Dating old homes

If you’re trying to date your house, you may be able to find a clue in its plastering job.

Although it’s difficult to determine the age of plaster itself, you can come up with an approximate date by examining the lath behind the plaster.

Parents feel they have to take care of their kids, whether they are 9 or 19 years old.

When they’re five, they’re climbing the monkey bars and you’re worried they’re going to break their arm.

Wet plaster pressed against the lath would ooze between the splits before hardening, forming a permanent “key,” or attachment.

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.

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.

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This was apparently the least effective kind of early lath because it didn't have adequate "keys," or open spaces, to hold the plaster and keep it from sagging over time.

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