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Gingerbread Siding and Trim

When visualizing gingerbread most people picture ticky-tacky, bric-a-brac, curlicue, fancy, ornate latticework. To some degree this picture is accurate. Most noted for their elaborately detailed embellishments and decorative styles were Victorian homes. Gingerbread-style ornamentation and decoration as well as wood siding are very common traits of the Victorian era home; where every external vertical or oblique surface of these buildings (and many an arch) were decorated with fanciful hand-carved wooden latticework.

The era of Victorian architecture spanned from 1840 to 1900 and became one of the most popular styles in the United States during the last half of the 19th century. Fueled by major bucks of the wealthy post civil war industrialist barons, nothing exceeded like excess. When it came to exterior design the race was on to the point of explosion with multiple gables, dormers, towers, turrets, shingles in all patterns and colors, and multicolored ornamentation beyond belief. Their eclectic exteriors feature “gingerbread trim” ornamentation such as delicately carved moldings, spindlework, spandrels, patterned shingles, and gable finials – the crowning touch for gable peaks. Fences, porches, balconies, and decks became a dramatic statement of classic gingerbread with their sawn Balusters.

There are a variety of Victorian styles, each with its own distinctive features. However, in the past, builders often borrowed characteristics of one or more of these styles, creating unique and eccentric mixes. Some of the architectural styles that fall under the Victorian era’s umbrella are Gothic Revival, Queen Anne, Italianate, and Victorian Stick.

Dressing up your home

If you’re restoring a Victorian gem or you’re building your own masterpiece, finding the right gingerbread trim for your project will be time consuming. Fortunately there are choices in material and sizes, and your contractor will help you determine the exact architectural style of your home in order to maintain its integrity when selecting your trim.

Synthetic or wood trim?

Vinyl, Polyurethane, PVC

You can find many pieces of gingerbread trim made from vinyl, polyurethane or PVC. Synthetic gable trim, for example, is a great way to decorate your exterior – it’s virtually maintenance free. Unlike wood, it won’t rot, peel, crack, and/or warp. It’s a good economic choice if budget is an issue. Whether you’re restoring an older home or building a new home there are many accent pieces, patterns, and styles that replicate the charm and character of the Victorian era.

Fiber Cement

Fiber cement siding is a combination of wood fibers and Portland cement. It is heavy and solid and can be cut in ways similar to wood siding, so it can be made into complex shapes often found on older homes. It can be installed quickly with a roofing nail gun. Fiber cement also holds paint very well. Wood expands and shrinks with changing humidity levels causing paint to peel; fiber cement does not expand and shrink as much as wood (if at all,) so it holds paint very well.

Wood

Wood is authentic, and authenticity is a valuable asset. Owning a historical Victorian era home is like owning a piece of art. There are purists who would shudder at the thought of replacing a wood gingerbread trim piece with synthetic material. Wood gingerbread trim is for people who appreciate the historical value and integrity, don’t mind the maintenance and painting, and can afford the high cost of wood.

All in all, fiber cement and PVC trim products can look just as authentic as wood though your choices may be somewhat limited when compared with wood trim. These materials have many of the properties of wood, such as the ability to be cut and shaped. They are heavy, thick and solid. They are also much less expensive than wood. The drawback for homeowners who wish to restore an older home is you lose the historical value that only wood can provide.

Gingerbread Siding

When most people think of “gingerbread” they imagine ornate lattice work however, there’s another version of gingerbread that includes the exterior siding. Wavy-edge siding, or gingerbread bevel, is siding that is sawn and textured with wavy (non linear) edges giving the overall appearance of a Hansel and Gretel cottage. Wavy-edge bevel will give a cabin a rustic appeal. The look is warm, inviting, and oozing with charm.

As you can see there are many gingerbread options to choose from. Finding the right materials for your home will be greatly enhanced with the knowledge of an experienced contractor. For your convenience we have supplied you with a list of prescreened licensed contractors in your area.

This site will help you identify trim pieces:

When we think of “gingerbread,” most of us flash back to Hansel and Gretel and the holiday season. There’s also, however, another version of gingerbread that includes adorable exterior siding. Wavy-edge siding, or “gingerbread bevel,” is siding that is sawn and textured with wavy (non-linear) edges, giving the overall appearance of a cottage or rustic cabin. The look is warm, inviting and bursting with charm.

Costs

The cost of siding in general ranges from $60 to $200 per square (a square is 100 square feet). The cost of installing gingerbread siding, however, will depend entirely on the material used (wood, for instance will cost more), the size of the home, and the cost of labor. For specific price estimates, contact a professional installer in your area.

Pros

An authentic choice that won’t undermine the historical value or integrity of a Victorian home.

Comes in a wide variety of styles and designs.

Adds historical charm and curb appeal to your property.

Cons

Gingerbread siding is often made of wood, one of the most expensive materials.

If you’re restoring a Victorian or other historical home, finding the right gingerbread siding can be time-consuming.

In terms of resale value, not every potential homebuyer likes the look of gingerbread siding.

Durability

The durability of gingerbread siding depends on the material used. Wood, for instance, requires more upkeep and can become damaged by the elements. Fiber cement, however, is more solid and doesn’t warp like wood. Other strong materials are vinyl, polyurethane and PVC, which are virtually maintenance-free and will not rot, peel, crack or warp.

Maintenance

The maintenance required for gingerbread siding also depends on the materials used. Make sure to ask your contractor how best to care for your siding of choice.

Common Questions and Answers

What is the best material for gingerbread siding?

That generally depends on the opinion of the homeowner. While wood is the material of choice for those looking to really recreate the Victorian-style home, synthetic materials are less expensive and can withstand more damage.

History

Gingerbread-style ornamentation, decorations and wood siding are very common traits of the Victorian era, which spanned from 1840 to 1900 and became one of the most popular styles in the America during the last half of the 19th century. Fueled by big money of the post-Civil War industrialist barons, nothing exceeded like excess.

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