Mass Loaded Vinyl
Mass Loaded Vinyl or MVL is a sound barrier blocking material known as a “Limp Mass Barrier.”
The material is comprised of two principle ingredients: vinyl - to give the MLV flexibility, “the limpness” and, a naturally occurring, high mass element. Often Barium Sulfate is used due to its unique properties - it is non-toxic and has a high relative density. This latter attribute of high density is what makes Mass Loaded Vinyl so effective in blocking sound.
What’s the difference between Mass Loaded Vinyl and acoustic sound batts?
We first need to understand what makes a good absorber or barrier. In general there are only two characteristics that make an effective sound absorber or sound barrier - “fuzzy stuff” (mineral fibre or fiberglass) or mass. Most if not all absorbers and barriers have one or both of these characteristics in their design. How these materials are employed in the design of the absorber / barrier or, how and where the absorber / barriers are placed in an environment is the wizardry of acoustic design.
Absorbing sound relies heavily on the knowledge and manipulation of a sounds wavelength. For example, mid to high-frequency sound - say above 500 Hz - have wavelengths greater than 68 cm in length (˜ 27 inches). To absorb this wavelength with fuzzy stuff would require a minimum depth of absorber of one-quarter of the waves length. In this example, 17 cm (˜ 6 inches) of depth would be needed to attenuate frequencies at and above 500 Hz.
Fuzzy stuff absorbers function by virtue of the fuzzy materials porosity (the percentage of pores or crevices, to the total volume of the mass). These crevices capture the relatively short wavelengths of mid to high-frequency sound and convert the sounds energy to heat via friction.
Blocking sound on the other hand, requires that the material to be used be the opposite in composition to an absorber. The material needs to be dense. Density is derived from mass. Highly dense or massive materials typically do not have a porous structure to allow the sound wave to enter (and pass through) them. Consequently, any material that has a high mass could be used to block a sounds path. Concrete, gypsum board, MDF, hardboard and concrete masonry units are all popular examples of high mass barriers. The problem with these common building materials is that they are very stiff. They have great mass but they don’t get the overall sound reductions you would expect from them because they are not limp and flexible like the mass loaded vinyl (MLV) Noise Blok Pro. Again it is the application of the mass (the what, where and how the mass is used) that will make an effective sound barrier.
So why is Mass Loaded Vinyl so celebrated as a sound barrier?
Because MLV has a very small cross-section, it’s flexible AND it’s massive!
None of the earlier examples of high mass barriers can be wrapped around or molded to the shape of something - MLV can. This unique combination of small dimension, mass and flexibility makes Mass Loaded Vinyl a one-of-a-kind material in the world of sound barriers.
For example, if you need to sound isolate a horizontal run of a grey-water pipe in a homes basement; the typical method in the past would have been to place a little more fuzzy stuff in the joist cavity where the pipe is (say 3-inch Roxul Safe n’ Sound insulation). Then put up the normal 1/2-inch gypsum board ceiling.
If we examine the weight per square foot of this single-layer construction, we would find that there is a total of 25.6 oz. / sq. ft. for the 1/2 inch gypsum board plus approximately 10 oz. / sq. ft. for the 3-inch Roxul. A total of approximately 2.2 lbs. / sq. ft.
Installing more layers of gypsum via means of Damping Compound or isolation clips is unfortunately not always doable due to the floor to ceiling height in many basements. Therefore, we find that this is the typical total isolation for the grey-water pipe noise. Soundproofing walls and soundproofing ceilings in these restricted environments is often far easier with Mass Loaded Vinyl.
What if we could double the total mass of a given construction project and use only a few millimeters of additional space?
This is where Mass Loaded Vinyl is irreplaceable.
Going back to the earlier example of the grey-water pipe. Before closing the ceiling, if we wrap the grey-water pipe in .14 mm (˜ 9/64-inch) Mass Loaded Vinyl at 2 lbs. / sq. ft., we have effectively doubled the mass per running foot of the ceiling around and below the pipe.
Double the mass = approximately double the isolation.
(Remember, how a material is attached will contribute to its success).
Try wrapping a pipe in concrete or hardboard or MDF!
Soundproofing Pipes with Mass Loaded Vinyl
Even if it where doable - think of the time in labour that would be required? Compared to cutting lengths of Mass Loaded Vinyl into strips and then cable tying the strips around the pipe. It’s a bit of a no-brainer…!
Installing Mass Loaded Vinyl in walls, ceilings and beneath floors is a space saver and is stunningly effective regarding mass per cross-section dimension. Where to use Mass Loaded Vinyl?
- Soundproofing walls
- Soundproofing ceilings
- Soundproofing floors
- Soundproofing pipes
- Soundproofing HVAC ducts
- Soundproofing office partition walls
- Soundproofing computer server rooms
- Soundproofing mechanical rooms
Why is AcoustiGuard’s Noise-Blok Pro my best choice?
We stock various roll widths. - The most common being 121 cm (48 inch) wide, because it makes sense and cents when working with construction projects with 40 cm (16 inch) or 60 cm (24 inch) on-center framing. There is no waste.
We stock various additional face-treatments applied to one side of the Noise Block.
- Foil faced for Class 1 Fire Rated Sound Barriers
- Scrim faced for high strength sound barriers to hang in extended lengths.
- Foam faced for sound barrier and acoustic absorption.
- and Because Noise Block is flexible AND strong.
- Many other Mass Loaded Vinyl’s on the market tear easily when hanging, making those products difficult to install and economically wasteful.
- Many other suppliers sell underweight barrier so it will not have the sound blocking abilities and characteristics you want and are paying for.
- Noise Block Pro actually has Roll Weight stickers on every single roll, showing that our material is absolutely no less than the specified (and expected) 1 pound per square foot. See the scan of a Roll Weight sticker below.
- Most importantly… you get what you pay for!