Beyond the aesthetics and layout of your new home, one of the most important aspects of any renovation project is choosing the types of materials to use. After all, you’d want your floors and cabinets to last decades, not just a few years. But allocating a big chunk of your budget solely for your floors or carpentry is not a wise move.
To find out what are some of the best quality yet affordable materials for your home, we spoke to Russell Chin, interior designer and founder of Inspire ID Group. He shed some insights on what type of materials work best for your residence, from your floors to your bathroom and even for your countertops.
Floors – vinyl & laminate
Musician Jeff Ng’s home has cappuccino-coloured vinyl flooring.
One of the biggest expenses in a home renovation is flooring. Not only does it take up the most square footage, but you’ll also be walking on it all the time, especially in high-traffic areas such as your kitchen, bedroom, and bathroom. So you definitely want to get it right the first time. Otherwise, you’ll risk having to replace it after a couple of years, which is a whole headache-inducing process to go through.
For affordability and durability, Russell recommends using vinyl and laminate flooring. “These materials are known for their durability and are available in a wide range of designs,” he said. “They are resistant to scratches, moisture, and stains, making them suitable for high-traffic areas.”
It’s not that big of a compromise either, as vinyl and laminate flooring can mimic the aesthetics of natural materials like wood and stone without incurring the costs of using those real materials.
Concrete flooring where steps are taken, to the tune of Empire State of Mind.
Russell also brought up bamboo and concrete as alternatives that have been seeing plenty of use in residential homes. Bamboo is a renewable material that’s durable and eco-friendly, while concrete can be customised in a variety of designs to fit into interior design styles beyond just industrial.
Price range of vinyl flooring: From $2.50/sqft
Price range of laminate flooring: From $2.80/sqft
Bathroom tiles – ceramic or porcelain tiles
Another area of your home that you’ll make use of daily is the bathroom. Not only is it a heavy-traffic area, but it also has a ton of moisture naturally, which is why Russell recommends using ceramic or porcelain tiles along the walls and floors.
“They are popular choices for bathroom floors and walls due to their water resistance and durability,” Russell explained. “Look for tiles with a low absorption rate to prevent water damage and choose finishes that offer slip resistance for safety.”
Price range of tiling and waterproofing a bathroom: ~$2,000
Countertops – sintered stone
Image credit: Bellus Group
Those who cook often will know the importance of having a high-quality kitchen countertop. But if a marble or granite countertop will break the bank, consider a sintered stone countertop instead. “These countertops are highly resistant to heat, scratches, and stains, and possess above-average chip resistance,” Russell said.
The non-porous surface of sintered stone countertops will also make cleaning up after meal prep as easy as cake, plus it will prevent the growth of bacteria.
Homeowners on a tighter budget could also look into solid surface countertops that are made of acrylic or polyester blends, Russell recommends. “They offer comparable durability to natural stone countertops at a more affordable price point.”
Price range of sintered stone countertops: From $150-$300 per foot run
Kitchen cabinets – aluminium cabinets
Image credit: 9 Creation
Another part of the kitchen that sees frequent use is the cabinets. But instead of using plywood or medium-density fibreboard, Russell suggests opting for cabinets made out durable aluminium instead. “They are 100% waterproof, 100% termite proof, fire-resistant, and do not contain formaldehyde,” he said.
Compared to typical wooden cabinets, which would need regular maintenance or even replacement, aluminium cabinets will be able to withstand the throes of time. It’s also lightweight, making installation in your kitchen easier.
And no, just because they are called aluminium cabinets does not mean that they only come in an industrial shade of silver. Aluminium cabinets can come in a variety of styles and surfaces so you don’t have to compromise on your interior design theme as well.
Price range of aluminium kitchen cabinets: From $7,000 for 20-foot-long top and bottom cabinets
Lighting fixtures – LED lights
Image credit: Studio Periphery
One aspect that the majority of homeowners overlook is their lighting fixtures. Rather than sticking with traditional incandescent lamps and bulbs, one thing Russell recommends all homeowners do is switching to LED.
“LED bulbs consume less energy compared to traditional incandescent bulbs, resulting in lower electricity bills,” Russell said. He also added that LED lighting fixtures have significantly longer lifespans so you won’t have to worry about replacing them too often.
But more importantly, LED lights can be illuminated in a rainbow of colours, controlled from the convenience of your smartphone – or even just using your voice in a smart home. This means that your lamps can glow from purple in one moment to white in an instant.
Price range of LED lights: From $4 for simple downlights to $49 for a Philips Hue bulb
Tips & recommendations on maintaining materials at home
While these materials mentioned above might be highly durable and long-lasting, that doesn’t mean that they’re indestructible. Russell advises all homeowners to follow the guidelines of the manufacturers, especially when it comes to cleaning and maintenance of specific materials and products.
Some other tips he shared with us were to:
- Clean regularly. “Establish a regular cleaning routine to remove dirt, dust, and spills promptly. Use appropriate cleaning products and techniques recommended for the specific materials to avoid causing any harm.”
- Protect against scratches and heat. “Use protective pads or coasters under heavy objects and hot items to prevent scratches and heat damage on surfaces like countertops or flooring.”
- Get anything broken fixed ASAP. “Attend to any necessary repairs or maintenance issues promptly to prevent further damage. This includes fixing loose tiles, repairing chips or scratches, and addressing any water leaks or damages.”
Affordable & quality renovation materials to use
As much as we’d like to advocate for aesthetics over everything else, sometimes function has to be prioritised over form. Choosing long-lasting and durable materials also doesn’t have to be a budget-busting affair, with many of the options recommended by Russell being affordable and wallet-friendly. They can also still be styled in myriad ways to fit into almost any cohesive interior design.
Read other renovation tips:
- Smart reno hacks to lower utility bills
- Hidden reno costs your ID might not tell you
- Reno design choices that will make cleaning easier
Cover image credit: Bellus Group