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Cheesecloth-backed wall and ceiling covering

Anyone know what this stuff is?

I'm buying a 1901 farm house in Silverton, Oregon. Most of the walls and all the ceilings are covered with something I've never seen before. I wouldn't call it "wallpaper".

The backing looks like cheesecloth. That fabric has a layer of what looks like brown paper, which is attached to the fabric. (Almost as if the paper was put onto the fabric while the paper was still wet and it stuck in the fibers.) Over the paper is a coating of some sort -- possibly paint or plaster, feels more like plaster to me. It flexes with the cloth, but is a little stiffer.

Since I don't own the house yet, I hesitate to remove any of it, so I haven't determined exactly how it's put up. But in the places I can get to and press on it, it "gives" a little, which makes me think it isn't glued down. I want to remove all of it.

What is this covering called? How's it attached? Is it safe to remove it without special safety equipment (respirators, etc.)? How about disposal?

Thanks much!

Re: Cheesecloth-backed wall and ceiling covering

They used to hang wallpaper over muslin cloth that had been attached to interior wall sheathing boards with small tacks. This cloth cushioned the wallpaper from cracking as it would have had it been directly glued to the wood. I'd bet that some later individual applied drywall compound to the wallpaper as a shortcut.
If you peel off all the stuff, (and it should come off readily) you can drywall over the wood planks (with 3/8" rock) and have nice flat walls.

Hank Bauer
Re: Cheesecloth-backed wall and ceiling covering

It maybe Fibrous Plaster this type plaster dates back to maybe before 1500.
It was used for fine art and ornate plaster work.
It was also used in the mid 1800's to Renovate Old Plaster.
And yes in some cases it was held in place with small nails.
But a home build in 1901 most likly would not have used this method.But could have been repaired at a later date with the Fibrous plaster or with a glue and plaster bandage the same as was used to to make a cast for broken arms and leg cast.
I order this type bandage for plaster repairs for cracks it can only be used over clean plaster not for painted plaster repair.
The only way to be sure is to do a sample test for make up of material.

Re: Cheesecloth-backed wall and ceiling covering

Thanks. Speaking of drywall, I do plan to use it over all the walls -- possibly the ceilings, too, depending on what they look like when I get the covering off. Sould I put a vapor barrier over the wood boards before putting up the drywall?

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