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Everything You Need to Know About Mass Loaded Vinyl

If you're looking into soundproofing, then you've come across Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV), also known as “Limp Mass Barrier.” This material has been a keystone in soundproofing for decades. It's incredibly effective because of its flexible and limp structure, but also its weight. It's most popularly used in homes and personal studios because it's such a great material for DIY soundproofing, but it's also used commercially. Some may even use it to dampen road noises in their car by covering the interior with it. This miracle sound barrier was first introduced as a replacement for dangerous and toxic lead sheeting. As a safer alternative, it's become one of the most popular soundproofing barriers on the market.

What is Mass Loaded Vinyl and How Does it Work?

Made from limp vinyl and heavy Barium Sulfate or Calcium Silicate, this material combines these materials to create an exceptional sound barrier. The added sand or salt compounds give the vinyl more weight and density making it weigh in at a pound for every square foot. Mass Loaded Vinyl's remarkable combination of weight and flexibility helps it reduce the amplification of sound waves as they attempt to pass through it.

Sound Transmission Class (STC) is the unit of measurement used to measure the effectiveness of mass loaded vinyl on structures. Sound scientists take measurements of the sound transmission loss between the source and the target area in a soundproof lab. The end rating indicates the performance of the MLV by calculating the difference in frequency between the source and the target area. The STC lets you know how effective the MLV is and how to best use that level of thickness.

How is Mass Loaded Vinyl Used?

Just as the name implies, Mass Loaded Vinyl is used to add mass to surfaces, as well as dampen and absorb sounds.

Here are four practical noise control uses for mass loaded vinyl:
  1. Drown Out Loud Neighbors or Roommates:
    Whether you're hearing noise from above, or outside, you can use mass loaded vinyl to create more mass and drown them out. This is the most popular application of MLV. Use it to cancel noise between floors and ceilings, or between walls. Don't press it between drywall and plywood surfaces, because that'll take away the flexibility, which is key for canceling noises. It also works well to prevent sounds from leaking in through doors and windows.
  2. Silence Your Appliances:
    If you have noisy appliances or machines in your house, like an AC unit or dishwasher, you can line it with MLV. It's not always the easiest material to use, but it'll look nice if left exposed on appliances.
  3. Sound Deaden Your Car:
    This was alluded to earlier, but anyone who cherishes exceptional audio in their car or at least can't stand the road noise from driving on the highway, would benefit from soundproofing their car with mass loaded vinyl.
  4. Dampen Pipe Sounds:
    Have you ever been lying in bed at night and then hear the flow of water moving about the pipes? Noisy water pipes and air ducts aren't always a high priority for soundproofing, but they're notoriously loud at night when you're trying to sleep. Although some pipe wraps are made with MLV, you don't have to use a traditional pipe wrap. You can combine it with a decoupling layer of SoundAway's soundproofing Mat then wrap it with MLV. Secure with MLV Mylar Seam Tape.
Where to Buy Mass Loaded Vinyl?

There's a number of places selling MLV online, but at SoundAway, we offer a wide selection of mass loaded vinyl noise barrierin four different strengths: non-reinforced MLV 1#, non-reinforced MLV 2#, reinforced MLV 1#, and MLV 1# with closed cell foam & carpet underlay.

You can even pick up our super strong adhesive black vinyl seam tape to match perfectly with our mass loaded vinyl products. For the full product specs on our MLV, click here.