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Dentil molding and house style...?

Posted by livingreen2013 (My Page) on
Thu, Nov 15, 12 at 16:18

Is there a certain type of a house that dentil molding is associated with? I came across this house on Houzz and loved it, but wondered which style house dentil molding can work or not work with? We've been thinking about doing exposed rafters with our house, but the dentil molding seems easier in terms of maintenance and cleaning. I could be wrong though. Thanks for all of the expertise in advance!


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

Dentils historically tend to be a part of houses from various architectural styles--from Adam, Beaux Arts, French Eclectic, Georgian and Queen Anne styles--ranging from perhaps early 1800s to the late 1800s, when decoration and machine-made fabrications began to be common in house design and construction.

These wooden details were used to "dress up" a common house and make them appear more like European mansonry structures of greater scope and scale.

Georgian houses, in particular, often featured fascias or cornices employing such tooth-like dentils. The columns, however, look to be from the Greek Revival style, so perhaps this house was built and remodeled over a number of periods (or else the builder just liked to add "stuff" for visual effect!).

Exposed rafter tails and dentils really aren't part of the same architectural vocabulary. As you can see from the photo, the soffits of the house are all enclosed above the dentils.

To be historically accurate, you would have to choose either exposed rafters and open soffits or dentils and closed soffits, but not a mixture of both.

Hope this helps.


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

Thanks again vigilcarter for the history and thoughts! I agree that they're different and not to be mixed (exposed rafter tails vs. dentil molding), but not sure if either would work on our house. We're in the framing process of the main floor right now so have some time to decide and get a feel for the house, but our builder said the exposed rafter tails would need to be known during this part of the construction phase. Any words of advice for our plan if it would be cohesive with the front of our house and if/where you would place either? Thanks again!


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

To use dentils you would need to build a boxed cornice with a frieze board under it which, ironically, I tried unsuccessfully to get you to adopt earlier.

But if you do this you MUST redesign the cornice returns to be classical detailed instead of shingled in the currently popular builder/developer style. You might also get rid of the stone altogether and add classical columns too.

As for the style that uses dentils it would be horribly unfair to not give credit to the Greeks for inventing them and the Colonial Revival for making them a standard fixture on the formal houses of the prosperous.

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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

Renovator8- I agree 100%. We don't have it drawn on, but our plan is to do more of a boxed cornice with much wider facia as you suggested. The thing with the columns is that we need to have some stone on the house. It's a requirement of the development to have a certain amount of stone. So, we'd love to be able to still pull off the look if possible. We've changed the color scheme since we last were in contact Renovator8, and suddenly I'm beginning to see the colonial revival style playing into our house better now. Any other suggesions you would have, other than changing the house body. Do you think we could incorporate the dentil molding? Where would you all suggest adding it if the answer is yes? Thanks again.


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

How much stone is required?


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

To be honest, I'm not sure on the amount. We just know from out builder that there has to be a portion of stone on the front. We love the stone we've chosen (pictured above) and plan to do an antique-looking white grout with it withh this color palette. Also not pictured, but there will be stone ining the whole base of the front porch, as the house will be elevated higher than drawn. Would we be better off doing some form of brackets than dentil molding in your opinion? Any thoughts?


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

To be honest, I'm not sure on the amount. We just know from out builder that there has to be a portion of stone on the front. We love the stone we've chosen (pictured above in the inspiration collage I created) and plan to do an antique-looking white grout with it withh this color palette. Also not pictured, but there will be stone ining the whole base of the front porch, as the house will be elevated higher than drawn. Would we be better off doing some form of brackets or the dentil molding? Any thoughts?


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

Reno, you are right about the Greeks and the early classical orders, but as far as I know neither the Greeks or the Romans, and their subsequent classical orders, built wooden houses with dentils, which I thought was the subject of the thread.

Just a little joke!

With it's hipped roof and somewhat centered gables (buggered up by the builder to include two, rather than the traditional one gable), the house elevation looks more Georgian than anything else, IMO. It's only lacking the distinctive tall chimmneys on either end.

There are numerous examples of Georgian houses of all wood siding, all brick mansonry and even stone masonry. Rather than tart this house up in a multitude of materials, it would look historically accurate with a continuous base wainscot of stone masonry with horizontal lap siding above, or even thoughtfully detailed cement plaster, which could include a belt course and corner quoins. For historical accuracy, however, the overhanging front porch would have to go!

OK, back to reality!


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

Renovator8- do you have an image or reference I could look at of a well-done boxed cornice and dentil molding configuration? Any thoughts on if we should do dentil molding vs. brackets of some type? Vigilcarter- I do see how the Georgian look translates to our house, but I definitely want to keep the front porch, so I know that kind of complicates things. We'll have to consider the finishes a bit more though. Do either of you see any farmhouse-ness in it? I didn't know if there was anything in that route we could try and bring out? Thank you so much for your time. We really appreciate it!


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

Also, would this be considered dentil molding or brackets of some type?


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

This thread is taking an interesting architectural style/history direction, IMO. Many people do want to understand the design of their home and many others want some degree of authentic character and appearance.

What are some options here?

You ask about farmhouse character. Farmhouse aesthetic is difficult to define--it's more of a commercial real estate term, I think, than a defined architectural historical style. But there are some common characterisitics we might generalize:

--Casual, sometimes irregular and informal arrangements (symmetry and formality don't usually play a big role);
--Compact, economical 2-story forms (seldom sprawling, rambling or "rancher")
--Gable roofs commonly w/overhanging exposed rafter tails on the rake sides and possibly eves;
--Porches (the more the better);
--Simple fenestration--often employing single vertically proportioned double-hung windows (perhaps with shutters or not)
--Simple, unified "carpenter-style" straight-forward construction, materials, details and finishes
--Little or no decoration, fancy turnings, Greek revival or Craftsman columns, mouldings, trims, etc. No gee-gaws!

Of course, there are many exceptions and other characteristics leading to "farm-style". I'd say the things you would need to do most for your elevation would be to:

--Change the hip roof to a simple gable roof;
--Eliminate and consolidate exterior materials to a limited, harmonious palette, ie, stone wainscot (mandatory use in your neighborhood) and horizontal lap siding or something similar. I'm sure there are many other ideas!

Good luck on your project!


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

The Greeks first built their temples with mudbrick and used wood for the columns, entablature and roof framing before copying those designs in stone but the roof structures were always wood. So, it is reasonable to assume that dentils were originally wooden decorations on a wooden cornice then became stone. All of these elements eventually found their way back into wooden structures and because of their origin they made the transition pretty much intact.

For a boxed cornice let the rafters project about 18", add a vertical facia tall enough for a gutter (varies with the poof pitch and gutter size), add a soffit at the bottom and trim the top of the wall with a frieze, dentils, brackets etc.

Where the cornice returns (at a corner) a true classical return detail should be used (or a "poor man's cornice return" favored by carpenters) but not a shingled return unless you opt for the shingle Style.

I always build the attic as if it were another platform framed floor so the rafters can sit on a plate at the edge of the attic floor and provide more space above the second floor windows. Otherwise you need a 9 ft second floor ceiling. And it is also just a good way to seal the attic or make it available for use.


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

Thanks once again Renovator8! Do you have any drawings or photos of the cornices? I will definitely look into it further too! Our second story does have 9 ft. ceilings, so I'll be interested to see how that plays into it. In your opinion, do you think we should go with the brackets, exposed rafter tails or dentil moldings Renovator8? Appreciate your opinion!


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

The idea of designing one part of a house at a time with no clear vision of the whole of it is contrary to all I know about designing buildings.


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

I can respect that. We are really happy with the look though and feel like we've put a considerable amount of time into designing it as we would like our house to be. To us, it is coming down to the details now. We'd like things to be as cohesive as possible with our eclectic but (in our minds) visually pleasing home. I don't expect every architect or people from varying parts of the country or with varying pocket book sizes to necessarily agree 100%, and we're okay with that. We've really appreciated your guidance thus far, and are looking forward to settling down on a "final" final plan here soon. Thanks again!


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

livinggreen2013, in your question pic, those would be modillions, not dentils.
Casey


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

Modillions--yes! Now we're talking! Wonderful addition. So much more refined and elegant than those everyday dentils such as on the cornice of the portico!

Great work, Casey.


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RE: Dentil molding and house style...?

Ohh thank you Casey! I'll definitely have to look into that option further! Thanks!


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