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Wall construction at turn of the century


antun's Avatar
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Join Date: Jan 2004
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07-31-04, 08:25 PM   #1  
Wall construction at turn of the century

My house was built in 1907 in San Francisco. I was cutting a hole in the drywall in the bedroom to be able to wire up some cabinet lights for a closet I'm building. BTW I know that drywall wasn't around in 1907, but someone evidently installed it later.

Anyway after much sweating and sawing, I discovered that instead of an empty space behind the drywall, there are multiple 12" wide wooden boards laid horizontally, with a gap of about 1" between them.

Now nowhere in any DIY manual have I seen these wallboards; I've seen pictures of drywall, and I've seen pictures of lath-and-plaster. I guess that these must be original from when the house was built, because only 100 years ago could someone afford to panel a room with 1" thick 12" wide solid wood boards. What's more, in the section I exposed, there wasn't a single knot.

So what I'm wondering is:

- Is this a known style of wall construction? Am I still looking for studs behind the wooden boards?
- Can I cut right through one to do some wiring, or should I try to jigsaw out a small hole in it?

Thanks,

Antun

 
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08-01-04, 06:30 AM   #2  
If you have 1" space between them, that should be enough for a wire to go through....I know what you're thinking, "I gotta grab the wire though dip$h/&" ....well I know....but it's worth a shot if you're worried about cutting through the boards.

But to answer your questions a little more directly....I don't know that I would "cut right though one", but a little drill hole, or jigsaw hole shouldn't hurt anything...for that matter, a 1907 house in San Fran.(earthquakes, etc.) should hold a bulldozer back....but why risk more than necessary.....I'd try the small hole first.

 
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08-01-04, 09:12 AM   #3  
I would venture a guess that the house has been remodeled & added on to a few times over the yrs and what you're seeing there may have once been an exterior wall. I have also seen houses here in the midwest that had anywhere from 1"x4" to 1"x10" or 12" boards installed over the studs and then plastered over. I would opt for either a sawsall or a jig saw and cut through the board where you need to run the wiring, then patch over it with new drywall. The studs is what's giving you structural support, the boards running over them are critical for structural soundness. Good luck!

 
antun's Avatar
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08-01-04, 11:54 AM   #4  
Thanks for your reply.

...what you're seeing there may have once been an exterior wall.
In this case I don't think that's possible, just because of the size the house would have been if that was once an exterior wall - my lot is very small, and the house occupies the entire thing. If my bedroom wall had been an exterior wall, the house would have been 11' deep! It sounds like the boards must have been a base wall covering like you also suggested.

the boards running over them are critical for structural soundness
Maybe I misread you or maybe that's a typo, but are you saying that the board has to be reinforced?

-Antun

 
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08-01-04, 04:50 PM   #5  
Yeah that was a typo, should have read aren't critical From the picture I'm getting reading your posts, I'd say the boards in question were simply used as lath for the plaster to adhere to.

 
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