Journey of a Remodeled Victorian House


Built at the turn of the century, this cozy Victorian remained well-preserved for more than fifty years. The photograph below was taken in about 1940.  The green and white color scheme reflects the fashion at that time.

1940 Photo of a Victorian House

By the 1980s, the house had fallen into disrepair. Rather than repaint, the owner installed vinyl siding. The stickwork and patterned shingles were covered; the scrollwork and trusses were removed.

Vinyl-Sided Victorian House

In 2001, we began to strip off the vinyl. The Styrofoam backing underneath was infested with carpenter ants.

Removing Vinyl Siding

When the workers removed the Styrofoam, they discovered the clapboard, decorative shingles, and much of the original detailing still intact.

Pulling vinyl off a Victorian house

By the following spring, the house was complete. Using the old photo as a guide, carpenter Mike Linnard recreated the scrollwork and brackets. After a thorough sanding, painter Bob Ertelt finished the house with an earthy palette of moss green, cream, and burgundy.

Restored Victorian Cottage

Vinyl Siding: Builders love it, historians loathe it, and some doctors say it causes cancer. Who do you believe? Here’s the scoop.

For every argument against vinyl siding, a happy homeowner or building contractor will sing its praises. What’s your view on vinyl? Post your comments below.

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7 thoughts on “Journey of a Remodeled Victorian House

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    A house like the one pictured really needs to be preserved in its original form; just about any covering would obscure its details. But plenty of plainer houses which would look just fine in brick, stucco, stone or fiber-cement siding get ruined by vinyl every year. Worse, while one vinyl sided house can be ignored, when a whole street is covered with it, or build-up with new, vinyl-clad houses, the result looks like a glorified trailer park. Thin, hollow pieces of plastic that are barely attached to a house just can’t make it look good.

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    It’s easy to say to preserve the look of the Victorian House but the ones that say that never had to climb 3 stories and paint the the house and trim.

    When your getting up there in age let see you climb that ladder to paint the house.

    If they made vinyl siding back then. I bet everyone would have used it also

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    Vinyl siding is an admirable exterior wall covering with respect to being durable, low cost, easily installed, and low maintenance. I am very happy not to have it on my house because there are better-appearing exterior materials, but economy, practicality, and durability are legitimate concerns for many homeowners.

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    I was taken in by a persuasive salesman as to the purported advantages of Vinyl siding. Less than 10 years later Alcoa replaced the siding under warranty. About 8 years later the replacement vinyl siding on the West side of the house that is exposed to direct hot afternoon sun started cracking and curling during hot weather – – temps occasionally up to only 105. Then with the cold winter weather the joints began to come apart because of excxessive shrinking – – temps rarely going to less than 18 above. For me, Vinyl siding is a terrible product. I learned my lesson: go with a high quality, proven product in the first place and you will be money ahead in just a few short years!

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    I have a 1913 house that is covered in 5″ wide cat-pee yellow vinyl siding. I can’t wait to tear it off, but I’m afraid of how much work it will be. Underneath it I can see the original 3″ clapboards are still intact. Do you have any estimates on how much it cost to transform your house? My house is a 1350sqf 2-story with a finished attic.

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    Sounds like an exciting project, Nathan! But I’m afraid I couldn’t possibly estimate the cost. That would depend on labor prices in your local area and the extent of repairs needed after the siding is removed. For me, removing and disposing the siding was the least expensive part of the project. Millwork to replace architectural trim can be expensive… or can be done on a budget if you have a handy carpenter. To avoid sticker shock, you could plan to do just one side of your house. Once that’s completed, you’ll have a better idea of how much the rest of the house would cost.

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    Stumbled on to your blog and I have to say, the house turned out beautiful. Everyone’s going to have their opinion but I think it really does come down to what the home owner wants to achieve. Vinyl is low maintenance and will last a long long time. But, it’s not for everyone. I have 2 homes and they are both vinyl siding. As far as the cancer, I suppose if you work in a vinyl siding manufacturing plant and you breath in particles on a daily basis, then you would be at risk for cancer. Just my thoughts. Great blog by the way.

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