How to Install Columns

Create a bold, classic look with these step-by-step instructions.

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Columns are a great way to add architectural detail to create a classic design in a formal living space. Many column designs are available, including the three traditional Greek columns:

1. Doric, which has fluted sides and a smooth, rounded top and doesn't have a separate base

2. Ionic, which is also fluted but is slightly more slender than a Doric column, sits on a rounded base and has scroll-shaped ornaments on top

3. Corinthian, which is also fluted and has a highly decorative top, featuring olive or laurel leaf

Although it may seem daunting, installation of columns isn't difficult. (Having a partner to share the work is a big help, though.) Here's how to do it:

Materials and Tools:

fluted column
top and bottom caps
¾-inch plywood
base molding
finish nails
hot-glue gun and glue
braided trim


1. Create a base by cutting cut four plywood sides to size and then cutting an angle with a table-saw blade set at a 45-degree tilt. The base for the pictured project measured 7½ inches high by 13 inches wide.

2. Using the same table-saw setting, cut angles on all four sides of the top. Attach small cleats to provide a nailing surface and put the base together. The top of the pictured base box was a 13-inch square.

3. To make the base more attractive, add base molding. Prime and paint all the pieces as desired.

4. Once the pieces have dried, slide the bottom and top rings onto the column.

5. Once you have established the placement of the base, place the column in position. To connect it to the base, screw four evenly spaced brackets into the column sides and secure in place on the base.

6. Slide the bottom ring into position. It should fit easily over the brackets, since it's bigger than the column. Secure it in place with finish nails.

7. Square the top ring with the bottom column support. Press it tightly against the ceiling and then attach it to the column with finish nails. It isn't necessary to attach it to the ceiling, as the pressure from the column should hold it in place.

8. Fill in all nail holes with spackle. Sand these areas lightly and touch up with paint.

9. Hot-glue the braided trim in place to cover the gap between the column and the bottom ring.

Matt Fox is co-author with Shari Hiller of Real Decorating for Real People.

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