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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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
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,
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
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
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
email@example.com (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.
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