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. 15 Responses  to “Leave It to Beaver Board”

  2. George
    Sep 5, 2016
    I have this stuff in my house. I had relative that was a contractor immediately recognize it - his comment - "get rid of as much of it as you can". I found it pretty useless to work with. Wont hold nails, screws, has no structural integrity, and it will rot and smell if it gets wet. I get rid of it anywhere Im doing repairs or remodeling. Anything is better than this stuff. Essentially its garbage.
  3. John
    Dec 24, 2014
    Have been researching to find out what my mom's house in Texas has and this must be the material. Built in 1920. EVERY room...ceilings AND walls are covered with this stuff. Had a squirrel get into the walls a few years back and he ate right thru this stuff.
  4. Alex
    Nov 10, 2014
    Our house's walls and ceilings are entirely made up of beaver board. In some places the board was covered up by paneling probably some few decades ago. All the houses on this street(and even nearby streets) are the same style. But my neighbors said their walls are drywall over old plaster. Also when we bought the house the realter said the house was built in 1920, but the neighbors said their house was built in the 40s. The houses are identical except for later remodeling differences. The beaver board says patented in 1916. "Seattle Sealtite" I think it also says.
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. 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
  8. 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
  9. 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.
  10. Lily
    Aug 29, 2011
    Could the barracks in the Japanese American internment camps have had beaver board as interior walls?
  11. Aug 29, 2011
    Walls are a nightmare in older buildings, we have tried everything. We have no opted to not hang anything...