Soundproofing 101 Quiet Neighbors Are Happy Neighbors

 Walls are the only separation between you and your neighbors when you live in a  densely-populated area like Manhattan, and sometimes, it feels like privacy  goes out the window. People hear their next-door neighbors talking, footsteps  from above, or even music blaring through the walls. Sound transmission between  units is one of the biggest complaints among co-op and condo dwellers. Noise  can also come from ceilings, doors and windows, so living in a multifamily  building can take some getting used to.  

 Prime Noisemakers

 “The biggest complaint is the footfall, and that comes from up above. The second  complaint is noise from neighbors, which is lateral through the walls, and next  would be entryways,” says Mason Wyatt, owner of City Soundproofing. “Occasionally, an elevator can make noise that is heard through the apartment,  whether it’s the noise of the elevator itself or the ambient hallway noise of people  waiting.”  

 It’s no secret that many of the co-ops and condos in New York City are old, and  because of that, the building materials used to construct them are much less  advanced than what people expect today. Even with newer buildings, effective  soundproofing materials are often not used at all during construction, so noise  streams from one unit into another.  

 “If it’s a solid concrete slab, it’s less of a problem, but if you get these six-story buildings with wood joists,  there’s not too much to prevent the sound from below to go upstairs, especially those  with exposed wood elements,” says Devin O’Brien, owner of Brooklyn Insulation and Soundproofing. “When we do renovations, we insist to the board that they add insulation to the  ceiling and soundproofing is added to the floors before any flooring is done.”  

 While some noise in shared living spaces is normal, if you can clearly hear your  neighbors’ conversations or TV through your walls or ceiling, you have a noise problem. If you’re willing to make the financial investment, there are innovative noise  reduction solutions that can turn an older condo unit into a sanctuary of peace  and quiet.  


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  • Mason Wyatt, City Soundproofing on Tuesday, July 9, 2013 5:47 PM
    Just an update to say that acoustically absorbent materials such as foam or high density fiberglass will take reflected energy out of a room thereby lowering the ambient noise levels in that room to some degree however open cell absorptive materials do not have the density to block noise. Be aware that merely placing foam or fiberglass on a surface will not keep the noise from going through the barrier behind it.