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.
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.
|Totara||Durable, easy to split
||Piles, shingles, window joinery, weatherboards, interior flooring, interior finishing, porch flooring|
|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|
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.