This simple Tuscan style pilaster was the perfect way to separate the colors in our open floor plan kitchen.
It can be made from affordable materials you find locally. In fact, for this project we went to Lowes and found everything we needed in stock.
This page shows you step by step how we made ours. It’s really easy!
[This pilaster is part of Our Kitchen Molding Makeover series.]
Listen to Your Spouse
I was certain a tall wainscoting would look best on dining room’s brick wall, but Jennifer wanted a lower wainscoting.
I’m glad she persisted with her vision, because it led me to consider using pilasters to divide up the space. And we’re really happy with how they turned out.
Important Design Note: What are Your Pilasters Supporting?
Since a pilaster is really a faux column, then it must appear to serve the same function as a column — and that is to support the weight of the architectural treatment above it.
In the photo below, note how I placed the pilasters so that they appear to support the weight of the entire crown molding buildup (including the picture rail molding, or architrave). They also appear to support the weight of the lower ceiling on the right side of the picture.
Note how we dissolved the pilaster on the left into the wall. This is a common practice with pilasters in corners. We did the same thing to the pilaster on the far right.
Materials Needed to Make this Pilaster
[See more detail about each molding at our DIY Projects & Inventory page.]
You need just a few scraps of this to make the abacus.
I used this molding for the pilaster shaft. If you have some left over, then you can use some of it for the lower part of the pilaster base — but I used some extra 3/4″ mdf for that part.
This crown will need to be modified to extract the bed molding profile from it to use as the echinus. Details below.
Use this panel molding for the pilaster astragal.
This is a perfect ready-made molding to use as a base of our Tuscan style pilaster.
How to Build this Tuscan Pilaster
I tend to obsess over design details so much that sometimes it’s hard to get some phase of a project started.
To break the finish carpenter’s equivalent to writers block, I have to turn off my brain and start cutting some moldings and see what happens.
Such was the case with these pilasters.
Step 1 Make and Install the Shaft and Base
Note: If you know all your dimensions in advance, then it’s best to assemble your pilasters on a work bench and then just glue and nail them in place.
But since I had to install them on the very uneven brick wall, I went about it a bit sideways. Here’s how I built the first shaft and base.
Below Miter all the base pieces and lay them out on a flat surface.
I used Elmer’s Wood Glue on all contact surfaces.
Smear the glue across all of the miter faces.
Assemble the base pieces and hold them together with a few 23 gauge micro pins if needed.
Now it’s time to stack the base and plinth on the pilaster shaft.
Below With the base assembled, I then installed the pilaster on the wall.
Step 2 Install the Pilaster Shaft
I cut the pilaster shafts to the right height and then used a whole lot of Loctite PL construction adhesive on the back.
Then I tacked some positioning blocks to hold the pilasters in place while the adhesive set.
Above I made the first pilaster base (the left one in this picture) so that I could figure out the width I needed to make the top of the pedestal. The top of the pedestal is integrated into the wainscoting cap.
Below This mdf flat-stock comes with rounded edges.
But the left and right side pilasters are going to be dissolved into the wall, so I trimmed the rounded edge off of each so they sit flush against the wall.
Below The plinth is the very bottom of the pilaster base. These I made from scrap material.
Below Wrap the pilaster base around the shaft.
Below And that’s all there is to that!
Step 2 Make the Capital
This Tuscan capital, like most columns, has four parts:
- Astragal (sometimes called the collar)
I wanted to use a standard bed molding for my echinus, but I could not find one of good quality here in Tucson. Home Depot stocks one made from mdf, but its proportions are all wrong, its resolution is terrible, and the mdf material and primer coat is of extremely poor quality.
So I made my own bed molding from an ogee crown.
Cut the miters and assemble the pieces but don’t install it just yet. Let’s install the abacus first.
Below I made my abacus from 1/2″ thick mdf board and then used my palm sander to sand the exposed cuts.
Below I installed the abacus on the pilaster shaft first and then tucked the echinus molding up to it nice and snug.
Below I installed the collar about 1-1/2″ below the echinus.
Prepare the Pilasters for Paint
This brick wall was very uneven, so it will take a bit of sculpting with joint compound to make them appear to be integrated parts of the architecture after they are painted. Here’s what I did.
Below Ready mixed joint compound is easy to sand and sculpt.
Below I stuff the joint compound in pretty deep, and so I like to give it a full day to cure before I sand it.
Below If a wall has a textured surface that I install moldings on top of, then I don’t want to see a smooth section next to the molding where caulk, spackling or joint compound was not wiped out of the little divots.
If you don’t take care with this step, then anyone looking at your finished moldings will see that smooth part next to your moldings and immediately know why it’s there — you didn’t want to take the time to do a really good job. And you don’t want that.
Below The next steps are the usual:
- Sand all spackling
- Apply a unifying coat of primer
- Paint two finish coats of molding paint
Visit our How to Paint Moldings page for full details.
And that’s how I built our kitchen pilasters.
Our Kitchen Molding Makeover
There are more projects in our kitchen that you can read by going to Our Kitchen Molding Makeover page.