Floors: original details

Original bungalows typically had tongue-and-groove wooden flooring supported on joists of rimu or another native timber.

Floor framing

The subfloor framing timbers used in bungalows 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 its high durability.


Bearers were generally 4 x 3” (100 x 75 mm). Where joining of bearers was required, both running joints and at corners, halved joints were typically used (Figures 1 and 2). Tying down of bearers onto foundation walls does not appear to have been standard practice although bearers were generally fixed to piles with wire ties.


Floor framing was typically either  4 x 2” (100 x 50 mm) or 5 x 2” (125 x 50 mm) joists at 18–19” (450–480 mm) centres, and were generally directly supported by the bearers

Double joists were used where the wall framing plate was to be parallel to the joists. Jointing was over bearers and could be constructed by overlapping by at least 12” (300 mm) or butting joists with a flitch plate (Figures 3 and 4).

At the edge of the building, joists were supported on a perimeter bearer if a fully piled foundation, or on a timber plate cast into the concrete foundation wall (Figure 5).

A damp-proof membrane was not used between timber and concrete but the durability of the native timbers means they have often lasted surprisingly well. 

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The floors of bungalows were most commonly rimu, matai or miro timber, tongue and groove floorboards. These were often 5–6” (125–150 mm) wide (although narrower boards are also seen). 

Other native timbers that may have been used include kahikatea, tawa and the beech species (red, silver and black beech). In more expensive houses, Australian jarrah was sometimes used. 

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


Bungalow floors were stained or varnished timber and plain, bevelled skirtings and architraves completed the timbered interior.