Manufacturer and Builder published an article about a paper house in the June 1869 issue. Here's another article about using paper as a building material.
WE live in a peculiar age in all respects. Iron is successfully competing with stone as a superior building material; and now paper commences to compete with lumber and lath and plaster. According to accounts received, it will be as successful in competition as iron in the other.. We have already (Vol. I., p. 179) republished an article from the Desmoines Register, in which the advantages of this substance in economy of money and of time were set forth; and we hear almost daily other favorable reports.
We have received from Mr. B. E. Hale, No. 24 Frankfurt Street, this city, a sample of this building paper which impresses us most favorably. It is nothing but a very stiff pasteboard, to be used for inside finishing in place of lath and plaster: since it costs only 10 to 12 cents per square yard, including labor and material, while lumber costs from 40 cents and upward, lath and plaster nearly as much, and good shingles considerably more.
If we look at the composition of paper, and consider what it really is, we find that it consists of woody fiber, or lignite, compactly pressed together. in fact, pasteboard is wood, with the pores considerably diminished, the thickness and weight decreased, a consequent great flexibility gained, and many refractory properties removed.
Boring holes becomes unnecessary; in place of long nails or screws, tacks do the required service, and they penetrate easily while scissors rapidly and neatly cut to the proper measure, doing away with the hard labor of sawing. Thus a building may be completed in as many days as it would otherwise require weeks. The combustibility is less than that of wood. Pasteboard does not burn as easily as pine boards, as any one may find out by trial; and even the tarred paper used on the outside is scarcely more dangerous than wood, from which the tar is, in fact, extracted. If covered with metallic paint, such a house is not likely to take fire as easily as a wooden frame house; and if once burning, will produce a less dangerous conflagration, because containing a smaller amount of combustible material than buildings made of heavy boards, with twice or three times the amount of studding necessary for paper. As paper is a better non-conductor of heat than wood, such houses should also be warmer in winter and cooler in summer—a supposition verified by experience. On the whole, we shall not be surprised to find, at no distant day, a great many sensible people living comfortably in “houses of cards.”