Eliminating Noise – When Luxury = Silence

Eliminating Noise In Your NYC Renovation Project

In my 20 years renovating high end homes, a good majority of the projects I’ve helped produce involved minimizing or eliminating noise. This includes noise from the outside (sirens, garbage trucks) as well as noise within a townhouse, apartment or office (AC equipment, pumps, adjacent neighbors). Depending on your renovation budget, solutions can be as simple as a carpet or rug or as complex as suspended ceilings, acoustically engineered walls and floating floor systems. The NY Times recently published a good article on specific solutions and projects that required noise elimination. Take note: If you plan on using any type of soundproofing, be sure to allow for the added thickness or width in your construction detailing. -RJ

Soundproofing for New York Noise

By ROY FURCHGOTTDEC. 11, 2015 for The New York Times

Pietro Cicognani, an architect, made a risky promise when he undertook the $3.5 million renovation of a Fifth Avenue penthouse with wraparound terrace views. When finished, he said, the apartment would be silent.

eliminating noise in NYC renovation

Bonnie Schnitta, an acoustical consultant, measures how much sound is coming through a wall outlet. Credit Daniel Gonzalez for The New York Times

It was risky because noisy elevator motors and rooftop exhaust fans had required the previous residents to raise their voices to be heard, and the apartment shook so much that “if you had a tub full of water,” he said, “you could see the surface of the water ripple.”

The building’s management had deemed the problem irreparable, and settled for turning off the ventilators when the penthouse’s residents were trying to sleep. The noise, Mr. Cicognani said, was the most severe he had heard in his 28 years as an architect.

Cicognani Kalla Architect PLLC

But Mr. Cicognani said he was comfortable gambling his reputation because he had an ace up his sleeve: a mechanical engineer who is an expert in acoustics.

The engineer tested the penthouse to find the problematic noise frequencies, then used accelerometers to measure the shaking. She determined which noises were airborne and which were from vibration. With that information she was able to specify materials and construction methods that would hush the rattle and hum.

eliminating noise in an NYC renovation

Kenny Lynch wraps a waste line on the ceiling of a basement with sound-attenuation material. Credit Daniel Gonzalez for The New York Times

Throughout the 3,500-square-foot apartment, pipes and ducts were wrapped in acoustic barrier insulation, walls and ceilings were hung on vibration-absorbing rails and floating floors were installed, at a total cost of about $200,000.

When the owners visited the treated apartment, Mr. Cicognani said, “the relief on their faces” let him know that his reputation as a designer was safe. “We have clients that spend a lot of money for these things,” he said, “and silence is as luxurious as a beautifully wood-paneled room.”

Unfortunately, apartment noise is not relegated to the one percent. Sirens, rooftop fans, construction and upstairs neighbors who clomp about like a team of clog-dancing Clydesdales are common conditions of city living.

There are no reliable figures, but anecdotally the noise-control industry has been growing along with the demand for, and number of, noise control materials — from recycled rubber padding to insulation made of shredded bluejeans.

Sound Seal, a manufacturer of noise control materials based in Massachusetts, said this year its sales were up 15 percent over last year for new home and remodeling products, and sales of its Impacta sound-absorbing flooring were up 22 percent.

eliminating noise in an NYC renovation

Pipes that have been wrapped with sound-blocking and sound-absorbing materials. Credit Daniel Gonzalez for The New York Times

These materials make it possible for contractors, architects and even do-it-yourselfers to tackle noise. While adding rails, springs, pads and special wallboard to quiet even a modest apartment can run into tens of thousands of dollars, sometimes a fix requires as little as $100 worth of acoustic seals for a hallway door.

Read the full article on the New York Times here.




Resources Featured Here:

Cicognani Kalla Architect PLLC (architect specializing in high end renovations requiring acoustic treatment

SoundSeal (manufacturer of noise control materials)

AcoustiLog (acoustical consultant)

SoundSense (acoustical consultant)

Do you have any questions or need help eliminating noise for your renovation project? Drop us a line.