Term Definition

Lath is attached to the framing of interior walls and used as a backing to support plaster walls and ceilings. Wet plaster is pushed through spaces between the pieces of lath to form keys. It should not be confused with lathe, which is a tool used in woodworking.

Historically, three types of lath have been used in house construction: 1) eighteenth and nineteenth century wood lath, thin strips of wood installed horizontally between major framing elements and with spaces between the strips into which plaster could be pushed; 2) metal lath, a late nineteenth century innovation whose mesh structure provided a multiplicity of small openings for keying the plaster, and 3) rock lath, or gypsum/plaster board lath, a two by four inch perforated gypsum board introduced in the early twentieth century to which plaster would be keyed.

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