Let’s See What You’re Made Of!


In our introductory post (over a year ago), I mentioned that we would be making improvements to our house. At the time, there were just two things standing in our way. First, we needed to own the house, and then it needed new windows. We officially bought the house last April, and now, almost a year later – we’re finally getting windows!!

Windows were the first step for two reasons. 1 – They’re expensive, and 2 – we didn’t feel qualified to install them ourselves. To save our budget, and potential rework on other things, we felt that we had to get them out of the way first.

Our house is old. The first two rooms were built in 1883. Over the next 100 years or so it was expanded from 2 rooms to 7 through various additions and remodels. Most if not all of this work was done by the people who owned and occupied the house. We believe the basement was even hand-dug by David’s grandpa.

The windows that were in the house were of different ages and styles, but all were single pane, and several were actually cracked. It’s already so much warmer, and so much quieter, and they’re not quite done sealing everything up! Probably the most interesting thing about the process so far, though, is finding out what our walls are actually made of. The windows aren’t the only thing that were different room-to-room.

kitchenwalls.jpg
All three of these wall sections occur in the same room (our kitchen). Two of them are actually in the same wall!

The kitchen contains three different interior wall types. The first is 1/2″ plywood directly over wood studs covered in wallpaper. The second is tongue-and-groove board similar to wood siding, covered with 1/4″ plywood, covered with wallpaper. And in the same wall, the 3rd is wood lath and plaster covered in wallpaper. The kitchen was the second-to-last addition and likely the wall type along that wall changes at the break between the previous addition and the main part of the kitchen. This wall was also completely lacking insulation, so that explains the extreme temperature differential between the kitchen and the remainder of the house.

wallsections.jpg
The first two walls are in our bedroom, part of the original two-room house. And the third is in the living room, the most recent portion of the house (still very old, but post-basement).

We knew the walls in our bedroom were plaster, but we had assumed that the plaster was supported by wood lath, like that in the kitchen. We were surprised to find that instead, the main support was provided by sheet rock. The first photo shows sheet rock covered by what looks like masonry cement covered by plaster. The second is actually 1/2″ plywood covered by sheet rock covered by plaster. The second location was once the front door and was converted to a window after David’s grandparents grew tired of people knocking on the door at their bedroom. The other window on the same wall matched the first photo.

The third photo was the only predictable wall type. The living room, back bedroom and office all have wood-paneling on the walls, and the openings revealed exactly what we anticipated – that the paneling was placed directly on the wall studs.

The windows look great so far. Now we’re ready to dive into more home improvement projects, and it’s nice to know what the walls we’ll be working with are actually made of!

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