Finishes - Topic Home

 

Introduction

  This house dates from about 1850 or so. The walls are probably finished with 2 or 3 coats of lime plaster and the ceilings are likely to be formed from riven laths with a 3 coat plaster finish. Load bearing partitions are probably brickwork, a half brick thick, with non load bearing partitions formed in studwork, covered with lath and plaster or possibly with a brick on edge infill. The original paint would have been mostly oil and lead-white based for internal and external woodwork, water and clak based (distempers) for plasterwork.
  This terrace of houses was built towards the end of the Victorian period, probably 1890 or so. The finishes and partitions will be very similar to the building above. However, terraced houses were built quickly by speculative builders and the quality of the finishes may not be of such a high standard. It is likely, for example, that sawn rather than riven lath is used for the ceilings and the walls may have 2 rather than 3 coats lime plaster. Paint as above.
  In the 1920s blockwork became increasingly popular. It was made from a variety of aggregates (usually local) and was used for both loadbearing and non load bearing partitions. Lime plasters often contained a small proportion of cement to speed drying. Sanded gypsum plasters (sometime gauged with a little lime) was an alternative finish (one that was becoming increasingly popular due to its faster set. By the end of the 1920s many houses had plasterboard or metal lath ceilings. The former would have been plastered with a skim of gypsum plaster, the latter with lime or cement plasters. Paint still much the same as above. 
  This house was constructed some time during the 1950s. The walls could be finished with lime plaster (perhaps with a little cement to speed setting) or with sanded gypsum plaster. Load bearing partitions were usually brick or block, non loadbearing partitions could be studding, lightweight block or any one of a number of lightweight proprietary systems which were appearing on the market. Ceilings were made form a variety of boards, some self finished, others with a plaster skim.    Lead paint was still available in the 1950s although improved emulsion paints had mostly displaced distempers.
  Modern houses usually have loadbearing partitions formed in blockwork. Non load bearing partitions can be made from timber or metal studding, laminated plasterboard and various other proprietary plasterboard systems. Lightweight blockwork non loadbearing partitions are becoming rarer and rarer in modern construction, and where they exist they will usually be on the ground floor only. Walls are usually drylined with plasterboard (with a self finish) or plastered with two coats lightweight gypsum plaster. There are one or two lime based plasters on the market but they are rare in speculative housing. Ceilings are invariably lined with plasterboard, self finished, artexed or with a plaster skim. Lead paint is no longer used (apart from very special circumstances); gloss paints are based on oil alkyd resins, paint for plaster is still water based. See the section on modern paint for more information.
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