Help identifying wall construction?

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Old 03-02-03, 11:40 AM
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Question Help identifying wall construction?

Hi - I'm hoping someone can help me figure out what one of my walls is made of. I live in a fairly old house that has mostly plaster walls. There are two walls in my living room, however, that have a much harder material than just wood under the plaster. If I use a wood drill bit, I can only get through about 1/8" of plaster before it stops. With a concrete bit, I get a lot further. The first dust I see coming out the drill hole is white (the plaster), then grayish (concrete?) and then, deeper in is a light brown dust. Behind the brown dust the wall is hollow as far as I can tell. This wall has an archway dividing my living room. It also might be supporting the exterior wall on the 2nd floor. Any ideas what the brownish material might be? Is it safe to be drilling into it? As far I can tell there are no pipes or wiring going through this wall. Thanks!
 
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Old 03-02-03, 12:16 PM
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Sounds like it might be what's called brown coat under plaster and lath if you're lucky that is. If so it's just a cement product that was used in earlier times as a skim coat over either wire mesh or wood lath to adhere the finish coat of plaster to, and wallpaper was applied over that. Depending on where you are and when your house was built could be other things as well, so not good.

Are you planning some remodeling? If you want to you could probably just hang sheetrock over what you've got there now. Use long, 2" at least, fine threaded sheetrock screws and locate your wall studs and just cover up the old, stapling up a layer of poly first will also help eliminate drafts.

Long as you're sure there's no wiring or plumbing in the wall I don't see what it could hurt to drill into it, other than having to fix the holes
 
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Old 03-03-03, 07:41 AM
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Hi - Thanks for the reply! Do you know if this brown coat stuff is really hard? Along this particular section of wall I keep coming to something extremely hard in the wall at different depths when I'm drilling. I've traced all of the radiator pipes and electrical wires so I'm 99% sure there's nothing running through that wall. Some holes I'm able to drill 3/4", but others only about 1/4". Very weird. I can't find the wall studs under this stuff. The house has some very odd construction, so I guess it doesn't suprise me. Thanks again for your help, though!
 
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Old 03-03-03, 09:35 PM
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The stuff I'm talking about would not be that hard, I mean if you've got a sharp concrete bit, it would chew right through the stuff in nothing flat. The hardness your talking about, only thing I've ever seen like that on interior construction, I could hardly believe would be in a residental home, but you never know. Only thing that hard I've ever run across was in an old theatre we remodeled about 15-20 yrs ago and it had abestos building panels for interior walls in the old projection booth. Man that stuff was hard, you could pop it with a 15 lb sledge hammer dead between two studs & you'd be lucky to leave a dent, when you'd get a bar under an edge & try to pry, it would snap off & leave some razor sharp edges that would slice through leather gloves. Real nasty stuff, I hope I never run into again.

Are you planning on remodeling this room, or just trying to mount something on the wall?
 
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Old 03-04-03, 05:45 AM
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I'm actually just trying to mount a cornice board over the arch in the wall. I can't take the wall out because its load bearing, but I hate the arch and am trying to cover it up a little. I'm trying to attach a 1x2 to the wall which I would then attach the cornice board to. Its turned into quite a project - I hope I can get this thing mounted or I'll be repairing lots of little holes in the wall :-)Thanks again.
 
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Old 03-04-03, 08:31 PM
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Ok now the picture becomes a little clearer. If you've got a fairly short distance between the top of the arch & the top of the ceiling, there may not be any studs there at all if this is an old house. Technically, there should definitely be a header above the doorwith some blocking above that to the top plate, but I've seen lots of old places where there is no headers above interior doors other than a 2"x4".

For what you're intending to do I think there's a simple solution to your problem. In your earlier post you mentioned that you can drill completely through your wall covering with a concrete bit. So why not use some toggle bolts to attach the 1"x2" to the wall. 1/4" or 3/8" bolts should hold your cornice up there just fine.
 
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