What Is Millwork and How Do I Avoid Doing It?




The good news is that millwork isn’t something you do – it’s ready-made material that you use to enhance the beauty (and sometimes functionality) of building projects.

The bad news is that millwork is described using archaic architectural names almost as confusing as the word “millwork” itself, but fear not for we are here to provide you with some quick definitions and pictures to help you with your next millwork project. Let’s get started.

Millwork Definitions

Applique: As the name suggests, this is a decorative application that can be added to nearly any building surface. They come in endless ornate designs, although popular shapes include foliage, flowers, shells, ribbons and angels. BONUS: These are also called onlays.

Capital: This is the flared portion at the top of a column or pillar (as shown in the image above). BONUS: The bottom is predictably called the base.

Ceiling Medallions: These are ornate circular features that are affixed to the ceiling. Sometimes they stand alone, but more often they frame ceiling lights. BONUS: Square ceiling millwork are called tiles.

Corbel: An ornate bracket used to support (or appear to support) a shelf. You often see them when you look up at old buildings, just under the windows and parapets. BONUS: In millwork, these are often technically consoles, which is what corbels are called when they are attached to rather than a part of the wall.

Finial: These smallish ornaments are affixed to the tops of pointy things like spires and pediments and are usually oval or round-shaped, but can come in many styles. BONUS: A pediment finial is, quite appropriately, a pediment with a finial.

Pediment Acorn Finial Yes, you imagined it correctly.

Moulding: An ornate outline that extends out from a wall. These appear in lots of places both inside and outside structures. On the inside, you often see them flush with ceilings or framing windowsills. BONUS: May also be spelled as molding, as in what your old bread is doing right now.

Pediment: These decorative pieces have a general diamond shape (though often rounded and ornate) and are affixed to the tops of doors and windows. Many older Romanesque buildings that feature columns will have a large pediment that spans the entire structure. BONUS: Armoires, cabinets and other furniture might also have a pediment.

ATGStores.com hopes these definitions help you more easily navigate your next millwork project.

An example of a classic shell applique cast in urethane from Ekena Millwork.

An example of a corbel cast in urethane from Ekena Millwork.

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