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How New Yorkers are blocking the noise

Serj Markarian - Real Estate Advisor in NYC - Buy, Sell, Rent Properties
Too Loud - - Real Estate Advisor in NYC - Buy, Sell, Rent Properties

As spring approaches, homeowners tend to take on home improvement projects. One widely popular project among city dwellers, particularly in New York City, involves soundproofing their

residences. Some of you may recall, I addressed this topic two years ago, when the city was emerging from the pandemic and noise levels were on the rise. I thought it would be helpful to repurpose my previous list of suggestions with a few updates for any of you looking to mitigate the noise disturbances.


Rugs – Thick, high-pile rugs with high-density foam pads effectively reduce sound rebounding off wood and tile floors, which tend to be amplified because of the materials.


Window inserts – less expensive alternative Clear glass or acrylic panes offer a budget-friendly solution, blocking noise by up to 50%, depending on the manufacturer. These inserts easily install on the inside of your existing windows, providing a less expensive alternative to window upgrades mentioned in the next point.


Window upgrades – While a bit more expensive, they are highly effective, with some windows blocking up to 95% of noise. Options like CitiQuiet feature thicker glass and also provide weather insulation. For unconventional window sizes, consulting with an acoustical consultant can help explore cost-effective sealing options without a significant investment.


Door gap sealants – Enhance home insulation and minimize noise by using weather stripping. Remarkably, a mere 5% air gap between your door and wall can leak 90% of sound, while a 1% gap can leak 30%. Focus on the bottom gaps near the threshold, and opt for a thick rubber strip for optimal sealing.


Sound-proofing curtains – These curtains are just another layer you can add to help block out the noise. Many options that serve as blackout curtains also double as effective soundproofing, providing a dual solution.

Wall or ceiling coverings – Materials such as cotton, foam and felt are effective at blocking out noise. There are even options such as “nature-inspired” acoustic panels, which not only provide tranquility but also serve as attractive design accents for your home.


Bookshelves – Install bookshelves with weighty, dense books on shared and exterior walls to reduce incoming noise while adding a sophisticated touch to your home design. For enhanced sound blocking, position a thick piece of foam behind the bookcase.


White noise machine – Whether you invest in a machine or simply use a phone app to produce ambient sounds, it not only helps drown out intrusive noise but also helps divert attention from anxious thoughts, fostering a conducive environment for restful sleep.

While these soundproofing suggestions can enhance tranquility, it's crucial to understand your rights regarding noise. Surprisingly, NYC has a noise code detailing acceptable standards for residential and construction noise. Both the Department of Environmental Protection and the NYPD enforce this code, and residents can file noise complaints online or by calling 311.

That being said, we should all be considerate of our neighbors— keeping music and TV volumes reasonable, using headphones, adhering to a building's quiet hours, and refraining from unnecessary honking. These simple actions will lend toward a more peaceful city. 


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