The façade protects a house from wind and weather and at the same time regulates the indoor climate. It has an average lifespan of 30 to 50 years. If you own an older single-family home or a condominium in an older apartment building, you should think about a façade renovation at an early stage. On the one hand, you protect your residential property and maintain its value, and on the other hand, you save money and protect the environment when you renovate the house façade for energy efficiency.
Uninsulated façades consist of plaster applied directly to the exterior wall, exposed masonry such as brick or exposed concrete, sometimes timber framing or shingles. Uninsulated façades are only found in old buildings. They are no longer up to date because a house without insulation loses about a quarter of its heat. That is why façades are insulated when they are renovated. Insulated façades are available as compact façades or ventilated façades.
With a compact façade, you can renovate the house façade without changing the appearance of the house if you don't want to. The compact façade is a plastered exterior thermal insulation: insulation boards are attached to the exterior walls and then plastered. The insulation materials used are usually rigid foam (EPS), mineral wool or, in the case of high fire protection requirements, rock wool. Of course, ecological insulation materials are also available as an alternative. A compact façade is constructively simpler and thus more cost-effective than a ventilated façade.
In the case of a ventilated façade, the insulation panels are attached to a supporting structure that can be boarded with a wide variety of materials. For example, wood, fibre cement, ceramic, metal or stone. In this way, the appearance of a house can be completely changed when you have the façade renovated, for example from a colourless old building to a modern design house. The supporting structure between the insulation material and the façade cladding is called a rear-ventilation space, thanks to which moisture escapes from the masonry. Rear-ventilated façades are more expensive than compact façades, but they are more robust, last longer and drain moisture better.
Prevention is better than cure. That's why you should thoroughly inspect the façade of the house once a year for cracks and other damage. Even if it is less than 30 years old. You don't need a specialist to check the façade, you can do that yourself. You will only need a specialist when you renovate the façade.
Experts distinguish between normal, dynamic and static cracks:
The plastered façade is the most widespread in Switzerland. The exterior wall is plastered with mortar - sand, water and binder. In the past directly on the wall, today on the insulation. Plaster has a lifespan of 10 to 25 years, if it is processed correctly, and it lasts well. Nevertheless, cracks can occur, mostly due to environmental influences. If you discover the cracks early, a plasterer or painter can repair them with little effort. The larger the cracks become, the greater the danger that the plaster will crumble. Then the affected wall must be completely replastered. Do not wait too long and have the façade renovated or refurbished.
The wooden façade is a wooden cladding on the exterior wall with a space in between for the insulation material. Because wood is very susceptible to weathering, you should have a wooden façade sanded, painted and varnished every two years. This way you protect the material and avoid costly consequential damage. In addition, damage to the wood attacks the insulating material. On the other hand, wooden façades are easy and quick to renovate, because only individual elements need to be replaced instead of entire exterior walls having to be re-plastered. If you want to renovate a wooden façade, ask a carpenter or a timber construction company.
The concrete façade was also in vogue for residential buildings in the 1960s and 1970s. Today, the weaknesses of the material are becoming apparent. For example, if moisture or carbon dioxide penetrates from the outside, this can trigger a chemical reaction: The reinforcing steel rusts, increases its volume and causes the reinforcement cover to burst. During concrete façade renovation, damaged reinforcing steel is exposed and protected from corrosion or, if necessary, replaced and rebuilt.
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The brick façade or clinker façade provides excellent protection for the masonry and the insulation. It is durable. Minor damage can be easily repaired because only individual bricks or clinker bricks need to be replaced.
Most heat is lost through uninsulated exterior walls. That is why façade insulation is so important if you want to save energy and money and protect the environment. Therefore, if you are renovating uninsulated façades, take the opportunity to have them insulated. Depending on the material, you will need an insulation layer 14 to 30 centimetres thick. Whenever possible, have the house insulated from the outside. This way you avoid thermal bridges through which heat is lost and you do not change the size of the rooms.
The costs of a façade renovation depend on the effort and the material. If you want to have the façade insulated, scaffolding must be installed and the top layer completely removed. This takes days or weeks. For a wrist-by-pi estimate, calculate 250 to 400 francs per square metre for the insulation material and the fixed costs for plastering. The thicker the insulation, the higher the cost of the façade renovation. This is an investment in the future that will pay off sooner rather than later because you will significantly reduce your energy costs.
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Some cantons and municipalities provide generous funding for energy-efficient renovation measures. At gebäudeprogramm.ch you can find out how your canton supports the thermal insulation of façades.
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