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A plaster query. How can I ensure that the properties I am looking at have no HORSE HAIR in the plaster?

(44 Posts)
QuintlessShadows Tue 20-Jan-15 22:21:36

I must avoid at all cost.

In fact this is the primary reason we are looking to move. I have developed asthma, and it turns out I am allergic to the horsehair used to bolster the plaster in the walls.

How can I tell?

BlackbirdOnTheWire Tue 20-Jan-15 22:25:19

Well, don't look at Victorian properties for a start... Try a new-build?
I have a feeling that drywall started replacing lath-and-plaster around the 1950s, so 60s on and you should be ok...

QuintlessShadows Tue 20-Jan-15 22:26:49

So, that means pretty much all period houses are out of the question?

QoFE Tue 20-Jan-15 22:29:12

Yep I would say so. Our house has bits ranging from 100-500 years old and we've found horse hair plaster of varying ages in every wall.

BlackbirdOnTheWire Tue 20-Jan-15 22:29:14

Although having said that, I guess anyone trying to build an eco, traditional construction house might have gone down the horsehair route - but a standard big builder/developer house would be fine. You can usually tell by the sound whether an internal wall is plasterboard or lath-and-plaster, but I don't know how you could use that method for an external wall.

Interested though... It gave me the shock of my life when I was filling cracks (many years ago) dug out some damp crumbling plaster, and a bunch of black horse hair fell out too.

BlackbirdOnTheWire Tue 20-Jan-15 22:34:07

X-posted. Yes, anything older than 100 years almost certainly has horse hair somewhere. It may be that the old plaster has been replaced over the years by plasterboard, or (very likely) skimmed over, though there is a strong chance that the skim won't adhere properly and is more likely to crack/blow, so would need replacing, possibly exposing horse hair.

We have a Victorian terrace. Most of the internal walls have been stripped of the old lath construction and replaced with drywall (lath had rotted, plus we needed to rewire and install central heating). The external walls and a couple of internals have been skimmed (not by us originally, but since re skimmed by us). However, I know for sure the downstairs loo has original walls because I repaired the plaster on one wall and patched it rather than replaced all.

QuintlessShadows Tue 20-Jan-15 22:34:57

I dont like newbuilds much. I love the character of a proper victorian or edwardian home!

Most of the ones I have seen are without soul. Plain walls, downlights, shiny surfaces, white tiled floors in big open kitchens and big glass bifold doors. I dont like it. I think it lacks imagination. And not to mention high gloss, whether white or "mahogany gold stripe". Not my cup of tea.

QuintlessShadows Tue 20-Jan-15 22:36:06

But will skimming the walls protect me from horse hair? Will it be enough?

BlackbirdOnTheWire Tue 20-Jan-15 22:52:05

Honestly, I don't know. Also I guess depends on your allergy. But what happens if, say, the plaster blows? Modern plaster on top of old isn't really advisable; it doesn't tend to adhere so well.

You might be ok with a 1930s? Plasterboard was available in the UK earlier, I just don't know exactly when it became the predominant material but fairly sure by the 50s. You should be able to find out if, say, a 1930s house built by a railway company used drywall - a local surveyor or builder would probably have dealt with enough houses in that particular location to have a good idea. My parents' 30s house was horsehair though.

Middleagedmotheroftwo Tue 20-Jan-15 22:58:18

I think I'd stick with houses built in the 60s or later if your allergy is really severe. How long would you need to be in the house for any hidden hair to affect you? I mean, would you react while looking round a potential property?

traviata Tue 20-Jan-15 23:03:32

I very much agree with the 'local knowledge' angle. Builders/ developers tended to stick with their chosen style, so you could find, for example, a whole street of houses built in a particular way with the same idiosyncrasies. look for post 1930, or interrogate the experts at your local museum/conservation society.

I seem to recall you may be in South West London? What area do you want to live in?

QuintlessShadows Tue 20-Jan-15 23:28:47

I would prefer to stay local, as the kids are settled in school here.

Our home is on a very modest development, but the rest of the area is built differently with very large semis and detached houses. Even if they were built without the horse hair, they woul be out of our range.

But, out of interest, two of them are in the process of being gutted, so I suppose u could ask the builders if they have encountered horse hair.

My sensitivity builds over time, and I am now in a state of constant reaction. It is low level and managed with inhalers and will get even worse in spring when I also get hay fever thrown in.

traviata Tue 20-Jan-15 23:36:45

I don't know exactly where you live, but for example these people The Putney Society are the kind of people whose knowledge you could tap into. Obsessive about detail, meticulous, very well informed, very knowledgeable about local history - they could probably tell you the names of every person who built your house, let alone what materials they used to do so.

So if you want period feel without period antigens - try your local period society.

QuintlessShadows Tue 20-Jan-15 23:40:48

Oh that's a good idea. Spot on from the local knowledge angle, people and groups like that are worth checking with!

FannyFifer Tue 20-Jan-15 23:44:45

How do you know that's what is triggering your asthma?

QuintlessShadows Tue 20-Jan-15 23:49:28

Horse hair came up as the biggest trigger when I did an allergy test. Before I developed asthma it was believed to be the cause of chronic sinusitis. It is reasonable to assume that it is a cause for asthma, when doctor think the asthma is triggered by allergies.

FannyFifer Tue 20-Jan-15 23:57:47

Wisnae having a dig btw, have an asthmatic family & live in a period house, lath and plaster walls etc, they've had various allergy tests & nowt showed up but I doubt horse hair wld have been checked..

If the horsehair is behind plaster, possibly then wallpapered or painted over then how cld it be an airborne trigger though?
Could you get the walls sealed with something maybe?

Gozogozo Wed 21-Jan-15 06:39:43

Quint just a quick thought; have you got horse hair in your mattress?

OliviaBenson Wed 21-Jan-15 07:01:17

I really don't know much about allergies but the hair should be encapsulated by the plaster so it might not be that?

I think you'd be better to move into a more modern house if it is a trigger. Period houses with modern plaster can be prone to problems with damp as modern plasters don't allow them to breathe.

I'd seek medical advice though before uprooting to a new house.

QuintlessShadows Wed 21-Jan-15 10:08:27

I have an appointment with my GP tomorrow, I have booked a double appointment, as I need to investigate all this further.

The 4 years I was away from this house, I had no problems with allergies, no respiratory infections, and felt happy and healthy. After 2 years back, it is just getting worse and worse.

flipchart Wed 21-Jan-15 10:11:24

Most of the ones I have seen are without soul. Plain walls, downlights, shiny surfaces, white tiled floors in big open kitchens and big glass bifold doors. I dont like it. I think it lacks imagination. And not to mention high gloss, whether white or "mahogany gold stripe".

Sounds like my ideal home!
Horses for courses I suppose!

SolomanDaisy Wed 21-Jan-15 10:11:47

Could you look at putting fibre glass lining paper on the walls? I think that would thoroughly seal them. You can't be the only one to suffer from this, so maybe there is a guide to dealing with it somewhere?

QuintlessShadows Wed 21-Jan-15 10:15:49

I just dont know how to furnish a big open square room with a kitchen in the corner! Is it a dining room? Is it a living room? Both? How do I "zone" it?

Maybe there is an asthma/allergy website that give information about tackling horsehair walls. Good point. I will check.

Unidentifieditem Wed 21-Jan-15 10:33:49

I dont understand how horsehair that has been skimmed over and painted and possibly papered could possibly trigger an allergic reaction... it would be neither airborne nor touchable. Do you not have a sofa or mattress or divan that contains horsehair? it sounds so odd.

As others have said, new build is the only other way to go...

QuintlessShadows Wed 21-Jan-15 10:35:26

I dont know if I have anything else that contains horsehair. Our bed is a spring mattress.

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