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Along with some family members I've just purchased a 1929 two story cottage style home. It has been pretty much neglected over the years and we are in the process of doing a major interior remodel. The remodel will include enlarging the existing dormer and adding a bathroom, remodeling the first floor bathroom and of course the kitchen. I guess I'll be busy for awhile.

The first level walls are all plaster and wood lath, which is what I expected. But the entire second floor was a bit of a surprise to me. The interior of the studs are all "sheathed" with what appear to be 1x6 rough sawn lumber, no plaster, no lath, no nothin', just wood. On top of the boards was a muslin type fabric then 3+ layers of wall paper and topped with paneling (bee you tee full). We spent many hours tearing the coverings down. Now here is my question (there had to be one sometime). Has anyone had any luck with applying 1/4 inch sheet rock on top of the boards. Seems to me it would not make a very smooth finished surface since the boards under it are not even. I don't want to add too thick of a wall covering since I do not want to re-trim the windows. If I took off all of the window trim then added 1/2 sheet rock I'd need to make the jambs deeper. What other type of wall covering have you seen/used that may work in this situation? How about diferent methods. The window trim is applied on top of the wallboards.

I'm not really being lazy just looking to save some time, money and aggravation.

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Originally posted by SWagar

. . . The first level walls are all plaster and wood lath, which is what I expected. But the entire second floor was a bit of a surprise to me. The interior of the studs are all "sheathed" with what appear to be 1x6 rough sawn lumber, no plaster, no lath, no nothin', just wood. On top of the boards was a muslin type fabric then 3+ layers of wall paper and topped with paneling (bee you tee full).

Hi Scott. You'll find that wall treatment on lots of older houses around here, particularly in farmhouses that were farther from the population centers. In fact, it's nearly ubiquitous our rural housing stock from the late 1800s to the early 1900s, particularly on the second floors. It's a little unusual in a house from 1929. Lath & plaster was time consuming and required a skilled installer. Shiplap walls with muslin & wallpaper were easy, fast & cheap and pretty much anyone could install them.

We spent many hours tearing the coverings down. Now here is my question (there had to be one sometime). Has anyone had any luck with applying 1/4 inch sheet rock on top of the boards. Seems to me it would not make a very smooth finished surface since the boards under it are not even. I don't want to add too thick of a wall covering since I do not want to re-trim the windows. If I took off all of the window trim then added 1/2 sheet rock I'd need to make the jambs deeper. What other type of wall covering have you seen/used that may work in this situation? How about diferent methods. The window trim is applied on top of the wallboards.

I'm not really being lazy just looking to save some time, money and aggravation.

You could put 1/4" GWB over the shiplap boards and make it look smooth. Use hot mud to embed the tape, use all purpose mud for the second coat and to skim coat any low spots and then finish with topping mud. When you're done, it'll be smooth & solid.

Smoothness isn't the problem, the depth of the trim is. Even with 1/4" GWB, you'll loose the depth of the trim and it'll have that quick & dirty rehab look. All of the character will disappear.

The thing that would look best is to pop off the trim and then install the sheetrock. I bet it would take one person about half a day to remove all of that trim carefully and label it; another half day to fir out the window & door frames; and a full day to reinstall the trim. When the trim's off, you can install new sash cords in the windows. When it's done, you'll like it better.

While the walls are in this state, it's a good time to replace the wiring in the walls. . .

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Thanks Jim !

All very good points. Loosing trim depth was one of my concerns, which is why I thought maybe 1/4 inch sheetrock would look OK. But I don't want this house to look like a hack so I'll just bite the bullet and do it right.

As far as the wiring goes, suprizingly all of the BX and Knob and Tube has all been replaced with NM along with a new panel and service. I think the ugrade was done 1985 or so. I don't realy like all of the quality of the wiring so I'll be replacing much of if. I'm a little picky about wiring. I will have quite alot to add as well. Sooo... need some practice with your wiring skills???

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Originally posted by SWagar

Thanks Jim !

All very good points. Loosing trim depth was one of my concerns, which is why I thought maybe 1/4 inch sheetrock would look OK. But I don't want this house to look like a hack so I'll just bite the bullet and do it right.

As far as the wiring goes, suprizingly all of the BX and Knob and Tube has all been replaced with NM along with a new panel and service. I think the ugrade was done 1985 or so. I don't realy like all of the quality of the wiring so I'll be replacing much of if. I'm a little picky about wiring. I will have quite alot to add as well. Sooo... need some practice with your wiring skills???

Ha! My back won't allow me to do wiring for at least a few more months. But if you need any technical advice feel free to call or e-mail any time. Where's the house?

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Scott,

If you really want to be "lazy"... just paint it. It will look like the backdrops in a Pottery Barn catalog and retain some original charm. If you want to hang GWB, I'd think about stripping out all the wood. Much easier to fix the wiring and insulation on a bare wall, and you'll have enough wood to build a really nice shed when you're done.

Tom

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Jim and Tom

The house is located in the Old Town section of Forest Grove, she is not much to look at now. But give us a 4 months or so and she will be back in shape.

I'm not sure whether there is any exterior wall sheathing behind the lap siding (I think no). Which by the way is 13/16 - 7/8 CGF Clear Grain Fir, the back is rough sawn, don't see too much of that. So I did not know if the interior wood is structural. My guess was that is was not directly structural but that it adds stiffness to the structure much like the plaster and lath below. I thought about taking off the wood for about 5 seconds and decided no way! There is a lot of wood it looks like two sheds and a dog house. But mainly because I would now have to cut the window and door jams down which is harder for me than firing them out. Also the paneling was nailed to the walls with hundreds and hundreds of little nails. My wife and father-in-law spent countless hours pulling out each and every little nail. I don't have the heart to tell them that all that work was for nothing.

I'll chaulk up my extra few hours of trim work to family relations, some types of mental anguish are better than others!

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Originally posted by kurt

Jamb extensions are not complicated or hard to install. Use 1/2" drywall, and rip appropriate sized extensions (out of wood, not the drywall), installe them w/ 1/4" reveal, and then retrim the windows.

It'll add a little time, but it will look right.

I'm with Kurt there as far as using 1/2" drywall, extensions, and adding reveals. Stepping the extensions and trim (1/8" to 1/4") will give the windows and doors more "interest" and you won't be trying to fill and sand to achieve a flush look. It's what I'd do. Unfortunately, if you do that, the original side and top trim pieces will now be too short. But...if you don't mind buying a few new pieces of 1-by, then no problem. Hell...add some brick molding (actually "backband") for an even better look.

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Currently the house is woefully bereft of insulation in the walls and only minor amounts of cellulose in the attic. I will be adding more cellulose to the attic after the remodel is finished. What thoughts do you have about blowing in cellulose insulation into the wall cavities? Is there some sort of vapor retarder that comes in a roll e.g. Tyvek that I could use under the sheetrock on top of the wood boards? I do not want to use plastic as I’ve heard too many bad things about complete vapor barriers in older homes. Should I be concerned about condensation in the wall cavity and in the new insulation with or without a vapor retarder? Would I be better off without wall insulation?

My other thought is, if there is no exterior sheathing the insulation may get wet from driving rain, I don't think that could be a good situation.

I’d like to hear your comments/suggestions.

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What do you mean "there's no exterior sheathing"? Is the siding directly on the studs? Water in cellulose insulation means paper mache; it ruins the material.

I've had marginal success w/cellulose as a retrofit wall insulation. Incomplete fill is the problem. I like dense pack cellulose products, but that is hard to achieve with retrofits in existing wall cavities.

You get the material clumping up on nails in the wall cavity, and the result is gaps in the blanket. Overall, it's certainly better than nothing.

There's a soy foam fill retrofit material that looks promising. Anyone seen that in action? I've only seen one job, and not enough to tell anything.

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I haven't gone exploring in my house yet, but I know (in this area) that many turn of the century (early 1900's that is) had siding nailed directly to the studs. No sheathing was installed. These houses breathed very well, that's pretty obvious. We are in a very moist environment. Since these homes breath well, generally we do not see as many mold/condensation issues as in our newer tightly sealed homes. This is in part due to the constant air flow through their stud walls coupled with much larger overhang at the roof line.

I think that if I do not have exterior sheathing, blown-in cellulose would not be such a great idea due to the wetting potential.

But if I find sheathing I sure would like the extra warmth.

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Originally posted by SWagar

The wood boards are not all that pleasant to look at. They are uneven, stained and face nailed. The picture is a bit misleading. So I need to cover them with something, looks like sheetrock and extra mud are the answer.

Let me gently suggest whitewash, or something like whitewash. Maybe "pickling."

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Originally posted by SWagar

I haven't gone exploring in my house yet, but I know (in this area) that many turn of the century (early 1900's that is) had siding nailed directly to the studs. No sheathing was installed. These houses breathed very well, that's pretty obvious. We are in a very moist environment. Since these homes breath well, generally we do not see as many mold/condensation issues as in our newer tightly sealed homes. This is in part due to the constant air flow through their stud walls coupled with much larger overhang at the roof line.

I think that if I do not have exterior sheathing, blown-in cellulose would not be such a great idea due to the wetting potential.

But if I find sheathing I sure would like the extra warmth.

It wouldn't take much to figure out whether or not the sheathing's there. With a '29 house it could go either way. Even if there's no sheathing, there's a chance that they put paper over the studs before nailing the siding. The paper would probably be enough of a barrier to allow you to insulate.

Once you know what you've got, talk with the guys at 5 Js insulation at Elm & Hwy 47. They're a pretty good crew and they do this kind of stuff all the time.

If you do insulate, you've got to cover the interior shiplap with something that will prevent air movement (drywall would be fine). Otherwise, air movement through the boards will move through the insulation and condense on the cold side of the wall. I wouldn't use plastic anywhere in the wall assembly.

- Jim Katen, Oregon

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Originally posted by SWagar

I haven't gone exploring in my house yet, but I know (in this area) that many turn of the century (early 1900's that is) had siding nailed directly to the studs. No sheathing was installed.

I'd have to say I would be surprised to find that up here. Every 20's house I can remember, including my own '27, has ship-lap sheathing under the siding.

At some point before we bought our house, it had had cellulose blown into the wall cavities. A couple of rooms that I subsequently remodeled required stripping the lathe and plaster. There were some smaller voids in the insulation near windows, etc, but it was otherwise amazingly complete.

I really have no idea of the cost benefits as that would depend on the windows, other insulation, drafts, etc and how long you think you will keep the house.

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