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Mass loaded vinyl: The ultimate acoustic barrier solution

News | January 24, 2024 | By:

Mass loaded vinyl (MLV) has revolutionized the field of acoustic barriers by providing an efficient and versatile solution for noise reduction. From homeowners seeking peace and quiet to commercial establishments aiming to minimize noise pollution, with its exceptional sound-blocking performance, ease of installation, and durability, MLV offers a cost-effective way to create quieter and more peaceful spaces.

Mass loaded vinyl, also known as acoustic barrier or sound deadening barrier, is a dense material comprised of two main parts, polyvinyl chloride (PVC) as the base compound giving the flexibility, and mineral additives such as barium sulfate and calcium carbonate for increased mass. The added mass helps block and absorb sound waves by limiting their transmission, making it an efficient barrier against unwanted noise. With its flexible and thin composition, E Squared Sound SafeTM is reinforced with a high-strength knit polyester fabric to give the additional strength and integrity to the mass loaded vinyl practically eliminating sag when being hung and utilizing properly spaced grommets. Because E Squared SoundSafeTMis reinforced, the grommets can effectively grip the reinforced for maximum strength.

MLV is safe to use as long as you follow the safety instructions and use it correctly. The barium sulfate or calcium carbonate used in MLV are inert and non-toxic. MLV can be used for soundproof ceilings, walls, floors, pipes, ducts, doors and windows on new constructions by sandwiching it between layers of drywall and the studs, but can also be used in existing walls using E Squared SoundSafeTM with Home Depot double-sided industrial tape. The heavy-duty adhesive mounts easily and bonds to various clean surfaces such as wood, metal, concrete, vinyl, marble, tiles, bricks and plastic. The tape adhesive is engineered to resist curling, making the installation process fast, easy and mess-free. 

Applications of Mass Loaded Vinyl

Residential Uses: Many homeowners face challenges such as noisy neighbors, traffic sounds, or mechanical equipment noise. Installing MLV in walls, ceilings, and floors effectively reduces noise transmission, creating a more peaceful living space. MLV can also be used to soundproof home studios, reducing sound leakage and enhancing audio recording quality.

Commercial Buildings: Offices, hotels, and hospitals often experience high noise levels. By installing MLV in partitions, floor/wall cavities, and suspended ceilings, these spaces can mitigate noise transfer and create a more comfortable environment for occupants.

Industrial Settings: Industrial facilities, such as factories and workshops, are notorious for generating loud machinery noises. Incorporating MLV in machinery enclosures, equipment housings, and even vehicles, reduces noise transmission, creating safer and less disruptive work environments.

Noise Abatement: Can be used as a sound barrier wall around fracking and drilling projects. Construction noise abatement needs to be fastened to scaffolding to keep noise below ordinance levels and allow for a longer working day for construction projects in city or densely populated areas.

Recreational: Can be attached to fencing to reduce noise created by pickle ball, tennis or other outdoor sports. 

ESquared offers the SoundSafeTM Sustainable series which is made using 80% postindustrial scrap, making the product ecofriendly and reducing the amount of  materials going into landfill. The SoundSafeTM Sustainable series is available in 1.0 lb/SF and 1.5 lb/SF, reinforced with polyester fabric.

All E Squared products are built with fire safety in mind. The company’s most popular product, the SoundSafeTM Sustainable series, meets NFPA 701, Standard Methods of Fire Tests for Flame Propagation of Textiles and Films (Small Scale) and UL 94, the Standard for Safety of Flammability of Plastic Materials for Parts in Devices and Appliances testing, with a rating of V-0: burning stops within 10 seconds on a vertical specimen; drips of particles are allowed as long as they are not inflamed.

SoundSafeTM ULTRA is available in 1.0 lb/SF reinforced with polyester fabric, which is specially formulated to meet some of the most stringent fire testing used in the industry. E Squared has tested its material against ASTM E 84, Standard Test Method for Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials, which is found throughout the building code for various products, receiving a class A rating. This 10-min fire-test-response standard for the comparative surface burning behavior of building materials using a SteinerTunnel, is applicable to exposed surfaces such as walls and ceilings.  

ASTM E84, UL 723 and NFPA 255 utilize the same equipment and test method. All three are essentially the same test and are often referred to interchangeably by the building code.

CAN/ULC S102, Surface Burning Characteristics of Building Materials and Assemblies, was developed by UL and Standard Council Canada, the National Building Code of Canada and provincial codes. It utilizes the same equipment as ASTM E 84 with a slightly different set-up and test method to evaluate building materials for use in Canada, reports Flame Spread (FS) and Smoke Development (SD) values for the specific product or assembly evaluate, and is tested three times. 

The Sound Transmission Class (or STC) rating on a building partition indicates how well airborne sound is attenuated. It is frequently used in the U.S. to grade interior wall arrangements as well as exterior wall configurations, flooring, and doors and windows. The STC rating fairly approximates the noise reduction in decibels that a partition can offer.

E Squared SoundSafeTM is a cost-effective and versatile solution for noise reduction in residential and commercial buildings. It has a high sound transmission class (STC) rating helping reduce unwanted sound. MLV can also be combined with other soundproofing materials such as acoustic foam panels, sound caulking or barrier tape to enhance its performance15.

In the chart below, we can see the noise transmission loss in decibels(dB) of E Squared Sound SafeTM materials and the corresponding STC rating.

Whether it’s reducing noise pollution in homes, offices, or industrial settings, E Squared SoundSafeTM mass loaded vinyl is a highly effective tool for controlling unwanted sound transmission. By employing the benefits of MLV, individuals and organizations can enjoy the comforts of tranquility while minimizing the impact of noise pollution in their daily lives. Learn more about E Squared here.

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