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Lath and plaster have been used in construction from the 1700s through the 1940s.  During that time lath and plaster wall construction was the method of choice.

Builders nailed thin closely spaced strips of wood (lath) to wall studs and then smoothed multiple layers of plaster over the lath to create a flat surface.

If your house was built before 1940, your interior walls are likely lath and plaster.  Drywall came into vogue in the 1950s as a cheaper and easier installation option.  If you have an older home and need repairs you can find good plastering services in Auckland.

Although it’s an old-school technique, lath and plaster have some surprising advantages.


A typical lath and plaster wall has at least 3 coats of plaster resulting in a dense rock-hard coating.  When combined with the lath underneath walls can be up to 1 ¼ inches thick.  This thickness offers some unique benefits.

Lath and plaster walls provide better insulation helping homes stay warmer in the winter and cooler in the summer

Thick dense walls muffle the transfer of sound from one room to another.  That’s one reason older homes are much quieter than newer homes made with drywall.

Plaster is more fire-resistant than drywall.

Plaster walls often have slight surface marks that add character and charm to the walls.  They don’t appear sterile and utilitarian like drywall.

Lath and plaster make it easier to create custom curves and arches in walls and ceilings.


Over time most houses settle and when they do plaster is prone to cracking.  If the house settles significantly it can cause chunks of brittle plaster to break away from the wall.

It can be difficult to retrofit a home with lath and plaster walls.  When it comes time to upgrade your home, dealing with lath and plaster requires more knowledge, time, and expense than working with drywall.

Older homes with lath and plaster walls usually don’t have enough insulation.  Even when blown-in fibre insulation was used, the nature of lath and plaster made it hard to distribute the insulation evenly.  This resulted in entire portions of walls left without any insulation.

If moisture gets into your lath and plaster walls it can saturate the wood lath.  As the wood loses its shape and rigidity chunks of plaster can break off the wall.  This creates a repair nightmare requiring you to replace the underlying lath and then re-plaster over the new support.


If you live in a house built before 1940 the walls are likely plaster.  As long as the walls are in good condition you can leave them as they are.  If you like your old walls and want to keep them, do regular inspections and repair cracks as soon as you notice them.

If your walls have seen better days you can replace them with drywall panels.  This is best done by a licenced building contractor.  This is often done as part of a larger remodelling project and can include the addition of new wiring, and insulation.