Soundproofing a Fence with Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV Outdoor Use)

As someone whose dog lives in the yard, I’m always looking for ways to reduce the noise that makes it over my wooden fence. The sound of loud engines can be really irritating to canine (and human) ears. And don’t get me started on the neighborhood kids who seem to find special joy in annoying yard dogs by kicking the fence.

Needless to say, when my dog is irritated, the whole family hears about it. And if we can hear it, so can the whole neighborhood. So, I often find myself going down internet rabbit holes, searching for yard soundproofing tips. After all, with all the advancements in soundproofing, there’s really no need to have a rattling fence that also lets in street noise.

Obviously, no method of soundproofing will be able to completely block out all noises in your yard, since you’ll never be able to make it airtight. Still, there are ways in which you could conceivably reduce some of the noise. One surprisingly effective way I kept coming across during my research was mass loaded vinyl. Knowing the various applications and effectiveness of this material, I decided to try it.

So, in this article, I’ll explain exactly how you can install MLV on your fence. But before I get to that, let’s spend some time talking about this material.

How to soundproof an outdoor fence with MLV.

ABOUT MASS LOADED VINYL AND ITS OUTDOOR USE

As you’re aware, good soundproofing requires the material to be high in mass or density. MLV, or Mass Loaded Vinyl (learn more), is both, and it’s actually a sound blocker, rather than an absorber, like most other acoustic materials. The material is also very thin (about a third of an inch or less) and flexible. It’ll be able to cover all of the gaps on your fence quite nicely.

Still, the properties that make MLV ideal for outdoor use are actually its durability and water-resistance. Having a dog means that I was most worried about her clawing or chewing whatever I put on the fence. While my dog was definitely more likely to chew softer materials, I still feared what would happen to the material when she started excitedly jumping on the fence, as she’s wont to do.

Fortunately, MLV is just about the most durable soundproofing material on the market, and it can definitely withstand some roughhousing. In addition, it’s waterproof, which means that you won’t have to rush to take it inside the house when it rains.

And you won’t even have to stick to black or gray MLV. Aside from those colors, you can also find the material in tan, blue, olive, and even transparent (and those are just the colors I found after a light perusal). I’d say that going with tan or translucent MLV might be a classy choice for a yard, though the black one is much easier to find.

If you’re interested in knowing a bit more about that product and its substitute, you can read the article linked above. In it, I proclaimed that the TMS Mass Loaded Vinyl (see on Amazon) was the best MLV on the market. I stand by that choice – even though it is a bit pricey, it makes up for it in effectiveness.

STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE TO SOUNDPROOFING A FENCE WITH MLV

Now, I already wrote about the installation process in my article dedicated to MLV. I even have several other articles in which I explained how it can be attached to 

So, let’s see what makes the application different when we’re soundproofing a yard fence.

1. Measure the Fence

Obviously, before starting any project, you’ll need to take some preliminary measurements. That will help you make calculations on how much MLV you’ll need to order. So, measure the length and height of the fence.

Once you have those numbers, you can simply measure the square footage of the fence and order that amount of MLV, since it’s often sold to cover 16, 40, and 100 ft2. The TMS MLV comes in a 4-foot roll, so the 16 ft2 is 4 feet long as well. The 40 ft2 is 10 feet long, and the 100 ft2 is 25 feet long.

You should probably overshoot a bit when buying MLV. However, if you can’t afford it, you can also limit yourself to soundproofing the most vulnerable areas. For example, I would install it on the street-facing fence and the side I share with neighbors whose kids like to imagine the fence as their soccer goal, just to pad it a bit.

2. Decide How You’re Going to Apply MLV

Before you order your MLV, you might as well spend some time contemplating how you’re going to go about attaching it. You can go the standard route, and nail, screw, or staple it to the fence with a pneumatic stapler. In that case, you should prepare hammers, drills or nail guns as well. This method will also allow you to remove the MLV if you need to.

However, you may also use some sort of adhesive to attach it. Since MLV is heavy, you’ll probably need an industrial adhesive or spray (like the 3M Heavy Duty 20 Spray). If you intend to buy MLV at the home improvement store, it’s best to make this decision beforehand. That will spare you from having to make more than one trip.

3. Prepare the Materials

Now that you’ve measured your fence and decided upon the method of application, you can collect the materials and tools you’ll need. Like I previously mentioned, Trademark Soundproofing is known for its high-quality MLV. But, as always, you’re free to decide on another product according to your personal preferences. Also, make sure to add tools like nails, glue, or other things you’ll need to the cart before you proceed to checkout.

Once you have all of your materials, you can cut the MLV with a utility knife or very sharp scissors. Start by measuring out and cutting the MLV roll in pieces as tall as the fence. But don’t cut all of it – you may have to adjust your pieces in some places. Once you have a neat stack of MLV sheets, you can start attaching them.

4. Attach the MLV

Since you’ve already prepared all of the tools and materials you’ll need, applying them should be a breeze.

• Nailing or Screwing it On

If you want to be able to take the MLV off, you should nail or screw it in. If you use nails, you may not want to drive them all the way into the wood. At least, not if you want to be able to remove them at a later date. Also, you should take care to use nails of an appropriate size, so as not to go completely through the fence.

Nail or screw the top side first. However, you shouldn’t stretch the material too taut if you want the best soundproofing effect. You may need another pair of hands to help you with this step. Whichever attachment method you choose, you’ll want to keep the separate pieces as close as possible or make them overlap.

• Using Adhesive

On the other hand, if you’ve decided to use a spray adhesive, you should lightly spray it at the top of your fence, and then apply the MLV. I’ve found that it’s best to secure the top of the MLV sheet first, then lift it to apply more spray adhesive, and press the MLV down. So you’ll be working downwards on one sheet of MLV, before repeating the process with another.

When working with some other types of glues, you ought to spread them on MLV instead. After waiting for the glue to get a bit tacky (whatever you do, do not test with your fingers), you’ll be able to press the MLV to the fence. Again, keep in mind that this will probably be permanent, so you’d better be very sure about the placement.

When you finish working on the area you wanted to cover, you could also seal the spaces between separate pieces of MLV. For this, you can use closed cell foam tape or maybe even acoustic caulk if you plan to leave the MLV up.

MORE ON MASS LOADED VINYL FOR OUTDOOR FENCE

That brings us to the end of our MLV installation process. At this point, the extra mass on your fence should block outside noise. Whether you were doing this for your dog, or so you can finally enjoy hanging out in your yard – MLV should have your back for years to come.

So, let’s see how we got here. Like all good DIY projects, we started with preparation:

  • Measuring the fence – so you’ll know how much MLV to order
  • Deciding on a method of application – to help you buy everything you need in one trip
  • Preparing the tools and materials – making the trip to the hardware store and cutting up the MLV into sheets

Hopefully, if you followed these simple steps, you were able to easily attach MLV and seal the gaps between individual sheets. And of course, I’m sure that you will be able to adapt these instructions to suit your own abilities.

Now, there’s only one more step to do – enjoy your newly quiet yard!

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