architectural trim detailing
Gingerbread detailing gives this classic home its architectural style.Morguefile


One feature that all outstanding traditional-style homes share is great architectural millwork: the moldings, posts, columns, and other detailing applied to house exteriors.

Greek Revival, Colonial, Georgian, Craftsman—these classic house styles as well as several others rely heavily upon columns as key architectural components. In fact, columns have returned to popularity not only for these traditional homes but also for many newer house styles to add visual interest, extend the façade of the house, and support porches. For more about columns, seeArchitectural Column Buying Guide


New architectural detailing, columns, and similar millwork are made from a variety of materials. Here is a closer look at each:

Composite Trim Materials

PrimeTrim exterior and interior trim from Georgia-Pacific is an all-wood composite that is highly resistant to rot and decay and has no knots, finger joints, or defects. It is sold factory-primed on the face and two edges and is said to require re-painting less than traditional wood trim. It is made in 16-foot lengths and may have either a smooth or textured surface.


Plaster has been used for centuries to create interesting detailing. On building exteriors, it is used for some columns, corbels, wall plaques, and other small details.




New moldings and architectural elements are commonly made from high-density polyurethane foam. Easy to cut and fasten with standard woodworking tools, polyurethane isn’t subject to some problems associated with wood: shrinkage, expansion, warping, splintering, and decay.


Unlike wood moldings that are often combined from several different pieces, these products are one piece, which makes them much more affordable to install than wood.




For mail-order catalogs or the names of nearby dealers, you can contact the companies directly. Because the offerings are so vast, the best way to check prices is to get a catalog or look online. For example, Orac Decor’s most popular crown moldings range from about $10 per lineal foot to $17 per foot. All are sold in 6 1/2-foot lengths.


木质细节易于切割和紧固,耐用,并重要恢复纯粹主义者 - 真实的。松树,软木,非常常用;杨树是一个适度定价的硬木。也使用其他物种,如红木,雪松和橡木。虽然一些物种,如红木和雪松心材,但对腐烂具有自然耐药性,但必须保护所有木材免受污点或油漆的风化。为了保证持续保护,必须每隔几年重新采购这项完成。

Ornate architectural detailing is fashioned from wood.
Ornate architectural detailing is fashioned from wood.© Elena Elisseeva | Dreamstime.com

木姜饼,中心柱,玄关的帖子,模具ings, and similar wooden millwork are made both by small local mills and by large mills that distribute to home improvement centers, lumberyards, and millwork shops, and sell directly online and through mail-order catalogs.

两个这样的公司,提供products by mail order are Silverton Victorian Millworks and Vintage Wood Works. These companies have many stock components and will produce custom components.

How much does wooden detailing cost? Because the offerings are so varied, even ballpark prices are almost impossible to give. Silverton’s popular Colorado handrail, which is 2 inches by 2 3/4 inches, runs about $4.50 per lineal foot in hemlock and $7.50 per lineal foot in oak. The best way to see the selections and pinpoint prices is to look at manufacturer sites online or request a catalog.

In general, quality wood is a scarce and expensive resource-and you pay for it accordingly. Wood meant to be painted is considerably less expensive than material meant to be finished naturally or stained with a transparent finish. When choosing wood, you must also consider the fact that many types of moldings are actually built up on site from several molding profiles; both labor and material costs can escalate with the degree of complexity.

Architectural Millwork Terminology

Here are some of the basic terms that are used for describing architectural millwork:

拱环。Half-round or elliptical trim mounted above a door or window.

Bracket。Filigree or ornamental blocks between a vertical support and horizontal member. Brackets usually provide crossbracing or support between a post and beam or beam and cornice.


illustration of Victorian house with various types of molding and millwork
Types of Architectural and Decorative Millwork©Don Vandervort, HomeTips

Corbel。A short block or bracket projecting from a wall, often meant to provide support for a horizontal member. See什么是柯克尔?以下。

Cornice。A projection at the top of a wall, under a roof’s eaves.

Dentil blocks。Blocks attached to a wall in a toothed pattern.

牙线成型。A toothed moulding attached to a wall. See BELOW for more.

山墙装饰。Triangular-shaped filigree or panel fit into the rake end of a gable roof.

Header or head。A horizontal projection over the top of a window or doorway.


百叶窗。Slatted panels of various shapes mounted in the upper portion of a gable wall to provide attic ventilation.

Mantel。A horizontal projection over the top of a doorway.


Pediment。A peaked, rounded, or other decorative panel directly above a doorway.

柳条潜水员。Decorative vertical columns attached to the wall or frame at either side of a doorway.

Quoins。Rectangular blocks that extend up the corner of a building.

Shutters。Operable or decorative window covers mounted to each side of a window.

Dentil Molding

Architectural Crown Dentil Molding©HomeTips

牙线成型, a small rectangular block that, when repeated, resembles a row of spaced teeth, is applied to houses as a type of decorative trim. From the Latin word ”dent,” meaning tooth, dentil moulding first appeared in 16th-century France.


In the past, dentil molding was tediously made, piece by piece, from wood or plaster. Today, it is still made that way, but you can take a short cut to achieve the same look. You can buy lengths of single-piece polyurethane foam or vinyl molding, which are more affordable and less prone to decay, shrinkage, peeling, and other problems common to built-up millwork.


A corbel is an architectural projection or bracket-like support that steps out from a wall to hold a beam or other weight, although some corbels are purely decorative.

Architectural corbel

A corbel, sometimes called corbelling, may be bricks or stones set out from the wall’s face, or it may be a short, sometimes carved, piece of wood. Corbel is also used as a verb: To corbel out means to build a corbel. The Old French word ”corbel stems” from the Latincorvus., for raven, possibly referring to early gargoyles.



The term “architectural millwork” encompasses a range of materials and products. Also known as “architectural trim,” “architectural ornamentation,” “detailing,” “carpenter art,” or simply “trim,” this refers to the shutters that flank windows, pediments and pilasters that surround doors, dentil and crown moldings, columns, and other elements that add interest and anchor a house’s architecture in the vernacular of a given period and style.

Much millwork serves a functional role, too. Moldings hide the transitions between differing materials, and columns provide support, for example. Structural columns are made from wood, extruded aluminum, or fiberglass composites. Non-structural, decorative columns, made from polymers, are hollow in the center to allow for a wood or metal post.

If you own an older traditional house-or even intend to build a traditional-style home-it pays to be familiar with decorative millwork. The trim of many older homes often has been removed or, where it has not been removed, it’s in shoddy condition, because millwork is particularly vulnerable to the abuses of harsh weather. Some vinyl siding manufacturers offer a range of decorative classic millwork that coordinates with their systems. These include door and window surrounds, shutters, corner posts, dentil moldings, and more.

The traditional material for architectural detailing is wood-typically pine, fir, redwood, or cedar. Ornate patterns of molding and millwork are made up by combining a variety of simpler wood molding profiles.

About Don Vandervort
Don Vandervort has developed his expertise for more than 30 years, as Building Editor for Sunset Books, Senior Editor at Home Magazine, author of more than 30 home improvement books, and writer of countless magazine articles. He appeared for 3 seasons on HGTV’s “The Fix,” and served as MSN’s home expert for several years. Don founded HomeTips in 1996.Read more about Don Vandervort