Choosing Columns

Choosing Columns

Choosing Columns And Ordering

Please feel free to contact us to help you determine which products best suit your needs. Email is the most efficient way to exchange information: . We do not return phone calls as quickly as emails but will try to get back to you as soon as possible:(415-488-4333). If you are trying to match something, or if there is a  specific example you like, please email us photos (as attachments).

Choosing columns

Information we will need to generate a column quote:

  1. Are the columns round or square?
  2. How wide? (Column width is determined by the nominal shaft width above the base)
  3. How tall? (Column height is overall height from floor to ceiling including cap and base)
  4. What style? Column styles are denoted by shape (round or square, tapered or non-tapered), shaft details (plain, fluted, paneled), and cap and base details. For classic columns, Tuscan cap and base is the most simple and common. There are many classic Roman capital styles available. The most common capitals are listed on the product pages (fiberglass columns, wood columns). Bases for classic columns are Tuscan, Roman Doric, and Attic. Most square columns reflect a more modern style generally referred to as craftsman. The most common craftsman cap and base is “standard” but there are multiple cap and base options listed on the  product pages.
  5. What finish? Most of the products we sell are paint grade (they require painting by the customer). Cast columns and balustrade are offered in cast-stone that does not require painting. There are standard and custom colors available in smooth or textured finish.
  6. Do the columns need to be load bearing? Cast and wood columns are load bearing and rated for concentric dead load only (weight distributed evenly across the top and bottom surfaces pushing straight down). They cannot pick up any live loads (side to side or up).
  7. Other than nominal shaft width and overall height, are there any critical measurements? (Example: columns close to the edge of a patio which would make the base width critical).
  8. How many columns of each size?
  9. What is the delivery zip code?
  10. Do you have any special timing requirements? (Rush orders are available for additional cost.)

Determining if you want round columns, square columns, or a mix of both.

Traditionally, most round columns are tapered. Non-tapered columns tend to look top heavy and not as elegant as tapered columns. Non-tapered columns are available and cost more than tapered columns.

The most cost effective and durable columns are fiberglass columns. (Fiberglass is a general term. More about fiberglass columns is explained in the fiberglass column pages). The best-looking and most architecturally correct columns are wood columns. To the casual observer, the difference is not discernible. Some fiberglass column molds are more architecturally correct than others. Fiberglass columns are easier to maintain. Wood columns can have insect and rot problems if not properly installed and maintained. A good quality wood column can last hundreds of years when properly installed and maintained. Both cast fiberglass and wood columns are load bearing but can be provided in halves to wrap existing structural posts.

Cast fiberglass columns are mass produced from standard molds. Cast products, by nature, are slightly rounded and not as crisp as a milled product. Every column manufacturer’s “standard” molds are unique to that manufacturer. If you are trying to match existing columns, try to buy columns or replacement caps and bases made by the same manufacturer. Depending on the manufacturer and the column size, a range of column heights are created from the same mold. The norm has been to have a separate mold for every 2 feet in length from 8 foot up (8, 10, 12…). Our primary cast fiberglass manufacturer, Royal Corinthian, has created molds for 9-foot columns also, to achieve their goal of being as close to architecturally correct as possible for a cast product.

Architecturally correct wood columns are made to order. The entasis (decreasing radius, bowed, taper) is calculated and turned for the specified net height of the columns. Great efforts are made to make sure all details are true to the Roman or Greek orders of architecture. Custom wood columns or replacement column parts can be made to match pre-existing columns.

SQUARE columnSquare Columns Our most popular square columns are PVC column kits (provided flat packed for field assembly) for wrap around a structural or supporting post. PVC columns are non-load bearing. Square columns are also available in load bearing fiberglass or wood. Fiberglass patterns are limited to molds available. Square PVC and Wood columns are milled, so many styles and configurations are available, including custom.


Most round and square cast columns of the same size do not match precisely in detail. If a job requires round columns with square pilasters, we recommend wood columns. We are happy to attempt to provide synthetic columns, in round and square, that are the closest possible match.