Noise complaints have reached epidemic proportions in New York City: In 2017, the city received more than 446,000 complaints, ranging from loud construction early in the morning and late at night to loud music and parties from night-owl neighbors. One solution to the problem? Soundproofing your apartment.
But drowning out the sounds of sirens, jackhammers, and thumping bass isn’t the only reason you might choose to soundproof your living space. Maybe you’re tired of hearing your neighbors’ conversations through thin walls. Or maybe you want to be a good neighbor and avoid keeping people awake with your late-night lifestyle, your children and pets, or a remodeling project.
Whatever your reasons, soundproofing your home doesn’t need to be a stressful undertaking if you have the help of an expert team.
How to Block Out the Noise
When our team works on soundproofing a NYC apartment, our first step is to discover why our clients want to tackle the project in the first place. Every project is unique, but our conversations with clients generally involve details about their lifestyles.
For example, do you entertain large groups of friends often? Do you enjoy listening to music or watching movies with state-of-the-art equipment and surround sound? Do you have children or pets, or do you plan to add to your family? If you work from home, do you conduct confidential calls in which you discuss sensitive information?
A good contractor will ask these questions while noting specific site conditions. Plaster, sheetrock, concrete ceilings, wood frames, and more can all affect the soundproofing process. There’s no off-the-shelf or one-size-fits-all solution to soundproofing a condo or apartment, so choose a contractor that gets to know your project first.
For example, as a turnkey design-build firm, we can provide clients with a variety of options for soundproofing an apartment ceiling in Manhattan, even if it’s concrete, or soundproofing hardwood floors in a Brooklyn condo. We recommend applications based on each project’s unique context, character, and needs. Some of our most common recommendations include the following elements:
Sound attenuation layers for new flooring
Most NYC condo and co-op boards mandate that when residents install new floors, they install a sound attenuating layer along with it. The layer rests between the wood floor and the subfloor, and it greatly reduces the sound and vibrations that would otherwise filter through to neighboring condos or co-op’s. Because it’s often a requirement, this step is also one of the most common soundproofing applications we recommend.
Blanket insulation with double sheetrock
Another strategy we often recommend is to apply blanket insulation on the studs inside of walls, along with double sheetrock. Though this isn’t quite an off-the-shelf process, it’s the closest you’re going to get. It’s the most basic way to soundproof the walls of an apartment, but it does provide partial sound absorption.
Soundproof sheetrock is more expensive than regular sheetrock, but it’s a much better option for homeowners looking for a serious soundproofing solution. QuietRock offers two-way soundproofing and is the material that most professionals choose for both residential and commercial soundproofing projects.
Though relatively new, soundproof paint is already largely used in commercial settings like hotel rooms. SoundGuard isn’t as effective as soundproof sheetrock, but it’s estimated to reduce noise by about 30 percent, which makes it a better option for individual rooms instead of an entire apartment.
Acoustical duct wrap for HVAC systems
The noise from older central heating and air systems can be a constant nuisance, but acoustical duct wrap can be an excellent choice for eliminating it. Wrapping the air ducts reduces the sound and vibration of the air traveling through them and reduces the sound made by the air handlers.
Acoustic sound panels and bass traps for special applications
We also recommend special applications, such as Auralex sound panels and bass traps, for optimal two-way soundproofing. They’re often used in recording studios, but they come in several decorative options for homeowners who enjoy loud music or being fully immersed in movies. That way, you can minimize the sound that escapes from your living space without sacrificing your style.
A lot of cities have a problem with noise, but with a population of 8.55 million people sharing about 778 square miles of land, New York City’s noise problem is notorious. With the help of a dedicated and experienced design-build team, it’s well worth the investment to soundproof a NYC apartment against it all.