Exterior wall types

Greetings, I live in a 1920's bungalow and am looking to install new windows. I am trying to determine the wall anatomy and cannot find any studs. From my investigation it seems to be (from the inside out) plaster, plastic sheet, 1" foam insulation, 1x6 horizontal boards, a second layer of 1x6 horizontal boards, followed by ceder shakes.
Is anyone familiar with this type of construction and can you give me any insight for cutting out a window (18x60) in it.
Thanks in advance.
Jim
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The "plastic sheet" sounds rather odd, considering the age of the home. Have you found this same substance in all rooms, or perhaps just one? My 1930s plaster nightmare had a layer of tin between the plaster and the lath, but only in the bathroom. For the rest of the rooms, there was plaster on top of horizontal lath, then normal 2-by studs. The studs were often difficult to find by knocking or measuring, and an electronic stud finder was often baffled because of the thickness of the plaster.
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J to the L wrote:

You are not seeing the whole picture. There are some post somewhere supporting the roof. I would say it is a good bet someone opened up those walls since the 20's. They did not use much foam and plastic back then. ;-)
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Joseph E. Meehan

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Actually I've seen several very old house like this. In fact my parents current house is this way. Its 4 layers of boards all the way to the roof. very wide boards ....but only boards. no posts. Just the way the built them back then. As far as putting a window in...if its like my parents house....pick a spot and cut a hole. We also took one apart on my uncle's property...same way...several layers all the way to the roof. some were the widest, longest boards I've ever seen.
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asweread wrote:

It could be the original poster erred, but he wrote "1x6 horizontal boards, a second layer of 1x6 horizontal boards"
Which of course would require post of some kind.

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Joseph E. Meehan

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Perhaps the house is supported by the air contained within. Didn't think of that, did you?
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Doug Kanter wrote:

Yea, good idea ;-) I wonder if the house gets shorter during the winter. That should help reduce heating bills.
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Joseph E. Meehan

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J to the L wrote:

That sounds like single wall construction. It has obviously been insulated much more recently than it was built. The more recent stuff is the plaster, plastic sheet, and foam instulation. One thing that sounds a bit odd is that the 2 layers of wood are horizontal. Mostly I have seen them vertical. If they are horizontal there should be some corner posts to hold up the roof.
As another poster said, you can just cut a hole in the wall to mount the window. However, you will probably want to build a frame around the window opening before you actually cut the hole. Be sure that the whole assembly will be well supported. The wall by itself probably won't provide much structural support. You probably need to install 2 by studs from floor to ceiling to provide the support you need. Matching the depth of the window to the thickness of the wall is an excercise left to the student.
The original interior finish would have been just plain wood, possibly painted, possibly papered. If papered the paper might have been news paper. Anything to stop the wind blowing through the cracks in the wall.
Bill Gill
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J to the L wrote:

The ancestral home where my father courted my mother in the 1920s was a "plank" house with solid walls. The house was built circa 1880 - 1890.
I never saw any part of the wall taken apart so I can not describe the construction. I do know that it was not possible to run wires or pipes vertically through the exterior walls because they did not have the air space which is normally created by more modern "balloon frame" construction.
The interior finish was wood lath and plaster with wallpaper applied by my mother's father and/or his oldest son. [They were in the house painting / paperhanging trade.]
The exterior was wood siding which my grandfather covered with stucco intending to use his own house as a model for a stucco applying business. My father had the stucco covered with aluminim siding after I moved out for college. It was a VERY well insulated house when my brother and I inherited it after the second funeral.
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We took down two interior walls in our home and found newspapers inside dated early 1920s. There were two layers of planks ; one horizontal the other vertical. I have not opened up the exterior walls in that part of the house yet.
Another section has what I think is a more typical balloon frame. The studs are about 4x4 and some at least 3 feet apart. Inside layer of wall is horizon. planks, outside is horizon. planks with I believe a lapped board siding. The cavity is filled with sawdust. (The newspapers were early 1940s, btw.)
In your situation I would feel a lot more comfortable putting some sort of studding inside the wall , attached to the outside planks.
Then again, if the walls are plumb and sturdy, you may make the personal decision to leave it that way. It has stood up a long time now.
Does anyone have any idea what a building code might say about this?
A personal question: Do you think the homes being thrown together today will last anywhere near as long as the homes we have been discussing?
Joe, Ontario
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The homes today will last as long as many of the older ones, i have been in the remodel business for 34 years and some of the older ones are unreal, as far as shoddy work, no supports, no insulation, bad framing and heat / cold loss, the codes today are so damn strick all over our country it is difficult to imagine them not lasting, what with wind shear loads, snow loads, and unbeliievable ground foundation requirments. years ago thier were no inspections, anything goes attitude. and when i go in to remodel, the laws today make every job overkill. The recent hurricanes down in florida (Floyd) Hemstead, florida, have changed the national boca codes all over the country. give me a new house anyday as far as strength and integrity go, but i will always prefer the older home for looks and craftsmanship. i cant hardly imigine the folks working on some of the older houses with no power and no fancy,presision and specialty tools like we have today steve r blairstown nj
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snipped-for-privacy@total.net (J to the L) wrote in message

Me again , I believe the plank theory to be the most accurate followed by the air theory.
Further investigation has led me to believe that there are studs on the north/south walls and planks on the east/west walls(the west wall being where we want to install the window). Our floor studs support this theory as they run north/south as well. We also determined that there are no outlets or ducts on the east/west walls. We are going to investigate with the city bylaws and it looks like were just cutting into the wall.
Thanks for all your insight and wish me luck. You won't hear from me if the house falls down though, as SWMBO will terminate my command.
Jim
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