Defining Style: Folk Victorian

Jeff Smith

As Victorian styles designed by architects gained favor among wealthier families, the middle class hired carpenters to build simpler imitations in a style known as Folk Victorian. Similarities exist between Folk Victorian and Queen Anne styles, with the former being smaller and plainer. Unlike the Queen Anne style, Folk Victorian houses tend to have square, symmetrical shapes with el-shaped projections. But they share characteristics such as a prominent front-facing gable, porches with spindlework, brackets under the eaves and ornate trim. The growth of railroads and mass-produced building materials brought a variety of decorative detailing to the farmlands – and carpenters used whatever was available to accent the Folk Victorian houses they built.


Folk Victorian houses often feature clapboard as the dominant exterior cladding. Vinyl siding clapboard comes in a variety of configurations including 3″ to 8″ reveals. Board & batten, beaded and Dutchlap styles are also used.


Shakes or shingles are also fairly common as the primary exterior cladding for Folk Victorian houses. Durable vinyl and other polymeric siding come in an array of shakes and shingles.

Accent Cladding:

When using standard clapboard on the main body of a Folk Victorian house, gables or accent walls may feature board & batten siding, shakes, shingles or shapes. All these options are available in vinyl.


All colors are suitable for the Folk Victorian style. Vinyl siding offers a diverse and attractive color palette, including more than 350 colors certified for color retention.

Trim and Accessories:

A wide selection of architectural trim and accessories are available for use with vinyl and other polymeric siding. Options suited for Folk Victorian style include crown molding on fascia or frieze [or both]; eave brackets; fretwork and bargeboards at gables; simple door or window crowns and lineals; band boards at foundation or between floors; simple corner block and rosette; spindles and fretwork at porches; and gable vent covers.

Customizing Style:

Designers use a wide variety of vinyl and other polymeric siding, trim and accessories to achieve the free-wheeling looks inspired by the Folk Victorian style. Vinyl and other polymeric siding are helping to create traditional beauty, as demonstrated in these photographs, combined with lasting durability and minimal maintenance.

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