How Many Styles of Marble Columns?

How Many Styles of Marble Columns?

When we say, “marble columns,” you probably already have an idea of what they look like. Do you know how many styles of marble columns? They are built with different and intricate styles which we are going to talk about in this article one by one.   

The major styles of marble columns are Doric, Ionic, Corinthian, Tuscan, and Composite. The first three were developed in ancient Greece, and the last two were developed in ancient Rome.

Image from Google

In structural engineering today, marble columns are widely used for structural support because of marble’s durable quality. It is also easy to carve and with its variety of designs, other styles of columns were also born.

Marble Column Styles

Marble columns were a remarkable part of the ancient Greek architecture that we carried until today with our buildings, such as those of the government and museums. We have a brief introduction to some general marble columns in this link.

In classical architecture, columns are called “order.” You can get detailed history stories in the blog of Smarthistory. An order constitutes the style, details, proportions, and profiles of a building. With these, they become easily identifiable.

The three main orders are the Doric, Ionic, and Corinthian, which became the inspiration for the succeeding types of columns.


The Doric column is the first among the orders in classical architecture, developed in the early 7th century BC in the western Dorian region of Greece. If you are interested in this Doric column, please click here to read more about it in the blog of ThoughtCo.

Doric marble columns are known for their certain characteristics:

Designsimple and straightforward, unlike other marble columns which are carved or decorated with adornment
Shaftswider at the base compared with the top fluted; there are vertical grooves in a proportionate manner typically have 20 flutes
Capitalhave a simple capital with the round echinus located at the top of the shaft and a square abacus on top of the echinus
Height Proportion 1:7 ratio diameter of the base is 1’ = height of the column is 7’
Baseno base at the bottom of the shafts, so Doric marble columns rested directly on the ground

An interesting fact about Doric marble columns is that they are heavier and thicker compared to other ones in the classical order. We usually place them on the lowest level of a structure— especially a massive one— so they can carry the weight of the other stories.

Some of the modern buildings with Doric columns can be found in the United States, such as the Capitol and the Supreme Court.


In classical architecture, Ionic columns are the second among the orders. They first appeared in mid-6th century Ionia in ancient Greece (now located in Turkey).

Ionic marble columns have the following characteristics:

Designthey have unique scrolls called “volutes” specifically at the capital
Shaftscan be fluted or smooth become wider at the top and bottom, specifically near the capital and the base typically have 24 flutes (if fluted)
Capitalthe echinus has a pair of volutes with a rectangular abacus on top there are egg-and-dart designs at the capital near the volutes
HeightProportion 8 to 9 1/2 diameters
Basethey have a base that looks like discs stacked together

Ionic marble columns are slender compared to Doric marble columns, which is why they are also branded as feminine.

Ionic marble column from Sinodec Stone

While they are sturdy, they are not as sturdy and thick as the Doric ones. They are commonly used in the upper levels of a structure.

The Land Administration Building in Brisbane is an example of an infrastructure that used Ionic columns, notably on its upper levels.


The Corinthian column is the third order in classical architecture that was first made in the mid-5th century BC. Its name came from Corinth, a city-state in south-central Ancient Greece.

Corinthian marble columns embody characteristics which are:

Designthe designs may vary because Corinthian columns have the most grandeur compared with the previous two orders, but the signature design is the leaves on the capital ornamented with carvings that resemble flowers and acanthus leaves
Shaftsslender-fluted and taller typically have 24 flutes
Capitalbell-shaped with volutes, acanthus leaves, and flowers
HeightProportion10:1 height-to-width ratio
Basealmost the same as Ionic’s disc-looking base stacked together

Corinthian marble columns are durable but are more vulnerable to external elements.

They can easily spoil if placed on the exterior of a building because of their intricacy, which is why they are used mainly inside the spaces for support and aesthetics.

In today’s time, some buildings still use Corinthian columns. An example is the New York Stock Exchange building and the National Archives in Washington, D.C. The University of Virginia also has these columns.


The Greeks started the creation of marble columns, which the Romans adopted in their architecture. The latter used columns mostly for decoration and not much for structural support, as in ancient Greece.

Tuscan marble columns that originated from ancient Italy have similarities with Doric ones. Below is where we can see the Greek influence on this type of marble column:

Designplainno carvings or ornaments
Shaftsplain and smooth not fluted slender; can be compared to Greek Ionic columns
Capitalround and simple
Height Proportion1:7 ratio the height is seven times the diameter
Basesimple and without adornments may be circular or square

The plain trait and simplicity of Tuscan marble columns make them appear more solid than the others.

They were commonly placed together with infrastructures where architectural design was not the priority, such as military buildings and fortresses. Here, the strength of Tuscan marble columns is put to use.  


The Romans designed the Composite marble columns that emerged during the 1st century CE.

These columns are a mixture of the Greek Ionic and Corinthian, hence recognizable by their striking characteristics which are:

Designsimilar to Corinthian columns with floral and leaf designs, with the appearance of volutes
Shaftsslender proportions can plain or flutes typically have 24 flutes (if fluted)
Capitalhave a bell-shaped platform consisting of 3 rows the bottom 2 rows (from the shaft) are surrounded by acanthus leaves with 2 flower accents on top the third row up has 8 volutes that are positioned diagonally to support the abacus (uppermost part of the capital)
HeightProportion10 diameters high
Basesimilar to Ionic and Corinthian bases that appear like discs

Although Composite marble columns are often compared to Corinthian ones because of their likeness, Composite columns are more detailed and intricate.

This type of marble column was mostly used for interior design such as pilasters. Therefore, Composite columns were seen more as a decoration than a structural property.

Incorporating Marble Columns Into Your Home

Marble columns can transform your place majestically. If you will incorporate them into your house, you must determine the following:

  • Are you going to place them inside or outside?
  • What purpose do you want them to serve (i.e., structural support, decoration, or both)?

Marble columns are permanent, and this is something that you must consider too. It will be difficult to move and remove them if you decide to do so.

Nowadays, the choices of marble are plenty, so you will definitely find a style that will serve your taste.

If you have a solid concrete pillar in the house but need marble to decorate it. We have a marble column cover for choice. All products are customized.


We know marble columns by their origin—Greek and Roman—and by their timeless appearance that continues to influence modern architecture. They can be used in modern-day houses because marble itself is a versatile stone with different styles.

The first three orders of columns in classical architecture are Greek which is: Doric (plain, thick, and baseless), Ionic (with volutes and egg-and-dart design), and Corinthian (ornamented with acanthus leaves and flowers).

The last two types of marble columns Tuscan (plain and solid) and Composite (mixture of Greek Ionic and Corinthian) are of Roman origin.  

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