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This Old Apartment

Every New York home, no matter how recently built, sometimes needs a specialist.

Illustrations by Remi Geoffroi  
  • Prewars: Wood Floors

  • I. J. Peiser’s Sons; 212-348-7500

    Anyone can sand and seal a battered floor. When it comes to precisely matching as you patch, however, a century’s expertise is a big help, and I. J. Peiser has laid down hardwood for everyone from FDR to Andrew Carnegie. Nothing underfoot is too minuscule to ignore: They match the gaps between boards, artificially age the new wood, and pretreat before staining so new wood absorbs just like the original. Vice-President Stephen Estrin has even been known to fly anywhere to source lumber and other materials (he was en route to Europe when we called him, in fact).

  • Postwars: Bathtub Reglazing

  • Al & Dave & Son, Inc.; 718-761-5800

    Mid-century modern: lovely for Eames chairs, not so much for bathrooms. Those built-in tubs are expensive to replace, and if a bathroom redo isn’t in the budget, reglazing is the way to go. But it has to be done right—there are plenty of chipping-and-peeling stories out there. This multigenerational family business has three things going for it: care and patience with even small jobs, a particular eye for color-matching, and a long apprenticeship period for new employees. As a result, his guys stick around—as does that shiny new enamel they lay on.

  • Brownstones: Stoop and Façade Repair

  • Burda Construction Corporation; 718-222-3220, ext. 11

    Brownstone is a highly porous material, and a century’s worth of freeze-thaw cycles will just about guarantee some cracking and crumbling. Burda Construction knows all about it, and has been called upon for high-profile restorations like the Lower East Side Tenement Museum and Brooklyn Heights’ Grace Church. (They count the New York Landmarks Conservancy as a reference.) They’re also expert in brick repointing and other façade interventions.

  • Lofts: Air Conditioning

  • AMHAC; 800-356-7595

    New Yorkers love lofts for their airy feel—until August rolls around and those two punky window A/C units at the ends of the space can’t keep up. AMHAC approaches cooling jobs as an architect would a job site, custom-constructing systems to cool specific blocks of space. They’re particularly familiar with the needs of art collectors, whose HVAC systems have to control humidity with special precision. Prudential Douglas Elliman broker Leonard Steinberg, a luxury-loft specialist, says he’s worked with many other HVAC experts, but only AMHAC has been hassle-free.

  • New Condos: Window Cleaners

  • Expert Window Cleaners; 212-831-1115

    Why live in a glass-walled condo only to have the views blotted with grime? Brent Weingard of Expert Window Cleaning starts by sizing up a building’s location for clues to what kind of filth is accumulating. (On major thoroughfares, for example, exhaust and oil are big offenders.) He’ll also find out what type of glass is in place before starting a job—reflective coatings, for example, are allergic to ammonia. Weingard’s crews clean only with microfiber or linen (they don’t leave lint) and, customers report, are as meticulous about cleanup as they are about streaks and spots.

From the 2010 Best of New York issue of New York Magazine