Friday, May 22, 2015

Renovation: Balcony Decking

We now have a balcony (and a backyard) and we have thoughts of doing decking at our balcony. It is one of the area which we spend quite a number of time researching on.

Image from Evorich
Our start plan is we want something with minimum maintenance and the choice is easy, WPC decking, also known as Wood Plastic Composite decking. They do not need sanding and re-vanishing every few years, unlike natural wood. They will also not have splinters or crack or split.

However when our ID shown us the product sample, I had second thoughts. It feels very plastic and further research points out the cons, like getting very hot for bare sole under direct sun, having to have a bigger gap between planks to cater for larger expansion, will scratch like natural wood but it will become permanent as you will not be able to sand and re-varnish again.

Of course there are different grades of composite decking. Absolut Outdoors' composite decking is already "pre-expanded" so they could build with smaller gaps, and the feel is alot less plastic. Forexia Eco Wood Composite Decking from Evorich comes with a 25 year warranty.

Image from Jason Parquet

On the other spectrum are the natural wood. Common wood used are Chengal, Ironwood, Teak, Merbau and Balau. If you like the feel of wooden decking, there is no compromise. The natural wood feel/"warmth" gives you the resort feel. Chengal seems to be the preferred wood by many, including my ID. This is because Chengal is characterised as hard wood and is naturally resistant to termite attacks and fungal growth. You can find out more from Nam Soon Timber.

Image from Calvary Carpentary
Engineered wood, or eco wood, falls in the middle. These includes brands like Accoya (carried by Evorich), Heveatech (carried by several companies like Floorxpert), and Abodo (carried by Calvary Carpentry). These are treated wood where they go through processing to make the wood perform better. Hence these brands often offers warrenties.

Image from Hafary Holdings

Then there are wood tiles, or tiles that look like wood. These post very minimum maintenance as they are tiles. There will still have grouts though as they are afterall tiles. But done by the correct people, it can look great too. Hafary Holdings carry a wide selection to choose from.

For WPC and tiles, the look should stay the same thru the years without major fading. However for natural wood and engineered wood, it will the vanish/coating will fade and it will look greyish (for Chengal). It will look like old jetty wood decking landing. So after a few years, you would need to sand down and re-varnish again.

After much deliberation, we decided to go for Chengal decking for our front balcony, mainly cause we like the feel of real wood decking and we would be able to sand and re-varnish for a look like new decking every 3-5 years.

Saturday, May 16, 2015

Renovation: Ceiling Fans

I have never really taken notice of ceiling fans, not until we decided to put one in every room and started researching. The ceiling fan universal is huge. I will introduce some that we like.

Start point for us was we were using standing fans every day when we were in our previous home. Be it watching TV or taking a nap, we try to use fans over air-conditioning as much as possible. So since we are using standing fans so much, might as well install ceiling fans for all rooms. Moreover, ceiling fans actually frees up precious real estates of our home, as pointed our by our friend Alan.

The basic criteria for choosing the right fan would be the size of the room/area where the fan will be installed. There must be enough clearance between the tip of the fan blade and the wall/cabinet/L-box, as well as the clearance between the fan and the ceiling. Different fans have different clearance requirement so do check.

There are two main types of ceiling fan, AC (alternating current) and DC (direct current). In a nutshell, AC fans are more powerful, uses more energy, and are more noisy than DC fans. And they usually cost lesser too.

Reliable AC fans are like those from KDK and Crestar. The simple yet elegant Crestar Icol fan caught our eye. It is available in two two sizes (40" and 46"), four colours, and optional light and remote control. Combine these with a reasonable price and this fan becomes a popular choice.
Image from Crestar

Fanco has a similiar fan call I-Con. It is only available in size 48", has four colours, remote control and optional lights. What is interesting about this model is it come with four blades and you can change the blade configuration to three blades or two blades yourself.

DC fans are where price and design factor starts to go up. Top on my list would be the sexy Big Ass Haiku fans. The highly sought-after finishing is the Bamboo, coming in two colours (Caramel and Cocoa). If you have wood finishing furniture or flooring, this fan will match very well. The sleek design won me over. And just in case you are wondering whether the bamboo finishing will last or break, this following video will probably give you the assurance.

Currently only available in Singapore in 60", it is more suited for living room and maybe some bigger master bedroom. However, I understand that Big Ass Fans Asia Pacific is in the mist of getting regulatory approval to bring in the 52" Haiku fans so it should be available later this year.

Image from

They are also bringing in a new Haiku model equipped with the SenseMe technology and I couldn't resist not getting it. SenseMe bascially makes it an "Intelligent" fan with sensors to automatically start the fan when someone comes into the room and switch off when everyone leaves. It can also automatically adjust the fan speed according to how many people are in the room. You are also pair it with Jawbone and it will know when you are sleeping and to slow down the speed. Haiku is also available in Composite finishing with two colours (black and white).

Image from Aeratron

Aeratron AE2/AE3 fans also caught my eye. Initially Lilian didn't like them but the looks are growing onto her. I like the two blade AE2 variant more. Shaped like a leaf, it actually won a number of awards for it efficiency and strong airflow. Singapore seem to only have the 50" size available in both black and white. In Australia where it originated, they come in three sizes (43", 50" and 60") and in five colours including two timber colours.

The other popular DC fans are Spin, Amasco Triniti and Efinitti.

Some other things to note. If you are installing the fan on your false ceiling (as oppose to your actual ceiling), you need to make sure there are additional support on the false ceiling for the fan. Malaysia may have the same or similar fans at a much cheaper price but it can be a hassle when your fan breaks down so do weight your options. Lastly, some shops or brands do offer discounts if you are introduced by your Interior Designer (ID) so do check with your ID.

Updates on 17 May 2015:

If you are looking for fans for small room/area, the range of DC fans in this area are very limimted. There could be others available but the smallest we found are the Amasco Trinity 42" and probably the soon to be available Aeratron AE3 43".

Back to AC fans, the choices are aplenty in this zone. The two models I like are KDK M11SU (aka KDK Baby Fan) and Franco Mini Bee.

Image from KDK

KDK M11SU is a 110cm (43") fan. It comes in silver and white and with remote control, coupled with reliability of KDK fans, it will help to cool small areas. There is a slightly larger model call R48SP at 120cm (about 47") if you want something slightly bigger.

Image from Franco

Franco Mini Bee is a 36" fan with 15W three colours LED light. The fan comes in 3 colours (white, silver and multi-colour) and remote control. The interesting model is the Multi Colour version, it adds a dash of colours to any setting. The small blades does mean the area that can feel the wind would be limited so do take this into consideration.

The last fan I want to introduce is the Vento Fino. At 13" is a really small fan that can be ceiling or wall mounted. As this model does not turn or oscillate, you will have to plan before mount where you want it to face. My friend Alan mount it at a corner of the children's room, away from the bunk bed and yet still providing wind to the children. I have also seen it being used at the balcony and even kitchen. This comes is an array of colours. There is another model call Fino II. Its slight larger at 16" and the most important feature is it can oscillate. The price is more than double Fino though.

Just a pointer to end off this extended post, do take it with a pinch of salt when you are testing fans in fan shops. The fan shop often wants to display as many variety of fans as possible. Hence the mounting and the position of the fans might not be ideal like in an actual room application. And you are likely to be standing directly below the fan with the shop turning the fan to max speed. This of course makes every fan windy.

Hence when testing in shop, do test the fan you are keen at various speed settings and also test the wind in various spots away from the fan so you get an idea how large an area the fan will cover. Lastly, if you know someone who has the same fan installed in their house, ask if you can test it. That way you can get an actual feel of how the fan performs in an actual setting.

Happy shopping.

Also read: Renovation: Ceiling Fans Service Centres Experience.