Most of the walls in the old part of my house are plaster. Hard, nasty, amazingly solid plaster. While this is nice in some areas, there's others that it's rather annoying -- such as on the stairs (previous owners have screwed in a banister ... with regular screws, awesome)

I would have no problem popping out the plaster and exposing some brick, or even better, find some wooden slats, get some insulation in there and maybe toss up some drywall. Yea, I know, it'll be a mess, but oh well, I got a shop vac :-)

Anyway, what's behind those walls? (and someone needs to make a -plaster- tag !)

  • if you have brick behind them, unless the plaster is already falling off, don't think it'll be an easy job removing the plaster...it won't be.
    – DA01
    Commented Dec 20, 2010 at 19:11
  • We just bought a brick house (exterior) built in 1941 and I cannot hang anything without the plaster cracking more and have wondered what's behind it. Did you ever decide to tear down any of your plaster? What did you find?
    – user11435
    Commented Feb 5, 2013 at 8:19

2 Answers 2


If your house was built before the 1940's, it's probably a layer of wood lath, followed by a standard 2x4 stud wall with no insulation. Perhaps some knob-and-tube wiring just to make things interesting. The plaster will make more dust than you thought possible (wear a mask).

After the 1940's, it's probably gypsum board, but without the foaming agents and plasticizers that make today's drywall easier to use. Behind it, you probably have a 2x4 stud wall with no insulation and conduit or NM wiring.

[Here's a picture of a lath wall from the back, courtesy Wikipedia]

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  • Pre-1940 (1919 completed). And the no-insulation sounds about dead on (cold cold walls during the winter) but it's VERY possible different areas of the house were walled off of different stuff. Hmm, maybe I should start with a walled off fire place? (it's as solid as the rest of the walls, living room wall-off fireplace isn't though, it's drywall)
    – user884
    Commented Nov 30, 2010 at 4:07
  • Along with knob-and-tube, you may even find gas pipes for gas lighting.
    – auujay
    Commented Nov 30, 2010 at 20:50

My house has hard plaster set on brick walls. All internal and external walls are brick.

One of the biggest problems I had with my renovations was finding someone who still did hard-plastering. They guy who did it claimed 57 years experience - so you can guess his age.

BTW: the house is a 1927 Californian Bungalo.

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