What Is A Lath And Plaster? Components Of A Lath And Plaster System

What Is A Lath And Plaster? Components Of A Lath And Plaster System

What Is A Lath And Plaster?

Lath-and-plaster is a construction method that involves applying wet plaster or stucco to a metal or wood frame, allowing it to dry and creating a strong bond through the formation of plaster keys.

Stucco has been used for sculpture and building for centuries but it became a popular choice for exterior walls in the 20th century. When used for exterior walls stucco is usually applied in at least three layers over metal lath, which is a type of wire mesh.

In the United Kingdom, lath and plaster construction techniques declined in popularity after the introduction of plasterboard in the 1930s.

In contrast, in Canada and the United States, lath and plaster were still used until the mid-twentieth century when it was replaced by transitional methods and eventually drywall (the North American term for plasterboard).

History And Use Of Lath And Plaster

Lath is a material that is used as a backing for plaster or drywall. It can be made of wood or metal. Metal lath is further categorized based on its weight, the type of ribbing it has, and whether it has been galvanized or not.

Metal lath is attached to a wall using tie wires and spaced across a 13.5-inch center. Rock lath, which is also known as “button board,” “plaster board,” or “gypsum-board lath,” is a type of gypsum wallboard with holes spaced regularly to allow wet plaster to key into it.

It was used as early as 1900 and was typically produced in sheets measuring 2 by 4 feet. Lath and plaster methods have been largely replaced by modern drywall or plasterboard, which is easier and cheaper to install and less prone to settling and vibration.

Lath and plaster walls were a common method for constructing interior walls during the 1700s to the early-middle of the 20th century. The technique involves attaching narrow strips of wood, called laths, to the frame of a building with the laths running perpendicular to the wall studs.

Today, metal laths are sometimes used instead of wood due to their ability to resist moisture. Plaster is then applied in three layers: the scratch coat, the brown coat, and the finish coat. This method has largely been replaced by the more modern technique of hanging drywall.

Components Of A Lath And Plaster System

A lath and plaster system is composed of narrow wood strips (Laths) that are held in place by nails horizontally on wall studs or ceiling joists. The Laths are then used to coat the surface with a layer of plaster, creating a strong and durable finish for walls and ceilings.

This process is commonly used for interior divisions, as it can produce strong squared edges between rooms. The combination of durability, strength and aesthetic appeal has made this technique the most popular one within the construction industry.

Advantages Of Lath And Plaster

Lath and plaster is a traditional building technique used for centuries in the construction of homes and other buildings. It consists of installing wooden laths onto walls or ceilings and covering them with wet plaster. This type of wall treatment has advantages. Traditional lath can be used for decorative or irregularly shaped building projects, as it is more flexible than drywall and can create tight radii. It can also be used in combination with wire mesh for exterior stucco.

Lath and plaster, including rock and metal lath, can provide superior soundproofing and fire protection in historic buildings. When used with lime or gypsum plaster, it can effectively block sound and prevent the spread of fire by protecting horizontal elements like timber joisted floors.

Downsides Of Using Lath And Plaster

Lath and plaster walls are more expensive and time-consuming to install than drywall, and repairs to lath and plaster walls are more difficult and require more skilled labor than drywall repairs.

Additionally, demolition of lath and plaster walls can create a lot of mess due to the difficulty in removing the plaster keys that hold the plaster to the wall.

Installation Processes For Lath And Plaster

Lath and plaster walls are constructed by attaching lath, a rough, unfinished wood or metal grid, to open house studs. Plaster is then applied to the lath in several layers, including a scratch coat, brown coat, and white coat.

The scratch coat creates “keys,” or grip points, on the back of the lath to help hold the plaster in place. Once the plaster has cured, the wall must be primed before it can be painted.

This process can take several days to complete. Plasterers, who are skilled at nailing up lath, typically handle the construction of lath and plaster walls.


In conclusion, a lath and plaster system is an excellent way to create strong walls that are robust enough to withstand moisture and the passage of time.

It can also be used in both modern and traditional construction projects to provide a unique, textured look that increases the value of any home or building.

Furthermore, this system is easy to install and maintain, making it an ideal choice for any interior wall project.

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