The columns: A supporting role

Whether they are inside or on the outside, the primary function of building columns is one of support. And when they are visible, often they are even charming, beauties to be protected.

— By François Varin, from Continuité Magazine, October 2010

The system of beams and columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. allows for opening up space. These components replace, in a lighter way, certain partitions and dividing walls, allowing for diverse arrangements of building space and more openings.

On the outside, building columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. enable the building of open or closed porches, access balconies, vestibules and porticoes. These are built as add-ons to the main building and owe their stability to a structure where the various assembled pieces apply the principles of overhang, triangulation, and brace support, which a beam and stud frame allows for.

The roof frame of these extensions rests on the building columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base., that relay the weight to the ground level, thereby allowing the creation of inviting open outdoor spaces; a pleasant transition between nature and indoors. When architecture became a means of manifesting one’s wealth and showing one’s hospitality, thanks to columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. these welcoming spaces took on various forms and shapes.

The use of building columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. thereby contributed to the stylistic development of architecture. It simulated the conception of architectural components that re-configure the original squareness of the building, giving it a new shape and a special look.

Conceptual details

Building Columns can be used to support different aspects of a building.In Québec, during the 17th and 18th centuries, the first building columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. were made of solid wood pieces, either round or with a tapered shaft. The builders’ empirical knowledge meant that they preferred big-sized columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base., which they believed would better bear the buildings’ weight. Experience, better knowledge (namely about the behaviour of materials), and the difficulty of obtaining big pieces of solid wood, led builders to create columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. of hollow wood –round or square- made up of wood pieces in small sections. These new columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. illustrate the ingenuity of this system: despite the small size of the individual pieces of the columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base., they ensured great stability to the structures.

The columnA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. is made up of a shaft ending at ground level, of a base, and a capital at the top. Sometimes, as in early 20th century architecture, the base sits on a stone or brick pilaster. ColumnA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. are usually structurally separated. Nonetheless, they can be connected to the wall face or incorporated into the wall, giving the impression of halfcolumns.

Building columns are essential to support the homeIn order to ensure proper proportions and a solid appearance, the base is wider than the shaft. The latter would be of a height and diameter proportional to the façade, and the capital would harmoniously ensure the transition between the columnA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. and the structure it supports.

It was classical architecture that served as inspiration for the modenature (decorative elements) of columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. : modenature takes up the Ionic, Corinthian, Roman, Doric and Tuscan motifs, or simply uses certain typical mouldings such as raggle, beadRound-shaped carpentry moulding of small diameter, plain or decorated., torus, scotia, quarter round, baseboard, etc.

The shaft of the columnA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. takes different profiles: conical, round, square and chamfered, round and fluted, with an entasis in the lower part or in the lower one-third, etc. This variety interprets the variety of styles and periods. Therefore, during renovation work, for a better result columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. that are too damaged should be replaced by an appropriate model with a profile comparable with the original. Unfortunately, new columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. are often square and badly proportioned, without chamfered edges, which gives an impression of great fragility. They are not elaborated with the care for detail of the original columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base.. Sometimes, certain property owners replace wood columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. with metal or fluted stone, models that are rarely compatible with the style or the building’s architectural simplicity.

Upkeep and repairs

Building Columns can be damaged and replaced using good strategy and professionals.The question of proportions and of proper dimensions of columnsA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. is of capital importance to maintain the aesthetic and stylistic qualities of a building. Greater care should be taken in repairing or faithfully repairing the original model and avoiding recourse to models sold in the major materials outlets. Architectural quality is all in the details and in well thought-through actions that protect the original concept and the often unique characteristics of each building.

Proper maintenance of wood requires the usual operations: scraping, paint removal, and sanding, followed by applying new coats of paint.

It may sometimes be necessary to replace part of a building columnA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base., for example, the base course. That does not prevent preserving the greater part of the columnA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base.. To do this, hoisting jacks and wood shores are needed to support the structure. The columnA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. can then be freed for repairs, and replaced once the repairs have been finished. If the columnA structural pillar that usually consists of a shaft, a capital, and a base. rests on a stone or brick pilaster, the intervention consists in consolidating the masonry jointing or in repairing it with the appropriate technique.

François Varin is an architect and director of the Fondation Rues principales (Rues Principales Foundation). This organization has worked for more than 20 years on socio-economic revitalization and sustainable development in the municipalities of Québec and other provinces.

www.fondationruesprincipales.qc.ca