Return to the Remodeling Forum | Post a Follow-Up

lath & plaster or ?

Posted by aptos_ca (My Page) on
Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 21:53

Getting ready for a big (for me) remodel and am spending countless hours on GardenWeb :-)

Probably naive, but my first question:

I'm trying to figure out what my walls are made of. Seems like this shouldn't be too hard to figure out but I haven't found an easy test. I've had various guesses, mostly lath and plaster and plaster/mud on some kind of backing board. But we really don't know. Nobody (including me) seems to think it's drywall. There's gotta be some easy way to tell?

The house was built in '48. The walls are notable that they have a smooth part (looks like a 2x4?) at the bottom:

I don't think it has any kind of plaster/mud on it. There are no baseboards (and never have been, I don't think.) Does this make it more/less likely to be lath and plaster?

There are no ventilation grates through the walls. Here's what the edge at an outlet looks like: copy.JPG

I suppose I'm mostly anticipating what it's going to take to redo the kitchen. Is lath and plaster a lot harder to work with that plaster over one of the other backing materials?


Follow-Up Postings:

RE: lath & plaster or ?

That looks like plaster in the outlet to me. It's possible you have some unconventional thing going though--the baseboard is unusual!

You'll probably have lead paint and some GCs care about that. (They all should of course...)

RE: lath & plaster or ?

California, right? The pictures remind me of houses I've seen in San Francisco. I'd guess the walls are stucco over concrete block. Anyway, why wonder? Be bold. Pick a spot on a wall you plan to tear out during your remodel and smack it with a hammer until you find out.

RE: lath & plaster or ?

I would have it tested for asbestos first. I opened an account here at a testing lab and pay $6.00 a sample to have it tested. Why submit your lungs to harm?

RE: lath & plaster or ?

Regarding asbestos, just fyi, for what it's worth, when I was pulling up 1953 linoleum (I started it, then hired a contractor to finish it), I called a local agency about asbestos to see what precautions should be taken, etc.

They told me that the area has to be larger than a certain square footage for the guidelines re asbestos to apply. Since my area was smaller than that, I didn't have to have asbestos specialists do anything special.

Still, I wore one of those paper breathing masks when I was working with it. The contractors didn't wear masks. They used a chain saw to cut out the entire flooring in large squares.

That was about 10 years ago. I'm happy to report that neither I nor my pets have any respiratory problems, so I guess it was okay.

RE: lath & plaster or ?

My guess is a 'fiber' type board that is nailed perpendicular to the studs. It's usually 24" by 96". This was used in the 50's instead of lath.

It is then coated with 1/2" of rough plaster, and then a finish coat of plaster.

The backing board is quite resliant. I don't reccomend using a hammer on it. Find a place in a closet and make a small hole with a 1" spade bit, to verify what you have.

RE: lath & plaster or ?

That's plaster. I agree with Geoffrey B...Probably rock lathe guessing from the age.

If you want to cut or drill to check, do so in a closet where it will be unnoticeable.

My house was built in '52 and it's plaster over rock lathe. Makes for a very strong soundproof wall.

RE: lath & plaster or ?

Thanks, folks. My guess is rock lath, too. Doing a little reading about the kinds of cracks you get in rock lath matches, too. As does the age of the house.

I can do a test hole somewhere. I also have to take out a door frame on an internal door. Might be able to tell from there? And even easier: should't I be able to tell my just looking at the ceiling from attic?

RE: lath & plaster or ?

Just demoed the ceramic tile in the kitchen and found the same fibre board underneath the tile mud. Doesn't look like rock lath, though--house was built in 1954. Any cracks in the plaster are not vertical.....and not many of them, either.

RE: lath & plaster or ?

I have seen celotex used instead of rocklath; worked on a house with a 1930 remodel that used both. Celotex was passable for walls, a disaster when used on the ceilings; sagged terribly, as not enough rigidity on it's own. Looked like a canvas ceiling.

 o Post a Follow-Up

Please Note: Only registered members are able to post messages to this forum.

    If you are a member, please log in.

    If you aren't yet a member, join now!

Return to the Remodeling Forum

Information about Posting

  • You must be logged in to post a message. Once you are logged in, a posting window will appear at the bottom of the messages. If you are not a member, please register for an account.
  • Please review our Rules of Play before posting.
  • Posting is a two-step process. Once you have composed your message, you will be taken to the preview page. You will then have a chance to review your post, make changes and upload photos.
  • After posting your message, you may need to refresh the forum page in order to see it.
  • Before posting copyrighted material, please read about Copyright and Fair Use.
  • We have a strict no-advertising policy!
  • If you would like to practice posting or uploading photos, please visit our Test forum.
  • If you need assistance, please Contact Us and we will be happy to help.

Learn more about in-text links on this page here