Round tables suited for cosy gatherings
I entertain often, so is a round or square table better?
Assuming your dining room is large enough to accommodate either shape, you should think about how many people you will typically have when you entertain.
Round tables are usually used in small dining rooms and suit smaller, cosier get-togethers.
Keep in mind the kind of table base you want as well, as this impacts the number of guests you can accommodate comfortably.
A table with a pedestal base can seat more than a table with four legs.
For example, a 152cm-wide round table with a pedestal base seats six, while the same table top with legs will seat only four.
Also, the bigger the table, the harder it is to reach the food, so a lazy susan might be needed.
Square tables seat an even number of guests, so if you typically have four or eight at parties, then go for a square table. Compared with a rectangular table, each guest is equidistant, which makes for comfortable interaction.
Finally, consider your entertaining style. Do you have formal meals - where each guest has a plate, side plate, wine glass, water glass and array of cutlery - or are your parties more of the Asian communal- sharing style?
The former requires a larger table surface.
Loose bathroom tile may not lead to leak
One of my bathroom tiles has come loose. If I do not replace the tile right away, will water seep into the flat below?
According to interior design firm Weiken.com, one or two loose tiles in the bathroom are no cause for concern because it is the membrane layer under the tiles that provides the waterproofing.
But if there is a long crack in between tiles, it is time to call in an expert to check for water leakage.
To replace the loose tile, chip the tile layer off before laying the new one - without damaging the waterproof membrane.
The only problem with replacing just one or two tiles is that the colour of the new tiles may be different, due to the old tiles' exposure to dirt and moisture.
There are some reasons why tiles come loose.
An inadequate amount of adhesive might have been used, which leaves hollows; unsuitable adhesive might have been used; or the adhesive may have been applied and left for some time before the tiles were laid, leading it to dry out.
Seal marble to make it stain-resistant
My contractor says he needs to waterproof my marble flooring. Is this necessary?
Waterproofing is required only in wet areas such as bathrooms, balconies and kitchens. What marble needs is sealing, not waterproofing, and this is done to the surface of the marble prior to installation, says Ms Maena Ong, art director at Mong Design Studio.
"Sealant helps to protect the stone against stains, water marks and regular wear. The sealer fills in the pores and repels spills on the surface, which will give you time to wipe off any liquid," she says.
As marble is a porous and delicate stone, it is easily stained and etched by acids such as fruit juice. Sealing does not make marble stain-proof, but renders it stain- resistant. Even the grout between marble tiles will stain, so a second sealing after the tile is laid is worth paying for.
Keep marble free of dust and grit as these do the most damage, says Ms Ong.
She recommends a polishing every five years to keep marble flooring looking its best.
Reuse air-conditioning piping only after tests
Why do I need to change the piping when I replace my air-conditioner? Are they not all standard sizes?
If the existing air-conditioner is a non-inverter system, the refrigerant or "air-con gas" it uses is R22.
Inverter systems are cooled by an R410A refrigerant, which is more energy- efficient and environment-friendly.
R22 is an ozone-depleting gas, which is restricted under the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, and is being phased out worldwide.
Some countries have already banned it. In Singapore, it has been gradually curtailed since 2013.
Samsung, which manufactures household appliances including air- conditioners, recommends replacing the piping if the air-conditioning system is more than 12 years old.
The reason is that R22 system piping has a smaller internal diameter than the R410A system, plus the latter also runs on higher pressure. Contact a reputable supplier or installer and get him to assess what you have now.
If you are replacing your unit with a similar capacity system and only one pipe is of a smaller size, it is possible to reuse the existing piping - but only after proper assessment. A pressure test should be done if the piping is 10 years old or older, and/or there is a suspected leak.
As an additional step, Samsung recommends a vacuum and flush of the piping before installing the new system.
For the new piping, ensure that the installer bends it with a proper pipe bender for good refrigerant flow and lower possibility of condensation.
•Home & Decor and experts in renovation and home decoration answer queries from readers in this series. These questions first appeared in the November issue of Home & Decor, published by SPH Magazines.
•Got a decorating or home renovation issue? Write to Experts Say, Home & Decor, Media Centre, Level 7, 82 Genting Lane, Singapore 349567 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Photos and layouts are non-returnable.