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Old Stone house interior walls. What is this?

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poppgs

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Hi There!

This is my first post but I bet it won't be my last!

My son just purchased a 90 year old home here in St. Louis. It's actually in great shape and is of stone and brick construction.

My question is: his interior walls seem to be made of stone but are covered with some kind of wall covering. Here's a picture where my impatient boy has cut into the wall:


My *guess* is this is ancient wallpaper that has been painted over - multiple times. Anybody have an opinion?

Also, if we tear this stuff out, what would you suggest we do with the bare wall? Just spackle and paint? Re-paper? Frame and cover with sheetrock? I'm vaguely concerned that this stuff is MORE than just wallpaper. Like maybe it's a vapor barrier or something?

Anyway, I'd appreciate some advice if anyone has dealt with a similar situation.
Thanks!
 

bud16415

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Welcome to the forum.

All my homes have been in the 100 plus age and it is not uncommon to see rag and such coverings on walls. The plaster back then went up over wood lath or brick or whatever they could get it to stick to. The first coat (scratch Coat) was a coarse sandy plaster more like cement and it was often reinforced by adding hair to it. mostly pig hair but it is commonly called horse hair plaster. Over that they added at least one more layer of a finer plaster sometimes two. The surface was often left unpainted and the walls were papered. Sometimes it was a tough paper and sometimes it was more of a cloth. Now in the history of the home paper was quite often added and seldom stripped so layers built up. Sometimes the plaster would loosen from driving nails into the walls for hanging art and such and when repapering they would find soft spots and did different repairs with gluing cloth to the walls to bridge and reinforce bad area. Really anything you could do they did. Come the 50’s to now people started painting over whatever was there as wall paper was not in fashion as it once was.

It is a lot of work but can all be removed and repaired and made new again. I just stripped all the first floor of the house we live in and it had a dozen layers of paper in spots. Under that is the plaster and you will find that paper holding much of the plaster up. My ceilings I didn’t strip I just added a layer of drywall. the walls I left what was solid and removed the loose stuff and repaired the rest with new plaster and compound and then painted.

You won’t know what you have until you try an area and see what’s under there.
 
C

chrisn

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Buds^^ post is spot on. Sometimes all that crap will strip off and there are beautiful walls underneath, sometimes.
 

poppgs

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Wow! Thanks to all of you for your replies! Really helpful! Yeah the 'horsehair' was really throwing me - I never encountered anything like that!

I guess the unknown is more scary than the known. That said, of course, I still really don't know what we're going to find behind that wallpaper, but I have already braced myself for a long project.

Thanks again! You guys rock!
 

bud16415

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One thing about old horse hair plaster is if you get to removing any paint with a heat gun and you burn any of that hair. 100 year old horse or big hair burning will gag a maggot.

Good luck and post some more pics of what you find. The old wall papers are fun to look at and can give you lots of clues to how the house was used and the type of people living there. Drywall mud and a scraper.
 

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