This buying guide will help you choose the right architectural columns for your home. Learn about different styles of columns and their materials.
Some architectural columns are structural while others are merely decorative.
Structural columns are made of materials that can bear substantial weight: wood, aluminum, or fiberglass composites.
Non- structural columns are made of polymers. Some are hollow and may receive weight-bearing wood or metal posts. They come in many classic shapes and are typically sold in increments of 4 feet. They may be coupled with any of a variety of decorative caps and bases.
In the world of polymers, Fypon makes a line of columns that are both beautiful and structural. These columns, which include classic styles as well as porch posts and lamp posts, are made from a steel pipe that has been wrapped in polymer. A special cap that prevents uplift in high-wind or seismic areas is also offered.
The polymer columns are made in 10- and 12-foot lengths. A typical 10-inch- diameter-by-8-foot-long column costs about $225 in either plain or fluted styles. Capitals and bases, sold separately, are about $20 each.
Genuine wood columns are available in cylindrical, tapered, and squared profiles. The surfaces of some are decorative (fluted, for example). Typically, wood columns are sold as a complete kit, with a decorative wooden cap and base included. Although the wood has been preservative-treated, it still must be painted. Sizes range from 6 inches in diameter by 8 feet long to 20 inches in diameter by 20 feet long.
Some aluminum columns are structural; others are not. Although most are primed with a special bonding primer that may be painted, some have factory-applied finishes.
These extruded columns are hollow, typically constructed from interlocking sections or staves. For example, Moultrie Manufacturing’s aluminum columns come in snap-lock staves. Although they are load-bearing columns, they may be wrapped around an existing column or post. Lengths run up to 30 feet long. Diameters are from 5 to 36 inches.
Composite columns-made from a mixture of ground marble, fiberglass, and polymer resin-are also load-bearing. These hollow columns offer the look of stone, but they are lightweight, tough, and highly durable. For a 10-inch-diameter-by-10-foot-long fluted column from NMC Focal Point, you’ll pay about $250. Capitals and bases are sold separately.
Some columns are made from a combination of materials. The A.F. Schwerd Company, for example, makes custom columns from tongue-and-groove wooden staves with aluminum bases. An average 10-inch-diameter-by-8-foot-long column sells for about $577 plus shipping; a fluted column costs about 25 percent more. Dixie-Pacific offers wooden columns with either wood or composition plaster capitals and wood or cast-marble base moldings.