Styles of Turned Porch Posts

Written by g.d. palmer
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Styles of Turned Porch Posts
This Victorian porch features elaborate turned posts. (Porch Hammock image by Andrew Kazmierski from Fotolia.com)

Turned wooden porch posts have long been used as a decorative element in U.S. homes. While many post styles are available in vinyl, polyurethane and other man-made materials, wooden posts remain popular. These porch supports are available in a range of styles and sizes appropriate to particular building styles and periods. Learning what's available can help homeowners find the right posts to match their home.

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Classical/Colonial

Homes in the Colonial America period often mimicked classical construction, complete with column-supported porches. Federalist- and Colonial-style buildings may include several large turned wooden columns with carved bases and tops. The middle of the column may be smooth, or it may be fluted to mimic Greek stone columns. This type of porch post is generally painted white or a white neutral tone.

Victorian

Improved woodworking tools, such as powered lathes and saws, encouraged an increase in decorative woodwork during the 19th century. Many late Victorian homes include intricately turned spindle-style posts, with or without added carving. These posts tend to be thinner and more numerous than classical columns, and the majority of their decoration is located in the middle of the post rather than at the base and crown. Most turned Victorian posts are square at the top and bottom, and they feature an array of knobs, bevels and other decorative elements in the centre. Historically, individual parts of these columns were often painted different colours.

Plain

Houses built in the early to mid 20th century often feature relatively plain turned posts. These may be simple cylindrical columns with no decoration at all, plain columns with a slight taper or variations with a little decoration at the top and base. These are often seen on Colonial Revival homes, which resemble Colonial buildings but include more modern sensibilities. Columns on these homes are usually smaller and more delicate than columns on older, Colonial buildings. Plain porch posts are normally painted one colour and usually match the home's windows and trim colour.

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