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Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV): Does It Reduce Noise? [Best Alternatives]

mass loaded vinyl MLV

Commonly known as MVL; Mass Loaded Vinyl is a sound blocking material. It is a greener and more viable alternative as opposed to lead.

Impact and airborne noise is a persistent sound control problem. Older buildings, in particular, have issues with sound transfer through ceilings and floors. Thus a tough, sound deadening material must be used to stop the general sound vibrations.

What is MLV?

Mass loaded vinyl is a viscoelastic material loaded with an inert material. It has been used as an effective sound barrier since the 1960s. 

In perspective; it could be polyvinyl chloride or vinyl (the viscoelastic material) filled with a salt like barium sulfate or calcium carbonate (the inert material). Viscoelastic materials are known to have a sound dampening effect like that in acoustical fire batts, door seals and soundproof drywall.

High viscous materials like gel or honey resist shear flow and express linear stress when force is applied. On the other hand, an elastic material like rubber strains when force is applied, and they snap back into their original shape after the stress is lifted.

Viscoelastic materials express both viscous and elastic properties. Their strain rate is time-dependent because of the viscosity factor.

Viscoelastic materials dissipate energy/heat when stress is applied. As such, they are used for isolating vibrations, absorbing shock and soundproofing.

How much does MLV cost?

When compared with other soundproofing methods, MLV is in the mid range. So if you are looking for the cheapest soundproofing method, this is not for you. The best thing is that  prices are worth considering its effectiveness. Apart from brand, the price you’ll pay depends on thickness, color and other special features like foam layer and adhesive backing. 

MLV is quite heavy. How much are the shipping costs?

As perfect as MLV is as a soundproofing choice, you will find that it is quite heavy and some manufacturers will charge some shipping costs. Some charge a similar fee for all the states in the USA. While others like Trademark Soundproofing, ships at no cost around the 50 states. 

What’s the best MLV on the Market?

MLV comes with different brand names so it can be a bit tricky to find a genuine brand that sticks to quality. After scouring the market, we found the TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl to be the ideal model for all-around soundproofing.

TMS MLV can be used in condos, apartments, classrooms, medical facilities, automobiles and more. It is the standard 1 lb per sq ft version. It has an STC rating of 27 meaning it will make a good sound barrier wherever you use it.

This MLV model has no odor. If you dread sound deadening sheets because of the smell, then you have no worries with TMS.  

Pros

  • Adds mass without compromising space
  • Manufactured from USA virgin material
  • Ships free within the USA
  • Fits the looks and needs of many spaces
  • It has 0.125 inches tensile strength

 

Cons

  • It will not drown 100% of the noise


Check the current price

How does MLV as a Sound Barrier Work?

Noise reduction has a rating in terms of the Sound Transmission Class (STC). A good STC rating shows how well a building can attenuate sound. Drywall with average thickness has an STC of around 36 in the USA.

But dry walls have resonance issues. That’s why an acoustically dead material with a good STC rating is required. 1lb per square foot MLV has an STC rating of around 26.

When added to drywall, the STC rating goes up significantly, making the wall soundproof.

Common Uses of Mass Loaded Vinyl

  1. Soundproofing for Homes and Commercial Buildings
    MLV can adapt to any surface. Its ability to be flexible means it can be lined on floors, ceilings, and against doors to help reduce noise. A mass of MLV with minimal thickness can be added between dry walls to achieve superior soundproofing.
  2. Create Acoustic Blankets around Noisy Machinery
    Industrial machinery tend to be noisy. MLV sheets are hung on rods then hung around loud machinery to act as sound screens. You can find them on generators, pumps, heat exchangers, etc.

    In a processing plant, for example, sound screen curtains can be installed on frames with castor wheels in order to make them mobile.

  3. Block Noise from Commercial Vehicles
    MLV is commonly used to create a sound barrier against vibrations in trucks, RVs, buses, cars, boats, etc. MLV material can be cut and resized onto door panels and walls. They can also be installed under car carpets and in trunk compartments to create a quiet ride with less engine noise.
  4. Pipe and HVAC Ductwork Soundproofing
    To reduce noise transmission in pipes and HVAC ducts; MLV wraps are used. Manufacturers refer to them as limps as they are loosely attached to the noisy pipes. They work by creating an acoustic lag which reduces noise leakage.

How to Install MLV

As mentioned earlier, MLV can be applied to ceilings, walls, structures, and floors. It’s pretty easy to install as you’ll see shortly.

Say you are installing MLV to the wall; here are the steps to take.

  • Measure the wall you intend to install it on from top to bottom
  • Deduct 1/8 to ¼ inch from that height. This will give you a small perimeter gap.
  • Roll out your MLV on the floor
  • Use heavy duty scissors or a utility knife to cut a straight edge through the MLV
  • To apply your MLV, you will need an extra pair of hands
  • Hold the MLV starting from the ceiling to the floor. Ensure that it is straight across the ceiling and evenly spaced all through from the floor to the ceiling.
  • Fasten the MLV with staples, nails, or screws and work your way across the MLV
  • Continue fastening the screws or nails every 2 inches along the length of each stud and the top and bottom plate.
  • If you choose to use a pneumatic stapler, you’ll need to tighten the spaces every 8 inches along the length of the stud and bottom plate.
  • The next step will be to tape the seams where the MLV seams drop on the studs. Put those pieces together against each other, caulk the seams, and fasten the pieces with tape.
  • If the MLV terminates between studs, just overlap the pieces by 2 inches and tape them with PVC tape
  • If you are installing the MLV around openings like sockets, press the MLV around the box and use a sharp razor blade to cut the MLV along the edges of the box. Continue sealing the edges like you would along the studs.
  • Finally, notch the edges so that they stay flat.
mass loaded vinyl alternative

Mass Loaded Vinyl alternatives

Finding an alternative for MLV can be difficult. Let’s take a look at products with nearly the same sound deadening quality or better.

  • Lead sheets – More expensive than MLV but offer the same quality of soundproofing
  • Soundproof foam panels – This is acoustic foam which can deflect and absorb noise
  • Sound-deadening fiberboards – They have a low mass and are mostly preferred for floors

Read also: How to soundproof a floor

So, Does Mass Loaded Vinyl Really Reduce Noise?

Soundproofing is important for many reasons. Mass Loaded Vinyl helps to absorb noise to a high degree. It is a flexible and dense membrane that is versatile in the number of ways you can use it.  From filling gaps to covering walls and ceilings, wrapping metal columns, ducts, and pipes, it proves to work great in many applications.

We recommend going for MLV as the cheaper and greener alternative for your soundproofing needs.

One thought on “Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV): Does It Reduce Noise? [Best Alternatives]

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