A New Concept in Columns
Most of us are intrigued by new technology, discoveries and innovations, and we are no exception. But, at the same time, we are always concerned about the long-term durability and general lasting quality of new products we come upon. This is often something that can be difficult to gauge. For example, when vinyl windows came onto the scene we were concerned about whether the technology would be broadly accepted by the window industry. Now, five years later everyone is making them. Yet, we still worry. Will they prove to be durable and long-lasting? Only time will tell.
On the other hand, some things come along that utilize a combination of old technologies in a new and unique way. In so doing, they provide a better and cheaper alternative to that which came before them.
An example is a new product just patented by a company called Column Concepts. They make plaster columns, stone columns, brick columns and columns from combinations of the three. They are modularized so that you can create the look that goes best with your home. There is even a module with glass blocks that doubles as a fancy driveway or fence light. Before, such columns were quite expensive. Not any more.
Masonry columns that used to cost $4,000 and had to be mounted on a large concrete foundation are now available for $1,200 and can be placed on an unformed leveling base made from about six sacks of concrete mix. Installation takes about an hour, and you cannot tell the difference between these ready-made brick columns and those created by the finest of stone masons. What is the secret? A proprietary high-density polymer (secret plastic) and a thinner-than-typical layer of masonry or lightweight plaster. These columns do not look fake because they are not. The stone and brick are real.
Years ago a company decided to make a thin brick look-a-like that could be glued to any surface. Once grouted the material looked almost real. However, “almost real” wasn’t quite good enough for most consumers, and the company ultimately went out of business.
With the Column Concepts product, the stone and masonry is thinner than usual, but is real masonry no fakes here. The columns are built in small easy-to-handle sections (modules). Each section starts with a round tube that becomes the hollow core of the column. Next, the core is surrounded with plastic to the desired size and shape. Next, wire lath, mortar and the finish material are added. Finally, in the case of stone and brick, mortar is applied. The plastic takes the place of the full thickness of stone or brick that would otherwise be used. Reduced weight also means ease in handling. Pre-assembly means that a layperson can perform the installation in minutes instead of a week or more. And a high-density polymer combined with real stone means no worries about insects, pests or rot. The hollow portion of the column over an in-ground pier hole can be filled with steel and concrete to create a column of tremendous structural strength.
Sections also can be used to create interesting bench supports, flower pot bases and landscape lights. They also can be fitted with mail boxes and house numbers.
Also, plaster columns can be fitted onto wrought iron fences to give them mass, support and a new look.
If you have questions for Column Concepts, write to them at 451 West Channel Road, Venicia, CA 94510 or call 707-747-0400.