Architectural wood columns: pictures and ideas

Tree trunks undoubtedly provided inspiration for the first columns ever used in architecture. To this day, wood remains a valid and rather high-end option for both exterior and interior architectural columns. Here I have a little collection of various architectural wood columns.

Perhaps the most important distinction is whether or not to emphasize wood as the material used for any given architectural column. A coat of acrylic paint can easily make a wood column resemble a plastic or composite column, at least if you are looking at a distance. However, for a truly authentic look wood can be irreplaceable. Depending on the level of detail these columns can be quite pricey.

Painting wood columns allows designers to emulate and define many traditional styles, even the most extravagant.

Your second option is to expose the natural texture of the wood column. This is particularly desirable if you have the budget for elaborate carving.

Finally, in many cases the look of wood columns is needed even when there is no money to be spent on authentic wood.

See also:
Architectural column materials
Architectural columns: their function and purpose

Single columns - a word of caution

Here is a word of caution regarding the use of single architectural columns. The article was published in "The Civil engineer and architect's journal" in 1848, but the advice can still be heeded.

"The idea of erecting single colossal columns as monuments and architectural objects, was, no doubt, borrowed by the Romans from Egyptian obelisks. Inasmuch as they are both lofty, upright objects, exceedingly well calculated to show at a considerable distance, the column and obelisk agree; but they also differ quite as much, and the difference is decidedly in favor of Egyptian taste. Whereas the obelisk is evidently a monument—a pillar erected to record some fact or facts, or dignify some locality, and is every way fitted by its shape to stand as an insulated, independent monolith, the column plainly expresses itself to be a component member of a fabric; therefore taken by itself alone, meaningless,—in the condition of a verb without a noun, or a noun without a verb. Not only does the column suggest the idea of a super-incumbent architrave, for supporting which it is intended,—'but detached from it, acquires a top heavy and unstable look, the very reverse of that attending the pyrumidum in which the obelisk is made to terminate, and which produces an obtuse apex, instead of the whole being prolonged to a sharp point, like a spire. Except its general proportions as to height, there is nothing that recommends a column tor officiating in lieu of an obelisk. The so employing it manifests very great poverty of invention and barrenness of ideas,—the inability to devise new and more appropriate forms for new purposes. What is characteristic in the column, considered as an architectural member, destined to support either a horizontal entablature or an arch springing from its capital, ceases to have propriety or meaning in a pillar erected merely as either an ornamental object or a votive monument. Such monument may still be a pillar, but it should be one expressly adapted to its peculiar purpose ; therefore, the less it resembles any of the so-called " orders," the better. In this respect, the Rostral column possesses a decided advantage: it shows itself most plainly to be neither more nor less than a trophy pillar. A column of that kind does not look like a fragment of a building. In a building, such form for the columns would be preposterous. To employ Architectural columns as detached monumental pillars, savors of pedantic and puerile conceit, akin to that which during the Elizabethan period fashioned chimney shafts into columns, designed, more orthodoxly than tastefully, according to some one of the "regular" orders."