Skip to Main Content

The lather's craft as we know it today was not established until the late 19th century. However, the use of support material on walls and roofs to provide a foundation and retain warmth is a method that comes from old ideas. The wattle and daub method, one of the oldest known processes used for weatherproofing structures, was used in England at least as far back as the Iron Age. Wooden stakes, called wattles, were set vertically into the ground. Rods and twigs were horizontally woven through the wattles, and this framework was then covered, or daubed, with clay or mud. During the Middle Ages, houses in Europe were often constructed in this way. 

By the end of medieval times, lathing was already being practiced as an alternative to wattle and daub. Laths were made of thin strips of wood (most commonly oak) nailed across a dwelling's rafters to support roofing material made of thatch, tiles, or lead. Laths were also used on walls as a support for plaster. The production of laths was an industry in itself, as these supports began to be implemented in all types of structures and used in great quantities. For example, 87,000 laths were used in reconstruction of the London Bridge in the 14th century.

Different materials, such as metal and gypsum (plasterboard), replaced wood as the material of choice for laths. By the early part of the 20th century, the mass construction of commercial and residential buildings provided lathers with many opportunities to use their craft. Since that time, lathing and plastering materials and methods have rapidly developed.