Five Fun Finishes For Interior Architectural Columns

Porch columns provide both decorative and functional benefits unlike any other architectural element. Their timeless beauty has adorned many grand entrances. Used inside, architectural columns can beautify a staircase and frame windows, foyers, kitchen counters, bathtubs, mantels, bookcases and doors. They can also highlight focal points or divide space and create borders while maintaining the airiness of a room.

Most interior columns, for new construction, as well as for remodeling projects, are made from either wood or PVC or fiberglass. The popular trend has been to paint fiberglass columns in high-gloss white. White glossy columns can be magnificent, but too much brilliance can be blinding if carried throughout the entire interior. If you're going to accentuate your interior space with columns, be sure they stand out and grab your attention rather than simply blend in with the woodwork.

Wood columns offer the most versatile surface, because they're easy to stain or paint. Interior columns consist of three parts. The uppermost portion of an architectural column is called a capital. This piece is often detailed with designs and carvings. The shaft is the post itself. The shaft can be ornate or simple, round, square, fluted or tapered and is available in a variety of standard or custom heights. The column base is the bottom portion of the column, which can also be ornate or simple. Each section must be considered for treatment.

Here are some tips to bring out the beauty of your interior columns:

1. Unlike columns made of other materials, wooden columns can be stained to bring out the natural beauty and grain of the wood. It's easier than you might think. Most wood columns already come stain-sanded but you may want to sand it further to assure a glass-like smoothness. Then apply a clear liquid conditioner to fill in the pores and enhance the grain. Allow this to thoroughly dry before applying a stain of your choice. Follow this with a clear topcoat for protection. You'll be amazed at the depth and beauty this will add to your wood columns. Hint: Always keep a wet edge when staining, and never stop halfway on the column. Go from top to bottom in long, straight strokes.

2. Traditionally, most interior columns are painted with a high-gloss white paint. But often that can be too glaring. A flat finish isn't recommended because this shows fingerprints too easily. Instead, consider eggshell, satin, or semi-gloss. These offer a lower sheen while minimizing smudges and fingerprints. Semi-gloss finish is the best choice for painting wood architectural features because the slight gloss accents the fluting and shadows giving the column greater depth and dimension. Hint: You may also want to consider a less robust color than stark white--perhaps a soft ecru or biscuit or cream tint.

3. You might even want to add pizzas to your architectural columns by using more than one color to define them. For example, if the capital or base is very ornate, try accentuating this feature with a darker paint than the shaft. Or you can apply multiple colors designed to bring the color scheme of the entire room to life. You may want to consider metallic paints for an even more daring yet elegant effect. Hint: For easy clean-up select good quality interior latex paint.

4. Usually faux-marble finishes are reserved for surfaces that could actually be marble, which makes it perfect for columns. Although easy and even fun to do, this method is a bit tricky-especially creating the veining and getting it to blend in and soften naturally. It process usually involves three or more different glazes and tints. Instructional DVDs are available and you can watch the whole process on YouTube. Hint: You'll probably want to practice on a scrap surface before actually trying it on your column.

5. Add age and interest to a new or old columns by giving them a crackle paint finish. It's easy and inexpensive. First you patch any big cracks or dings with Spackle. Then you paint one or two coats of a dark paint over the entire column. When that dries you apply a crackling medium using long even strokes and let it dry. Thin coats result in fine cracks and thicker coats produce larger cracks. Then paint with the lighter topcoat. Again, you can watch the whole process on You Tube to decide if this method is for you. Hint: When dry you can seal the paint with a matte or satin-finish polyurethane.

J Zax provides information on architectural columns ( on behalf of HB&G Building Products.

Share Article

Related Articles