DIY Home Improvement Forum banner

1 - 20 of 23 Posts

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #1
I just bought a home built in the 1790's and in my quest to "fix" the walls, i took the plaster off the interior walls and on the inside of the exterior walls i discovered stone. The stacked stone is between the timbers and i am wondering what i can do with this. Are these in fact stone walls that can be repointed and exposed or are they intended to be covered witn plaster or sheetrock? Any insight will help greatly!
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
37,273 Posts
Got a picture, can not see it from here.
 

·
Super Moderator
Joined
·
14,215 Posts
I worked in a lot of the old homes but never saw that, the house must have one heck of a foundation to hold that weight.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
2,915 Posts
I myself have worked on "colonials" that old here in New England, but have never seen stone inside the wall. I'll have to dig out one of my old books on Colonial New England construction and see what I can find out
 

·
Roofmaster
Joined
·
3,731 Posts
My Grandfathers home had this. According to my dad who is now 94, this was fairly common in the old days and was done to help the home hold heat through the night as the fire dwindled in the wood or coal burning cook stove/ heating system in the kitchen. Im sure it cut down on drafts too, and served as a fire stop as most of these homes were of balloon construction. My grandfather added steam heat in cast iron radiators, and that house was always as cozy as a bug in a rug, and properly humidified. Nothing like crappy forced hot air heat.
 

·
Maryland
Joined
·
413 Posts
jagans said:
My Grandfathers home had this. According to my dad who is now 94, this was fairly common in the old days and was done to help the home hold heat through the night as the fire dwindled in the wood or coal burning cook stove/ heating system in the kitchen. Im sure it cut down on drafts too, and served as a fire stop as most of these homes were of balloon construction. My grandfather added steam heat in cast iron radiators, and that house was always as cozy as a bug in a rug, and properly humidified. Nothing like crappy forced hot air heat.
1790 would have been about 40 years too early for balloon framing. Most likely some form of heavy timber framing.
 

·
Exterior Construction
Joined
·
28,572 Posts
My Grandfathers home had this. According to my dad who is now 94, this was fairly common in the old days and was done to help the home hold heat through the night as the fire dwindled in the wood or coal burning cook stove/ heating system in the kitchen. Im sure it cut down on drafts too, and served as a fire stop as most of these homes were of balloon construction. My grandfather added steam heat in cast iron radiators, and that house was always as cozy as a bug in a rug, and properly humidified. Nothing like crappy forced hot air heat.
How funny is it that we were more building science smart 200+ years ago than we have been for the last 50 years!!
 

·
AHH, SPANS!!!
Joined
·
1,751 Posts
How funny is it that we were more building science smart 200+ years ago than we have been for the last 50 years!!

there are monasteries that were built out of wood hundreds and hundreds of years ago with zero rot now. the wood was placed such that the positive and negative poles where accurate with how the wood grew in its natural state. that is a true science of nature and how emulating it brings the best results. I could see guys running around now with dowsing rods dowsing every stick of wood to find the polarity right before they nail it up with the nail gun :thumbup:
 

·
Bill Kearney
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
How funny is it that we were more building science smart 200+ years ago than we have been for the last 50 years!!
Not quite. All that wood and coal burning wasn't very smart. Nor was the lack of insulation, masonry heat bank aside. Most the houses were overbuilt and that wasted a lot of material. But since it was (mistakenly) thought of as cheap and plentiful they didn't care. I'm all for sturdy stuff, but nostalgia is often wrong.

BigJim raises a good question, make sure all that weight is being managed properly. When you start taking off the wall you're potentially removing something that was holding part of the weight in place. Was there a lot of cracking on this wall?

That and what's the chance that was part of an older exterior wall?
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
It has clapboard siding and yes, the foundation is at least 24" stone and on the main load bearing walls 3' thick. The stone is inside all of the outside walls. I have had two architects out to the property and while one was a dud saying that the builders were "crazy" the other she light on the building. Similar to half timber architecture, the stone was used a insulation. It is not supportive in any way as the beams and studs are all hand sawn 4x6 wood posts. There are also wood "shelves" inside the walls to support layers of stone.
 

·
Bill Kearney
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
Heh, let's hope the previous "updates" don't add to your complications.

Having never worked with, nor seen that kind of in-wall stone I can't say what should or shouldn't be done with it. My big question would be how to insulate it? Insulating on the inside would seem like it'd waste the "thermal mass" properties of it. So that would leave insulating on the outside, which presents issues with changing the exterior. But, again, not something I know anything about.
 

·
Exterior Construction
Joined
·
28,572 Posts
Not quite. All that wood and coal burning wasn't very smart. Nor was the lack of insulation, masonry heat bank aside. Most the houses were overbuilt and that wasted a lot of material. But since it was (mistakenly) thought of as cheap and plentiful they didn't care. I'm all for sturdy stuff, but nostalgia is often wrong.

BigJim raises a good question, make sure all that weight is being managed properly. When you start taking off the wall you're potentially removing something that was holding part of the weight in place. Was there a lot of cracking on this wall?

That and what's the chance that was part of an older exterior wall?
Filling homes with ton of glass isn't exactly smart either but that the new standard of construction today.

The fact is that most homes were build with ventilation in mind and more aimed at passive solar heating (large overhang for summer protection and allowances for passive winter heating).

I am not arguing that the technology hasn't come light years in the last 20 years with advancements in building science and insulation, but this is mostly in the last 10-15 years at that.

We weren't even insulating walls until the mid 1970s in most cases.

I have seen more rainscreen wall designs built before the 40's than I have since. Thermal mass walls were more popular back then as well.

Sure, air tightness and envelopes have gotten tighter but they would probably have killed more people in homes back then with all the heating and open burning for heat.

In terms of materials to burn...what does that have to do with building science. That was the available material of the day and coal can still be burned quite efficiently and cleanly with modern scrubbers. I am sure they people of the early 1800s would have loved to had a modern Geothermal furnace if it existed.
 

·
Bill Kearney
Joined
·
2,003 Posts
It's the whole notion of reminiscing about the past as if it was somehow better. Often it wasn't.

Anyway, let's keep the thread on topic.
 

·
Registered
Joined
·
5 Posts
Discussion Starter #19
The architect we decided to go with has suggested we leave the stone in place where it is still untouched and insulate the upper floor with glass. Although we do not have a vapor barier and the home will have to be painted more regularly, it will be more cost effective to not take the siding off to put the barier in, and potentially damage it and need to replace a lrge amount of "virgin growth" wood siding. The siding in in suprisingly great shape and is quite sturdy and has only small amounts of rot where the "new" windows were installed in the 1990's. Also, as an aside, the windows that were left original have no water damage around them (Mostly in the rear of the home)
 

Attachments

1 - 20 of 23 Posts
Top