Re: Sheetrock by Rail

Dennis Storzek <destorzek@...>

--- In STMFC@..., "original_coaster" <ladanas@...> wrote:

Just to round out the "geographical roll call," whole neighborhoods
of houses in San Francisco were being constructed with
sheetrock/drywall in the late 40s. I grew up in such a house as did
most of my friends. (Homes like these in that area were the
inspiration for term "ticky-tacky.")

-- Paul
I think it's very much a regional thing. In areas like Chicago, with a
lot of commercial work and strong plasterer's and lathers unions (at
one time lathers were considered a separate trade from carpenters, and
had their own union) plaster interiors on residential work were common
quite late. My Dad's house, built in 1952, is plaster over rock lath,
as is the house next door, built a good ten years later. Out in the
'burbs, where price was everything, drywall construction caught on a
lot sooner.

We are really talking about two different products here. Drywall is
the big sheet product, commonly available in 4x8, 4x10, and 4x12 foot
sheets. Aside from it's large size, it is important the face and edges
not be damaged, as they are the finished wall surface. Based on the
comments about the dates the railroads started converting flatcars for
hauling drywall, it doesn't look like an appreciable volume was moving
before 1950 or so.

Rocklath, the original main sheetrock product, is (still used in
commercial work) a small sheet, heavy bundle product that can
withstand somewhat rougher handling, as it will be entirely covered in
the finished building. It was adopted quite early, as it not only
eliminated dealing with lots of little sticks (but then again, so did
wire lath, the third method of plaster support) it also eliminated one
whole coat of plaster, the scratch coat.. The paper used on rocklath
is porous enough that the "brown coat" will bond to the gypsum plaster
core, so the quickly installed 16" x 32" sheets do double duty as lath
and base coat of plaster.

I'm sure that 1927 trainload shipment of "gypsum building products"
was a mix of bagged gypsum plaster and bundled rocklath, all moving in

(who always thought that "Rock Around the Clock" just meant working
three shifts)

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