Brooklyn interior demolition company finds horsehair but no head

DiMola Bros

A lock of horsehair is wedged in between lath rows, which are being held together with lime plaster. I was at this old Brooklyn house to give an estimate for an interior demolition.

Have you ever found animal hair stuck to the walls of your house?

I have!

Horsehair was stuck on the walls of an old house in Brooklyn, where, years ago, I was hired to give an interior demolition estimate.

Back in the early 18th century until the mid 20th century, animal hair was often used to help bind plaster mixtures that covered interior walls. Lime plaster was made of lime, aggregate, fiber and water. Animal hair provided the fiber, as well as a cohesive power that other materials simply couldn’t live up to.

Rubbish Removal Company

Old Brooklyn house where I provided an interior demolition estimate -- and found horsehair on the walls!

For every ton of plaster, 8 pounds — yes, 8 pounds!!! — of animal hair were added to the mixture. Walls were covered using lath and plaster techniques, where horizontal strips of wood were nailed to a vertical upright wooden framework. Three layers of a lime putty mixture, which included the animal hair, would be applied to the walls.

Goat hair was considered the best type of animal hair to use because it was super fine and would leave the best finish on the walls.

When plaster is smushed through the openings of lath rows, it creates stiff glops that ooze out and create what are called “keys.” The keys hold the plaster to the wall. If you look carefully at the photo above, you can see the lime stains on the wood lath where there were glops of plaster coming through and keys were formed.

As a garbage guru, I’ve grown accustomed to encountering some weird stuff on the job, but this animal hair is by far the most unusual item I have added to my collection!

Check out these cool uses for horse hair:

• Bows for musical instruments.
• Horsehair plaster which is a wall covering used in the construction industry and is found in older buildings. Horse hair plaster has now been replaced by cheaper materials such as drywall.
• Used in the crafts of horse hair hitching, braiding and making jewellery.
• Used for fine arts paintbrushes.
• Horse hair was used as stuffing in the 1800s and as covering fabric for furniture.
• In the 1800s horse hair was also used for making sieves for sieving flower etc.
• Shaving brushes.
• Horse hair was common in hats and women’s underwear in the past.
• Horse hair was also used in women’s hair to create the Gibson Girl look.
• A lot of wigs in the 1700s were made from horse hair.
• Fishing lines.
**Above facts were taken from

DiMola Bros Rubbish Removal
1640 Summerfield St.
Ridgewood, NY 11385
Phone: 718-326-6969
Fax: 718-326-7979 /

~ by DiMolaBros1956 on February 8, 2011.

2 Responses to “Brooklyn interior demolition company finds horsehair but no head”

  1. Neat and good description man! Found you while researching for a “how to” repair the stuff, although I know it gets ripped out a lot in the states!

    Did you know that human hair wasn’t used for plaster because it was too greasy and didn’t work nearly as good as horse or goat hair!

    Kinda gross!
    Stay well guys

  2. It is important to note that it is NOT the MANE or TAIL horsehair that was used.. too springy, and thick, so it is the body hair, as with the goat.

    A tuft like that may have been from a lazy worker, because cleaning out seeds, weeds and “teasing” the clumps of fibers apart thinly, and carefully BEFORE they were added to the pail was a tedious job.

    I live in a town with 10,000 100+ year old Victorian houses, ( Eureka) almost all lath and plaster walls in them. Unfortunately many conventional home buyers think only of restoring the period decorative style, and rip out the true lime plaster walls, for ordinary drywall. Many are also keeping and repairing the original walls, a local college, College of the Redwoods, has a full program on teaching others to restore these types of homes. The main drawback for many homeowners is the difficulty hanging pictures and artwork, the plaster crumbles, and won’t easily hold a regular nail, or screw, and the thin wood slat itself is not strong enough to hold larger pieces on the wall. Installing kitchen cabinets is an issue, but sacrificing a small amount wall surface and keeping larger living space areas is a good choice. Fortunately there are modern wall devices to help solve these problems, and the beauty of the old liime wall is worth keeping in trade for small inconveniences.

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