Building & Renovating

Building 101: Finishing Touches (Part 1)

Refinishing can be an effective yet quick fix for a tired-looking home


You’re tired of your bedroom’s dated look, your living room seems to be aging by the minute, and your kitchen needs a little sprucing up. But you don’t have the budget or the time for a major home overhaul. Don’t worry—a little refinishing can go a long way. Even just a change in paint color or a fresh set of floor tiles can definitely spruce up your interiors.  New finishes, much like new furniture or accessories, can create a different mood and personality for your room.

Before you start your renovation job, here are a few things to consider when choosing new finishes for your home:

1. Extent of renovation. How much do you want to change? Are you looking at one room, two rooms, or more? Will you be changing floor, walls, or both?

2. Style. Do you want a totally new look or do you want to retain your home’s existing style with new finishes? Will the new finishes complement or clash with existing furniture? Are you going for modern or traditional?

3. Budget. How much are you willing to spend? Take note, you can go for cheaper alternatives if you have a limited budget.

4. Quality. Are the materials you want of good quality? Cheap alternatives are fine. But if you have a little more money to spend, use high-quality materials to get better results.

5. Convenience. Are you ready for disruptions in your schedule and living conditions? Even the simplest refinishing job like repainting will create hassles. It’s just a matter of how much inconvenience you’re prepared to put up with.

Photographed by Ocs Alvarez.

Read the original article ("The Finishing Touches") in the December 2005 issue of Real Living Magazine. Download your digital copy of Real Living on the Real Living App now! Log on to for more details. 

Indoor Finishes

For Walls

Interior Grade Paint

Repainting is proably the easiest way to change the look of a room. You can even do it yourself. A number of paint types exist but the usual finish for walls and ceilings is water-based latex paint. This is also the easiest to use.  Another advantage of paint is that it’s probably the cheapest renovation solution out there. One gallon of paint (almost four liters) can more or less cover 350sqft and a liter costs approximately P100. If the paint color you want is not available, there are establishments that can custom-mix paints for you. 


There are new products out there that combine natural materials (like grass or bamboo) with paper for a fresh take on retro wall covering. You can also use pictures (antique-looking maps or hip photo-murals are a good choice) or cutouts to cover your walls and create a focal point in your interiors. You just need wallpaper paste and varnish to secure the paper (preferably paper with heavy backing as it is easier to hang and will last longer). Preparation of the surface is key. It’s also important to follow instructions on how to use the wallpaper paste to the letter. The real advantage of wallpaper is it produces a minimal amount of mess, so your renovation will create minimal disturbance. And even though it’s a bit more expensive, wallpaper can be more hardwearing than paint in most cases.

Wall paneling

A job best left in the hands of professionals, wall paneling is more complicated and expensive than wallpaper or paint but it can produce the best and most sophisticated results. It can also give your room a cool retro-1950s look. If you want to really change the feel and character of the room, this is the way to go. There are many types of materials for wall paneling—stone or leather tiles, glass, polycarbonate or acrylic panels. The easiest and safest to use would be wood. Wood strips can be stained, varnished, or painted and installed to cover the whole wall or just parts of it—in vertical, diagonal, or horizontal patterns. You can use solid wood but even plywood and hardboard will do the trick (if you’re painting over the material and not going for the natural wood look). For a more traditional design, you can combine wood panels with mouldings.

For Floors

Rubber-based floor coating

You wouldn’t naturally think of floor paint used for basketball courts and parking lots as something you could use for residences. But rubber-based floor paint can be a good alternative if you don’t want to use floor tiles and if you want low-maintenance flooring. For a more attractive look, limit the use of this type of floor covering in areas that lead to the outside, like kitchens or patios, because it’s weather-resistant.

Ceramic Tiles

These high-fired clay tiles are very durable and come in a wide variety of sizes, styles, and colors. They’re ideal for wet areas and also help cool any interior, so it’s recommended for refinishing areas that have heat problems. Care must be taken in laying out ceramic tiles because these are heavy. It’s recommended that professionals do your tile work. Without proper planning or a level base, you won’t only have bad-looking flooring; you’ll also have the risk of water seepage. 

Vinyl Tiles

Easy to install and relatively inexpensive, vinyl is the perfect choice if you want a quick change in flooring. It is also forgiving of slight unevenness in the base or existing floor. Although it does have a bad reputation for being the “institutional” flooring of choice (mostly seen in offices, schools, etc.), residences can also benefit from this material’s waterproofing and abrasion-resistant capabilities. There are also improvements in the style and look of vinyl tiles available in the market. You just need to search a little for the more stylish ones. You can find number of them at most home depots, hardware and floor centers 

Watch out for Outdoor Finishes tomorrow.

To view a list of stores and suppliers, click here.


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