY soundproofing of an air compressor and summarized them. We also explore other ways to quiet a compressor, review some quiet air compressors, and take a look at a DIY muffler idea to quiet the compressor noise. Hopefully, you’ll find something that meets your requirements and helps quiet your compressor noise problem.
How Loud is an Air Compressor?
Most air compressors for the home market operate with a 1HP motor or smaller and produce between 80dB and 100dB of noise – the difference between a dump truck and a helicopter. There are quiet compressors marketed that produce between 40dB and 75dB – the difference between a refrigerator and a vacuum cleaner, which is considerably quieter. Noises above 85dB are considered harmful to hearing and ear protection is recommended.
The decibel scale can be confusing. A noise of 0dB is the quietest noise those with excellent hearing can hear, and sound intensity or power doubles every 3dB the scale increases. The lower the decibel rating, the quieter the sound.
The noise intensity increases 10 times with a change of 10dB and will sound twice as loud. However, the intensity will increase 100 times with a 20dB change and sound four times louder, and 1000 times with a 30dB increase and sound eight times louder. So, the difference between a 40dB air compressor and a 100dB one is 1,000,000 times the intensity or power, and 64 times the perceived loudness!
Key Points to Consider Before Building Air Compressor Soundproof Box
When designing or choosing a plan for an electric air compressor soundproof box there are a number of key points to consider. The size of your compressor, power cord and hose locations, air inlet for the machine, ventilation, and materials come to mind first. With a bit of research, you’ll realize that heat generation within the soundproof box is often a problem, so a thermal override switch is helpful too.
The design should effectively reduce compressor noise to an acceptable level, which may mean anywhere from 3dB to 20dB or more. Use a sound meter or app to identify the noise level from your compressor. Determine how much you need or want to quiet it, and select a plan or design one that will meet your requirements.
Note: A combustion engine-powered compressor has other requirements and shouldn’t be enclosed the same as an electric-powered compressor.
Air compressors require air to operate and also so they don’t overheat and burn out. The design should accommodate the air intake and cooling needs of the unit. Additionally, consider cool or shaded locations if the box is portable and being used outside.
The tool determines the size as does the task, so the compressor size will impact the soundproof box design. Some units are upright and others are horizontal which affects design too. A primary issue though is the motor size and PSI output. The greater the horsepower and PSI required, the more airflow to operate and keep cool.
A rule of thumb is an airflow of 3 to 4 CFM per horsepower; however, the task matters too. If sandblasting at 90 PSI, the compressor may need an air intake of 70 CFM, while a Brad Nailer may only need 1 CFM at 90 PSI.
Plywood, MDF, drywall, brick, acoustic foam, rock wool, fiberglass, wool, blankets, and silicone caulk all have some noise-reducing uses. How portable and quiet you are aiming for, coupled with your budget and DIY abilities, determines the materials. You don’t have to break the bank to quiet a compressor to a more comfortable level.
Thermal Overload Switch
Some compressors have a thermal overload switch and reset button that will trip out when they overheat, preventing burnout or damage. If your compressor doesn’t have one, check to see if one is available or can be adapted for your model, and attach it. Otherwise, look for a model that has one and buy it when yours burns out.
How to Make a Soundproof Enclosure for Air Compressor
There are numerous plans and demonstrations available online for building an air compressor enclosure that will reduce the sound to a more tolerable level. You could go with the first one you find, or spend days searching. To save you time, we’ve gathered a collection together and summarized them to help you out.
1. Air Compressor Sound Enclosure
The building of an open bottom 3/4″ OSB 2’x2’x4’ shell reinforced with 2×4 framing to enclose a wheeled vertical compressor is featured.
It includes a built-in electrical outlet with a power cord, a low-mounted air intake, and a muffled outlet near the top.
Each vent is foam lining to reduce noise movement and off-set so as not to draw warmed air back in. Plus, it has a 65 CFM 4-1/2” cooling fan to draw in cooler air and help force warm air out the outlet vent at a rate of 4 times a minute.
The air hose passes through a foam-lined hole in one side of the enclosure. A full-sized triple hinged door with hasp makes access easy.
2. How to Build Soundproof Box for Air Compressor
This clip details the build of a bottomless soundproof box for a horizontal wheeled air compressor. The compressor has been modified to operate with an external switch, and the drain and output controller moved to the exterior of the box and connected with quick-connect fittings and hoses.
The controller has been further modified with a 150 PSI relief valve feeding a 40 PSI regulator with filter for dry service, and a 120 PSI regulator with filter and lubricator for lubricated service for tools. A 120CFM fan in a baffled chamber sucks warm air out of the box and pulls outside air into the opposite end of the box through another baffled vent.
The 3/4” MDF box is lined with 1-1/2” egg-crate acoustic foam to help reduce noise. A before and after sound sample is provided.
3. Building A Cheap DIY Box To Keep Your Compressor 85% Quieter
Construction of a 2’x3’x3’ sound controlling box using 3/4″ particle board connected with corner or elbow brackets is shared in this video. A fan is used to draw in cool air from the top and push it out through baffled vent holes in the opposing side. Foam lines the box to help control noise, and the compressor sits on a rubber mat to absorb vibration.
The air hose goes through a hole in the side, and the power cords through a hole in the top. A hinged door provides access to the compressor. A before and after sound demonstration is provided.
4. DIY Compressor Soundproof Box
A 2×4 framed 2’x3’ base with 1/2” OSB deck and casters start this build. The box was lined with 2” Styrofoam glued to the OSB sides and back. A baffle of shaped Styrofoam lined with fiberfill was created to muffle the motor noise and vent it.
The top is also lined and lifts off. The air hose and power cord go through holes in the wall construction. A before sound meter reading of 78dB and a finished reading of 63dB are presented.
5. DIY Cheap Silent Box Enclosure
A 3’x2’x2’ 2×4 frame attached to an inside corner of the garage and sheathed in 1/2″ OSB and lined with gypsum board is explained in this clip. Only the top, end, and side need to be built as the two walls and the floor completes the housing. The air intake is built into and through the garage wall, baffled, and lined with thick carpet to suppress noise transfer.
One framed wall with foam lining closes the long side and has a built-in access door. An 8” fan pulls warm air out of the box and into the garage, helping to warm that workspace. A before and after noise comparison is provided.
6. Do It Yourself – Soundproof Box for Compressor
Rock wool provides noise absorption in this air compressor box. The sides and top are OSB and the bottom 3/4″ particleboard. Casters make it easier to move the compressor where needed. Seams are sealed with acoustic caulk, and an intake baffle made of particleboard lined with styrofoam.
A layer of foam reduces vibration under the compressor, and spray adhesive holds the rock wool on the walls. A 4” fan provides airflow through the side and end baffle holes. The lid was screwed on after a control switch was attached to the outside of the box, and the electrical and air hose fitted through the walls.
The sound meter levels before were 88dB to 100.1dB with a load. The soundproof box reduced the levels to 63dB.
7. How To Make Your 60 Gallon Air Compressor Quieter
Enclosing a 60-gallon upright compressor in a 4’x3’x6-1/2’ tall sound suppression booth is documented in this video. The compressor operates at a head rattling 87dB without a load before the build, and a quiet 65dB afterward! Built into a corner, it requires only two walls and a top, the cost is literally cut in half.
Framed with 2x4s and sheathed in 3/4″ OSB, the fixed wall and hinged opening wall were then covered with 5/8” drywall for a dense barrier. Gaps and cracks were caulked or filled with expanding foam to block noise seepage, and inside stud and ceiling cavities filled with rock wool.
A vent in the top allows for air and heat exchange. Includes links to source materials for the build.
8. DIY Sound Insulating Air Compressor Box
A 2’x3’x3’ sound box made of 3/4″ OSB lined with 3/4″ fiber sound paneling insulation. The box is wired with a switched outlet so the compressor can be operated without opening the box. A fan inside the box moves air around when the unit is running, with fresh air coming through holes drilled in the box.
A quick-release hose extension also runs through the wall. The end of the box is hinged and latched for access. There is a sound test using an app, but the difference is noticeable without it.
9. Air Compressor Soundproof Box
Making a small MDF sound control box lined with egg crate foam for an air compressor is demonstrated. There’s a hole through the back for power and one through the side for the hose connection, but no ventilation.
One side is hinged like a door to allow access to the compressor. The sound with the door open and closed during operation demonstrates the sound quieting capabilities of the box.
10. DIY Soundproof Box for Noisy Air Compressors
The construction of a double-walled soundproof box for a 1-1/2HP air compressor is well documented in this article.
A plan shows the use of rock wool between the double walls, and acoustic foam lining the inner box.
Bungee cords hold the compressor off the base to minimize vibration, and a baffled double lid allows for air exchange and noise suppression. The power and air hose go through one end of the double wall.
The lid is held in place with straps. Initial compressor noise is identified at 95dB, and with the use of the box, the sound drops to 70dB.
11. Quietest DIY Compressor Sound Proof Enclosure
Using 3” rigid foil-backed foam insulation between a double-wall construction of 3/4″ OSB and MDF to make a noise suppression box for an air compressor is demonstrated. A fan with baffles provides airflow in at the front to prevent overheating, and a baffled vent near the rear allows warm air to escape.
The box is wired so the fan and compressor can be operated without opening the door. The inside surfaces of the box are lined with acoustic foam and carpet to further muffle sound vibration. A quick-release valve connection pipes through the wall and castors on the box make it easier to move.
12. Quiet Air Compressor Build – How to Fix a Loud Compressor
A two-part video explaining the separation of the compressor and motor from the tank and placing them in a soundproof box mounted in the attic of the workspace. A small, 3/4″ plywood box lined with egg carton foam holds the noisy components of the compressor.
Airflow through baffled intake and outlet compartments is augmented with a fan. A flexible air hose with quick release and a power cord go through the box wall. Foam padding was added to the exterior of the box bottom to further decrease noise vibration transfer. A before and after noise comparison is provided.
13. How To: Compressor Sound Deadening Box
A compressor silencing box that doubles as a workbench is presented in this link. The compressor rests in a foam-lined wooden box. There is a baffled intake with a fan at the rear of the box, and a baffled exhaust vent in the door at the other end.
The fan turns on independent of the compressor, and the air hose goes through the base of the box. So, the box doesn’t need to be opened to operate. The before and after sound levels are also demonstrated.
14. I Built a Sound Proof Box for My Air Compressor
The construction of a $40 26”x26”x48” sound suppressing air compressor box is explained in this video. The box is made with particleboard and lined with an old mattress memory foam topper. One end is hinged and operates as a door, and a vent at the top rear allows heat and some noise out.
Power cord and air hose go through the walls, and a variable speed fan inside improves airflow to decrease heat. Casters were attached to make it easier to move the box around.
An added note identifies that the memory foam holds the heat, and will be switched out for sound insulation. Racks and hooks were added to the outside of the box to hold attachments.
15. Air Compressor Silencer Box
Turning a noisy 97dB vertical 2-1/2 HP air compressor into a quieter beast is documented in this 2-part post. The plan for the 42-1/2” x 23-1/2” x 22-5/8” cabinet is included. Built with 23/32” MDF and lined with 2” rigid styrofoam insulation to control noise, it was then painted.
The MDF panels were beveled for a tighter fit, and 2”x2” pine screwing blocks used to connect them together. The bottom of the box has 2” wheels for easy movement and is secured to the top portion of the box using latch fittings to pull and seal tight.
The front third of the top portion of the box was separated from the rear for ease of access. Two separate baffled towers lined with acoustic foam and attached at the rear control noise through the lower intake and upper exhaust ports, and a 4-3/4” computer fan mounted in each of the towers assist with airflow. Part 2
Outdoor Air Compressor Enclosure
An alternative to having a loud air compressor taking up valuable workspace is to move it outdoors. It not only frees up space but moves the noise further away. Unfortunately, your neighbors may not appreciate it. Here are some suggestions to quiet a compressor outdoors.
16. Air Compressor Housing
This link documents the construction of a concrete-lined well for the air compressor. The electrical and air hose connections are run underground from the well to the workshop, and an on-off switch mounted in the shop for easy control. An outside air hose connection with a regulator allows for use outdoors too.
A 3/4″ plywood box lid lined with acoustic foam rests atop the concrete well to protect the unit and control noise. A 4” diameter ABS pipe with 1/8” Masonite baffles is both intake and exhaust for the sound suppression well.
17. Sound proof Air Compressor Box Build
Building an outdoor platform to house two air compressors and control their noise output to keep the neighbors happy is presented in this clip. A 2’x12’-long base frame of 2×4 construction covered with marine plywood and set on 4x4s began the project. Mounted at the outside back of the shop.
The 2×4 framed walls and top were sheathed in marine plywood and lined with 1”-thick sound -deadening foam. The two ends were left open with acoustic foam-lined baffles to control sound while maintaining airflow, and wire meshed to keep unwanted visitors out.
Two, lined doors provide access to the two compressors. A metal roof was added for further protection. Connections and power go through the wall and noise inside the shop is significantly improved.
18. I Built a Sound-Proof Box for My Air Compressor
Building an outdoor lean-to-style shed enclosure for an 80-gallon 2-stage air compressor is documented in this set of videos. Constructed with 2×4 framing and sheathed with 1/2″ plywood, it was lined with 1/2″ thick foil-backed rigid foam.
Two walls were designed to open for access to different components of the compressor. The air hose and power run through the wall into the work area. Vents were cut into the top and bottom of the two opposing sides to allow for airflow and covered with metal vent plates.
The initial sound meter reading with just the enclosure walls was 81dB at 6-feet, and slightly higher at 84dB with the door open. Adding the 1/2″ of foam marginally improved the noise levels to 80dB, with much of the noise coming out of the unbaffled vents.
19. DIY Outdoor Air Compressor Enclosure
The construction of a 2×2 concrete pad and 2×4 framed structure to house an air compressor is presented. The enclosure protects the compressor from the elements and reduces sound emissions. The walls and door were lined with acoustic foam to reduce noise, and airflow was provided by the open gable ends.
A circulating fan could be added if the operating temperature is too high. Power and air hose were plumbed through the shop wall and connected with a master regulator with filters and dryer before going on to the tools.
Other Ways to Quiet Your Air Compressor
There are many ways to quiet the noise emanating from an air compressor. They can be used independently or in concert with an indoor or outdoor compressor sound suppression box. Here are a couple of suggestions to get you started.
Install Air Compressor Silencer Filter
An air compressor silencer filter attaches to the air intake and not only helps block dust and other damaging material; it helps decrease noise.
The sturdy metal housed filters are inexpensive and easy to install on oil-less air filters, and may marginally cut the noise.
Threaded for 1/2” connections, the amount of noise control will depend on the size of the compressor, but don’t expect to do away with ear protection.
Anti-vibration pads placed under the compressor’s feet or stand help to control the vibrational transfer of sounds and rattles, and dampen noise.
The closed-cell 4”x4”x7/8” EVA foam pads work well with other modes of sound suppression to quiet compressor noise.
For heavy units, consider using a piece of metal or plywood on top of the foam to distribute the weight and reduce compression of the foam.
Best Quiet Air Compressors
One way to have a quiet air compressor is to start with one that is 20dB quieter than others. There are different quiet compressors on the market. Here are three that are considered among the best.
California Air Tools 8010 Steel Tank Air Compressor
The 60dB 110volt California Air Tools 8010 has an 8-gallon steel tank with an 8.5 Amp motor for the dual piston oil-free pump that will fill the tank in 130 seconds.
With a 1/4″ universal quick connection and two pressure control gauges and a maximum power of 2HP, it has an output of 3.1cfm at 40psi and 2.2cfm at 90psi, plus a maximum pressure of 120psi.
The thermal overload protection and air filter help protect your investment, and the wheels and handle make it easy to move the 54lb unit around. The compressor has a life cycle before wear of 3000 hours and a one-year limited warranty.
California Air Tools CAT-1P1060S Light & Quiet Portable Air Compressor
The 56dB 29.5lb CAT-1P1060S has a 0.6HP motor that fills the 1-gallon steel tank in 50-seconds. It produces an output of 1.6cfm at 40psi and 1.2cfm at 90psi and is rated to 120psi.
The pressure control gauge and 1/4″ universal quick-connect are easy to access, and the thermal overload protection and oil-free pump keep maintenance down.
The CAT-1P1060S has a life cycle before wear of 3000 hours and comes with a limited one-year warranty.
Campbell Hausfeld Quiet Air Compressor
The 68dB 4.6-gallon twin stacked aluminum tank DC040500 Campbell Hausfeld weighs 38lbs.
The 1HP electric motor and oil-free dual-piston pump deliver 3.2cfm at 40psi and 2.2cfm at 90psi and a maximum of 125psi. The pressure gauge is easy to view and a dual 1/4″ universal quick connect allows for two tools to be used in tandem.
The compressor comes with a limited 1-year warranty.
Air Compressor Muffler DIY
Manufacturing an air intake muffler for an 80-gallon electric compressor using $10 of PVC couplings and pipe is explained in this video. A 3/4” diameter piece is perforated with holes where it passes through a larger diameter pipe coupling which is filled with fiberglass insulation to absorb the noise.
The muffler connects to the air intake ahead of the air filter. The pre-muffler sound level was 96.4dB and the installation of the muffler dropped the noise level to 86.5dB.
Quieting the noise of an air compressor by building a sound suppression box or shed for it is an effective solution. Just remember to keep the compressor cool and baffle both the air intake and outlet to control the noise movement.
Hopefully, we’ve helped you find a plan or come up with some ideas for your own design to quiet your air compressor noise problem.