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In the early part of the twentieth century, there were several types of wall board materials that were quite different than the traditional interior wall finish - plaster.  Most were made with compressed wood fibers or pulp. Some were smooth-surfaced, some manufactured with a wood grain texture and some were striated to look like boards.  The wall boards were simply nailed to studs and joists in unfinished work or nailed over previously finished surfaces.  The joints were typically covered with thin wood batten strips and the assembly was then painted.

There were many types and several manufacturers, but the most well known product today is Beaver Board.  Over a century after this product was first developed, most folks refer to all of these older fiber board products as Beaver Board.  Beaver Board just had the best advertising.

In 1903 J. P. Lewis, a paper product maker, glued layers of mat board used for picture framing to make boards for lining his attic.  This took place in Beaver Falls, NY.  In 1906, he formed the Beaver Manufacturing Company.  Later wallboards made of layered wood fibers include Upson Board, Cornell board, Sterling,  and Fibro-Wallboard.

Some people claim Homasote, made from recycled paper waste, was the original fiber board wall product.  It was originally manufactured for lining railroad carriages, then automobile tops.  It wasn’t until 1925 that it was marketed as a building product.

Some other interesting wall board products include Peerless and Utility Wall Board, which  were made from cardboard layered with asphalt.  Fiberlic was made of fibers from tree roots.   Celotex, a name now associated with modern insulation board, was originally a fiber board made from the waste of processed sugar cane.

These products were advertised as inexpensive, light, easily handled and installed as compared to the process of plastering over lathe.  It was also advertised as having insulating qualities.  One advertisement from the 1920s claimed that when used in chicken houses  “hens will lay more eggs in winter”.

I only see an occasional modest home that has all walls made from these early fiber board products.  I find it’s used mostly in buildings that were originally secondary buildings like carriage sheds or in summer cottages.  The most common place to find it is in the attic of older homes, that wasn’t originally finished.

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  1. 12 Responses  to “Leave It to Beaver Board”

  2. Mark Newell
    Nov 22, 2013
    "Beaver Board" was used for interior walls in worker housing in Badin, N.C.,built by L'Aluminium Français and Alcoa during 1913-1915. A hydroelectric project was built at Badin (named for the owner of the French company) on the Yadkin River to provide power for a new Aluminum ore smelting process. Worker "quardaplexes" or four-unit apartments were built for the influx of workers to the new plant.This would date the use of Beaver Board for interior walls to well before 1925.
  3. Kristi
    Jul 15, 2013
    My brother has a house in NJ built in the 20s, ceiling is Beaver Board. Last summer the living room ceiling fell- yes, fell. He had it replaced & also did the master bedroom. This past weekend the dining room ceiling did the same. Thank God no one was in either rooms at the time. It's very costly to have replaced. Now he'll be replacing the dining room & other rooms to be safe throughout the house. Same issue in other houses in the neighborhood due to Beaver Board.
  4. Gary Bodkins
    Feb 25, 2013
    Where can I purchase board board (particle board)? I've used it for making scenery for stage productions. Or can you recommend some particle that is still manufactured that I can purchase
  5. Linda
    Jan 28, 2013
    We founding it used for 3 ceilings in our 1880 house in Concord, NH. The board was fine, but the plaster caused saging. It had the label "Bestwall" Beaver Products, Buffalo, NY Plant 2
  6. Aug 29, 2011
    Just as you say, our house in New England, dating from the early 20th century, has lath & plaster on the first two floors, but beaverboard on the third. There is a large label on the back of some sheets from Beaver Products Company, Inc. Buffalo, NY.
  7. Lily
    Aug 29, 2011
    Could the barracks in the Japanese American internment camps have had beaver board as interior walls?
  8. Aug 29, 2011
    Walls are a nightmare in older buildings, we have tried everything. We have no opted to not hang anything...
  9. Eileen
    Aug 29, 2011
    An attic room has beaver board. There is a hole in one of the walls. Is there anywhere that I can get a sheet of beaver board? If not, is there anything comparable that I could use? Thank you.
  10. Tony
    Aug 29, 2011
    Does beaverbaord contain any aspestos?
  11. David
    Aug 29, 2011
    Interesting post. We have a summer cottage with this kind of wallboard. Construction is exactly as described, with the wallboard nailed to studs and the joints covered with thin wood strips. We think it was built around 1915. The wallboard is mostly in good shape, but some has warped rather badly due to moisture infiltration. I think an advantage over gypsum wallboard is that since this is an unheated building we don't have the cracking we'd probably have with taped gypsum wallboard and Minnesota temperature extremes.