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Old 11-14-2011, 02:58 PM   #1
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Newspaper as underlayment???


In brief, my house we bought cheap was built in 1917, has no foundation, has had various questionable repairs, and is receiving various projects as I'm able.

So I've openned up a wall on the porch to reinsulate and drywall it because my wife complained of it feeling particularly cold, in the process of doing so I observed that behind the wood paneling there was newspaper. I don't recall if I was able to find a date that was still legible, and at this point it's cleared out.

So at this point what I'm working on is digging footers so I can put in posts and beams under the floor joists to replace the stacks of concrete blocks which rest on dirt. It's a conditioned crawlspace, and the footer project isn't really the topic upon which I have a question.

What is prompting a question is the fact that I cut an additional crawlspace access openning in the floor, I did this particular access hatch last week, today I looked and noticed a layer of newspaper between the hardwood flooring and the subfloor boards. Just wondering if anyone knows what the purpose of this is supposed to be?

My guesses: air barrier?? Is it supposed to help retain moisture so the wood can rot quicker? Is it supposed to keep ants from coming into the living space? Reading material for the rats? Keep the floor boards from rubbing together so they don't squeak in spite of the overspanned undersized floor joists?
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Last edited by WillK; 11-14-2011 at 02:59 PM. Reason: Edited to add picture I forgot to attach
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Old 11-14-2011, 03:04 PM   #2
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Newspaper as underlayment???


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today I looked and noticed a layer of newspaper between the hardwood flooring and the subfloor boards. Just wondering if anyone knows what the purpose of this is supposed to be?
Accelerant ?

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Old 11-14-2011, 03:25 PM   #3
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Newspaper as underlayment???


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Accelerant ?
How is it different than the brown paper you put under engineered flooring?
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Old 11-14-2011, 03:31 PM   #4
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Newspaper as underlayment???


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How is it different than the brown paper you put under engineered flooring?
That would be an accelerant also.
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:03 PM   #5
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Newspaper as underlayment???


My home (built 1910-ish) has newspaper up in the joists between the 2nd floor and the attic. Most appears to be dated around WW2. It is below a layer of some old cotton like insulation. Best guess is that it is some kind of an attempt at a vapor barrier...!?
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Old 11-14-2011, 07:23 PM   #6
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Newspaper as underlayment???


Between the hardwood and the sub floor it was probably for noise. the keep the two wood from squeaking when they rubbed. Similar to rosin paper they use today.
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Old 11-14-2011, 08:13 PM   #7
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Newspaper as underlayment???


im with joed, back then they would use what was at hand. for coastal homes they would use seaweed for insulation, in the prairies they would use hay.

why not use old newspapers, ive seen it in several homes. the last one i saw this in had newspapers from the 30's
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Old 11-14-2011, 11:55 PM   #8
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Newspaper as underlayment???


my 1924 house has felt paper under the hardwood (for the main rooms that i've had to repair at least, but in 1 particular closet i had to demo the floor and it had several pages of 1924 newspaper under it instead. it was still readable, and actually quite interesting because it was the classifieds. new fords for 150 dollars, work ad's separated by race, apartments for rent for 18 dollars a month, etc.

i enjoy that period of history personally, so it was a little bit of a treat to see more from it first hand instead of a movie or tv show.
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Old 11-15-2011, 06:01 AM   #9
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Newspaper as underlayment???


The newspapers may have been used to level the floor too.

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Old 11-15-2011, 09:52 AM   #10
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Newspaper as underlayment???


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The newspapers may have been used to level the floor too.

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I find the accelerant explanation more believable. I know it was probably not this far out when it was built, but my floor is out of level by several inches. Newspaper gives you 0.001" per page. I'd need many copies of the Sunday Edition unopenned to level this floor.

Thanks all, I just found it curious as someone that doesn't see this all the time.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:16 AM   #11
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Newspaper as underlayment???


Try an experiment.....

Take some dry newspaper....sandwhich it between two sheets of plywood.....now light the paper....

Only the edge will burn and then go out...unless you can get the wood to catch fire.

The newspaper is no more an 'accelerent' than the wood around it....without air, the paper is not going to burn until the wood burns. It's not a fire hazard.
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Old 11-15-2011, 10:24 AM   #12
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Newspaper as underlayment???


It works just as good at preventing the floor from creaking too. (which is to say it doesn't work for that either)
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Old 11-17-2011, 05:28 PM   #13
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Newspaper as underlayment???


I just had to share this... So I cut another crawlspace access hatch, this time in the dining room. The various layers didn't hold together like they had in other hardwood locations, so I got a look at the various layers. The dining room and kitchen have more layers, this much I already knew.

So beneath the 2005 linoleum tile on the surface, there was a layer of 1/4" plywood. This was installed over some older blue linoleum tile. In turn, this was installed over hardwood flooring. The hardwood flooring was installed over another layer of linoleum. Under the deepest layer of linoleum, newspaper then subfloor.

The real surprise - the newspaper is dated from 1938! This area of floor is part of the original house, which was built in 1917.

I fully intend to do my remodelling such that somebody isn't back 20 years from now tearing out and redoing what I am doing. Again. (x4?)
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Old 11-17-2011, 10:27 PM   #14
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Newspaper as underlayment???


If it were a moisture barrier, from the looks of the wood, it did a good job.
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Old 11-17-2011, 10:44 PM   #15
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Newspaper as underlayment???


I figured out that my house was built in 1928 because they used newspaper as a mold release for the concrete forms in the coal cellar. The paper stuck to the ceiling where I pulled down a piece that was pealing off. Also found that the medicine chest in one bathroom was made out of the wooden boxes that the roof shingles had come in. Interesting choice of materials.

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