Want to know which is the best mass loaded vinyl alternative? This guide is specially written for you.
If you have a noisy next-door neighbor playing loud music at night, or an upstairs neighbor unleashing stomping revenge, you’ve probably thought of soundproofing.
Mass loaded vinyl, commonly known as MLV, is a sound blocking material- This means it only blocks sound and doesn’t absorb sound like noise-canceling curtains.
About Mass Loaded Vinyl and its Alternatives
Mass loaded vinyl is a viscoelastic material that’s loaded with inert material. It’s been used since the 1960s.
In more intricate terms, it’s a vinyl or polyvinyl chloride (viscoelastic material) filled with salts like calcium carbonate or barium sulfate (inert material).
The viscoelastic materials used have sound dampening effects like acoustical fire batts, drywall, or door seals.
If you’re looking for a cheaper and yet a great alternative to mass loaded vinyl, below is the info you’ve been looking for.
A-List of The Best Mass Loaded Vinyl Alternative
Below is my detailed review of the best mass loaded vinyl alternatives on the market today. They are effective and readily available.
1. Resilient Channel
It’s a thin metal channel designed to improve the sound insulation of sheetrock, drywall, ceilings, and plasterboard walls.
The resilient channel effectively isolates the drywall from the framing stud work, which effectively weakens the soundwaves.
The installation process is effortless and straightforward. A resilient channel typically measures around ½” in thickness and provides the best results compared to similar products on the market.
The acoustic properties of the resilient channel can be further enhanced by applying a thin layer of Super Soundproofing Tape to the flange of the drywall mount.
2. Noise Cancelling Curtains
While mass loaded vinyl can be used as a substitute for soundproofing curtains- you will be sacrificing the aesthetic beauty of your home.
Imagine hanging a bunch of MLV curtains on the walls, windows, and doors- it’d be ugly.
Fortunately, soundproofing curtains and acoustic blankets will get the job done.
These aren’t your typical curtains; they are made of thick and dense materials that will help keep out unwanted noises.
A good example is NICETOWN Noise Reducing Thermal Curtains.
3. Green Glue Soundproofing Compound
Another great alternative to mass loaded vinyl is Green Glue Compound. For effectiveness, add a second layer of drywall.
When sandwiched between two layers of drywall, Green Glue will convert sound waves into heat energy.
Green glue will also help fill out small spaces that are hard to reach.
Sound isolation clips are effective mass loaded vinyl alternatives that effectively reduces structure-borne sound/ impact noise at an affordable price.
They are normally installed in a grip with a spacing not exceeding 24” along the length of the joist or stud and no more than 48” perpendicular to the joist or stud. Here is a simple youtube video on how to install sound isolation clips:
Some of the features include:
- Improved low-frequency attenuation
- Higher sound transmission class
- Easy to install
A recommended example of isolation clips is Resilient Sound Isolation Clip (RSIC-1) Pack of 50.
5. Mineral Wool Batts
What most homeowners don’t know is that insulation is excellent for soundproofing. The use of mineral wool, also known as Rockwool is excellent for soundproofing a room.
Mineral wool can be purchased in softer batts other than rigid panels. It’s sold in sizes for use with floors, ceilings, and residential interior walls. It can be purchased in a multi-purpose type of high-performance type.
High-performance mineral wool is purposely used in soundproofing though its also water, fire, and moisture resistant.
Multipurpose mineral wool, on the other hand, isn’t great in soundproofing but has excellent thermal insulation capabilities.
Mineral wool is also better in soundproofing than fiberglass. It’s also greener than fiberglass as it contains 70% recycled material, unlike 20-30% recycled material in fiberglass.
6. MuteX Soundproof Material
Another great MLV alternative is the MuteX Soundproof material. However, you should note that the more affordable options have their limitations as well.
For example, MuteX is available in 1/4-inch-thick, and they weigh ¼ pound per square feet, making it as twice lighter than typical mass loaded vinyl.
Therefore, the less the mass, the less effective the material is in soundproofing. This is a factor that you should take into consideration, especially if you’re dealing with immense structure-borne noise.
Overall, MuteX is an excellent choice for soundproofing. It has an STC rating of 32. In addition, it’s also flexible as MLV, and it can be used for vents, gaps, ducts, etc.
It can be easily wrapped around anything, and the installation process is much more straightforward than with mass loaded vinyl, and the best part is twice as cheap as MLV.
7. Floor Underlayment
There are two noise types that floor soundproofing treats against airborne and impact noise. Floor underlayment is a material that rests between the floor and covers the above and the subfloor below.
In most cases, combining layers of spongy material, acoustic underlayment provides sufficient underfoot comfort to people living in the room.
An underlayment makes a huge difference when installing beneath solid hardwood floor because it creates a softer surface reducing impact noise transmission when walking.
There are three factors to consider when looking for the best floor underlayment for soundproofing. They include:
- Sound Transmission Class (STC)- it’s a numeric value that defines how well a material is in reducing airborne noise. The higher the value, the better.
- Impact Insulation Class (IIT)- it’s a value that tells how well a floor is at reducing impact noise, mostly footfalls, but also machinery and furniture. The higher the IIT rating, the better the material.
- The thickness and Density: the general rule in soundproofing- the more the mass, the better.
Below are some of the recommended floor underlayment you can install in your home. They include:
In addition, it’s a dense material with an STC rating 66, an IIC Rating of 67, and a density of 14.5lbs/ft3. It’s 3mm thick and easy to install.
QuietWalk Plus QW100PLUS Underlayment for Hardwood– with a thickness of 3.1mm, this underlay boasts 66 and 71 STC and IIC rating, respectively. It has a density of 11.5lbs/ft.
Final thoughts on Mass Loaded Vinyl Alternative
In conclusion, above are some of the best mass loaded vinyl alternatives. Therefore, if you’re looking for something that offers almost/equal effectiveness as MLV at a cheaper price, then above seven soundproofing products will get the job done.
Lastly, know any other material that works better? Please do let me know in the comment section down below.