Defining Style: Craftsman

by Lisa Dunn

Craftsman houses, which soared in popularity in the early 20th century, are commonly one-story designs, often with a dormer and characterized by a low-pitched gable roof, which may also be hipped. Wide eaves are unenclosed, typically featuring exposed rafters to show off the craftsmanship of the builder. Decorative [false] beams or brackets also are often included under gables. Covered porches, either full- or partial-length, usually have roofs supported by tapered square columns with exaggerated bases that extend all the way to the ground. These columns may have decorative wood, stone or cobblestone pillars or pedestals that contrast with clapboard exterior cladding.


Craftsman houses often feature clapboard as the dominant exterior cladding. Vinyl siding clapboard is available in a variety of configurations including 3″ to 8″ reveals.


Shakes or shingles are also fairly common as the primary exterior cladding for Craftsman houses. Vinyl and other polymeric siding are available in an array of shake and shingle profiles.

Accent Cladding:

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


Craftsman houses tend to emphasize medium to dark color palettes in any color or neutral color palettes featuring earth tones. Vinyl siding is available in more than 400 colors, including many suited to the Craftsman style.

Trim and Accessories:

A wide selection of attractive trim and accessories are available for use with vinyl and other polymeric siding. Options suited for Craftsman style include heavy eave brackets [knee braces]; “timbered” or simple door and window crowns and lineals; band boards at foundation or between floors; gable vent cover, often tied in with geometric gable embellishment; beaded soffit; and shingle or shake finish for massive column base piers.

Customizing Style:

To achieve a range of exterior finishes inspired by the Craftsman style, designers use a variety of vinyl and other polymeric siding, trim and accessories. Vinyl siding enables attractive recreations of historic looks, with a modern advantage of virtually carefree durability.

Topics: design   performance   inspiration