Wall repair

Old 01-12-03, 06:05 AM
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Wall repair

Strange things under panelling... Yesterday we tore down the old and ugly pre-wallpapered fiberboard in the dining room of our new (to us) 1940's home, but what was underneath was a bit of a surprise.

While one interior wall appears to be ordinary drywall with a coat of badly crumbling plaster on top, the two exterior walls have been built up, on TOP of the original wall -- with new framing fixed to the plaster and white styrofoam sheets cut to fit the gaps, about 1/4 - 1/2 inch thick. This wallpapered fiberboard was then glued on top.

When we pull out the styrofoam, we can see the original painted wall and it doesn't seem to be in bad shape at all. There's a window smack in the middle of it and our concern is now getting everything even, as we'd assumed the original wall was going to be directly underneath. The finished product that had been in place was flush with the window.

We're going to take the interior wall down to the studs and just rebuild it, no problem. But..... if we remove the framing and styrofroam on the OTHER two, we're going to have a heck of a time getting everything to the right depth to match the window, as it seems to extend in a good inch or two from the original wall. We're in a row of similarly built WWII brick homes, all with the same window in the same room, so it doesn't seem to be an afterthought they had to compensate for.

My first question is really, what IS this with the styrofoam? It honestly looks like your run-of-the-mill, beer-cooler stuff pressed into sheets. What is this technique and why would it have been done in the first place? My second question, obviously, is what is the best course of action to fix it? Do we leave it in place and drywall over it, or should we tear it all out as well?

Any advice appreciated,

Last edited by twelvepole; 01-12-03 at 11:52 AM.
Old 01-12-03, 11:50 AM
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Wall repair

The styrofoam could have been added for insulation or soundproofing. You will probably want to remove the styrofoam. If you plan on drywalling over plaster walls, you will need to install furring strips first. The furring strips can then be shimmed to present a plumb plane on which to attach drywall panels. Furring strips are milled from softwood (spruce, pine, or fir) and sold in bundles, and measure 1-1/2 inches wide and 5/8- to 1-inch thick (depending on the desired standoff). If you tear walls down to the studs and you are concerned about the projection of the window trim, you can add furring strips to studs to accommodate the thickness of the drywall and window trim. Tearing down to studs on exterior walls will give you an opportunity to check your insulation and replace or install as needed. Because previous owners placed styrofoam on the walls, it could have been because there was no insulation.
Old 01-13-03, 09:10 AM
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The 'beer cooler stuff' is probably expanded polystyrene, one of the best (highest R), and most expensive, insulations per inch. Styrofoam has cells, expanded polystyrene looks like little beads fused together.
Old 01-17-03, 06:46 AM
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Thank you for the replies.

It does appear that the material in the walls more closely resembles polystyrene than the styrofoam, though I'm not 100% sure.

Honestly, the walls with this construction seem to have less draft at the windows and doors than the plaster walls. We're going to leave it in place as is and drywall over the furring strips next weekend.

Thank you!

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