Introduction to Stone Columns and Pilasters

When it comes to architectural stone elements, you are probably familiar with columns but you may not be quite as familiar with pilasters.  Or, at least, you do not know that you are.  Both columns and pilasters have been around for centuries.  Columns and pilasters have a relatively similar appearance but there are some unique features that set them apart.

One of the primary differences between a column and a pilaster is that a column is generally rounded while a pilaster are generally flat and rectangular in nature.  Columns are round supports that provide a structural element that supports the weight of architecture such as beams or arches in residential or commercial settings.

Unlike a pillar which is a rectangular, non-curved structural element, a pilaster is a rectangular, non-curved architectural stone element that is most often installed into or against the surface of a wall.  Pilasters can serve the purpose of being either an ornamental or structural column.  Architectural stone pilasters can be carved and custom crafted to provide any style or aesthetic appearance that you want so that it seamlessly integrates into the style of your home.

In addition to a freestanding, curved column, and a rectangular pilaster installed against the wall, there are engaged columns as well.  Study.com elaborates on the difference between engaged columns and pilasters for further clarification, “An engaged column is a curved shaft that is built directly into a wall. It’s just like any other column but is physically connected to and part of the wall itself. This is an aesthetic way to break up the monotony of the flat surface, but also an important structural element. Engaged columns are load bearing, holding weight from the ceiling as well as acting as buttresses that reinforce and support the actual wall.

Now let’s look at pilasters, which are also features that are built into or attached to a wall. Pilasters have bases and capitals just like columns, but they’re rectilinear, shaped like elongated rectangles, and not shafts. That’s difference number one. The most important difference, however, is that modern pilasters are almost completely ornamental. Some may add some structural support to the ceiling, but they do not reinforce the wall at all. Their attachment to the wall is decorative, imitating the engaged column and breaking up the monotony of the flat surface but not filling the same structural role. So, it’s a very different kind of architectural feature.”  Whether you want to install a stone engaged column, traditional column, or pilaster, Architectural Stone Elements can custom carve any stone element to your unique specifications and needs.