Dating old homes

After the use of circular saws became widespread around 1830, split lath was still used in rural areas, but elsewhere the fastest, cheapest way of producing lath became sawing boards into thin, regular strips.

This process, distinguished by the regularity of the lath and the saw marks, remained standard into the 20th century, when drywall began replacing plaster as the wall covering of choice.

” Kids this age become much more adept at manipulating their parents by blaming them for being too rigid and strict: “I’m getting older now.

You should trust me more.” But the fact is, they’re not that much older.

I had not thought much about the topic of lath before moving into this house and working on the beat up walls. I certainly don't know all there is to know about it, but I will outline what I have learned.

I love talking about and thinking about lath now and I try to figure out what kind of lath is under the plaster in old houses I go into.

Each piece was hand split, or riven, from a piece of chestnut, oak, or other hardwood.

As far as I know, riven lath was not generally used after 1800. The use of this lath varied from region to region because it required access to a saw mill, which riven lath didn't.

Wet plaster pressed against the lath would ooze between the splits before hardening, forming a permanent “key,” or attachment.This type of lath was not available until circa 1825-1835, after the circular saw came into more general use ill-sawn laths in between the two "new" windows where a window had been removed and lath and plastered over.On the right you can see the original center window from this exterior photo of The Stovers.There are three types of lath that were primarily used prior to metal mesh lath being invented.The type of lath used on a particular wall helps to date at least that wall, if not the building.

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