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ARTICLES

The Only Cheat Sheet You Will Need for the Right Flooring

We’ve done the groundwork and rounded up some of Singapore’s most-loved flooring options. Question is, which is the right pick for your home?

As one of the largest surfaces in the home, the floor is integral when it comes to interior design – it’s often the first point of physical contact PLUS acts as a canvas on which you build your home.

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That said, there are many flooring options available – each with its own distinct look and edge – so where do you even begin to look? Well, everything you need to know is right here! Scroll on to discover the pros (and cons) of the most popular flooring types in Singapore.

Contents
  1. Vinyl
  2. Cement screed
  3. Tiles
  4. Natural stone
  5. Engineered wood
  6. Hardwood
  7. Laminate

1. Vinyl

Waterproof, resilient, available in a wide range of “styles” (tiles, sheets, planks etc.) and affordable: it’s hard to find an alternative that’s as good as vinyl. However, it’s far from being the eco-friendliest option on the market.

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See, vinyl flooring is mainly made out of PVC, which is harmful to the environment as it produces toxic substances when burned. The good news is that there’s a less damaging alternative for those wanting to replicate the look of natural wood: High End Resilient Flooring (HERF).

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Manufactured from virgin pulp, HERF does not contain the more poisonous chemical, phthalates, that increases the flexibility and lifespan of plastics (i.e. those found in your typical vinyl options).

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ProsCons
  • Get the wood-look but without the termites
  • Resistant to water, fire and scratches; great for households with pets and children
  • Cost-effective
  • Not dent-proof
  • Not as eco-friendly compared to other alternatives

2. Cement Screed

Cement screed is a common sight in most industrial-style homes. Made from a mixture of sand and cement, the floor has a grey hue that adds on to the masculine charms of such abodes.

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Because of its nature, it can appear smooth or textured (with a non-slip sealer), but most importantly, it’s seamless. However, it does require additional care and maintenance to keep it looking that way.

As it’s porous in nature, cement floors can stain really easily. It’s a must to keep them completely sealed. Even then, it’s not advisable to use cement in more moisture-prone areas like bathrooms or outdoor balconies as sealers are not wear-proof.

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If you aren’t caring for these floors the proper way, you might see hairline cracks appearing; when there’s moisture loss from evaporation, the hardened layers of cement contract and fractures crop up across the surface.

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ProsCons
  • Resilient to scratches and damage
  • Easy to change up flooring look in future
  • Seamless look
  • Porous, might accumulate dirt/be prone to water stains
  • Needs to be completely sealed to prevent the aforementioned issues, or hairline cracks might appear
  • Feels hard and cold underfoot

3. Tiles

Can be made of either ceramic or porcelain. They come in a variety of designs and finishes, including the HDB-approved homogeneous tiles (which are just porcelain tiles without a glass layer or decorative finish).

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In general, tiles can be used in high-traffic and moist areas in the home. Strong and non-porous, the tile is resistant to liquids, making it harder to stain than its counterparts.

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Despite how hard-wearing it is, the grout in between the tiles is susceptible to moisture and stains. That’s why these lines have to be sealed regularly for increased protection, or you might find mould growing there!

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ProsCons
  • Easy to maintain, non-porous, and durable – suitable for high-traffic/moist areas
  • No discolouration/fading even if exposed to sunlight on a constant basis
  • Better safety in wet areas with non-slip tiles
  • Beware of grout lines; regular cleaning is needed or mould will grow
  • Feels hard and cold underfoot

4. Natural Stone

If you want to pull off a sophisticated look, natural stone is the way to go, and there are three main options: marble, slate and granite.

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With its distinctive veining and gentle colours, marble is a popular choice for many luxury homes. And if that’s not enough to convince you about its elegance, marble is pretty versatile too – you can easily apply them on the walls and counters to create a stylish and visually-consistent look.

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However, it should be noted that marble stains easily due to its porous nature. In case you want the look without the hassle of constant maintenance, try granite; it’s less likely to stain and holds up against acidic substances.

Or, if you prefer something a little less polished and more rustic, slate’s a great alternative. Better yet, it’s non-slip too!

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ProsCons
  • Granite does not stain easily and holds up well against acidic substances
  • Slate is slip-resistant, good for outdoor use
  • Both hold up well in high-traffic areas
  • High maintenance; needs to be sealed on the regular
  • Water will seep through if protective coat wears off
  • Prone to scratches – not a good match if you have pets at home
  • Marble is porous and prone to staining and chipping
  • Constant exposure to sunlight can cause marble to discolour

5. Wood-look

Engineered Wood

Hardwood’s ‘disguised’ cousin, engineered wood mainly comprises compressed plywood. That means it’s very durable and doesn’t warp as easily (yes, you can use it in the kitchen and bathroom)!

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Hardwood

Fashioned from the likes of solid hardwoods like oak, walnut, cherry, lime, maple and mahogany, the hardwood floor has an incredible range of textures – smooth, hand-scraped, distressed and wire-brushed. So, if you’re looking to maximise visual impact, this is the go-to for you.

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Laminate

Composite wood slabs are pressed together and finished with a top layer of ‘photographed wood’ covering. Because it’s constructed this way, it can mimic any wood pattern. However, it must be noted that the grains are uniform! So, if you clad a large area in laminates, it’s very telling and can come off looking synthetic.

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ProsCons
  • Engineered wood is durable and resistant to moisture; less prone to warping if damaged by water
  • Laminate is affordable and has a similar look to hardwood floors
  • Hardwood is great if you love patterns and tones (think parquet); sand away scratches and apply a coat of finish to revitalise your floor
  • Engineered wood floor cannot be refinished if top veneer is thin
  • Laminate is prone to discolouration and might look synthetic in large spaces as the grains have a similar appearance
  • Hardwood is prone to scratches and discolouration in the face of sunlight; hard to maintain as it needs to be constantly resealed and polished

So, where can you start looking for flooring?

For a start, check out these merchants with a wide range of flooring options. While you’re at it, be sure to keep an eye out for some sweet deals!

This article was originally published on 4 March 2017 and last updated on 7 March 2023.


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