diy pilaster columnTraditional Style

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.

how to install pilaster moldings on brick wall

The pilasters appear to support the weight of the architrave (picture rail molding).

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.

how to install moldings on a brick wall

The center pilaster base and its pedestal below it.

how to make a diy pilaster column

The right side pilaster is dissolved into the wall the same as the far left side.

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.

More about MDF-200 here >>


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.

pre-primed mdf flat-stock board for plinth blocks

$5.49 ea. (1 ea.) = $5.49


This crown will need to be modified to extract the bed molding profile from it to use as the echinus.  Details below.

More about CM-002 here >>

crown molding from lowes home improvement

$1.57/ft (2′) = $3.14

how to make a diy pilaster column

This is a common molding profile. But not here in Tucson. So I had to make my own.


Use this panel molding for the pilaster astragal.

More about PM-001 here >>

panel trim molding from lowes home improvement

$0.62/lf (1 ea. ft) = $0.62


This is a perfect ready-made molding to use as a base of our Tuscan style pilaster.

More about PM-011 here >>

molding to make pilaster, chair rail, dado or crown

$2.18/lf  (2 ft ea.) = $4.36

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.

how to install moldings on brick wall

I used Elmer’s Wood Glue on all contact surfaces.

how to install moldings on brick wall

Smear the glue across all of the miter faces.

how to install moldings on brick wall

Assemble the base pieces and hold them together with a few 23 gauge micro pins if needed.

how to make mdf diy pilaster

Now it’s time to stack the base and plinth on the pilaster shaft.

how to install moldings on brick wall

how to install moldings on brick wall

Below  With the base assembled, I then installed the pilaster on the wall.

how to make a pilaster column mdf

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.

how to make a pilaster column

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.

how to make a diy pilaster column

how to make a diy pilaster column

Left side dissolved into the wall.

how to make a diy pilaster column

Right side dissolved pilaster shaft.

Below  The plinth is the very bottom of the pilaster base.  These I made from scrap material.

how to install moldings on brick wall

Plinth at the pilaster shaft bottom.

Below  Wrap the pilaster base around the shaft.

lowes home improvement moldings

Below  And that’s all there is to that!

lowes home improvement moldings

Step 2  Make the Capital

This Tuscan capital, like most columns, has four parts:

  1. Abacus
  2. Echinus
  3. Neck
  4. 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.

moldings from lowes home improvement

molding from lowes home improvement

moldings from lowes home improvement

Cut the miters and assemble the pieces but don’t install it just yet.  Let’s install the abacus first.

moldings from lowes home improvement

Below  I made my abacus from 1/2″ thick mdf board and then used my palm sander to sand the exposed cuts.

how to install moldings on kitchen brick wall

Below  I installed the abacus on the pilaster shaft first and then tucked the echinus molding up to it nice and snug.

moldings on brick wall

Below  I installed the collar about 1-1/2″ below the echinus.

diy pilaster column

the parts of a capital

moldings installed on brick wall

modlings on brick wall

moldings on brick wall

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.

moldings on brick wall

Below  Ready mixed joint compound is easy to sand and sculpt.

sheetrock all purpose joint compound

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.

moldings on brick wall

moldings on a brick wall

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.

moldings on a kitchen brick firewall between townhouse units

Below  The next steps are the usual:

  1. Sand all spackling
  2. Apply a unifying coat of primer
  3. Paint two finish coats of molding paint

Visit our How to Paint Moldings page for full details.

how to install pilasters and wainscoting on brick wall

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.