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Mass Loaded Vinyl: Application, Effectiveness and Alternatives

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Mass loaded vinyl of one of the most popular soundproofing materials available on the market today.

If you’ve been an avid follower of my DIY soundproofing blog posts, you will discover that mass loaded vinyl is one of my favorite material for making a room quieter.

Additionally, it also forms a part of an automotive sound and thermal insulation materials.

Because of its effectiveness and easy installation, MLV sound barriers have become famous and the number one choice for soundproofing enthusiasts.

Below is a full write up of everything you need to know about MLV sound barriers.

What is Mass Loaded Vinyl, and What is it Made of?

Mass loaded vinyl is a heavy vinyl sheeting material impregnated with metal particles to increase mass.

The main principle in soundproofing has always been more mass.

When attached to the walls and ceilings, it adds more mass hence attaining sound reducing capabilities.

It’s also known as the Limp Mass Barrier.

MLV comprises two main ingredients; polyvinyl chloride (vinyl/PVC) and barium sulphate or calcium carbonate.

It’s a viscoelastic material that exhibits both viscous and elastic characteristics.

It can be stretched and return to its original shape.

Unlike other materials such as acoustic foam panels, MLV can absorb vibrations/ impact sound waves.

How To Install Mass Loaded Vinyl?

When constructing soundproofed ceilings, walls, and floors, it’s essential to add a non-resonant mass.

MLV is a great non-resonant material.

Unfortunately, not all MLV products are equal.

I would highly recommend one that contains polymeric plasticizers for added stability and strength over cheaper monomeric.

Additionally, go with extruded MLV instead of the cast because cast MLV is quite prone to damage.

Materials required for installation:

  • Utility Knife
  • Tape Measure
  • Acoustic Sealant (read my complete guide on different acoustic sealants on the market)
  • T-Square or Straight Edge
  • Hammer or Screw Driver Roofing Nails
  • Vinyl or Foil Seam Tape
  • Pneumatic Cap Stapler Cap Staples, or Screws with Caps

MLV Installation Procedure

  1. Measure the distance between the floor and the ceiling and then subtract 1/8” -1/4” from the length
  2. Cut the roll of MLV to the desired size. Use the straight edge or T-square to cut the straight cutter and a utility knife to cut the sound barrier to length.
  3. Get the assistance of another person and position the first sheet to the corner of the wall. You should maintain an even gap along with both the ceiling and the floor.
  4. Use the pneumatic cap stapler to fasten every 8” along with the studs and top plate length.
  5. For 16” O.C (On Center) framing, you should hammer a nail and washer through the sound barrier every 24” O.C along with the top plate of all the studs. Read my guide on how to hammer quietly so that you can make this whole activity quieter as possible.
  6. Find all the electrical outlets and gently press the MLV sound barrier against the box. Next, use a razor blade to cut the opening along the edges of the box.
  7. Repeat the steps from 1-6 for the entire wall.
  8. Use the acoustical Sealant to caulk the seams to achieve the best sound isolation results.

What Is Better Than Mass Loaded Vinyl?

Quietrock Drywall sheets are the best alternatives to mass loaded vinyl.

This product isn’t your regular gypsum drywall. However, it can improve the STC ratings of a wall by up to 15-20 STC points while it would take up to 4 sheets of regular drywall.

However, mass loaded vinyl and drywall can be installed together for maximum sound reducing capabilities.

All you need to do is sandwich the MLV sound barrier between the layers of drywall.

Here’s a link to a detailed guide on the best MLV soundproofing barrier alternatives available on the market today.

Is Mass Loaded Vinyl Better Than Green Glue?

According to an article published on the TMSoundproofing website (Source), mass loaded vinyl does improve wall performance in noise reduction.

However, its effectiveness is much lower than that of the green glue compound, especially at low sound frequencies.

Green Glue is also cheaper compared to MLV and much easier to apply.

Even though hanging MLV limply is much easier, sandwiching it between a layer of soundproofing materials such as drywalls improves its performance.

Below is a chart that details how green glue outperforms MLV in terms of STC class.

Mass Loaded Vinyl vs Green Glue

Source: TMSoundproofing

Green glue alone gives an STC rating of 55, while MLV gives 51 when limply hung and 52 when sandwiched.

A-List of Mass Loaded Vinyl Uses

For DIY soundproofing enthusiasts, the MLV sound barrier is used in different applications.

Soundproofing Doors and Windows

Because of its mass, MLV will enhance the noise blocking capabilities of both doors and windows.

If you have a recording studio or a drum room at home and would like to prevent noise from leaking in or outside the room, I would highly recommend this product.

You should also consider investing in quiet drum sets and recording equipment to minimize noise as possible.

Dishwasher Insulation

Dishwashers are noisy and can turn your kitchen into a small rocket testing site.

Thermo-Tec insulation will get you sorted as it will dampen most of the dishwasher noises making your kitchen place quieter.

mass loaded vinyl sound barrierFor a complete guide on everything you need to deaden dishwasher noise; check out my previous article on dishwasher insulation soundproofing.

Vehicle Soundproofing

Most of the automotive sound deadening mats use MLV in their architecture to reduce noise transmission.

A perfect example is Dynamat that offers both sound deadening and thermal insulation capabilities.

When glued to the bonnet side of the car, this material will help reduce engine noise and improve thermal insulation.

Check out my guide on comprehensive DIY under hood insulation.

Additionally, it also attached to the door panels to help reduce cabin noise by cutting down road noise.

This way, you get better stereo quality.

Conclusion

MLV is a great soundproofing material that deals with both low and high-frequency sounds.

It’s a great product that any DIY enthusiast should consider using.

Sources: Soundproofing Company

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