Wattle and daub is an ancient construction technique used to make both interior and exterior walls. Many examples in old homes can be found, especially in Europe, and this technique continues to be used to produce new homes in some parts of the world. The look and feel of the technique is quite distinctive, and when well made, a wattle and daub home can be warm and very durable. The technique has also been borrowed by other building techniques; many green building companies, for example, incorporate some form of it in their design.
There are two stages to wattle and daub construction. The first is the creation of wattles, interwoven branches, lathes, or rods that form a tight lattice. The wattle can be used to lay the groundwork for walls both inside and outside a home, or to fill in gaps between walls and ceiling timbers. Once the wattle is made, it can be covered in daub, a plaster-like mixture of clays, mud, plant fibers, and animal dung. After the daub sets, many people whitewash the resulting wall to make it more weather resistant and to brighten it.
Archaeological evidence suggests that humans have been using this technique since at least the Neolithic period, and some examples of Neolithic homes would look very familiar to modern humans. This technique is also widely used in the Middle East and parts of Africa, as construction is cheap, reasonably weather resistant, and cooling, as the whitewashed walls can prevent heat penetration in extreme climates, making it ideal for these locations.
Because wattle and daub construction is cheap and easy, it has been associated with poverty in some regions of the world historically. It is certainly true that many laborers and serfs lived in such homes, often constructing them themselves and making repairs as needed. Many of these homes were quite modest, daubed with materials available on the surrounded land and covered in a thatched roof made from straw or other plant materials.
Many people associate wattle and daub with Tudor architecture, as this construction technique was commonly used during this period in British history. One of the defining traits of Tudor architecture is that structures typically have half timbered walls and roofs, filled in with whitewashed wattle and daub. As a result, Tudor homes have bold supporting beams that are often stained to be black or dark brown with expanses of white textured wall between them. This effect is often mimicked with sheetrock or plaster in modern homes to create a Tudor feel.