Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) entered the soundproofing domain in the 1960s. To this day, it ranks atop the list when we examine our options for soundproofing floors and walls.
The reason behind its increasing popularity is its pocket-friendliness and easy installation.
What is Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) Used For?
MLV is the mixture of two main components:
- Calcium Carbonate or Barium Sulfate – dense compounds that provide soundproofing capabilities
- Vinyl – adds flexibility to the material
What makes MLV an incredible choice is its double threat feature. It works as a potent sound absorber and a functional sound barrier.
MLV is also called the Limp Mass Barrier. Metal Particles impregnate MLV, whose main aim is to amplify the mass of the material.
An essential purpose of MLV is to dampen structure-borne noise or impact noise.
Impact noise is the low-frequency sound produced by engines, television, drums, or kids jumping around. It is called “structure-borne” because it is easy to pass through.
In fact, it amplifies as it passes through walls and floors.
MLV works excellent to reduce structure-borne noises. As for airborne noises, other soundproof materials like foam panels can work efficiently.
Salient Features of MLV
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is available in a wide range of thicknesses and weights. They commonly vary between 0.5 pounds per square foot to 2 pounds per square foot.
The most common weight for MLV is 1 lb/SF. As the weight changes, the density and thickness will also modify.
It exhibits a flow effect when vibrations come into contact. The flow effect is necessary for materials to absorb vibrations.
Meanwhile, the material’s elasticity ensures it stays stable after confronting the vibrations. It is essential to enhance your awareness when you consider installing MLV at your place.
This guide enlists all the measures to take when installing MLV under carpets.
Let’s scan the details.
Guide to Install MLV Under Carpets
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is easily applicable on floors, ceilings, and walls to create a sound barrier.
Mass is the crucial component in sound control and works by stopping sound from vibrating within the structure.
Step 1 – Measure and Trim your MLV
Measure the floor from one point to the other.
Unroll MLV on the floor. Use a utility knife to cut an even square edge across the vinyl sheet.
There is no need to cut through vinyl entirely. Once you have marked the edges, it comes apart. You can also use MLV with heavy-duty scissors.
Step 2 – Align the Sheet
Align your sheet along the corner of your floor frame. You may need a hand as you hang the sheets.
Make sure that you maintain a 1/8” to ¼” gap at the edges of the floor.
If the room is large, you can lay it in portions compared to one whole piece. This makes the installation more manageable.
Step 3 – Tack in Place
The last step is to tack MLV in place using finishing nails and staples. Also, consider applying soundproof compounds like Green Glue to enhance the noise reduction effect.
Once MLV is placed accurately, you can move to carpet installation.
It is essential to understand that this method is a permanent fixture of MLV. You have to ensure accurate placement.
Once you get done, you should seal the space between different segments of the MLV.
Can You Paint MLV?
You can paint MLV to a color of your choice if you believe it is compatible with the color of your carpet. You have to choose a latex paint of the color that you want.
MLV is available in transparent and translucent forms. We recommend you read the instructions in the manual before you begin the painting process.
Benefits of Using MLV for Carpet Underlays
MLV holds the reputation of being one of the most effective materials for soundproofing. However, its properties make it a winner when it comes to noise reduction.
Here are some of the reasons why you should opt for MLV underlays:
The flexibility of MLV makes it distinct from the other soundproofing options.
You can bend, twist, and wrap MLV the way you want. This makes it suitable for fixing various kinds of floors and walls.
A room may have pillars or pipes that will interfere with the flooring materials.
MLV can wrap around such obstacles. It can bend around the lines, vents, and corners.
Some hard-to-reach points may limit your soundproofing options. Nonetheless, there is no such issue with MLV.
Nobody would choose an underlying material that is thick and changes the floor height.
Simultaneously, you need a thick and dense material to block the sounds. MLV is the material that fits this bill.
MLV is thin, yet blocks sound like a champion. This combination of thinness and lightness creates a robust mass to thickness ratio.
This property gives a considerable advantage to MLV over other noise reduction materials.
Its lightweight means you can place it under the carpets without the fear that it will collapse or increase the height of your space.
High STC Score
Sound Transmission Class (STC) is the unit for measuring sounds. The STC score of MLV is between 25 to 27.
This is an incredible score when compared to its thinness.
Is MLV Safe?
There has been confusion about the safety properties of MLV. The health scare comes from the propaganda initiated by advertisers.
In the past, a few soundproofing companies publicized their products as “Barium-free.” This denoted Barium as hazardous to health and raised concerns around the usage of MLV for soundproofing.
This claim was nothing but a sales gimmick.
Even though exposure to high levels of Barium is toxic, the chemical Barium Sulfate is insoluble in water.
Thus, it doesn’t present any considerable health hazard.
Some other concerns about its safety were related to flammability. Essentially, Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) is designed for high temperatures.
One of the most common places it is used is the engine compartments.
Besides this, it also contains plasticizers. So it may catch fire if a fire occurs. But it isn’t the material that will ignite the fire.
In fact, it is considered safer than foam panels or other inflammable materials.
From Where To Purchase Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV)?
Some household shops in your region sell MLV with other flooring materials. However, you can also place orders for it from Amazon or the Home Depot website.
One of the most popular MLV floorings nowadays is Soundsulate Mass Loaded Vinyl. It combines incredible density with a workable product.
A typical roll of this MLV is 4 feet wide, 50 feet long, and ½” thick. Its weight is an estimated 100 lbs.
Although it isn’t self-adhesive, it is cheaper than self-adhesive MLVs.
You can use glue, screws, or nails to fix it on the floor. This item is also made from virgin material (not recycled) with a temperature ranging between 20 F to 180 F.
Alternative to MLV – Sound Isolation Clips and Hat Channels
This is the solution if you face the issue of noise transmission between walls and floors.
The best part about this method is that it directly grasps the floor beams. Consequently, you will notice a significant decrease in the noise transmission from one room to another.
These are cheaper alternatives to MLV sheets.
You must take a good look around your apartment. If MLV seems out of reach, you can use other options like noise-proof curtains and blankets.
If the walls are too thin, you can create a layer of drywall with green glue.
Besides, arranging furniture, bookshelves, plants, and wardrobes will also help dampen the noise.
Does MLV work on concrete flooring?
Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) works well to minimize the impact of noise on different surfaces. This includes the concrete floors. You can cover it with the carpet to give a finished look to your room.
Does Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) Smell?
The odor relies on the product you are using.
Some MLVs don’t smell, while some may have a mild “plastic odor.” The smell is usually due to the packaging and not the product within.
Thus, the smell will diffuse and fade when the product stays in the open for a long time.
What should you look for when choosing MLV?
The first thing you should check is the quality of MLV. Two primary indicators of its quality are the STC rating and the company’s description of the product smell.
The STC tells you how well MLV will reduce the noise. On the other hand, being odorless tells about the quality of materials used to make that MLV.
Sound isolation is a tricky business. If you live in an old apartment, the chances are that you will be looking for soundproofing techniques in the future.
MLV is all the rage today as it was about five decades ago. It will alleviate your headaches and help you to cut the unwanted noises effectively.
You can place a carpet over it to give your place a fine finish.
We hope this guide helped you understand the nitty-gritty of MLV carpet underlays.