Columns 101: Doric, Ionic, Corinthian or… tapered?

Even a ten minute run-through of architectural history would include a study of the ancient column orders (or styles).  What’s the big deal about columns, you ask?  They are one of the few, enduring architectural elements utilized in every historical period across the globe since they were established in ancient Greece!

There is, quite literally, a different style or variation for every major architectural style.  Take a look around your neighborhood the next time you’re out for a walk.  My guess is you’ll find at least three different styles of columns within a one-mile radius.

Aside from adding beauty and interest, columns often add structural support.  They might be utilized in order to provide an extended outdoor space on the main level, an additional room on the second floor above, or, as was often the case in ancient Greece, to support an entablature on the front of the building.  Entablatures were particularly important during an era in which few were able to read because they described the purpose of the building in a high/low sculptural story, called bas relief.

Today, columns maintain both a structural and decorative place in modern architecture.  We’ve managed to modify, lengthen, shorten and taper them in all manner of ways.  The three original Greek orders (styles) of column included:

Classical Order - Wikipedia: httpss://

Classical Order – Wikipedia: httpss://

Doric, which consisted of a base, a plain unadorned shaft, and simple cap.

Ionic columns included a similar base, but a more decorative fluted shaft and a cap consisting of four volutes.

Corinthian columns were the last and most decorative of the Greek columns, adding decorative base, fluted column and caps that included acanthus leaves and carved detailing.

Not long after, the Romans came along and decided to build on a good idea, introducing two additional styles, Tuscan and Composite.

Today, we most often see the simpler Ionic or Doric Greek styles, a square, rustic or smooth, tapered column on our homes.  While they were originally created of natural materials like wood or marble, they are now available in man-made materials which are rot and insect resistant; not to mention weather tolerant.

Regardless of your style preference, there are many to choose from in both structural,  DuraCast fiberglass material as well as non-structural DuraLite and cellular PVC options.  We also have options sized appropriately for interior use in a variety of styles.  All you have to do is settle on the style that’s right for you!

Click here to visit our columns page and get connected to one of our friendly lumber dealers!

-Holly Bayer, ASID