After the plaster, then the lath

As I’ve mentioned, we’re working hard to keep the various construction materials we’re removing separated for proper disposal.  So once the plaster is off the walls, it’s time to pull off the lath.  Now, on the interior walls, that’s a quick and easy job.  Just yank on the thin strips of wood with one of my tools and off they come.  (For the most part, besides protective gear like gloves, a mask and sometimes googles, I’ve got down to the studs on each wall with only two tools — a wrecking bar and a hammer.)

wrecking bar and hammer

Helena's favourite tools for house-wrecking. Notice the Saskatchewan Roughriders logo on the hammer.

On the outside walls, the job isn’t quite as much fun.  At some point during the house’s history, loose fibreglass insulation was blown into the spaces between the studs on the exterior walls.  In a few spots, there are wood shavings serving as insulation and filling the space.  And sometimes there is nothing at all, which would explain why people tend to find old houses drafty!

I can understand why there might be one kind of insulation in one wall and another kind in another wall and perhaps nothing at all in a third wall.  I am sure people insulated as different options became available and as they were able to afford the work.  What I haven’t been able to figure out is the reason for inconstitencies in the very same wall.  If anyone knows the answer to that one, please leave us a comment!

2 different types of insulation and nothing at all, all in one wall

Within the relatively small space of four feet, I found three different insulation methods, all in the same wall. (If you can call no insulation whatsoever a method!)

The lath itself we’re moving by truck-load and tractor bucket to a large burning pile in the middle of the future vegetable garden.  (A very small amount of it has been recycled to patch spots on interior walls where we are going to simply drywall over the lath.)

stack of lath ready for burning

John pauses for a photo op when unloading another truckful of lath onto the burning pile.

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4 Responses to After the plaster, then the lath

  1. Ian Anderson says:

    Hi Helena,
    Found your vid researching for my own page on tackling lath and plaster in the UK. I was amazed to see wood shavings as insulation, boy just imagine if a house full of that caught fire!!!!

    The 12 acres sounds great though, reminds me of when we lived in New Zealand. Now we are in Norway, to have 12 acres here, you would need to be seriously rich!

    Good vid btw! Re clearing up, I also tend to ‘hammer’ the plaster off first and then roughly clear it up. Then tackle the laths as phase two, I discovered this after taking down quite a few!

    I think that if you take it all down at once you end up with ‘lath reinforced plaster’ on the floor! A right tangle to clear up on a big ceiling I can tell you.

    Good luck with the rest of the project!


    p.s. You don’t sound too crazy to me!

  2. prairiewoods says:

    Thanks for the visit, Ian. I agree with you about fires and wood shavings as insulation, yet it seems it was quite common here in Canada for a period of time in the first part of the last century. (There’s a new pic of a wall that had a LOT of wood shavings — as did the ceiling in the same room, an upstairs bedroom — at

    I read your lath and plaster page and found it quite interesting. Sometimes I am a little sad we are removing, rather than restoring, but because today, for example, it is -40 C and F here, we really wanted to open things up to properly insulate, and to redo the old wiring as well. We will re-place the old wide wooden baseboards and moldings though, to keep the “old house” ambience.

  3. topcatdave says:

    Your blog is fascinating and I am really enjoying it. The reason for no insulation in that third wall cavity? There is a switch and wire in there. The old knob and tube wiring could not have insulation touching it since the wiring needs to dissipate its own heat, or become a fire hazard.

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