We answer your renovation and decorating questions with help from industry experts. E-mail questions to

Portrait of Tammy Strobel

We answer your renovation and decorating questions with help from industry experts. E-mail questions to

<b>photography</b> VERONICA TAY
<b>photography</b> VERONICA TAY

I live in an apartment and recently the tiles on my bathroom wall keep cracking and falling off. This has happened repeatedly, even after I’ve replaced the tiles and checked that there are no leaks in the pipes. What is causing this?

According to established interior design studio Collective Designs, tile cracking can be due to vibration or ground movements, inferior tile quality, erratic weather conditions that cause walls to contract and expand, or the strength of cement or bonding material used to adhere the tiles to the walls. 

The only remedy is to remove the tiles and retile the area correctly.


There seems to be black mould on my bedroom walls. I switch on the air-con only at night, but is that the cause of the dampness on my walls?

Doreen Low of water-leak specialist company Global Technical is familiar with situations like yours. 

“In our experience, the condition usually exists in areas where the house is in high-humidity wooded areas and shaded from direct sunlight,” she says.

“When the air-con is switched on, the whole room – including the walls – cools down. In the morning, when you open the windows to air the room, humid air enters the room and makes contact with the cold walls. The water vapour in the air condenses into minute droplets of water, thus dampening the wall and enabling the mould to grow,” she explains.

So, start a routine of turning on a fan on high when you switch off the air-con and before you open the windows. This ventilation will minimise condensation and bring your room temperature slowly up to the ambient temperature. “Alternatively, you can wait till the room warms up to the ambient temperature before opening the windows.”

<b>design</b> 19SIXTYSEVEN; <b>photography</b> WINSTON CHUANG
<b>design</b> 19SIXTYSEVEN; <b>photography</b> WINSTON CHUANG

Are leather or fabric-upholstered sofas better for homes with pets?

It depends on whether you have dogs or cats, and what breed they are. Most pet owners will make the wrong choice with at least one sofa or armchair and learn what not to buy the next time. The key is not to just choose wisely, but also practise some furniture-saving habits.

Leather, particularly distressed leather, may be hardy, but can scratches can show up on it easily. Pet hair doesn’t get trapped as there isn’t any fibre to catch onto and it will only require a weekly vacuum.

If you prefer fabric, choose outdoor fabric as it repels water (or drool), is stain- and fade-resistant, and easy to clean. Sunbrella is a top brand that offers solution-dyed acrylics and lightweight options similar to wool, linen and silk.

Other dog-friendly choices include microfibre, a thin and durable material with a very tight weave, and ultrasuede. These feel soft and luxurious. Both tend to be directional, which means you will leave a mark on the surface when it is touched.

Cat owners should consider their pets’ thin sharp claws that snag fabric. Forget any loose weave fabric and choose velvet, leather or ultrasuede. Compared to fabric, velvet has a cut-pile, instead of a looped pile, which gives cat claws nothing much to catch onto. Cats will also find it hard to scratch leather and ultrasuede.

Also, keep your pet groomed (to minimise shedding dander on the sofa and cushions) and occupied (to prevent animals such as cats from clawing at the furniture). Giving your dog a bath and brushing his fur keeps it off your sofa.

Pet hair on fabric or leather is not only unsightly, but it can also stain your sofa as pet hair contains an oil which can attract dirt.

Placing a machine-washable blanket or throw on the spot your pet likes to rest on will extend the life or your sofa.

The water in my WC keeps overfilling, and I have to constantly turn off the valve at the supply line. What causes this and is there a DIY solution?

There are a few things that can go wrong inside the tank of a toilet that would cause it to fill more often than it should. Some refer to this as a “running toilet”.

The problem most likely lies with the flapper, fill valve, flush valve, or flush lever assembly. It is hard to troubleshoot without looking at your toilet, but there are plenty of online resources for DIY handymen.

Visit Home & Decor’s website at for more tips on choosing and maintaining your WC.