How is Mass Loaded Vinyl Used for Soundproofing Applications?

commercial buildingMass-loaded vinyl soundproofing is used in industrial, commercial, and residential environments to create sound barriers between walls, flooring, ceilings, partitions, and other surfaces. Commonly referred to by its acronym, MLV, mass-loaded vinyl is an acoustic material often installed during construction or remodeling where soundproofing is needed or required.

MLV offers its users cost-effective solutions for a variety of noise-related issues. The lightweight yet dense membrane-like material effectively dampens sound and noise levels that occur in everyday encounters. The material helps reduce noise levels in construction and manufacturing environments or the sounds associated with buses, cars, trains, and aircraft. It’s used in office and multi-dwelling residential spaces as well as single-family homes.

What is Mass Loaded Vinyl?

MLV consists of a viscoelastic material such as polyvinyl chloride or vinyl filled with highly dense inert compounds such as barium sulfate or calcium carbonate. As the name suggests, viscoelastic materials hold mechanical properties that combine a liquid high in viscosity with the elasticity of a solid material property resistant to permanent deformation. The addition of highly dense compounds to the vinyl provides the material with a natural high mass element that produces a soundproofing capability. Once installed, MLV can effectively attenuate sound by blocking and absorbing sound waves.

This is a significant advantage. Most sound attenuating materials such as fiberglass, foams, and mineral fibers can only do one or the other. There is a distinction. Sound absorption dampens noise levels within a given environment, say, a recording studio. Soundproofing is designed to prevent or reduce sound waves from entering an environment. MLV not only provides a potent barrier to sound but absorbs it as well.

Another advantage is the material’s flexibility. Most soundproofing materials are manufactured as thick or rigid panels, similar to hardboard, limited to specific design applications. MLV is a flexible material produced in standard widths of 4 or 4.5 feet in rolls up to a length of 100 feet or more, in thicknesses of 1/16, 1/8, and 1/4 inches. Such flexibility lends itself well to installation in a wide variety of applications, as the material can be hung, wrapped, or molded.

Common MLV Soundproofing Applications

MLV can be adapted for use on any surface that requires soundproofing. It can line ceilings, walls, flooring, and even doors and windows in commercial and public buildings and residential housing. Once installed between surfaces, even MLV with minimal thickness offers superior soundproofing. It can effectively shut out or substantially reduce the noise in busy apartment buildings, school rooms, mechanical rooms, partitioned spaces in office buildings, and so forth.

MLV sheeting can be draped or hung on rods around heavy equipment and machinery in manufacturing and industrial environments, creating an acoustic blanket effect or sound screen curtain enclosure to dampen the noise. Noisy heat exchangers, generators, and pumps can also be quieted with MLV applications. The noise transmission from piping and HVAC ductwork can be reduced with MLV wraps, called limps, a loose wrapping application containing noise leakage.

The material flexibility of MLV is also well-suited for use in creating sound barriers and absorbing vibrations in motor vehicles—trucks, cars, buses, boats, campers, caravans, and RVs. The material can be cut and shaped to the flooring under carpeting, indoor panels and walls, and in and around compartments throughout the vehicle. MLV lining in motor vehicles and campers will ensure a much quieter ride with less engine noise.

Selecting the Right Thickness

To determine which MLV thickness works best for an application, it is advised to consult with the team of experts at Manufacturer’s Rubber & Supply. Thicknesses run from 1/16 to 1/4 of an inch, with the latter and 1/8 of an inch being the most common thicknesses for applications. Space limitations and soundproofing requirements, along with budgetary considerations, will help determine the correct thickness. A weight density of one pound per square foot requires 1/8 of an inch thickness of MLV, while 1/4 inch thickness will provide a density of two pounds per square foot. As a rule of thumb, the greater the mass and thickness of MLV sheeting that is applied, the better sound attenuation capability it will provide.

Mass Loaded Vinyl is a flexible, dense membrane that attenuates sound and noise between surfaces. It is a versatile acoustic material used widely by construction companies, in factories, automotive manufacturers and transportation companies, and contractors in commercial, institutional, and residential buildings. Wherever soundproofing and noise reduction in an enclosed environment are required, MLV offers an optimal solution. Contact Manufacturer’s Rubber & Supply today to discuss your company’s MLV requirements.


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