Is there any way to date beadboard?

jlc102482May 25, 2012

Is there any good way to date beadboard? I have some in a 1940s addition to my 1857 house that I assumed was contemporary, until I saw identical beadboard in this month's Old House Interiors that was said to be original to a Victorian house. Now I suspect that it was removed from the original kitchen of the house and moved, since the previous owners moved original woodwork, doors and windows into the addition as well. If it is original then I'd like to keep it up, even though it's not my favorite. Is there any way to tell approximately how old it is?

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If it has a narrow edge bead, and there is varnish/shellac as the earliest finish layer, it's probably pre-1900,
The straight-sided beads are older than the vee-bordered beads (the kind widely available today).
There's nothing conclusive, just a few clues to place it on a timeline.

There are many patterns of beadboard; the style with three very narrow beads down the middle of the board, and a single edge bead. Seen on houses 1890-1900.
6" wide extra-thick beadboard (a full inch or more) center and edge beads, used as partitions 1890-1910.
Hand-planed heart pine edge-beaded stock, 1 1/4" thick, finished both sides, random width (16" in some cases!), not parallel-edged, used as partitions in Federal period houses.
It runs the gamut.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 9:51AM
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Casey - is there any way to date this? These beadboards are in the ceiling to our addition (and a roof it on top of it). Sometime a drop ceiling was installed and we later added insulation. The ceiling did contain knob and tube wiring. We had major ice dams last year and this room (our old kitchen) was gutted.

The addition was added after 1825 (year main house built) and before 1880's. I know the later year since the addition is visible in pictures in the 1880's. Because of the muntin profile (very tall slender and I think from the Greek revival or Gothic period) my guess was that the addition was added 1840-1860's. Your thoughts? Thanks!

Here is a link that might be useful: muntin profile history

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 5:58PM
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That does not look like very old stuff; I can see the rotary planer mark on the boards, so it's machine made. That kind of knotty pine has been around for a while. Maybe 1930 to present.
The closer the finished face is to 6" the older it is. Used to be a 5 1/2" face, now it's 5 1/4", because they are starting with a narrower board.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2012 at 7:02PM
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thank you Casey!

    Bookmark   May 26, 2012 at 2:35PM
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Here is an example of beadboard dating from 1814. The historical society came into our house some years back and documented parts that were original to the house for a publication they were putting I am sure of the age.

Yikes, looking at the picture I can see I didn't paint very well in the beadboard grooves.... not so obvious in person, but wow does it show up in photos!

    Bookmark   May 31, 2012 at 12:26AM
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That looks like newer growth grain patterns to me.

    Bookmark   June 9, 2012 at 7:52AM
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