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Architectural Detail Experts | A Blog by Worthington Millwork

Which Architectural Column Material is the Most Affordable?

Posted by Holli McRae on 8/7/13 2:14 PM

Architectural columns (porch columns or porch posts)Columns have been around for decades; so it is no wonder that that they are so popular. They have been used on several different style houses including Federal [1780-1820], Greek Revival [1825-1860], Octagon [1850-1870], Colonial Revival [1880-1955], Dutch Colonial Revival [1880-1955], Beaux Arts [1885-1930], American Foursquare [1890-1935], Arts & Crafts [1905-1930] and Ranch style [1932-1975]. Each of these style home's have a very distinctive look to them. When you replace columns you want to try your best to replicate the columns that are to the style of the home. When building a new home you more or less have a choice of what type of column you want to put on your home. After simply deciding that you want columns the next step is choosing a material and getting the price. This can most often be difficult so let's break it down.


Fiberglass ColumnsFiberglass Blog Column resized 600

Fiberglass columns are the most popular column material to use when replacing wood columns and also when building a new home. The reason for this is very simple; they are the most durable overall. The price of the fiberglass column can start at $120.00 and go all the way up to $10,000 depending on the size of the column you are looking for. Now remember this is the price for the shaft only. When you are looking for standard fiberglass capitals and bases you add on an additional $30.00 to $1500.00 for a pair. So typically for the smallest fiberglass column with Tuscan capital and Tuscan base you are looking at around $150.00 each. Shipping is another large factor that you have to remember when purchasing columns. Since columns are so large they have to be shipped using a freight truck. This can sometimes be pretty pricey. The price of this service always depends on the weight and where you are located in relation to where they are being shipped from. You can generally estimate that it will cost anywhere from $250.00 to $2000.00 for freight. The smaller the shipment the cheaper the freight; keep that in mind. If you are looking for just one column you may want to look around at your local home improvement store since many of them carry a small quantity of columns. This could save you on freight costs. However if you are needing to order three or more columns it is best to contact a manufacturer like Worthington Millwork for a quote.

 


PolymerStone ColumnsStone Blog Column resized 600

Stone Columns are used for a lot of commercial jobs. These columns are also very convenient because you can get them in several different colors and you don't have to paint them. They are heavier than fiberglass columns which does make shipping them a little more expensive but you can estimate that it is only slightly higher than the fiberglass columns and range from $300.00 to $2500.00 (this is an estimate only). These actually weigh less than real stone columns but look and feel just like stone. Typically the price on them range anywhere from $174.00 all the way up to $14,225.00 for the shaft alone. The standard Tuscan capital and bases can usually be purchased right along with the shafts and they range from $43.00 to around $2,041.00 for the pair. These are prices based on the smallest column up to the largest column sizes. Adding decorative capitals is something that many people enjoy also. Decorative capitals can be purchased in many of the same material but cost much more than the standard Tuscan capital and base. However, they make a very eye catching column. Stone and fiberglass both have many of the same qualities - both are load bearing, both offer warranties, both are rot resistant, and both have a class A fire rating. The choice is really about what look and feel you are going for. Stone is a material that most local hardware stores do not carry. Most manufacturers also will only sell to distributors so finding a manufacturer that sells to contractors or the general public like Worthington Millwork can save you a ton of money.

 


 PVC ColumnsPVC Blog Column resized 600

PVC columns are the most versatile in design. PVC is a material used for looks only and it is not load bearing. You can however get them Tapered, non-tapered, raised panel, recessed panel, fluted and plain. Many times when you need a custom column made PVC is the material of choice and the easiest to work with on custom orders. It is cheaper than the fiberglass and stone but it does not come in as the cheapest material. PVC columns can be purchased in prices that range from $138.00 to roughly $5,000.00. This does not include the price of custom orders. The difference with the pricing of the PVC is this particular pricing includes your standard capital and base. The stone and fiberglass prices do not include the capital and base and is an added charge. The PVC is also very light and easy to ship but has to still be shipped using LTL. Freight for the PVC columns should also be slightly cheaper. You can get these columns whole, flat sheet or two L shaped halves to surround any structural support. This option makes them very convenient. They are designed to be painted and most PVC columns come with a 25 year warranty.

 

 

 

 

 


 Aluminum ColumnsAluminum Column

Aluminum Columns are by far the most affordable columns. These columns also have a centered load weight from 20,000 pounds all the way up to 43,000 depending on the size that you order. They also come in seven different colors and are basically maintenance free. The paint is powder coated which is great for the outdoor elements. Class 1 Flame Spread classification is also a benefit to these columns. The only downfall is that you are not able to get them in plain. These columns can be purchased with prices ranging from $117.80 to $3,100.00. This also includes the capital and bases. These come in a snap together style and are very easy to install.


Don't let price be the main factor when you are purchasing columns for your home. These columns are something that you want to last a lifetime! Take into consideration the warranty and maintenance. Also make sure you choose the column that offers the most benefits and is made in America. The most popular choice for contractors and architects would be the fiberglass. It is both cost affective and has a limited lifetime warranty along with being load bearing. Fiberglass would be the most beneficial column material to choose. Many companies also offer discounts if you order a large quantity. This may be something that you want to ask your column provider. You can also find great tools online to help you in your decision to purchase columns such as the column material whitepaper from Worthington Millwork.

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Topics: Architectural Columns, Commercial

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