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How to Care for Marble, Use Mirrors to Create Bigger Space and More to Help You Care for Your Singapore Home

From marble to mirrors to heaters, we’ve got some of the most common home decor questions, answered (with help from industry experts).

Q: I love the look of marble bathrooms in hotels, but how can I maintain a marble bathroom if the material is porous?

A: We love the luxury of marble bathrooms, too, but marble is a porous stone and absorbs stains easily. If used in the wet area of a bathroom, soap, shampoo and other impurities can accumulate on the surface and make it even more slippery.

“Most marble used in hotel bathrooms are treated with impregnators, but they will still have a certain lifespan. Impregnation only delays the effect of staining, but not make the marble stain-proof,” says Terry Tan of tile company Rice.

This means that any liquid left on the marble surface for more than an hour would still stain it. Bacteria might also start to build up beneath the stone surface. Maintain marble surfaces by cleaning off any soap residue and wiping wet spots after a shower. A well-ventilated area will ensure that the marble surfaces dry quickly as well. If there is no window in your bathroom, you can install a mechanical ventilator.

To enjoy a marble look without the required maintenance, Terry suggests using quality porcelain stoneware tiles that use digital inkjet technology to make it resemble the natural material. He adds: “Some leading Italian tile manufacturers even offer antibacterial tiles by partnering with Microban.” Microban is a global firm specialising in antibacterial technology. Such tiles might even be cheaper than using marble, too, says Terry.

Q: I can’t decide between an electric and gas water heater. With a small household of two adults and two kids, which should I choose?

A: There are many other factors to consider. One of them is whether your home already has a provision for access to gas and, if not, how much the installation would cost. Public housing, for example, is more likely to have this provision, as compared to older private condos or landed property.

According to a study cited on the Energy Efficient Singapore website (www.tinyurl.com/heaterstudy), gas water heaters consume less energy than electric water heaters; about $30 to $100 in annual energy cost savings. Weigh that against the cost of installation, and the cost of the heater itself.

Gas water heaters are also said to be more expensive than electric ones. For electric water heaters, instantaneous versions use less energy than storage water heaters and work faster; but storage water heaters might be a better solution if you need hot water supplied to a few bathrooms.

“For a family of four, try an electric storage heater with a minimum of 30 litres. It can supply multiple outlets with hot water simultaneously, and is automatic with a thermostat that heats and stores water at a set temperature for use. Storage heaters require only one electrical point, but having several instant heaters in one home would require as many outlets as there are heaters,” says Eddie Lee, senior sales manager at Ariston Thermo. Gas water heaters also need sufficient water pressure to work well, so check with City gas. Visit its showroom at Cross Street for more details.

Q: I know mirrors make a space look larger, but having too many of them can look tacky. How do I incorporate them into my home?

A: A strategically placed mirror can do wonders to enhance a space, but a mirror in the wrong place can kill the look of your decor. For dark and narrow hallways or corridors, a large mirror along one wall, or a tall mirror at the end of a long space, opens up the confined area considerably. They can also be used to reflect light into a darker space.

You can create a focal point at the corner of two walls, such as in your wardrobe area, with a tall mirror. A more casual and modern way to display a tall mirror is to simply lean it against the wall. In the living area, use mirrors on one wall to reflect décor items such as your dining room’s pendant lights, a piece of art, or even a nice view.

Don’t use them to reflect unflattering images such as messy or awkward spaces. Framing a mirror in the same way you’d frame an artwork gives it more presence. Now for the don’ts. Don’t place two mirrors opposite each other; this will only create a confusing space. You can also follow the fengshui rule of not placing a mirror where you will catch your reflection when you wake up. Lastly, avoid placing a mirror on the ceiling.

Q: Is it suitable to use solid surfacing for bay windows? Is this material resistant to heat and sunlight?

A: There is a range of materials you can use to surface your bay window seat, but solid surfacing is not recommended. As that area is right by the window, and gets lots of sunlight and heat, wood or stone are better choices.

“As solid surfacing is made of polyester (or even acrylic), it is prone to discolouration over time when under direct sunlight, especially if the top is white. We would advise clients to use stones such as quartz or granite.

If there is a budget constraint, try a laminated plank instead. In terms of pricing, laminates are the least expensive, followed by solid surfacing, quartz, and then granite,” says Space Factor’s creative director, Dolly Teo.

Even more home decor Q&As!

By Home and Décor team, May 2015

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