Wall cladding original details

Often, two or more forms of cladding were used on the same bungalow.

The range of exterior wall claddings used for the bungalow were far more diverse than for the villa, with two or more claddings frequently being employed in the same building.

Bevel-back weatherboards were common, but rusticated weatherboards and vertical board and batten were also used, as were shingles, stucco plaster, asbestos-cement sheet and brick construction.

Horizontal weatherboards

Rusticated weatherboarding was commonly used for villa and transitional bungalow cladding. Once bevel-back weatherboards were introduced, they became the most commonly used horizontal weatherboard cladding on bungalows.

Timber suitable for weatherboard use included rimu, miro, matai, totara, some beech species, kahikatea, tawa and kaikawaka.

Profiles of boards tended to be from smaller rough sawn sizes than the timbers used for villa construction. Boards were typically from either 8 x 1” (200 x 25 mm) or 6 x 1” (150 x 25 mm) timbers which, after seasoning and dressing, had finished dimensions of around 7½” x ¾” (190 x 20 mm) and 5½” x ¾” (140 x 20 mm). However, as with claddings generally, a wide range of timber sizes was used.

Weathergrooves are not common in bungalow weatherboards.

Back to top


When bevel-back weatherboard cladding was introduced, the main corners were boxed with scribers to create the weatherproofing. Mitred corner joints with the mitred joint being waterproofed by means of putty and paint, were used for porch and faceted bay window corners and angles (Figure 6).

Back to top


Shingles were occasionally used for whole house cladding in New Zealand, but in bungalows they were mostly used as a decorative feature particularly to gables and below the sills of bay and bow windows. They were easily fixed to the curves created by the bell-casting commonly found in both locations (Figure 7).

Native timbers used for shingles included kawaka, kahikatea and sometimes totara. Pre-cut, imported, western red cedar shingles were also used in large quantities, and imported redwood shingles were also sometimes used.

Shingles were sometimes cut in different shapes. They could be arranged in a variety of ways such as scalloped, honey-combed or fish scale patterns.

Jeremy Ashford notes in The Bungalow in New Zealand that shingles were a distinctive feature of the bungalow style. Once shingles became popular on bungalows, he says, it did not take long for villa owners to start “bungling” their homes by adding shingled bay windows and verandas with shingled arches.

Back to top

Board and batten

Vertical board and batten was occasionally used, particularly as a decorative feature on the gable.

Vertical boards varied between 6–9” (150–225 mm) wide and were fixed ¼” (6 mm) apart.

The joints between vertical boards were covered by battens about 2½” x ¾” (64 x 20 mm) wide.

Both boards and battens had weathergrooves approximately ½” (12 mm) from each edge, and the battens were positioned so the weathergrooves were aligned. Battens were nailed to one board only to prevent the edges of either boards or battens from splitting due to shrinkage.

As the vertical boards required fixing along the full length of each board, the framing of bungalows clad with vertical board and battens will have horizontal dwanging between the vertical studs.

Back to top


Stucco typically consists of a 3:1 sand:cement mix, perhaps with small stone mixed in for texture, applied over galvanised wire netting or metal lath reinforcing, which has been fixed over a rigid or a non-rigid backing. The thickness of the plaster is approximately ¾ “ (19-20mm) (Figure 8).

Another feature was ‘pebbledash’, a clean stone finish on plastered wall.


The rigid backings included asbestos-cement sheets or close-boarded timber sheathing and, in the early days of its development, ‘Gibraltar’ plasterboard. In some cases, a stucco finish was later applied over weatherboards, which then provided the rigid backing.

Non-rigid backings included heavy weight building paper or a bitumen-impregnated felt.

Where a rigid backing was used, building paper was required between the backing and the framing but unfortunately was not always installed or was not installed satisfactorily.

Holes or V cuts were sometimes made in the outside edges of dwangs or plates to allow for air circulation to the timber framing that was otherwise restricted by the closely fitted backing material (not just in stucco houses) (Figure 9).

Konka board

Konka board was a New Zealand invention, patented in 1915, that was used as a backing board for a stucco finish, largely in Wanganui.

It was a lightweight, cement-based panel system using volcanic pumice as an aggregate, and had a backing of building paper. Panels were about 3’ x 2’6” (900 x 760 mm) and 5/8” (15 mm) thick.

Sheets were fixed into timber framing in a staggered pattern. The joints were filled with mortar, then covered with hessian (sacking) soaked in wet cement to provide good key for the plaster finish that was applied to the whole surface.

Gibraltar board

Another material originally used in the 1920s as a rigid backing board for stucco was Gibraltar board, which consisted of sheets of gypsum plaster covered with paper on both sides. The sheets were coated in bitumen before being fixed to the timber framing. Steel mesh covered the sheets, and the whole surface was plastered.

Before long the benefits of plasterboard as an internal wall lining were recognised, as well as its relative unsuitability as a stucco substrate, and it was quickly adopted for internal use only.

Back to top

Asbestos-cement sheet cladding

Asbestos-cement sheets were first made in the early 1900s. Asbestos was combined with cement to form a thin, rigid sheet suitable for cladding and lining buildings. By the 1920s it was in regular use as a cladding material on its own or as a rigid backing board for stucco.

Early asbestos-cement sheet brands were imported such as ‘poilite’ from England and later ‘Fibrolite’ from Australia.

Sheet widths were between 1’6” –4’0” (450–1200 mm) and were generally 3/16” (5 mm) thick. They were quick and easy to fix, and joints were covered by battens (where it was not used as a backing for stucco). Sheets did not need to be painted and were claimed to be fireproof.

Back to top


Though brick bungalows were not common, they are found in some parts of the country. Brick was used as a structural element as well as cladding. See brick bungalows for more.

Back to top

Colour schemes and finishes

A greater range of paint colours became available during the Californian bungalow period than had been available during the villa era, so the bungalows were generally more colourful.

The main part of the house was usually painted a pale colour that could be off-white, buff or cream and offset with contrasting trims such as dark greens, reds and blacks which were popular for facing boards, shingles under the gables and bay windows and other decorative additions.

Stains and oils were also sometimes used. Examples include:

  • ‘Stockholm tar’ or hot tar – even black colour
  • creosote – grain is visible
  • paint/creosote mix – gives greater range of colour.