My home dates to the 1890s. It has clearly been through many renovations over the years before I owned it. The walls in my living room have defied all stud finders: normal ones find nothing, magnetic finders read the whole wall as a stud. Tonight I found this when removing a vent cover.

It looks like the wall is plaster over metal mesh. Can anyone give me any idea of when this construction was used? Is there anything special I need to know about? I'm just looking for information.

UPDATE I still haven't found a studfinder that can see through this stuff, but I have found that I can measure 16" intervals from the edge of my heating vents and find studs reliably.

enter image description here

  • In my experience the modern deepscan models do fairly well (outside the corner mesh zones, anyway).
    – isherwood
    Sep 13, 2019 at 21:09
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    My moms house is made with expanded metal mesh and a cement mortar both inside and out it was built in the early 40’s . I have remodeled several homes that were built after the 1906 earthquake in Northern California so in that area this was not unusual (north Bay Area).
    – Ed Beal
    Sep 13, 2019 at 21:44
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    In the UK, upwards of 1930. In the US, upwards of 1950. - In 1890 it would've been lath and plaster. This is the house's second set of walls, at least. - It's awesome stuff and it sucks to demo.
    – Mazura
    Feb 11, 2020 at 3:29
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    Knowing when construction methods were used is helpful for home improvements because it helps you figure out the history of the house, when renovations and additions may have been done, etc., which of course influences work you'll do today. Oct 8, 2020 at 10:03
  • @Mazura one at least one wall, there is metal mesh and plaster, and then wooden lath and plaster underneath, which appears to also have horsehair in it. The plaster is at least 3" thick. Oct 14, 2020 at 20:45

2 Answers 2


The area I live and work in saw quite a bit of expansion and development in the period between 1920 and 1960. I see plaster over expanded metal quite a bit in older buildings, and it does present some challenges.

My guess based on what I've seen is that it was used mostly in the 1930s, 40s, and 50s, and more in commercial and multi-family buildings than in residential construction.

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    To make matters more interesting, I actually found that the plaster and metal mesh is OVER plaster and wooden lath with horsehair on at least one wall. It's like 3" thick, which explains why I have such a hard time anchoring anything. Oct 14, 2020 at 20:42

Plasterers used metal corners with wire mesh some 30 or 40 years ago before the plastic cr*p became popular (possibly cheaper, no corrosion issues etc).

How many years metal mesh was employed for is a question that may not be so easy to answer...

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    What plastic are you referring to? Metal corner bead is still the standard, and mesh has been replaced by paper tape, mostly.
    – isherwood
    Sep 13, 2019 at 19:53
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    @isherwood perhaps your locality differs from mine... perhaps the professionals / contractors are different...
    – Solar Mike
    Sep 13, 2019 at 21:01

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