Columns are a popular architectural feature. Able to provide both form and function, they can give a property a more distinguished look. There are many different sizes and column designs available, from classic Roman-style columns to modern columns, making it possible to design a column for almost every property.
In addition to style, another important design for columns is material. There are several ideal construction materials for columns and the best one for your project will depend on factors like the style, budget, functional needs, and installation constraints.
Material Options for Exterior Architectural Columns
Historically, columns were constructed from carved stone. The available options have changed significantly, and today you can choose from all of the following materials when adding columns to a design:
- Fiberglass – Fiberglass is a lightweight column material that can still be load bearing depending on the product. It is corrosion resistant. The main drawbacks of fiberglass columns are that they are more expensive than other materials and custom options are less readily available.
- Precast Concrete – Columns from precast concrete are made by pouring concrete into molds. The columns have all of the durability and longevity of concrete. They are more affordable than stone and, due to the manufacturing process with molds, can be a large variety of shapes. The main drawback of concrete is its weight, which can make shipping costly and require additional support and equipment for installation.
- Cast Stone – Similar to precast concrete, cast stone is a mixture of natural stone aggregates and Portland cement. It is cast in a mold during the manufacturing process but has a finished look that replicates natural stone. This gives it the structural strength of precast concrete and the appearance of traditional stone. It is still quite heavy, so it is important to be sure the rest of the structure can support the weight of the columns.
- Glass Fiber Reinforce Concrete – GFRC is exceptionally strong and lightweight. It weighs far less than both stone and precast for affordable shipment and installation. Yet it is as durable as concrete for a long lasting column. GFRC is not weight bearing, so columns will contain a metal or concrete interior with a GFRC column cover. For this reason, GFRC also works well for renovations of existing columns. GFRC columns have a smooth exterior surface that is paint-ready and can be made to look like stone, concrete, or other materials.
Although any of these different materials can provide you with a beautiful column, GFRC is continuing to grow in popularity due to its many benefits are more affordable cost. To learn more about GFRC column covers and how they can be the right choice for your building, contact our team at GC Products.