RoyalCast™ Fiberglass Columns
Material Composition and Process
Typically, calcium carbonate is the main filler used in RoyalCast™ fiberglass columns. Calcium carbonate is essentially fine particles of crushed rock that when mixed with polyester resin, industrial glue essentially, solidifies or cures into a hard stone-like substrate. These hollow columns, a result of the rotational manufacturing process, will sound like you are knocking on stone. When projects call out for Class A fire-rated columns, Alumina Trihydrate or ATH is mixed in with the calcium carbonate to form filler that meets the ASTM E 84 Class A test method for surface flame spread and smoke density.
Without ATH, the columns will still pass the flame spread Class A test but fail the smoke test, which typically isn’t of concern in the exterior use of columns. Even though our RoyalCast™ fiberglass columns are robust, they are still considered a lightweight column (ranging from 46 lbs. to 4000 lbs. depending on column size). In instances where someone wants these composite columns even lighter, we substitute lightweight filler which decreases the column weight by approximately 25%, while maintaining the same material thickness.
So a 10” x 10’ Round Tapered Fiberglass Column with a Tuscan Cap and Base would go from weighing roughly 128 lbs. to 96 lbs. The final ingredient is fiberglass strand chopped or cut to ¼” or ½” strands. The strand size used will depend on the diameter or width of the column and is used to reinforce the column and provide it with added strength. For even lighter fiberglass column options, visit our RoyaLite™ fiberglass reinforced polymer columns.
Royal Corinthian manufactures RoyalCast™ fiberglass columns from a combination of filler, resin, and fiberglass chop strand. This composition is the most popular for what the industry calls square fiberglass columns; however, this is a misnomer as these types of columns have a small percentage (1% to 3%) of fiberglass content. Our RoyalCast™ columns should really be called fiberglass-reinforced polymer marble composite columns. Regardless of the naming convention, these are the most popular fiberglass porch columns and interior columns used in America. These offer the greatest advantage over our other columns when paint-grade, robust, load-bearing columns are desired. We also manufacture significantly lighter fiberglass structural columns with 35-40% fiberglass under our RoyaLite™ brand.
Fiberglass Columns for Sale
The majority of the column industry follows a 2-steps sales process: A manufacturer offers fiberglass columns for sale to wholesalers who in turn sell to retailers. Even big box stores don’t have direct accounts with manufacturers. Royal Corinthian, however, has a 1-step process where we sell our fiberglass columns directly to the retailer who can pass on the savings to you. We are able to guarantee the lowest prices for fiberglass columns because we cut out the wholesaler, who quite frankly, is more or less a paper pusher that adds little to no value to the process of getting columns to the end user. When fiberglass column “manufacturers” offer products directly to consumers, chances are the company is actually a distributor under the guise of something else. If you are looking for fiberglass columns for sale at the lowest guaranteed price, contact us for a retailer that can supply them.
Exterior Fiberglass Columns
The exterior and interior fiberglass columns manufactured by Royal Corinthian are one and the same. We don’t do anything different to front porch fiberglass columns because by the very nature of the composition, fiberglass pillars are impervious to the elements. Wood columns, on the other hand, go through a special treatment process for exterior use and still don’t last very long, which is why we replace them for consumers on a weekly basis, especially rotting bases with our fiberglass column bases that last a lifetime.
Fiberglass Structural Columns
Exterior fiberglass columns, made by anyone, are not structural in that they will not prevent uplift to a roof when confronted with strong winds; however, they do provide structural integrity laterally when a railing system needs to be attached between columns. Many manufacturers and distributors use the word “structural” when really they mean load-bearing. Our columns are load-bearing, some of which can bear tens of thousands of pounds. These columns can be made structural for uplift protection with hardware that we can recommend.
You can learn more about cutting, painting, splitting, screwing into, and installing exterior fiberglass columns in our FAQ section.
Fiberglass Composite Columns Features
|Best Application||Paintable Whole Columns|
|Factory Finish (standard)||Paint-grade Gray, sanded seam|
|Factory Finish (options)||Paint-grade Only|
|Wall Thickness||3/8″ to 2″|
|Weight (per sq ft)||3 to 20 lbs|
|Fire Rating||Available: Class A|
Our RoyalCast™ fiberglass columns are available in every style and size that we offer. Shaft styles are as follows: Round Tapered Plain, Round Tapered Fluted, Round NON-Tapered Plain, Greek Doric, Round Twist Rope, Square NON-Tapered Plain, Square Non-Tapered Fluted, Square NON-Tapered Recessed Panel, and Square Tapered Plain. Depending on the shaft style, we offer columns from 4” in diameter/width and as short as you want them and up to 48” in diameter x 45’ tall. Our most diverse offering is our round tapered plain as tapered fiberglass columns are considered architecturally correct. Our round non-tapered plain columns are some of the tallest in the industry and we offer sizes from 6” in diameter to 36” in diameter. We offer square columns from 6” to 25” x 26’. We also offer several sizes of twist rope columns (not offered by any other manufacturer) and square tapered columns.
In this video learn about the 3 types of fiberglass columns offered by Royal Corinthian and why they are the most affordable and superior column material in the market. We compare the price, sound when knocked on, style, size, and plan type availability, fiberglass content, and manufacturing process of each material.
The majority of our round columns come with integral astragals or neck rings so you won’t have to attach a neck ring, that is typically made from a different material, to the shaft on the jobsite. Many manufacturers save money by making you do more work on the jobsite. We have the ability to remove our astragal if desired. Our fluted shafts have deep, rich, architectural flutes as opposed to shallow, routed, choppy flutes. We are also one of the few manufacturers that offer our caps and base made from the same poly/marble material as the shaft. Most column suppliers, in an effort to save themselves money, offer cheap foreign made caps and bases from alternative materials. Mixing materials presents problems when painting the columns as different materials react to paint adhesion differently and contract and expand differently. In addition to offering the typical Tuscan style caps and bases, we offer Roman Doric caps and bases, 11 styles of decorative capitals, and Attic Bases. Unlike most manufacturers, we are able to modify our Tuscan, Doric, and Attic caps and bases to have a round abacus or round plinth. Our replacement base capabilities are unrivaled and you can read more about our semi-customized options in our blog about replacing rotted bases.
Frequently Asked Questions: Fiberglass Columns
- What is a fiberglass column? Also called fiberglass reinforced polymer or “FRP”. Most companies use the terms interchangeably as do we, but we try to reserve “FRP” for our RoyaLite™ column covers in an attempt to differentiate them from our cast option. As described above, fiberglass porch columns come in many compositions. The most popular “square fiberglass column” in the market has very little fiberglass strand in it (RoyalCast™). In short, a fiberglass column is a composite column that has any amount of fiberglass strand in it. An exterior fiberglass column typically comes with a capital, base, and shaft but we sell them individually if desired. Watch this video to learn more about the 3 most common compositions of fiberglass columns.
- Can I buy just a capital or a base without the column shaft? Yes, we specialize in capitals and bases that are customized inexpensively for your particular application. We can make our standard bases taller or shorter, widen or shorten the hole opening, make the base fully solid, remove the plinth, make a square plinth round, add vents to the base so that your existing wood column can breathe, and much more. Read more about replacement bases. Our standard capitals are just as customizable and we have many more decorative capital options than we list on our website. As always, we never shy away from historic replications or custom projects.
- Can fiberglass columns be painted? Exterior Fiberglass columns don’t need to be painted but it is recommended. They are a paint-grade product more often than not unless you get our pre-finished FRP version. We recommend sanding, priming, and painting our RoyalCast™ columns using acrylic latex products and we have very detailed painting instructions for you to follow: How to properly paint cast fiberglass columns.
- What is the best caulk for fiberglass columns? Typically, installers will use a latex caulk for fiberglass porch columns. It is known as the “painter’s caulk” as it accepts primer/paint very well. If you aren’t planning to paint over the caulk, silicone caulks fare better as they will expand and contract with the column and separate less. We also recommend a polyurethane caulk from MasterSeal that we have had over a decade of success with. You can read more about caulks at the link in the previous question.
- How to split fiberglass columns? Yes, as mentioned previously, we can split them in half if they aren’t already made as halves. They can also be split to any plan type available by the factory or by your installer. Watch a video on how to split fiberglass columns yourself.
- Can you cut fiberglass columns? Columns can be made to your exact height or you can cut them with a circular saw on site. A good rule of thumb is to cut from the bottom of the shaft as some columns start to taper as you move up and others have decorative details like the neck ring or astragal at the top. Some of our columns have a capital support ring that is meant to hold a Tuscan capital in place. If you cut too much of the tapered column off, you run the risk of creating a bigger gap between the shaft and the base. The gap can be caulked but we can also make our bases to fit if you request that at the time of order.
- Can fiberglass columns be used as column covers? As mentioned at the onset, all of our columns can be used as column covers. Some are made as whole columns and can be split by us or you to act as covers while others are factory made as covers to be assembled around structural supports.
- Are fiberglass columns load-bearing? As mentioned above, two versions of ours are load-bearing and our RoyaLite™ column covers can be assembled to bear weight. Keep in mind that there is a distinction between load-bearing and structural. Square Fiberglass columns are not structural as it pertains to uplift. They will hold the weight of your roof in other words but they won’t keep the roof from lifting up during a hurricane. They can be made structural in combination with hardware like a Simpson Strong-Tie or with the use of a lally column or the like. Many manufacturers use the words “structural” and “load-bearing” interchangeably so don’t be fooled. The next two questions are relatable.
- Are fiberglass columns structural? They are load-bearing and can be structural when used in combination with structural hardware or columns. However, they do have structural integrity when lateral force is applied as with the use of railings that are secured to them. See more in the question above and below.
- Can railings be installed into fiberglass columns? Yes, balustrade systems or railings can be installed into our architectural fiberglass columns. Our columns are structurally capable of withstanding the lateral force that can be applied to a railing system. For column covers, make sure that the railings anchor into the structural member behind the column. Always, pre-drill fiberglass columns.
- How to install fiberglass columns? Installing round or square fiberglass columns doesn’t affect the installation process. They are all installed the same. Please download our fiberglass column installation instructions. Make sure to use the appropriate instructions as our RoyalCast™ and RoyaLite™ column covers install differently.
- Can you screw into fiberglass columns? Yes, but always pre-drill using the appropriate size drill bit. Countersink in order to conceal the screw head. Be mindful when screwing into thinner fiberglass options and don’t countersink too deep. Installation instructions are available for all of our columns.
- Where to buy fiberglass columns? You can buy them locally at The Home Depot, Menards, Lowe’s, and many lumberyards. However, most lumberyards don’t stock columns and the ones that do only have limited styles, sizes, quantities, and options. We do not sell direct but we guarantee the lowest prices through our distributors, even when competing against these “big box” stores. In addition to the lowest price guarantee, our fiberglass structural columns come with capitals and bases made from the same poly/marble composite material as the shaft. We do not cheap out like the rest of the industry but we still sell our columns for less. We don’t cut corners, ever. We have the best fiberglass columns and a lifetime warranty on all of them. Please call us at 888-265-8661 for a distributor, email us at [email protected], or fill out our contact form.
- How much are fiberglass columns? The price of a fiberglass column is fairly inexpensive compared to most column materials. Some wood and aluminum columns are cheaper but they only come with a 1 year warranty, typically. Once you paint an exterior fiberglass column with a high quality paint, you won’t have to deal with repairs or maintenance for a very long time, if ever, which is why they are backed by a lifetime warranty. Wood will rot and has to be maintained consistently and aluminum will rust in addition to being very limited in styles and architecturally displeasing to the eyes. Aluminum Columns are not architectural fiberglass columns; they are more accurately called posts. Concrete is heavy, corrodes, and requires a lot more structural reinforcement to the foundation than do fiberglass columns. The only other alternatives that have a great amount of value is our synthetic stone columns or PVC column wraps. Synthetic stone looks and feels like stone but is much lighter and less expensive. These are about 30% more than fiberglass but avoid the costs associated with painting the columns. PVC is available in square styles only and is usually painted but some people leave them in their natural white finish. They are only available as decorative, non-load-bearing columns. PVC is sometimes less expensive and sometimes more expensive than fiberglass. The good news is our distributors guarantee the lowest prices and will price every option that you want priced. You may get distributor information by contacting us.
- Are fiberglass columns hollow? Yes, fiberglass columns are hollow, which allows for them to surround structural columns if needed as well as run electrical wiring through them. Fiberglass columns can be made solid if desired but there really is no need to. A solid column would require additional reinforcement to the foundation and would be much more difficult to install. Fiberglass is pound for pound stronger than steel so this type of reinforcement is what allows for these products to be made hollow and still bear a lot of weight. We do, from time to time, make solid or semi-solid column bases for rotted wood base replacement because most wood column shafts sit on top of the base rather than inside of it. Learn more about replacement column bases.
- Can you stain fiberglass columns? Yes, there are special stains available that can be used to stain a fiberglass column. Make sure to sand the entire column first. Consult your local paint expert for recommendations on which stain to use.
- How to repair, patch, or fix fiberglass columns? With hard enough impact, anything can break, especially with reckless forklift operators. If your fiberglass column has a crack in it, a broken off piece, or a missing chunk, we have a patch material that can fix it as well as a video showing you ever step. Small divots can be repaired with appropriate construction putty or bondo.
- How to attach or anchor fiberglass columns? One method for attaching a fiberglass column to a floor or substrate and soffit or ceiling is to use L-brackets. The brackets get secured into the floor or ceiling using the appropriate screws and then attached into the side of the column shaft using masonry screws. Don’t forget to pre-drill into the fiberglass. The brackets are then covered by the cap/base. The inexpensive brackets are available in any hardware store or can be purchased from us. Another method is to secure the entire column by screwing through the capital and base and into the substrate or soffit/ceiling. Make sure to pre-drill and countersink the screws and to use screws long enough to penetrate the substrate and soffit/ceiling.
- How to clean fiberglass columns? If your fiberglass columns haven’t been painted yet and are dirty, use water to wash away the dirt and soapy water for tougher stains. If it’s a scuff mark from a forklift or something similar, use a high grit sandpaper. If it is just dust, use a tack cloth. You can read more about prepping a fiberglass column in our painting fiberglass columns instructions. If the column has been painted, follow the paint manufacturer’s instructions for how to clean.