Architraves are most commonly used as moulding or trim around doors and windows. Architraves are not structurally necessary as they do not support the frame of a window or a door, and they do not hold any of the building materials together. What an architrave does is give your home a finished look. Windows and doors without architraves can look dull, bare, and exposed. They may appear as if something is missing, even if you can’t place what that is.
The slightest imperfections in joints and seams can stand out like sore thumbs in an otherwise architecturally sound room. These imperfections can be impossible to cover up with paint, which is when architraves come to the rescue. Even if the joints and seams around your windows are perfectly measured and set, there is often a gap left between the plasterboard and these frames to allow for the expansion and contraction of building materials in hot or cold conditions like wood.
What is an architrave?
An architrave is an internal moulding installed around a window, door or other types of openings inside your home. In classical architectural terms, an ‘architrave’ describes a horizontal beam set upon two vertical columns. Architraves can also be called ‘trims’ or ‘casings’, and have both a practical and decorative function. Architraves can enhance the style and theme of any room by providing character, flair, and elegance while masking or hiding joints, seams, and cracks caused by the contraction and expansion of building materials like wood.
How are architraves used?
Your home is not entirely static. It is in a constant state of subtle movement like the world spinning, so you don’t even notice it. That is why builders leave a gap between the frame of a window or a door to prevent the plasterboard from cracking.
Most doors and windows have architraves, which you may never have observed. Now that you know what an architrave is, however, you’ll start noticing them around your office, your favourite restaurant, and in your friend’s houses.
The Difference between Skirting Boards and Architraves
Both skirting boards and architraves are mouldings that form the junction between building materials like plasterboard and timber. This trim is designed to hide imperfections in the construction of joints and seams or to cover the gap left between plasterboard and timber framing, which can contract and expand in hot or cold weather and cause plasterboard to crack.
The most significant difference between skirting boards and architraves is where they are installed. Skirting boards sit along the base of your interior wall, protecting the wall from scuffs, bumps and abrasions, while architraves frame the edge of rectangular structures in your home like doors and windows.
Both skirting boards and architraves also have a decorative function, and depending on the period of your home, these mouldings can range from detailed and ornate to sleek and simplistic.
What are modern architraves made from?
Architraves can be made from a variety of materials including hardwood, softwood, and various styles of timber. They are also commonly made from MDF, which provides a more cost-effective alternative to wood. In some circumstances, such as damp homes, or houses particularly susceptible to extreme hot or cold temperatures, MDF is the preferred choice because it won’t shrink or warp like wood can.
Although there are fewer applications, architraves can also be made from materials like plaster, rubber ceramic tile, aluminium, and PVC.
Your choice of material may be dependant on the current mouldings already in your home to create consistency and continuity between your interior décor. Older homes traditionally use more hardwood than modern homes, whereas contemporary designs would lean more to softwood and MDF.
The Australian Moulding Company can produce architraves in any timber upon request; however we most commonly use:
- Finger Jointed Pine
- Clear Pine
- Western Red Cedar
- Kiln Dried Hardwood (KD Hardwood)
We also provide a high quality (MRMDF) Moisture Resistant Medium Density Fibreboard, which is perfect for rooms with little exposure to light, limited ventilation, or with a high probability of leaking and moisture content like bathrooms.
History of architraves
The term ‘architrave’ can be traced back 40,000 years to ancient Greece, where an architrave was understood to be the ‘chief beam’ that sits upon a row of columns. The architrave was one of several layers that sat directly above the columns, forming part of what was called the ‘entablature’, a highly decorative feature made to show power. The architrave was the supporting layer sitting beneath both the ‘frieze’ and ‘cornice’ and was typically less ornamental than the other two layers.
Architraves we recognise today took shape during the Tudor period (1485-1603) when houses went from being made from stone to brick. In those times, people were experiencing problems with gaps appearing between the door and the wall.
This was particularly problematic in the more luxurious and powerful homes, where the aesthetic of each room was fundamentally important. During these times, the architrave was made from two legs and a head that sat around the frame of the door to disguise these developing gaps.
It wasn’t until the Victorian Period (1837-1901) that the idea of an architrave was expanded upon and turned into a decorative feature. Architrave profiles were made from wood, which was carved ornamentally to create a statement and enhance the look of the door.
While the use of architraves hasn’t changed dramatically today, their appearance and the way they are made has. Modern architraves can still be decorative and ornamental depending on the period of your home. However, modern and more contemporary houses and apartments will likely be fitted with a more sleek and simple design.
The Australian Moulding Company has over 5,000 different architrave profiles from all period of Australian Housing. We specialise in styles from the Colonial, Victorian, Federation, Late Edwardian, Art Deco, and Post War period, and have a comprehensive selection of styles for all modern homes. See the full range here > >