ABOVE: Classically inspired trim enhances a semi-bungalow sided with cedar shingles.Photo by Greg Premru
The traditional materials are once again widely available today, as are tradespeople who work with them. Wood shingles, clay tile, slate, metal, quarter-sawn clapboards, cement stucco: these materials telegraph the style, character, and quality of the house.
Red and white cedar shingles are of course the classic material for a bungalow. Look-alikes today include composite shingles made of polymers and fiberglass, as well as metal and concrete shingles. These have an “architectural” or dimensional texture as well as coloring that approaches wood shingles.
Clay tiles are prized for long life. Depending on style, the pieces may overlap or interlock. English (flat) tiles resemble either wood shakes or slate shingles. Concrete shingles appeared during the early 20th century as a substitute for clay tile, wood, or slate shingles. Slate, another material with longevity, was quite popular ca. 1900-1945 for houses in the English styles, like Tudor Revivals and Cotswold cottages.
By the 20th century, metal roofs were usually of galvanized steel, as sheet material or as metal shingles with embossed patterns. Today you can find aluminum and steel roofing with factory-applied coatings that mean you don’t have to paint the roof, as in the old days.
Cladding materials varied widely during this period and are not always reliable as a style marker. Craftsman-era houses often follow vernacular tradition, built of brick in Chicago and redwood in California, as examples. Greene & Greene’s Gamble House has board-and-batten siding and Gustav Stickley’s family home in New Jersey is made of logs!
But there are themes. Prairie houses are often stuccoed, as are English cottages and Spanish Revival dwellings. Tudor Revivals are made of brick. Local stone is often combined with clapboard or shingle siding for bungalows from East Coast to West.