Giovanni Valle is a licensed architect and LEED-accredited professional and is certified by the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards (NCARB). He is the author and managing editor of various digital publications, including BuilderSpace, Your Own Architect, and Interiors Place.
Wood is an indispensable material that has been in the industry for decades. You can either use it for functional purposes or aesthetic reasons. There is an increase in millwork demand as more people show a growing need to improve their homes aesthetically.
Millwork refers to any woodwork that comes from a mill. It is one of the construction elements that architects use to give a house an aesthetic appeal and character. For decades, millwork has been an art that has only been practiced by elite carpenters to make a bold statement.
Throughout this article, you will get to learn the following information about millwork:
- What millwork is
- The history of millwork
- State of present-day millwork
- The common uses of millwork
- Different types of millwork
- The difference between millwork and casework
What Is Millwork?
As noted above, millwork is a broad term that refers to any woodwork made in a mill. If you are observant, you may find that there are pieces of decorative accents built into your house’s doors, ceiling, and walls. Such trim pieces are some examples of millwork. They are made to be accurate and well detailed to bring out the perfect finish for your home.
All millwork items come from raw lumber. Some of the woods typically used are pine, maple, oak, fir, poplar, and hickory. The installation is relatively easy since it only requires nails, screws, or adhesives. However, it takes a carpenter a lot of effort to ensure that the woodwork designs are accurate. Only then do they add class and elegance to a building.
History of Millwork
Although millwork is currently vastly popular, it has been around for years. It is especially noticeable through the golden age of 1880 to 1910. During this period, most houses were made of wood, from window frames, flooring to the paneling. Due to the rise in population, there was a growing need for residential spaces and offices. The result was the massive growth of the millwork industry.
But what led to this massive growth?
- During the golden era, industrialization led to large-scale machinery that made it possible to cut and carve wood faster and easier. As a result, carpenters and woodworkers could create better-finished products.
- The forest cover was vast before the European colonization.
- Industrialization led to the development of better transport. It, therefore, became easier to access wood from different parts of the USA.
- There was plenty of cheap labor employed by the wood companies.
During the Golden Era, the woodworking styles were the Victorian, colonial, Spanish styles, prairie, and craftsman.
- The Victorian millwork is known to be the pinnacle of all British woodworking. Its catalog consists of elegant houses with grand ceilings and intricate millwork moldings and arches.
- The Craftsman houses were a style that was prominent in the USA but had its origin from Britain. The houses were simple, with earthly interiors and exteriors. The house design relied mainly on wood with millwork open beams and wood trims.
- The Colonial revival is classic American architecture. Its millwork included wood from mahogany, oak, and black walnut. It also had the Queen Anne furniture from the 18th century. The woodwork was simple. It was popular from the 1890s till this day since the designs are timeless.
- The Prairie technique became famous around the 1900s in Chicago. The style has both Midwestern influences and Japanese elements. The design and artistry of the architecture emphasize purity. Moreover, the millwork includes spacious interiors with wood banding and horizontal facades.
- The Spanish Revival style came about during the Panama-California expansion. Its style drew inspiration from the Spanish colonization. Additionally, it is exotic with Spanish influences and Mediterranean shades.
What Is the State of Present-Day Millwork?
The golden age has had an incredible impact on the growth of the millwork industry. The trade that has now spun for more than 120 years uses both wood and non-synthetic elements such as glass, polishes, decorative coatings, and fasteners.
The advancement in technology makes it possible to make creative cuts and designs with high-level precision and accuracy. Moreover, millwork elements can now be fit in diverse areas than on the doors, windows, and entryways.
Common Uses of Millwork
The common use of architectural millwork is to provide a building with both functional and aesthetic value. You can build a classical, modern, sleek, or ornamental look just by using the right type of millwork.
Here are some common elements that you can create using architectural millwork:
- Built-in cabinets and shelves. They are the best way to save on space while still creating a sleek environment. A professional architect should have no problem crafting shelves and cabinets that fit with your house’s theme.
- Desks and workspaces. Architectural millwork is a great way to make your modern office furniture. You can get a professional to shape the desk to whatever makes you feel comfortable.
- Columns, moldings, and handrails. you can make your house or property even more elegant and breathtaking by using carefully crafted handrails, structural columns, and unique molding. Learn more about a property before investing.
- Restaurant and bar furniture. A restaurant’s environment dictates whether you may receive or fail to receive clients. Clients do not only consider the quality of food. They also want to share the experience with someone else. An architect is great at design and can help you with them.
Different Types of Millwork
Millwork describes the internal and external characteristics of a wooden material crafted in a lumberyard. Therefore, it adds a particular character and personality to any interior or exterior space. You can categorize millwork into either interior or exterior.
- Stairs and ratings
- Molding and trims
- Outdoor railings
- Column post
- Cupola and weathervanes
What Is the Difference Between Millwork and Casework?
While they may fall under the same umbrella of carpentry, both millwork and casework have specific applications.
Millwork encompasses finished building products that are made from a mill. Some examples include display counters, doors, custom kitchen cabinets, and crown molding. It does not include the building’s integral parts, such as the flooring, siding, and ceiling, even though they may be out of wood. Therefore, it is only right to say that the primary purpose of millwork is developing ornamental products.
On the other hand, casework involves manufacturing any boxed furniture. It can include racks, storage spaces, cabinets, kitchen drawers, or bookcases. Since the furniture is not custom made, they are modular in usage. The main idea behind casework is to create a product that is easy to assemble on-sight.
The significant difference between the two is that casework is modular, while millwork is custom. It is easier to mass-produce casework while millwork cannot be replicated since the space measurements keep changing with the project.
Both millwork and casework have their advantages and disadvantages. It is not easy to determine which the better of the two is. However, if you are looking for quick storage options, you may go with casework. But if you want to accentuate your project and enhance your interior design’s value, you can go with millwork.
Millwork plays a significant role in interior design. Woodworking has been around since the golden era and is a prominent part of our rich architectural history. Today, you can use the same classical skills or add a touch of modernism to bring woodwork to life. Although it provides both a functional and aesthetic purpose, its most significant benefit is improving the appearance of furniture, cabinets, or even walls or other architectural elements in your home.
- Wikipedia: Millwork
- Old House Online: The Language of the 19th Century Millwork
- Smart Land: Casework vs. Millwork
- True CADD: Millwork vs. Casework
- BluEnt CAD: The History of Millwork
- Architectural Millwork of Santa Barbara; Custom Millwork
- Burt Lumber Inc: Types of Millwork
- Ferrante Manufacturing Company: Common uses of Architectural Millwork
- Wikipedia: Spanish Colonial Revival Architecture
- The Spruce: Prairie –Style Architecture
- Hull Millwork: Building with History
- Wikipedia: American Craftsman
- Wikipedia: Victorian Decorative Arts
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