The Federal house is a simple two-story box, two rooms deep, with a side-gabled roof. There is often decorative molding, typically tooth-like dentils, on the cornice. The windows and doors are aligned horizontally and vertically in symmetrical rows, most often in five ranks, on the front facade. The windows have double-hung sashes with six panes, separated by very thin muntins, in each sash.
The entrance door, which is centered in the façade, may be capped by a decorative crown supported by pilasters. There is often a row of small rectangular panes just below the crown. Some Federal houses have more elaborate door surrounds with a semi-circular or elliptical fanlight over the door and sidelights. The center window of the second story is often a three-part Palladian-style window.