When choosing to add a structural or decorative element to a front porch, the best option — with the most bang for your buck in terms of curb appeal — is to add porch posts or porch columns. You may be asking yourself, "Is there a difference?" You're not alone. While you can't go wrong with either choice, it's important to understand that the differences lie within the details. The following is a high-level look at exterior porch columns vs. porch posts to help you determine which is the right choice for your house project. Be sure to consult with one of our specialists to ensure you're choosing the right style of load-bearing product for your home.
The main difference you'll notice right off the bat is that porch posts are inherently smaller in size than exterior porch columns, averaging a diameter of about 5 inches. A porch post is typically a bit more detailed but can't carry as much load-bearing weight as its column counterpart. Because of this, porch posts are typically used for aesthetic purposes and for attaching porch railings.
Porch posts are usually used with smaller spaces as they pack a punch in terms of detail and charm. If you need your porch posts to serve double-duty by being both beautiful and structurally sound, you'll want to add more of them. Consider doubling up to ensure your posts are properly load-bearing.
Parts of a Porch Post
- The top square is the unturned portion on the top of the post. This is where any decorative components will be added.
- The turning of a porch post is the extended portion between the top and base squares.
- The base square is the unturned bottom part of the post. If you are adding a handrail, it will be installed on the flat surfaces of the base square.
Porch Post Materials
Porch posts are available in various materials and can be custom designed to complement doors, window trims, and even specific materials or finishes. The following are some of the materials you can choose from when designing your custom porch posts with HB&G.
- Wood Porch Posts. Turned wood porch posts offer a clean, charming look that is both historically accurate and aesthetically pleasing. HB&G wood posts are available in 4, 5 and 6-inch nominal sizes.
- Synthetic Porch Posts. Decorative synthetic porch posts are prefinished in white and provide a low-maintenance, yet high-impact look. The posts are insect and weatherproof, providing year-round peace of mind. The polyethylene PermaPost® line is composed of an outer shell that surrounds a galvanized steel pipe and polyurethane foam filler. Styles include Colonial, Chamfered and Square, and each comes in various sizes.
A porch column is grand, regal and almost double the size of your typical porch post, averaging a 10-inch diameter. This is usually the architectural element of choice for larger porches. But, keep in mind that columns come in a broad range of sizes, making them incredibly versatile. Porch columns are usually much more durable than porch posts and are able to hold more weight. This is why columns are most often used to support a roof, but they can also be used simply for aesthetic purposes.
Porch columns even provide you with the ability to get more creative. You can customize your columns by choosing your capital, base and other elements in order to get just the right look you're aiming for.
Parts of a Porch Column
- The capital is the upper-most part of the column and features various decorative elements.
- The shaft is the load-bearing portion of the column that is between the capital and base.
- The base is the lowest part of the column and can sit directly on the floor or atop a pedestal.
Porch Column Materials
Porch columns are available in a wide variety of sizes, styles and materials to ensure the vision you have for your home becomes a reality. Whether you're opting for decorative or structural columns, HB&G has one of the most extensive material selections on the market.
- Wood Porch Columns. A perfect option for interior applications where weather is not a factor. Primarily available in round profiles, but also available in square.
- Fiberglass Columns. Fiberglass porch columns are specially engineered to replicate the mechanical and aesthetic properties of various materials. Each one is rot-proof, weatherproof and insect-proof. And, there are endless customizations available to create your ideal fiberglass columns. It's a durable choice that provides the flexibility for either historical authenticity or a clean and contemporary look.
- Aluminum Columns. A strong, yet lightweight choice, white aluminum columns offer a low-maintenance option with a uniform finish. Choose from round and square fluted, recessed panel Heritage, and textured Elite or Legend styles.
- Synthetic Columns. Durable and completely customizable, synthetic column wraps offer the thickness, aesthetics and overall ease of use of wood. Plus, they're incredibly easy to install. Synthetic columns are also moisture and insect-proof, making them a quick, easy and low-maintenance solution. Options include square or Craftsman styles in plain, fluted, and recessed or raised panels.