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Renovate: yes, but with what materials?


A partition to mount? Cracks to be sealed? A wall to isolate? Our selection of the most efficient materials for the renovation of a house ...

Aerated concrete

Composed of water, sand and lime, cell concrete is a lightweight material that traps millions of air bubbles in its mass, giving it good insulation performance. Easy to use, available in the form of blocks of 5 to 20 cm thick that are cut with a handsaw, its lightness is an asset when it comes to mounting a partition floor or when the development of attics. It can receive tiles, paint or wallpaper, after the application of a coating. Ytong Siporex.


Wood accounts for only 4-5% of the construction sector, but is very popular. Yes, wooden houses are popular. The wood is found as a framework (75% of wood constructions), a method often chosen for an elevation because of the lightness of the material, but also in the form of plank (12%), post-beam ( 7%) or in mixed wood / masonry (6%), for the realization of extensions or verandas for example. Not to mention the wood cladding, which, according to the rules of the art, is designed to resist the attack of insects, fungi or termites for at least 10 years but which, in practice, have a durability of 20 to 30 years old. When the wood comes from eco-managed forests, it benefits from the FSC or PEFC labels. Renewable material, recyclable, it allows a great freedom of shapes and volumes and allows dry sites, clean and low nuisance. Moreover, its implementation is fast. France-timbering.

Monomur brick

She is enjoying increasing success. Based on clay, it does not require reported insulation: it is the cells of its structure that enclose the air and provide insulation. It also offers an appreciable temperature regulation: the heat is diffused by radiation in winter and absorbed to preserve freshness in summer.

Non-flammable, it does not release any VOC (volatile organic compound). Its disadvantage is the gray energy expended for its manufacture since it is necessary to bake the bricks at high temperature. Another defect: an additional cost on implementation of the order of 5%, often compensated by the lack of insulation and shortened construction time. Imerys Structure, Monomur, Terreal, Wienerberger ...

Plaster brick

As the name suggests, this hollow brick 3.5 to 7 cm thick is mounted on plaster. It reconciles thermal benefits (those of the terracotta that breathes and protects from hot in summer and cold in winter) and phonic thanks to its ranks of cells. Qualities sometimes improved by the use of rock wool strips in the central cavity. Light and handy, it is used to realize partitions, against walls and possibly false ceilings. Previously coated with a product based on lime to preserve the qualities of inertia and hygrometry of the terracotta, it can receive a coating. Imerys Structure, Parexlanko, Wienerberger.

Gypsum tile

Prefabricated by molding plaster mortar, it has two smooth siding. Available from 4 to 10 cm thick in plates of 66 x 50 cm, the tiles fit in grooves and tongues, before being mounted with staggered joints with adhesive mortar. Quick solution to realize a partition of average dimension, it is necessary to integrate stiffeners beyond. Several types are available: standard, water repellent for damp parts, high hardness or honeycomb. It is the latter, lighter, which one chooses for partitions in floor or under roofs. Finishes: a tile directly; paint or wallpaper after coating. BPB Placo, Lafarge Plasters.

Insulating complex

Composed of a plasterboard (10 or 13 mm thick) glued on an insulator, this product offers three major advantages: a large surface to limit assembly joints, good thermo-acoustic insulation and an ideal support for the laying of a decorative coating. Its reduced thickness allows insulation from the inside by limiting the loss of living space. Namely: it can be glued on walls healthy and without asperities. We can choose the quality of the plasterboard (standard, waterproofed ...) and the type of insulation (rockwool, polyurethane foam ...). Knauf, Placo, Rockwool.

Mineral fibers

Generic name of insulating materials including rock wool (made from basaltic rock) and glass wool, the latter providing sound insulation that the first do not bring. Today, most of these products use formaldehyde-free binders and thus minimize their VOC emissions. They are also more pleasant to ask and recyclable. G3 range of Isover, Rockwool, Ursa ...

Thin insulation

Thin technical complexes composed of an assembly of reflective films and associated separators (wadding, foams, etc.). Their function is to reflect thermal radiation. Easy and quick to implement in addition to insulation (as recommended by CSTB), they cut themselves with the cutter and settle by stapling. Essential advantage, they do not encroach on the living space. Actis.

Natural materials

Ecological, natural ... terms to handle with the utmost caution, because a natural material is not necessarily ecological. Some products to remember:
- Hemp. Sold in block form, it combines ideally with a wooden frame or a post-beam structure. It offers thermal and acoustic comfort at an attractive cost. Chanvribloc, Isonat ...
- Cotton wool. Resulting from the recycling of used clothing and falls from the textile industry, and treated against fire and mold, it also provides high-performance insulation at an attractive cost. Isoa.
- The pumice stone. Porous at 85%, it is naturally insulating. Its treatment to make it usable does not require cooking and it is 100% recyclable. Moreover, its inertia is an excellent protection against the summer heat. His fault: a high price.
- The wood fiber. Good acoustic and thermal insulation, it is well adapted to wood frames. Actis, Isoroy ...
All these materials come in several forms: panels, rolls, products to blow ... The "lambda" (coefficient of thermal conductivity), which must be mentioned on the packaging, is THE good choice criterion. To simplify: the higher the coefficient, the better the performance.

Particle board

Composed of agglomerated wood fibers, they have two major applications: screwed on joists, they form load bearing floors; nailed to a wooden or metal frame, they dress the walls and the lofts.
CTB S panels (S as dry) are reserved for dry environments, while H (H as wet) CTBs can be used in a wet room.

Other types are available: OSB, consisting of large wood chips glued in crossed layers, and the medium (or MDF), whose surface, particularly smooth, is pleasant to work, making it a material appreciated by designers to design contemporary furniture. Used as a floor, particle boards can be tiled or, after an underlay, be covered with a plastic coating or carpet. Isoroy, Point.P.


Also called rubble or agglo, the molded concrete block is one of the cheapest building materials. It can be hollow or full depending on its strength class. Its dimensions are generally 20 cm high by 50 cm in length, but the thickness is variable, from 5 to 22 cm depending on usage. Contrary to popular belief, concrete and environment are not incompatible. Its composition (87% of stone, gravel and sand, 7% of clay and limestone, 6% of water), its simple, energy-saving and often local manufacture, its mechanical, thermal and acoustic resistance, but also to fire and gel make it a material of choice. Main disadvantage: Insulation reported is essential. It is usually covered with another material, colored plaster type. Blocalians, Lafarge Concretes, Lib Industries, Point.P ...


It consists of a layer of plaster trapped between two layers of paperboard or a 100% natural mixture of plaster and cellulose fibers. Ideal to realize a partition or a doubling by integrating an insulator. It is enough to fix the plates with points or screws on a framework (wood or metal) while taking care of the treatment of the joints. The plates, 10-15 mm thick, cut with the cutter and can receive most of the current coatings applicable on a plaster support. Fermacell, Knauf, Lafarge, Placo.

Expanded or extruded polystyrene

Synthetic insulation type. Its most remarkable properties: lightness, thermal insulating power, mechanical properties (compressive strength), insensitivity to water and ease of implementation. It is a 100% recyclable product ... but unfortunately still poorly supported at the end of life. The extruded is more efficient, but also heavier. Efisol, Knauf, Unilin.

Sheet of glass

This healthy, rot-proof coating is suitable for renovating old and cracked ceilings and walls. Its fiberglass weave masks unsightly walls and absorbs slight flatness defects. Disadvantage: it is difficult to remove. Finishing: painting. Saint-Gobain, Skinglass ...