How to Remove or Repair Your Lath and Plaster
Lath and plaster work is a means of finishing the internal surfaces of a house and was very common up to the introduction of plasterboards (sheetrock in the USA) in the 1950's. This method of internal finishing consists of thin strips of timber, called laths that were either sawn or riven (split along the grain),which are nailed cross-ways onto the timber framework of the house approximately 1/4' or 6mm apart. The lath was then covered with a plaster, usually a two coat haired lime mortar mix and levelled off. A further thin coat of fine plaster was applied shortly afterwards and trowelled smooth to provide a good and durable finish. Many lath and plasterwork walls and ceilings lasted well over one hundred years before requiring repairs apart for normal decorating, some lath and plaster ceilings have been in place for several hundred years, especially in the UK. A crucial element of this construction is the 6mm gap between the laths, as this provides a 'key' for the plaster as it pushes through and bulges out the back of the lath slightly. This crucial keying of the plasterwork is also the source of most plasterwork failures; as the keys gradually break away due to normal movement of houses over extended periods of time. Once a significant amount of the plasterwork keys have broken away, the plasterwork starts to crack and can separate from the laths, dropping down or sagging. There are many ways of repairing sagging lath and plasterwork, but due to financial reasons, it is often removed and replaced with modern materials such as sheetrock (plasterboard). This method does at least allow for much better insulation material to be used, thus saving energy and heating costs in the future life of the house. M
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