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Mass Loaded Vinyl Alternative

Mass Loaded Vinyl Alternatives

Mass Loaded Vinyl Alternatives

Mass Loaded Vinyl is one of the most popular soundproofing materials, used by construction crews and do-it-yourselfers alike. The MLV comes in the form of a large roll and is used to 100% cover your walls or ceilings (not floors!) for noise control.

 

MLV is popular in applications ranging from commercial buildings to professional recording studios to home theater rooms. Because MLV is so versatile, it can be used in just about any soundproofing solution.  

 

While Mass Loaded Vinyl is a prevalent soundproofing material and has been for many years, it does have some limitations which lead to some looking for an MLV alternative. These limitations include cost, performance, and ease of installation.

 

Mass Loaded Vinyl is one of the most popular soundproofing materials, used by construction crews and do-it-yourselfers alike. The MLV comes in the form of a large roll and is used to 100% cover your walls or ceilings (not floors!) for noise control.

MLV is popular in applications ranging from commercial buildings to professional recording studios to home theater rooms. Because MLV is so versatile, it can be used in just about any soundproofing solution.  

While Mass Loaded Vinyl is a prevalent soundproofing material and has been for many years, it does have some limitations which lead to some looking for an MLV alternative. These limitations include cost, performance, and ease of installation.

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Popular MLV and MLV Alternative Products


Luxury Liner™ Roll - Mass Loaded Vinyl
Quiet Quilt™ 2-Sided Barrier Blanket
Green Glue™ Noiseproofing Compound

What is Mass Loaded Vinyl

Mass Loaded Vinyl is a polyvinyl chloride (PVC) noise control material that offers sound insulation and dampening qualities when applied to a wall or ceiling (not a floor!).

It is most commonly purchased as a roll or sheet with 1lb or 2lb per square foot density, although we do get the occasional customer looking for 0.5 lbs per square foot. The density of the material will determine the amount of noise reduction achieved. A 1lb per square foot MLV is typically about 1/8” thick and 2 lb MLV is closer to ¼”. A standard roll is going to be 15 ft, 25 ft, or 30 ft. We like to offer rolls that weigh less than 150 lbs for ease of use.

Our Luxury Liner MLV Rolls are pliable, tear-resistant, odorless, and fire-resistant. We are very particular and produce only the best quality mass loaded vinyl available.

Pros of using mass loaded vinyl

    • Excellent Noise Barrier for its Thickness – because MLV is so dense, it is extremely thing relative to its soundproofing ability. Mass loaded vinyl products are thin and flexible, so you can build an excellent barrier without taking up too much space. That’s why MLV in cars is so common, as the room to maneuver is restricted.
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    • Versatility- MLV truly is the jack-of-all-trades for soundproofing. It has so many different applications. Install it with 100% coverage to the the studs behind your 5/8” drywall. Use it to build a soundproof fences. Or install it in a vehicle to block engine and road noise. It does a fantastic job in every instance.
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    • Straightforward Installation – Installing MLV is not rocket science. Install it with 100% coverage with no air gaps. Then seal up any cracks or seams with acoustical sealant and you’ve got an excellent sound barrier.

Cons of using mass loaded vinyl

    • Top End Performance – MLV is not soundproof enough to hit the extreme high end of soundproofing applications without combining it with other products. Your typical wall with 1 lb MLV and 5/8” drywall (sealed with acoustical sealant) will deliver an STC rating in the high 40s. If you need an STC 60+ barrier, you’ll need to combine MLV with another product.
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    • Weight - With a full roll of mass loaded vinyl weighing from 100 to 250 lbs, you’re dealing with a product that requires some strength to move around. If you’re a typical DIYer, you don’t want to sign yourself up for an overhead installation of MLV to the ceiling.
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    • Will Not Stop Impact Noise – a common misconception is that MLV will help with impact noise through a ceiling. It will not stop those footsteps. Mass loaded vinyl only will stop airborne noise (the TV, people talking, etc)
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    • Some Cheap Products - Some lower quality mass loaded vinyls are usually less durable, prone to tears, and have a terrible odor. We’d steer you away from cheap MLVs, using low quality streams of recycled rubber.

 

alternatives to mass loaded vinyl for walls

Alternatives to MLV

For walls and Ceilings

    • Green Glue Compound – Professional-grade Green Glue is top-rated among DIYers for a good reason. The #1 benefit is it’s the best product for soundproofing existing walls or ceiling. Green Glue is installed on the back of an extra layer of 5/8” drywall, before screwing that drywall to the first layer already on the wall and sealing everything with acoustical sealant. In most situations, this will increase the STC rating of your wall to the low 50s, and substantially reduce airborne noise. Read more about this alternative in our green glue vs mass loaded vinyl article.
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    • RSIC clips - This alternative to mass loaded vinyl uses the resilient properties of rubber to decouple gypsum board from your wall or ceiling. These clips will actually detach the drywall from the building’s structure, hijacking the energy path for impact noise and substantially reducing airborne noise too. An RSIC isolation clip system can easily get the IIC and STC rating of an assembly into the high 50s or even 60s.
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    • UnderBlock rubber underlayment – We mentioned it earlier, but MLV should not be used on the floors. While it will add density, it does not do anything for impact noise. To stop those footsteps, you need 100% rubber. UnderBlock is the best performing option for floors to stop both impact and airborne noise. Most people need the 10mm thick version.
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    • Insulation - If you have a low performing wall, using soundproof insulation will give you a few STC points added, but for the most part regular insulation will help absorb sound transferring through your air cavity.

MLV Alternative for Outdoor Use

Quiet Quilt Soundproof blankets – Exterior rated soundproof blanket products are an upgrade over MLV for a fence, and is often used on construction sites or to enclose loud machinery. The easily attach to all sorts of framing or fences (via grommets), attach to each other with industrial Velcro, and include a sound absorptive facing for improved performance over MLV.

BlocknZorbe panels - Our Class A Fire Rated polypropylene sound panels come in a charcoal version that lasts forever outside. They are waterproof, UV stable, and easily screw into a wood fence or other structure. Despite being relatively lightweight, they are STC and NRC rated – so great for blocking and absorbing sound.

Mass Loaded vinyl Alternative for Automotive Use

Use our Damplifier Pro Sound Deadening Mats in a soundproof car applications to stop structural vibrations in the vehicle. We recommend 60 percent coverage to deaden structural noise.

By increasing the coverage to 100 percent, you’ve actually upgraded the performance of your existing metal sound barrier. You could do 100% coverage as a substitute for MLV, but we recommend using Damplifier Pro with our Luxury Liner Pro MLV because they complement each other so well. Together, they will reduce the noise in a loud vehicle 10-15 db.

Stay Away From Using MLV in These Situations

Using MLV as part of a floor assembly

We want to circle back on MLV for floors, because it’s one of the things we see frequently on other websites. We do not recommend mass loaded vinyl as part of a floor assembly. Yes, it will add density but it will do nothing to stop those footsteps, which is critical for any soundproof floor.

Our UnderBlock rubber underlayment is an excellent alternative because it is easy to install and is compatible with just about every floor finish. The improvement in STC and IIC ratings is unmatched, and it’s just recycled rubber! If you are planning to soundproof a floor, 100% rubber is the way to go.

Using Foam as a soundproofing material

Acoustic panels and acoustic foam are not recommended for soundproofing because they do not have the mass or density to block sound. The key to blocking noise is a dense, airtight barrier – not foam. Sound deadening foam will not prevent sound from traveling from one space to another.

Foam is great for reducing reverb and echo inside a room, and will also dampen the noise inside that space. If you’re thinking about foam, you should be thinking “sound quality” though, NOT keeping out noise from a noisy neighbor or a noisy road.

Questions About Your Soundproofing Project

Mass loaded vinyl is one of the most popular and versatile soundproofing products on the market today. However, it might not be the best product for your application. If you want to soundproof a room or block noise coming in through your door/window, you have other options. And those options may be the right one to solve your specific problem.

If you’d like to discuss your project, reach out to us and we’d be happy to discuss using MLV or get you set up with the best MLV alternative to get your room soundproof and reduce the unwanted noise in your life. We’re here to answer any questions you have!

Have questions about your project?

Call us at 1.800.679.8511