Use of timber

Most bungalows were constructed using native timbers such as rimu or miro.

Though bungalows looked different from villas, both used very similar materials and construction methods.

Bungalows continued to use lightweight timber framed construction (generally without dwangs) and horizontal weatherboard cladding.

Types of timber

Kauri had been the most popular timber for construction but its widespread use and export meant that it fell into short supply early in the 20th century. For this reason, bungalows were increasingly built from other native timbers such as rimu, miro, matai, totara, tawa, kahikatea and beech species.

In addition, some imported timbers were used including oregon and cedar for framing, and hoop pine, Baltic pine, redwood, Australian blackwood, American oak, maple and cottonwood for joinery.

Most of these imports had stopped by 1927, though oregon, baltic pine and redwood were still preferred for doors and windows, and Baltic pine for flooring.

The table sets out the timbers commonly used in bungalow construction, their characteristics, and where they were used.

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Timber used in bungalows 




Totara Durable, easy to split
Piles, shingles, window joinery, weatherboards, interior flooring, interior finishing, porch flooring
Puriri Durable Piles
Rimu (red pine) Durable (except in wet conditions), fine texture, medium density softwood General framing, weatherboards, flooring, interior panelling, interior finishing
Miro Moderate durability, above ground use only, similar performance and use as rimu General framing, weatherboards, flooring, interior panelling, interior finishing
Matai (black pine) Moderate durability, above ground use only, prone to splitting Flooring, weatherboards, exterior joinery, interior panelling
Kauri Durable (except in wet conditions), straight-grained with few knots General framing, flooring, weatherboards, regular-width shingles, doors, windows
Kahikatea (white pine) Not durable, prone to borer Weatherboards, exterior joinery
Tawa Interior use only Flooring, panelling
Macrocarpa Moderately durable above ground (heartwood only) Weatherboards, joinery, panelling, flooring
Beech - black Durable General framing, flooring, panelling
Beech - red Moderately durable Weatherboards, flooring
Beech - silver Moderately durable Weatherboards
Douglas Fir (Oregon) Moderately durable above ground (heartwood only), knotty timber Wall framing, exposed beams, rafters, interior panelling
Baltic pine Interior use Flooring, weatherboards, interior trim (architraves, skirtings)
Western red cedar Low density softwood, straight grain, coarse texture, good dimensional stability, weathers to silver-grey colour, dry sapwood susceptible to borer attack Exterior joinery, shingles, poles, posts, weatherboards, interior finishing, window opening sashes
Redwood Moderately durable above ground Weatherboards, random-width shingles, flooring, window opening sashes
Kaikawaka Moderately durable above ground Weatherboards, shingles
Kawaka Moderately durable above ground, easy to split Shingles

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Timber treatment

Many native timbers (including kauri and kahikatea) will decay, especially if wet. An early treatment to prevent timber decay involved painting the timber with creosote, a dark greenish/black oil preservative made from coal tar.

Shingles etc were soaked in creosote overnight. Creosote, which has a strong pungent smell, was used until the 1940s when it was replaced with the introduction of pressure-treating timber with a range of preservatives.

Stockholm tar was sometimes used and brushed on.