Add a distinctive and timeless touch of class to your home with decorative columns.
If you want to add a distinctive and timeless touch of class to your home, consider adding columns. After making the initial commitment, there are many more decisions to come. First, you need to select appropriate locations -- where the columns actually appear to be performing a supporting role, even if they are purely decorative. Second, choose the material of the column. You'll find stain- and paint-grade hollow-wood columns as well as synthetic materials, such as the fiberglass version shown here. Third, select a style that's appropriate for your home. Although it's tempting to select the most ornate version, a bit of restraint goes a long way.
When you order your columns, you'll probably have to purchase a stock size slightly longer than the finished size. Also check on the availability of factory-split columns, such as a quarter column, half (shown in this installation), or three-quarter. The manufacturer also may be able to supply other designs that would suit your needs.
Subtract 1/4 inch from the measured height, then mark a cut line near the base of the column. Triple-check the measurement, then cut the column to length with a handsaw. The edges of a fiberglass column, like the example shown, can be sharp, so dull them with a few passes of a rasp.
Mark the side-to-side centerline on the surface where you'll set the base of the column. Make certain that the platform is sturdy enough to support the column's weight. Just as important, this base surface must have a substantial appearance because those viewing it will assume that this column plays a role in supporting your house.
Measure the inside diameter at the top of the column, then rip a piece of 3/4-inch-thick lumber into a backerboard that will fit inside the column for the top one-third of its height. If the column tapers, ignore it and simply get a decent fit at the top. Mark the centerline at the top end of the board, check its edge for plumb, and fasten it to the wall with nails or screws.
If you're working with a tall column, recruit a helper for the next steps. Hoist the column into position, then drive tapered shims under the end on each side until the top of the column touches the ceiling. Make certain that the column's centerline matches the horizontal one on the support surface.