Front porch pillars set the tone for a house and are available in a variety of architectural styles, materials and finishes. For many homeowners, porch pillars are a reflection of personal taste and style. Porch pillars may extend from the floor of a porch to the base of a second or third floor roof, or they may simply extend from the top of a porch railing to a first floor overhang. Some porch pillars are load-bearing, or used for structural support, while others are purely decorative and do not offer any support to a building or roof.
Porch pillars are made from assorted materials, including wood, fiberglass and synthetic stone. The environment in the area where the pillars will be used as well as the amount of exposure to the elements they will be subjected to are some of the factors influencing the best type of materials to select. Pillars are often available in ready-to-paint options, as well as textured and colored finishes. Polyester stone, log style and faux marble pillars are also offered. Optional low-maintenance products, including bases for the pillars, are also available.
Exterior wood pillars are made from a variety of wood sources, including redwood, cedar and pine. In order to use the wood pillars around support structures, the pillars are often available in halves with hollow portions to leave room for the supports. Wood pillars typically range in diameter from 6 inches (15cm) to 36 inches (91cm). The pillars are often formed using a waterproof glue and typically finished with a waterproof sealer or paint to help promote longevity.
Fiberglass and other composite pillars typically resist weather better that their wood counterparts and often offer a longer manufacturer's warranty than wood pillars as well. Some pillar versions are low-maintenance and do not require painting or finishing, and only need a routine cleaning after they are installed. The composite-type pillars are also available as column covers or wraps, which can be used over existing pillars, posts or structural supports. Matching pedestals and mill work can be used to add finishing touches to porch pillars.
Architectural styles vary for pillars, ranging from classical to contemporary. Classical pillars are typically offered in round and square shapes, and can be tapered for added elegance. Various Greek- and Roman-influenced column styles are popular choices for porch pillars. Other options include round, twist-rope columns and barrel columns. Some porch railings are incorporated into the pillars, which serve as support posts between the railing panels.