Building & Renovating

9 Home Maintenance Questions Answered By Architects And Contractors

From roof repair and soundproofing, to painting over tiles and fixing peeling walls, we've asked the experts for their solutions

Photography: Jilson Tiu (Main Photo)

You can’t second-guess home maintenance and renovation problems, especially if the make and integrity of your house depended on it. These Real Living readers were stumped with very specific (and tricky!) problems, so we got two architects and a contractor to give us solid advice.


The “raw” look

Q. “We recently moved into an apartment with unfinished walls. How do we fix it up without spending too much?” —Rai Ricafrente

A. “If you prefer to veer away from the ‘accidental-industrial-look,’ paint your walls a light gray or off-white satin color to create a light and airy feel. Walls are normally painted in semi-gloss finish, but the satin finish will help conceal the imperfections on the wall while still repelling dirt/dust.” —Mia Quimpo, architect

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Cooling without an AC

Q. “I just moved into a 23sqm unit with not much ventilation, as there is only one window. We’re not allowed to install a screen door. How can we make it cooler, aside from turning on the AC?” —John Paul E. Abellera, Quezon City

A. “Consider installing a ceiling or wall exhaust fan that will expel hot air out of the condo unit. Check out websites of manufacturers for proper sizing of fans. They shouldn’t be too big for the size of your flat.” —Mia Quimpo


Can you paint over tiles?

Q. “I want to paint over my old kitchen tiles to update their look. What kind of paint should I use?” —Angelo Chua

A. “Use an epoxy-based paint. Make sure that tiles are clean of mildew before painting them.  If the grout is cracked, repair it a week before you plan your paint project.” —Mia Quimpo

Soundproofing solutions

Q. “How can we soundproof my apartment using cheap materials without sacrificing style?” —Nemi Mangila IV, Quezon City

A. “If you really are serious in soundproofing, you’ll have to spend a bit. Isolate your room by building a second wall that is independent from the existing wall. Paneling will be made of layers of gypsum, plywood and a final panel of acoustic board. Make sure that all openings such as doors, windows are well insulated so that sound does not pass through.” —Mia Quimpo

READ: These Building Materials Can Block Out Noise



Q. “What’s the best roofing design for an open garage? It shouldn’t be too complicated to construct and not heavy on the pocket!” —Raffy Singson

A. “The best roofing design actually depends on the existing roof of your main house.  The new roof should complement the existing house design. A simple and modern roof would always be the lean-to roof: it straightforwardly puts rafters directly onto the post and lintel structure.” —Mia Quimpo


READ: What Type Of Roof Is Best For Hot Climates?

Rain, rain, go away

Q. “We have an elevated terrace, and I’m planning to turn it into a second living area without closing it off. What’s the best way to protect it during rainy season?” —Kim Lamay

A. “Install sliding glass and screen panels. You can keep the sliding glass panels open and enclose the space with screen panels to protect you from insects. Or install adjustable wood louvers—these allow the air to circulate and you can control the light you want to enter your room.” —Mia Quimpo


Zero windows

Q. “How can I add proper ventilation to my daughter’s room, which has no windows because of a firewall?” —Joan Zabala-Moscardon, Paranaque City

A. “If there are no other walls to create window openings in, a ceiling or wall exhaust fan will help move the hot air from the room.  Complement that with a ceiling fan or stand fan to keep air circulating.” —Mia Quimpo

READ: RL Makeovers – A Tailoring Shop Turned Into A Master Bedroom

Ficem question

Q. “Is it OK to use Hardieflex (a composite material board) as a ceiling material if I want a dropped ceiling?” —JS

A. “Hardiflex or other ‘ficem’ (fiber cement) boards can definitely be used for a dropped ceiling. Although there are various thicknesses available, 3.5-mm, 4.5-mm and 6-mm are the recommended thicknesses for ceilings. Use Hardieflex nails to fasten the boards.” —Love De Leon, architect

READ: 6 Things You Didn’t Know You Can Make With Fiber Cement Boards


Flaky paint

Q. “Do you have any repainting tips for concrete surfaces with old paint? We tried painting over it, but it flaked off after a few months.” —Lilia Benigra-Unite

A. “It may have been caused by excessive humidity and moisture, the surface may not have been prepared properly, or the wall may have been painted with oil-based paint and then painted over with latex. Use a putty knife to remove existing paint, sand thoroughly, and clean with mild soap and water before repainting.” —Jorge Faustino, contractor


READ: This Is How You Fix Peeling and Cracking Paint

Part of this article appeared in “Housekeeping, Maintenance, and Renovation Questions” in the July 2013 issue of Real Living magazine. Got a house problem that needs an answer? Send us a message on the Real Living Facebook page.

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