Sunday, November 6, 2011


As I was losing myself in demolition and thoughts of how I was going to go about finishing everything, I hit a major road block. This old house is balloon framed! When we bought this place I knew that there was a chance it was indeed balloon framed, but didn't see any obvious signs. I was hopeful it wasn't because they started moving to platform framing around the time the house was built.

Balloon framing...

Balloon framing was possible only because the old guys had readily available large and long pieces of lumber. If someone wanted to balloon frame a house today, they would have to use mostly all engineered lumber or steel materials (the old guys cut most all the big trees down). I guess you could pay a fortune for the large pieces of lumber. The reason balloon framing is a problem for me is because the subfloor is my wood floor. There is no subfloor on the second story. Also, the vertical studs run from the bottom of the first story all the way to the roof with the second story joists nailed into their sides. This makes my plans a lot more difficult. So, new game plan. I'll have to really tear into the structure in order to add support for the second story bathrooms. That will involve ripping the dining room up pretty badly to get some jack studs and headers in to hold the new beams that have to stretch across the room to support the added weight of walls and tubs and such. I'll also have to add support to the floor joists at their studs. My father had a good idea to use bolts which would take more load than the nails currently used. I've got to cut into the framing some more to get a better idea on exactly how I'm going to go about this. Hells Bells!

Anyway.. Lets talk about plaster and lathe! Good ole horse hair plaster. I wish this stuff was in better condition and by that I mean that I wish someone hadn't tore it out or installed drywall over it! This stuff is great and actually added to the structural integrity and thermal mass of the house. It was also very labor intensive to install and there are very few skilled craftsmen still around who can actually install it the original way. 

If you zoom in you can see the horse/pig hairs! 
You can see how thick this stuff is. Why in the world would you want to get rid of it and replace it with drywall? In the pic below, you can see the backside of a piece. The ridges in the plaster are the places that the plaster would squeeze through the gaps in the lathe. These ridges are called plaster keys. A plaster wall can fail from a few different things. The lathe, usually cheap wood, will start to deteriorate. A weak plaster mix could cause the keys to weaken and break off, thus losing your mechanical bond with the lathe. House movement, seasonal temperature changes, or moisture can all affect a plaster wall.  Even though plaster may look rough, it is not that hard to repair, and is usually the best alternative. 

Plaster, lathe, and broken keys.

In my case, the plaster has been either removed, died a slow death from drywall screw stabbing, or been cracked all to hell from someone (me!) jacking and moving the house all around. I have to tear out whats left so I can get the exterior walls insulated, supported, and straightened up for some new veneer plaster. I'm worried about the reveal when I remove everything. I'll have to build the studs out in order to line up with the windows. You can't just pull out an old window, this is old school framing, they integrated everything in as they built it. 

This plaster wall section was intact.. one of very few. Check out the old wall paper.
Most of the lathe is in really great condition. I wish the plaster hadn't been torn off and replaced with drywall.

Old walls are cool. No cash stash yet.
Some good news! The ceiling bead boards were left intact! These are in bad shape, but we may be able to keep them!
Trying to figure out exactly where we want the walls.
We got to play around with the wall placement a little. Clockwise from the bottom left.. Main Master Bath, Toilet Closet, Shower, Guest Closet, Guest Bath, Hallway... You can't really tell, but it will work out trust me! Back to work!! 


1 comment:

  1. Great job!! You'll get it done. You a hard worker and diligent too!!
    Love U!!