External Walls in Period Houses

This is a guide to the construction and composition of external walls in period houses. Read about bricks and brickwork, pointing, stone and stucco, terracotta details, plaques, corner stones (quoins), and special bricks including airbricks.

Most walls in older houses are solid, of a single 'leaf'. A cavity wall is a wall of two leaves with an air gap between them. This construction was used as early as 1800, often to economise on materials. It was first used in London in 1880 and by 1900 was becoming fairly common in small houses. By the 1920s it was in widespread use.

The use of weather-boarding, or clapboard, is relatively rare in the UK. This example is from Whitstable, Kent:

Weatherboarding on Victorian house in Whitstable, Kent

Weatherboarding on Victorian house in Whitstable, Kent


Visit our advice on caring for exterior walls.


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