Life in the Thirteen Colonies

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Student Question

Why did colonial American builders use clapboards?

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Clapboard, which refers to long thin boards that were used to cover the exterior of walls, was commonly found on homes in the New England Colonies. Due to the harsh winters, they needed a way to insulate homes and protect them from the weather. Builders of the time typically built houses with exposed timber that had an infill between the frames. However, lime was an essential part of the infill, and there was not a lot of it to be found in the New England area. Wood was abundant, so they adapted their building techniques to include thin wooden boards on the exterior of homes and other buildings. Clapboard was able to keep out the winter winds but allow the house to air out in the summer.

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