Floors: original details

Floor framing

Subfloor framing timber included heart rimu, miro, matai and red beech. Heart rimu with a particularly high resin content was referred to as shaky heart rimu and was recognised for the additional durability bestowed by the resin.

Bearers were generally 4 x 3” (100 x 75 mm) and typically installed on the edge. Where bearers were required to be joined, either as running (in the length) or as corner joints, a halved joint was typically used.

Ground floor framing generally consisted of 5 x 2” (125 x 50 mm) joists at 18–19” (450–480 mm) centres, and was supported directly by the bearers. Where the wall framing plate was parallel to the joists, joists were doubled. Jointing occurred over bearers and was either by overlapping at least 12” (300 mm) or by butting joists and connecting with a flitch plate.

At the edges, joists were supported on a timber plate cast into the concrete foundation wall, or bolted or pinned to it.

In two storey construction, first-floor framing consisted of 10 x 2” (250 x 50 mm) or 12 x 2” (300 x 50 mm) joists at 18” (450 mm) centres, depending on the span.

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Flooring was most commonly rimu or matai, 5-6” (125-150 mm) wide x 1” (25 mm) thick tongue and groove (T&G) boards. Other native timbers used include miro, kahikatea, tawa and the beech species (red, silver and black beech).

Floorboards were laid over the joists using an external wall plate as the starting point to lay against, and they were generally laid after the building had been enclosed. Internal, non-loadbearing walls were constructed over the floorboards.

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Floor finishes

Timber floors were usually left natural and covered by rugs. They were generally finished with a shellac sealer coat or a wax finish. From around the mid 1930s, many houses had wall-to-wall carpet in living areas and bedrooms.

Kitchens and bathrooms were often tiled or had linoleum sheets laid over the floorboards. The linoleum may have been in several different colours and cut into patterns or borders. Some more expensive houses had terazzo floors.

Exposed, polished timber floorboards did not have the popularity they have today.