Residential Design Guidelines

East Side Tour

Northwest Tour

Southwest Side Tour

East Park Tour

Historic Main Street Tour

Downtown Design Guidelines

The Commission Publications

Related Links

COA &  Instructions





Residential Design Guidelines


Note: The following residential design guidelines have been adapted from Caring for Historic Homes in Stoughton, a booklet produced by Landscape Research, Ltd. for the Commission in 1998. For more information regarding this booklet as well as others produced by the Commission, see The Commission Publications page.”


The guidelines can assist in planning maintenance and rehabilitation projects.


Changes and additions should be compatible with the historic design of the facade.

Retain historic materials and details where possible. New materials, where necessary, should duplicate the old in size, shape, and texture.

Retain wooden clapboard siding and shingles wherever possible, or replace with new wooden material to match the old.

If vinyl or aluminum siding is installed, all architectural details at the cornice, entry, and windows should be retained. Siding should match the surface (usually smooth) and width of the original. Details such as cornerboards should be replicated.

Retain original masonry and mortar where possible, repointing joints where missing or deteriorated. Mortar should match the original in composition, color, and texture, and joints should be of the same size and profile as the original.

Clean masonry with the gentlest method possible. Historic brick should never be sandblasted because abrasive treatment destroys the porous surface of the material.

Brick, perma-stone, or stucco should not be added to the facade of a historically wood-clad house.



Wood Shingles

Narrow wood siding Clapboard was used on nearly all of StoughtonÕs early frame houses. Properly maintained with good quality paint, wood is a very durable material with good insulation properties and a long life. It is relatively easy to repair and is readily available.


Wood shingles were most often applied to the gable ends of the projecting bays on Queen Anne houses, but they were also applied to Bungalow, Craftsman, and some Period Revival houses. Shingles come in many patterns, including fish-scale, hexagonal, and diamond. Damaged or deteriorated shingles can be replaced with new ones and painted or stained.

The cause of paint failure often stems from poor paint, inadequate preparation, or faulty workmanship. Sometimes peeling paint is caused by moisture build-up in the wall caused by an unvented kitchen or bathroom. Cracking is often caused by poor adhesion, which comes from incompatible types of paint layered over each other, or from the build-up of many layers of old paint. Careful scraping to remove the layers often results in improved performance.



Good information about painting preparation and selecting exterior colors can be found in a number of books, including Victorian Exterior Decoration: How to Paint Your Nineteenth-Century American House Historically by Roger Moss and Gail Caskey Winkler (New York: Henry Holt and Company, 1987). Many paint companies have historical color collections.

See also Technical Preservation Brief #8 “Aluminum and Vinyl Siding on Historic Buildings” and Brief #10 “Exterior Paint Problems on Historic Woodwork.” Both are available at the Stoughton Public Library.

aluminum and vinyl siding

Aluminum and Vinyl Siding

Clapboard or wood shingle-sided buildings retain their best historic appearance when original materials are maintained.

However, aluminum and vinyl “maintenance free” sidings are sometimes installed on historic buildings. Depending on what isremoved or covered up in the process, there is often a considerable loss of historic character. It is possible to install aluminum or vinyl siding so that the historic appearance of the building is not completely destroyed. It is important that the narrow gauge of the historic siding be duplicated. Care must be taken to duplicate the width of the historic corner and sill boards, and to retain historic trim at the cornice, windows, and entry. “Wood-grained” siding should be avoided.

Even when properly installed to retain the historic appearance of the building, there are long-term concerns that property owners should consider. Unless aluminum or vinyl siding is properly ventilated and a vapor barrier is correctly installed, the water vapor which passes out of wooden walls can condense inside the wall, causing interior plaster deterioration and structural rot. It is important that existing moisture problems be remedied before any new siding is installed.


           Conserve this Avoid this
removal of original architectural trim

The historic appearance of a building can be greatly altered by the removal of original architectural trim, replacement of siding with new materials that are too wide, and alterations to windows and entries.

The doors, windows, and roof are the primary source of energy loss in historic buildings, not the walls. The insulation value of aluminum and vinyl is low. Although an insulated backing is added to these materials, they should not be considered a cost effective method of insulation. Aluminum and vinyl siding may provide freedom from painting in the immediate future, but they have a lifespan like every other material. Properly maintained clapboards can last over one hundred years, while synthetic materials have a life of about twenty years before they too require painting because of fading or cracking.


A number of early houses in Stoughton were built of red or cream-colored brick. Brick and mortar are porous materials susceptible to water damage from rain, condensation or rising damp. If water seeps into the brick and freezes, the brick is likely to crack or break apart. Uneven settlement can also cause deterioration. To maintain masonry, it is important to have good drainage around the foundation of the building and to have working gutters. Masonry repair usually requires professional assistance. Many old houses were built of softer brick and mortar than are now used in new construction. The mortar used for repointing must be soft and fluid enough to adjust to stress. If the mortar used contains the wrong mixture of cement, the stress will be transferred to the bricks and cause cracking and eventual failure of the wall. It is important that masons take the time to carefully test and prepare mortar mixtures and select proper replacement bricks.






Residential Design Guidelines: Facade   Doors   Windows   Trim   Porches   Roof   Additions