Porch columns do more than just serve a practical function for home entries and porches. They are useful as decorative items to enhance a home's exterior palette. Learn the basics of column materials and styles with these ideas for using porch columns in your home.

By Jessica Bennett and Kelly Roberson
Updated December 16, 2020
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Porch columns are used in a variety of ways on homes of all sizes and styles. These upright pillars can support just a slice of a roof around a small entrance or establish the boundaries for an expansive screened area. Columns serve a practical purpose by helping physically support the structure of a porch or overhang, but they also provide a decorative accent on a home's facade. These components add another layer of detail and visual interest to the exterior and add prominence to the front porch or entry.

As with most decorative and practical elements in a home, porch columns have several considerations, including material and style. Although most front porch columns are made of wood, posts can also be fashioned out of other materials, including fiberglass, aluminum, stone, and more. It's important to consider durability, cost, and aesthetic appeal when choosing the best material for your porch columns. As for style, front porch columns will typically reflect the overall style of the home. Depending on the desired effect, the columns can be rounded, square, tapered, or ornately decorated. If you're designing a new home or looking to update your exterior, use our guide to porch columns to help you find the right fit for your home.

pale blue front doors of white colonial exterior with stone pathway
Credit: Julie Soefer

Popular Porch Column Materials

Front porch columns are typically found in four main material types. Each comes with its own advantages and disadvantages, which are important to consider before choosing a material for your home.

front yard gray door
Credit: Jason Donnelly

Wood Porch Columns

Wood porch columns can be painted or stained to match an existing or new exterior color palette. Particularly when made of very strong hardwood types, porch columns are quite resilient. However, some wood columns are hollow, which might make them less sturdy. Wood porch columns can be prefabricated in a specific design or crafted on-site for a more specific home design. As with wood home siding, if not properly cared for, wood porch columns are more susceptible to pests such as termites, moisture, and other weather-related stressors.

house with gray siding and charcoal door and white columns
Credit: Brie Williams Photography Inc

Fiberglass Porch Columns

This type of porch column often mimics the graining and detail of wood. Fiberglass porch columns can also be painted, and they're more resistant to insects or rot than wood varieties. However, fiberglass may not be as aesthetically pleasing to some as real wood.

exterior front porch steps to navy blue door
Credit: Greg Scheidemann

Aluminum Porch Columns

A more lightweight option than either fiberglass or wood, aluminum porch columns offer fewer design possibilities but are also less expensive than other porch column types. You can typically customize the color with a powder-coated paint finish, and the metal structure offers good durability against corrosion and wear.

House with stone porch and sidewalks
Credit: Colleen Duffley

Brick, Stone, and Iron Porch Columns

These three decorative porch column options are generally selected to match specific home styles, construction methods, or architecture. You can customize the designs to complement the stonework or metal accents seen on other parts of the exterior. However, these specialty materials tend to cost more than wood or fiberglass.

Porch Column Styles

Most porch columns homeowners use today have roots in historical architecture, with styles that evolved to respond to specific designs and practical needs. Many modern interpretations will evoke these classic styles with tweaks and individual adaptations. The most common porch column types include:

white exterior with columns and blue front door
Credit: Emily Followill

Corinthian Columns

This ornate style of column derives from Greece and can be found on historic structures such as the U.S. Capitol and the Supreme Court Building. Shaped like inverted bells, Corinthian columns feature fluted shafts and often use leaves or flowers as decorative accents near the top. Although this style is more often seen on public buildings, particularly grand homes, like those in the Greek Revival style, sometimes feature this type of porch column.

White colonial home with large columns and steps
Credit: Emily Followill

Doric Columns

These Greek-style columns have fluted sides and a smooth top. They tend to be thicker and less ornate than other Greek column styles, with no base or pedestal at the bottom. Doric columns are often used on elegant, Neoclassical-style homes.

Egyptian Columns

These columns typically taper at the top. They are sometimes decorated with leaves as well as horizontal rings at various intervals. The style can be found on Egyptian Revival homes built throughout the 1800s.

front exterior two story brick home

Ionic Columns

Another Greek style of columns, Ionic designs have scrolling shapes, called volutes, at the top and a rounded base. The shafts are typically fluted with a more slender, feminine profile than Doric columns. Besides historic buildings such as the Colosseum in Rome, this style of column can sometimes be seen on Neoclassical, Georgian, or Greek Revival homes.

craftsman-style home entry with brick, shakes, and pillars
Credit: Laura Moss

Romanesque Columns

These columns are often squat and square with large bases. They might also feature organic decorative elements on their tops. These square porch columns are sometimes seen in mission or craftsman-style homes in a simplified profile.

Personalized Porch Columns

Porch columns can also be individualized to match the aesthetic preference of the homeowner. Personalized designs can include paint, carving, and a mix-and-match of styles and materials.

Comments (1)

Anonymous
April 6, 2021
What are the paint colors on the first house in this article?