Unless the Lord builds the house, the builders labor in vain

Which type of flooring is best in Singapore?

Flooring is a major part of the renovation because once it is done, it will stay with you for years. It’s just too inconvenient to change at will. And of course, flooring is also one of the most expensive line item in your quotation. So it’s important to ask yourself, “Which type of flooring is best for me”?

Different people have different preferences and priorities when it comes to flooring. One might go for aesthetics, another for affordability and yet another for easy maintenance. So, you should go for a flooring that’s suitable for your needs and design. What works for one homeowner might not be the same for you.


Considerations when choosing the flooring


1) Know the types of flooring available

There are many types available in the market nowadays. It used to be common to find tiles, parquet and even marble in old apartments. Now there’s an increasing interest in vinyl and laminate flooring because of their affordability and easy maintenance.

  • Laminate flooring is mainly a synthetic flooring with a wood base layer. It is scratch and water resistant. Note, it’s resistant and not -proof.
  • Vinyl Flooring is made of PVC and is water-proof. Moreover you will not have termite problem, but it is not as scratch resistant as compared to laminate flooring.
  • Tiles come in different types – reflective and non-reflective tiles which are matt. Reflective tiles are susceptible to foot marks, although some will argue it’s easier to clean than non-reflective tiles which are matt. Matt tiles are usually more suitable for kitchen and rough textured tiles for areas such as bathrooms where you need to have slip-proof flooring.

Do ask your friends who have done the flooring that you have shortlisted. Because I have friends who told me that bubbles formed underneath their vinyl after a while, and it’s quite slippery for the children to run around. Although you can google for ways to remove those bubbles.

Which type of flooring is best

2) Design Considerations

Certain type of materials have a greater selection of design, e.g. vinyl, where there is even textured and non-textured designs. Tiles also have different colours and grains for customers to select from.

For inspiration, surf around Pinterest, websites, etc. For real life examples, take extra notice when you go to shopping malls, cafes and shops, or even the flooring of your friends’ houses.

3) Know the price range and area size to lay for total cost

You may prefer one flooring over the other, but you should also consider the total cost. Firstly, take note of the per square foot (“psf”) pricing, which varies for the different types of flooring. The total cost also depends on the floor area. I got the following pricing guide from Qanvast:

  • Ceramic or Homogenous Tiles: $3 – 15 psf
  • Granite: $10 – 20 psf
  • Marble: $10 – 15 per square feet (psf)
  • Laminate: $3.50 – 4.50 psf
  • Vinyl: $6 – 7.50 psf
  • Parquet: $7 – 14 psf (depends on short or long strip length)
  • Re-Engineered Wood Flooring (REW): Price unavailable
  • High End Resilient Flooring (HERF): Price unavailable

Other than material cost, you need to factor in the cost of the screed and labour for laying the flooring material and screed.


Flooring for Our Home 


1) Parquet 

We both prefer parquet – real solid wood for our rooms. I don’t like the plastic or rubbery feel of the vinyl/laminate flooring. Moreover, I read in renotalk forum that there’s toxic gas emission for vinyl flooring. I’m not sure how true it is, but with a baby in tow, it’s better be safe than sorry. Best to go natural with 100% real wood.

We’ve been told that it’s hard to maintain parquet because it’s easily scratched and worn out. However the parquet in my parent’s house look alright to me even after two decades of wear and tear. In any case, it can be sanded to look like new again, unlike laminated flooring which has to be fully replaced. The photo below is parquet after sanding and before polishing.

Since parquet is expensive through contractor, we went to source for the wood ourselves. We found a few vendors, but the pricing gets quite ridiculous. Hence, we settled for the cheapest we found, Hau Hau Parquet. There might be cheaper ones around, but we were comfortable with Hau Hau, who has been around for a long time and is well-established.

More about Hau Hau, the cost and the process of laying parquet in another article.

2A) Choosing Tiles

We chose homogeneous tiles from Soon Bee Huat because of its wide selection. We should have gone to more showrooms and shop around. But since we found something we like, we decided to skip others. Moreover, our contractor who MIA-ed, another story for another time, told us that Hafary is more expensive. Anyway, it is always good to visit showrooms to get free samples and take your time to choose. Some tile shops in Singapore:

  • Hafary
  • Lian Seng Hin
  • Hup Kiong
  • Soon Bee Huat
  • More shops along Balestier Road, Defu Lane and Sungei Kadut

I would have preferred marble for the living and dining area if I have the money. But since we don’t have the budget, we chose glossy homogeneous tiles that are marble lookalike. 🙂

2B) Different type of Tiles

Based on my research, homogeneous tiles are considered full-body porcelain tiles, or unglazed porcelain tiles. This means their colours go all the way from the surface through the entire thickness of the tiles. If the surface of these tiles chips or wears off, it will not show as much clay as it does in glazed tiles.

Glazed tiles are made of clay with a glazed surface. You will see the clay if you break the tile surface. Thus, homogeneous tiles are often used for longer term purpose because they are highly unlikely to warp after years of use.

However, when the tiles came, we realised our “homogeneous” tiles are in fact glazed tiles. It’s the same type as the flooring provided by HDB! Our contractor told us this is considered homogeneous tiles, and unglazed porcelain tiles is way more expensive or uncommon to get in Singapore.

The subcontracted HDB worker who was fixing our flooring defects had told me to get unglazed tiles because HDB glazed tiles are not durable. But we trusted our contractor instead and didn’t insist to change. But now with the contractor defected, we wondered how true his words are. So if you can, request for tile samples before final selection and make sure the tile you selected is unglazed tiles, aka full-body porcelain tiles.

More about Soon Bee Huat, the cost and process of laying tiles in the subsequent post.

So are you going to choose for your flooring? I like to hear from you. Do leave a comment below. 🙂