Types of Carpentry finishing

In this post, we will be covering the more commonly seen carpentry finishing in Singapore.


The most cost efficient finishing, in our opinion, would be laminates. So what is laminate? Laminates are a composition of materials, consisting of maybe layers of kraft paper, decor paper (this is what gives laminates their patterns) and a protective layer of overlay. After which, they are fused together under heat and high-pressure in a controlled environment. This results in the laminate that we so often use today.

Credits: Formica

Laminates are known to be extra durable when compared to their counterparts. Which is why we generously use them for high usage carpentry, such as wardrobe & kitchen cabinets. They are also known to be extremely water resistant. So rest assure to use them in wet areas such as bathrooms. However, please do not attempt to submerge laminated carpentry in water. Where laminates are water resistant, they are not 100% water proof.

Another advantage of laminate: they have a ton of different design to select from. Ranging from solid colours to marble pattern. And that makes it extremely versatile.

Huge range of selections. Laminates by: Panaplast

One of the more distant disadvantage of laminates is their visible joint lines. This can be rectified by mixing paint colours and paint their visible joint lines over.

Visible joint lines on our working table.

Major laminate brands includes, EDL, Formica, Lamitak, Admira.


Veneer is arguably the best looking finishing. It’s simply because veneer are produced from real, solid wood. Veneers are produced by either slicing the log, or rotary cutting the log into thin sheets. Different process achieve different patterns on the veneer. The more commonly known patterns are quarter sawn & crown cut respectively. Quarter sawn veneer gives us a more straight line pattern, whereas the crown cut gives us a beautiful…. crown cut pattern.

A beautiful crown cut veneer! Credits: Toseva Group
Quarter sawn veneer! Credits: Toseva Group

Unlike laminates, which gets their pattern from decor paper, the pattern on veneer are derived from the wood they are produced from. Each wood has their own different characteristics, and they produce different type of grains.

A mappa burl veneer vs a crown cut oak veneer, with walnut veneer as the background. Veneer by: Toseva Group

Because it’s a thin sheet of ‘wood skin’, it can be easily damaged. A coating of varnish will be applied to the veneer to make it more water resistant. The varnish are available in both matte & gloss.

Is it possible to get a different colour other than the natural wood colour? Yes. Skilled carpenters are able to stain the colour of the veneer (not paint!). However, this also relates back to the characteristics of the veneer. If the wood itself is less porous, we might not be able to stain it to other colours (say black).

A distinct difference between laminates & veneers: a seamless joint line is expected when using veneer!

Spray paint

Another commonly seen finishing is the spray paint. Do note that it’s spray painting with industrial grade tools. A similarity between spray paint & veneer is that they both can be easily damaged. However, it is possible to repair a damaged spray painted cabinet.

First, we must sand down the damaged portion of the cabinet. This is to even out the surface. After which we must spray paint the entire door. This is to ensure that the paint colour are spread out evenly.

However, if it is a glossy spray painted cabinet, all we need to do is the polish the cabinet.

Personally, we absolutely love the finish of spray paint. It gives you a very nice, smooth & even out texture. Maybe laminates are trying to mimic the effect. But nothing compares to the real deal. Much like veneer vs laminates. Needless to say, you can expect almost no visible joint lines from a spray painted cabinets.

Major furniture brands use spray paint finishing for their products. A very good example is Ikea.


There are many different materials we can still apply on carpentry as a finishing touch. Here @ Salt Studio, we have even tried using wallpaper, tiles, stucco effect as finishing for our carpentry.

The type of materials that you should be choosing, should ultimately depends on your life style. For us, we absolutely love veneer finishing. However, because store heavy & sharp items, we tend to damage the veneer more often than not. Hence we opted for laminate for our own office!

So which finishing suits you the best? Do share with your friends who are going to renovate their homes so they can select the finishing best suited to their lifestyle!

Quotations: What to look out for! Part 2.

In this post, we will carry on to discuss more about the quotation and the scope of work involved.

After masonry works, we will look into the plumbing work quotation below. For plumbing works, it is pretty much straight forward. One thing to take note is the type of pipes that will be used. As a rule of thumb, for resale HDB housing, stainless steel pipes will be used. Reason is because stainless steel pipes are not suitable for concealment. This is due to the fact that stainless steel cannot be welded. As for condo & private housing, mostly copper pipes will be used. There is another kind of pipe in the market, it is called the PPR pipes. PPR pipes is suitable for concealment in walls.

Also, make sure that bathroom accessories installation fees are included! (E.G toilet paper holder, towel rack, shampoo holder). If you require hot water for basin & sinks, be sure to let your interior designer so they can cater it into their quotation! Some appliances might require water inlet as well, such as dishwasher, fridge, water filter.

They usually come in a package price!

Following the plumbing works, we have the electrical works. Now this is the tricky part (especially in resale flats, for us at least). Some of the designers out there might not include electrical price into their quotation, they might give you a unit rate instead. Others might just give you a lump sum price instead. Let us try to explain it to our best ability.

It is only fair that works are being charged when they are done. Having a unit rate will let you know roughly how much does each of the points cost. In the example below, if we are able to calculate that your house require only 30 lighting points, it is understandable that the cost for the lighting points will be S$1,200.00 (30 x S$40.00). The same goes for other electrical points.

Do note that while it is nice & cool to have lighting effects around your house, this effect might have a spike in price. For e.g, people usually would want their kitchen to be well lit, they opt to have lighting effects underneath their kitchen cabinet. This will incur a cost of S$40.00 (A) + S$ 25.00 (B) = S$65.00. (A) is the lighting point cost, and (B) is the labour cost to install the LED strip light. Do note that this cost does not include the light fixture itself!

Another thing to find out from your interior designer, what kind of switches are they providing! For us, our default switches are Legrand Malia or Legrand Belanko. Other brands such as Berker, Yung, Schenider might incur extra cost!

A preliminary quote we did for a resale HDB house, which will be going thru rewiring.

After the electrical works, we have the plastering works. Basically plastering works are false ceiling works. However, other works that might fall under this category includes building a dry wall, ultra hard plastering to smoothen existing walls.

Do make sure that your interior designers’ quote includes what you want in the false ceiling design! I.e. cove lighting effect, cornices, pelmets.

A thorough false ceiling works in this resale HDB!

Next up is the carpentry works. As this is usually the bulk of the quotation, we encourage our clients to ask us as many questions as they can. A lot of things to be taken note here!

Most basic things, make sure all hinges are soft closing! Soft closing hinges do 2 things. 1. It prevent your cabinet doors from slamming. 2. Since it doesn’t slam, it protects the longevity of said cabinets. Also if you are a fan of anti-slam, make sure that your interior designer factor in the cost for soft closing drawer tracks also!

Be sure to ask your interior designer what finish will you be getting for the internal portion of the cabinet. If they say colour PVC, do ask which range you are able to select from! If you see something you like that is NOT within the range, do ask them if it will incur extra charge if you were to select something else!

Your counter top usually falls under this category also. Some quote that we have seen usually just puts “quartz” top. Do ask them which quarts they actually quoted, and what is the range that you can select from! Famous quarts brands that might be a bit pricier includes Caesarstone, Silestonem Deskton. Other table top materials includes EDL Compact, Kompacplus and of course your natural marble and granite.

Last but not least, do take note of the height of carpentry quoted! It is very common that people quote only up to 2400mm height cabinet. However, especially condo, your ceiling height usually extends beyond 2400mm. Make sure that you are maximising your storage space by requesting it to be full height!

Lastly, we have the painting works. We like to group painting works & cleaning works under the same category (Miscellaneous). Here, all you have to note is what kind of paint did your designer quote for you, for both walls & ceiling. It is not uncommon for designer to use Nippon Matex white for ceiling. For us, we make sure that your whole house is of the same type paint, Vinilex 5000.

Also, find out if there will be a surcharge if you would like a different colour for your ceiling!

There you have it! Our advise for all home owners. There are some aspect that is not covered here. For example, vinyl flooring, window doors, door works. We will touch on those next time!

Quotations: What to look out for! Part 1.

In this post, we will teach you what to look out for in quotations, and the right questions to ask! We will use our own quotation as example.

First, as shown below, we charge a small professional fee for our design services. Now, we know that a lot of other interior design companies do not have this particular fee. Usually, they dissolve the cost into the overall quotation, but we might be wrong. You can do a quick check and ask if they will impose this fee in the future. If they do, do ask how much!

Our design fee is subjected to the scope of work done!

Up next, we have the general works. General works usually entails haulage works. I.e. labour fee for our contractors to remove demolition debris & to upload new materials such as tiles, cement & bricks. This is where usually we would place our admin fees. A very good example is the Professional Engineer (P.E.) endorsement cost for demolition of walls. Do note that if you are renovating a Condo, and you are removing some walls, MOST of the MCST would require you to have a P.E Endorsed demolition plan. So do remember to confirm with your Interior Designer!

Also! Do note that what kind of protection is being used for your flooring! This is very important. We do not want a damaged marble flooring now do we?

Now is where the actual construction costs come in. Below, you will find the demolition cost. Do make sure that whatever that needs to be demolished & disposed are included! Ideally, you would want your Designer to have a demolition plan to tally it with!

In this case, we have not visited the site before, hence we had to estimate.

Here, we have the masonry part. It is very important to be aware of the capped tiles price. Tiles price have a HUGE variation. Starting from $2.00 all the way to $20.00, $30.00 per square feet (PSF). Do make sure to check with your designer what is the price capped at! Of course, the higher the price is capped at, the higher the quotation will be. Fret not, after selection, we would come out with a variation order to increase, or decrease the price according to the tiles we ultimately select.

Also, do check with us the acceptable size that you can select without being charged extra. For bigger size tiles, 1200mm onwards, our tiler will charge us an extra charge. Same goes for mosaic & smaller sized tiles (subway tiles, 100mm x 100mm tiles). Reason is because they require more labour & time.

Other masonry works includes, making good for floor & wall after demolition. Especially relevant if you are planning to overlay your flooring!

Our tiles price are clearly stated!

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