Porch columns are used in a variety of ways, from small entrances to expansive outdoor living spaces. They may support just a slice of a roof or establish the boundaries for a screened area. As with most decorative and practical elements in a home, porch columns have several considerations, including material and style. Here's a quick guide to help you find the right fit for your home.
Porch columns are typically found in four main material types, each with its own advantages and disadvantages.
Wood: 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, so they may be less sturdy. Wood porch columns may be prefabricated in a specific design, or they may be 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 as well as moisture and other weather-related stressors.
Fiberglass: This type of porch column often mimics the graining and detail of wood. Fiberglass porch columns also may be painted and are more resistant to insects or rot than wood varieties. However, fiberglass may not be as aesthetically pleasing to some as real wood.
Aluminum: 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.
Brick, Stone, Iron: These three decorative porch column options are generally chosen in order to match specific home styles, construction methods, or architecture. They tend to cost more than wood or fiberglass.
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:
Doric columns, a Greek style, have fluted sides and a smooth top; the base is part of the column.
Ionic columns have scrolling shapes at the top and a rounded base.
Corinthian columns, also Greek and shaped like inverted bells, often use leaves as decorative accents.
Egyptian columns typically taper at the top and may also be decorated with leaves as well as horizontal rings at various intervals.
Romanesque columns are often squat and square with large bases and organic decorative elements on their tops. These are sometimes seen in classic Arts and Crafts style homes in a simplified profile.
Personalized columns can be individualized to match the aesthetic preference of a homeowner. That may include paint, carving, and the mix-and-match of styles and materials.