Mass Loaded Vinyl vs. Rockwool: Top 5 Differences
If you’re looking for wall soundproofing materials, you’ve probably stumbled onto these two options. Mass loaded vinyl (MLV) and Rockwool (mineral wool) batts have been used as the go-to sound insulation products for years now. They’re thick, dense, large and relatively heavy.
So they both have all the necessary ingredients for blocking both airborne and impact noise. However, you might be in a situation where you have to choose between one or the other.
In this article you will learn the main differences, which should help you make the right decision for your soundproofing project.
1. MLV is more versatile and practical
Let’s face it, rockwool batts are primarily designed to be stuffed in between studs. You could also make DIY panels to be placed on the wall surface by covering the rockwool with a dense fabric to trap particles that can otherwise irritate lungs and eyes.
Mass loaded vinyl is more versatile. When installed inside the wall, it goes directly on the studs. But it can also be installed directly on the wall’s surface. Furthermore, it can be used to soundproof a fence, a crate, pipes, ducts, a vehicle cabin or compartment. MLV can be easily cut to any size you require, whereas rockwool batts are already designed to be of a specific weight and dimensions.
Rockwool can also be cut to size, but the microfabrics can be irritating for the skin and respiratory organs, so chopping it up would require wearing some safety equipment as well, primarily goggles, mask and a pair of gloves. So MLV is definitely more versatile because it can be used for so many different projects.
2. Rockwool batts are easier to handle during installation
If you’re trying to soundproof a wall, MLV is best used as a large sheet, spread all across the wall and secured to the studs. Well, handling this large sheet requires at least two people working together.
In comparison, rockwool batts are usually small enough to be handled by a single person. They can be easily stuffed between the studs and you’re pretty much done. Having said that, some are pretty big, so always check the dimensions if this is an important factor to you.
3. MLV doesn’t emit irritating particles
If you want to soundproof a wall or at least reduce the noise to some extent without having to reach the studs, MLV is the more practical option since it doesn’t have to be covered with additional fabric.
It’s also important to note that MLV doesn’t look bad and it doesn’t have an odor. You can even paint it in a different color if you’re not happy with the standard black option. Or alternatively, cover it with any fabric you like, since you don’t have to worry about its density like you do with rockwool.
4. Rockwool is a lot cheaper
- The standard price of Roxul (rockwool) batts is around $55 for 6 pieces that amount to 48″ x 24″
- The standard price of MLV is around $110 for a 40′ x 10′ (40 square feet) sheet
So rockwool is roughly half the price.
5. MLV is thinner and saves space
MLV is thinner so it can save you some space when applied externally. This is why it’s the go-to product for sound insulation in vehicles. Most of the sound deadening products such as Dynamat and Noico contain a large amount of MLV, their main sound blocking material.
Allow me to begin by saying that both of these materials are excellent for soundproofing projects. Whether you should get one or the other depends on the type of project and your budget.
MLV costs more but it can be used for more projects than rockwool. There also aren’t any safety precautions required during installation or after, due to a lack of irritational particles. MLV can also be cut to size more easily.
Rockwool is more affordable and easy to handle due to the smaller size of the batts in comparison to a large MLV sheet. The three main downsides of rockwool are the limited scope of possibilities (primarily wall soundproofing), irritation from small particles that it can create in some individuals, and the thickness which can take away more space than the typically thinner MLV, when applied directly on the surface.
Why not both?
Keep in mind that you can get even better results by installing both of these products together inside the wall. Rockwool goes between the studs, and MLV is installed on the studs. This way you can get double sound insulation and really block those annoying sounds.
Where to buy the best MLV and Rockwool
While there are many vendors that sell both of these products, I recommend ordering from the most popular ones with the highest ratings. The best place is Amazon, because the most popular vendors on Amazon receive a lot of orders on a daily basis and they have to maintain quality to continue receiving positive ratings.
Furthermore, I can only recommend those that I’ve had good experience with. For MLV I recommend Trademark Soundproofing Store (aff link to Amazon) which provides 3 different sizes of MLV. For Roxul (rockwool) batts I recommend this vendor. I like this vendor because he/she is very active with answering questions that customers may have about the product.