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How Do I Choose the Best Porch Columns?

Corinthian columns often include elaborate carvings of leaves.
Monticello, the home of Thomas Jefferson, has Doric columns.
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  • Written By: Laura Evans
  • Edited By: W. Everett
  • Last Modified Date: 05 September 2014
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A homeowner who wants to build a porch or replace current porch columns has a large number of options in the market today. In order to cut back on the dizzying array of options, the homeowner should decide on an affordable price range. After deciding on a price range, the homeowner can either pick a style that will enhance the appearance of the exterior of the home and find a material for that style in the acceptable price range, or pick the material of choice and investigate the types of styles that are offered made in the chosen material.

In the past, homeowners were limited in choices regarding the materials with which columns were made. Stone and wood were two of the traditional materials used in column production. Today, not only can homeowners purchase columns made of wood and stone, homeowners can buy porch columns made of more modern materials such as polyvinyl chloride (PVC).

Each material has advantages and disadvantages. Stone columns have an elegant appearance that adds an historic note to the exterior of a home. In addition, stone porch columns can require relatively little maintenance. On the other hand, stone columns are expensive and heavy, making them more difficult to handle. Some manufacturers offer hollow stone porch columns to address these two issues.

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Wood porch columns have a natural feel and look, and they can be either painted or stained to the exact color that the homeowner wants. In addition, wood, unless it is treated, is biodegradable. Columns made from wood require periodic maintenance to seal the material from the elements and are prone to rot and insect damage. Some types of wood, such as cedar, are more resistant to insects than others.

PVC columns are typically less expensive than wood and stone porch columns. PVC columns are available in a wide range of colors and require very little maintenance. Some manufacturers offer wrap-around styles so that the columns can be placed around existing columns, which is an advantage if the columns need to be weight bearing. This material is not as environmentally friendly as stone or wood. Not only is PVC not biodegradable, PVC gives off toxic fumes when burned.

The styles of most porch porch columns are derived from ancient Greek and Roman architecture. These include the Greek Doric order, Ionic order, and Corinthian order, and the Roman Tuscan and Composite orders. Some porch column designs will closely resemble these ancient classics. Others will combine elements of these orders with modern designs.

Porch columns should be chosen with the idea of enhancing the overall appearance of the exterior of a home. The columns should be eye catching. They should not be so overpowering that they detract from other architectural and landscaping features of the home.

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