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How to Choose the Right Size Architectural Column

Posted by Worthington Millwork on 6/1/18 10:20 AM

When choosing the correct column size forArchitectural Columns your project several questions immediately come to mind. Where do you begin? How do you determine what will look best for my project? Are there standards that I can reference? If yes, where can I find them?

We think a good place to begin is with authenticity,  based upon the five classical Orders of Architecture. These orders, established during the ancient Greek and Roman eras laid out a system of proportion that not only included a column’s diameter and height, but the type of capital used, the style of fluting and what base to use.

What is truly important today, is that whatever style of column you choose, it is important to ensure that the diameter and height of the columns are in proportion or balances the entire structure.


Let’s start with what is historically accurate. The rules of proportion according to the Orders of Architecture, when applied accurately, fully make the most of the historical aesthetic appeal of architectural columns. While these rules serve as a general guideline, your individual application may require some flexibility from these classical rules. Keep in mind that choosing a column that is too slender or too large for its length can sometimes have a negative impact to the overall aesthetics of the elevation or interior space.

The five classic orders of architecture are

  • Tuscan Order
  • Roman Doric Order
  • Greek Ionic Order
  • Corinthian Order
  • Composite Order

Each Order consists of specific relative proportions of each element and has its own distinctive style.

Tuscan Order

The column shaft height is 7 times its diameter (to figure bottom diameter... take the overall desired height in inches and divide by 7, round up or down), and typically plain rather than fluted, with a simple Tuscan style capital base. 

Roman Doric Order

The Doric Column shaft height is 8 times its diameter, (the Greek Doric form is 5-1/2 times the diameter and always without a base), if flutes are desired the column will have 20 Doric flutes highlighted by fillets coming to a point.

Greek Ionic Order

The Column shaft height is 9 times its diameter and includes a decorative capital with spiraled volutes. If a fluted column is chosen, the column will have Ionic flutes separated by a flat spaced fillet. Always used with an attic base. 

Corinthian Order 

The Column shaft height is 10 times its diameter. The classic column is adorned with an inverted bell style capital with two tiers of acanthus leaves and topped with volutes. The column can be plain (smooth) or fluted with Ionic style flutes. Always used with an attic base. 

Composite Order

The Column shaft height is 10 times its diameter. The classic column is adorned with a modified Roman Corinthian capital. The column can be plain (smooth) or fluted with Ionic style flutes. Always used with an attic base. 

For more information about Architectural Columns and which size would be the most appropriate for your project, reach out to us at Worthington Millwork to get started! 


 Architectural Columns

Topics: Architectural Columns, Decorative Capitals

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