The Real.Est List
Secrets of a NYC window soundproofer: New York’s noisiest noises and neighborhoods, and what can be done about them
Cityproof, the city’s premiere window soundproofing company, has been bringing peace to Gotham one soundproof window at a time for more than 50 years. Michael Damelin, Cityproof’s president, shares some insights and tips from the heart of the NYC noise biz.
What sounds drive New Yorkers craziest? Are people less tolerant of noise these days?
Street noise—buses, sirens, trucks, cars—drives many people crazy. The other thing is construction. Wherever there is construction, we get calls. The noise starts early, around 6 or 7 a.m., ends late, and can go on 6 or 7 days a week in some instances. We get emails from people that end with the word “HELP!”
Our business is definitely up. I believe it’s a combination of more noise-sensitivity and more awareness that there’s a solution. The onslaught of the construction boom woke a lot of people up, literally and figuratively, to the window soundproofing concept. Also, a lot more people work from home now. They need quiet to work and concentrate during the day.
What are some of the noisiest areas in the city right now?
The East Side is really hurting. The area around the Second Avenue subway construction project is the worst in the city as far as construction noise impacting the largest area. That’s on top of a longstanding problem with traffic noise from the East River bridge-and-tunnel crossings.
The crossing traffic affects everyone from the Midtown Tunnel up past the 59th Street bridge to the East 70s, between Second Avenue and Madison. In addition, you’ve got buses and trucks running along the avenues and cross streets all day long. There are also ambulances, fire engines and police vehicles with sirens blaring all day and night.
Dumbo is another hotspot. We do a lot of work there in the new condo developments near the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and the Manhattan Bridge. These are gorgeous apartments built along a major highway with heavy and constant traffic. They have beautiful views and big windows that let in a lot of noise.
We also hear a lot from people living around the construction at the former World Trade Center site. There are other pockets of construction around the city that are causing a lot of noise issues for apartments, homes and offices: Con Ed is in the midst of a longterm project on East 59th Street and Second Avenue; there’s a new school being constructed on East 15th Street just off Union Square and a new building going up on West 56th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues.
How do you soundproof a window and how effective is it?
The Cityproof Window is a custom-made interior window that is placed directly behind the existing window. It’s inside your apartment, so it doesn’t affect the exterior aesthetics of the building. That’s why more than 99% of the time, co-op and condos readily approve the installation of the windows.
Cityproof Windows can reduce street noise from 60 up to 95% depending on the thickness of the laminated glass (which starts at 1/4" and goes up to 3/4") as well as the quality and kind of the exterior window and the amount of air space between the interior and exterior windows, which acts as a buffer zone.
Cityproof has been selling, custom manufacturing and installing soundproof windows since 1960. There is nothing that compares to the quality of our windows in terms of the materials that go into them, the way they are manufactured, and the way they are installed. Ours are the quietest, they last the longest, and they look the best.
How successful are renters at getting landlords to pay for window soundproofing?
We’ve heard of a number of arrangements. Sometimes the landlord pays and increases the rent a little bit. Sometimes the landlord and tenant split the cost. Sometimes the tenant pays and the landlord agrees not to increase the rent, or not increase it past a certain amount, when the lease renews. Also, we work with many landlords who have made Cityproof Windows an integral part of partial and complete apartment renovations.
Every situation is different, but there is one constant – the way the windows benefit both the landlord and the tenant.
Are there any health benefits to soundproofing your windows?
There are a lot of studies that connect ambient noise and sleep quality, and obviously, getting a good night’s sleep is important both physically and psychologically. Anecdotally, lots of customers tell us they can’t believe how quiet their apartments have become and how much better they are sleeping.