You may have heard the term ‘architrave’, and believe me, you probably walk past it several times a day – at home, at work or anywhere in public life – but many people don’t know what it is or what it does. And while you might struggle to identify it, you might also wonder why you need it if you don’t even know what it is, so let us explain with our Guide to Architrave and Why You Need It:

What is architrave?

If you have heard of the term ‘architrave’, then you may also have heard of ‘mouldings’, and architrave can be put into this bracket as a type of moulding. Architrave is effectively a type of decorative covering or section which conceals or hides gaps, joints or junctions around a door or window. You can see a similar type of moulding between a wall and ceiling, but this is usually called a cornice, while a skirting board does the same job as architrave between a wall and the floor.

Architrave is usually made of timber, but can also be plaster, it acts to cover up messy joints between two surfaces and hence is both aesthetic and functional. Architrave will also cover up future movement or shrinkage in a wall or door surround, which can be very common.

Where do you use architrave?

You can use architrave for both internal and external doors, around windows and also around integral cupboards or loft hatches. Essentially, you can use architrave around any opening in a wall or ceiling which subsequently creates a joint.

Do all doors need architrave?

Not necessarily. There are some contemporary styles of doors which can be flush to a wall and therefore don’t require architrave because this doesn’t fit with a minimalist theme. These can be pocket doors, barn-style doors or sliding doors which run on an overhead rail or track.

Is architrave just a door frame?

No, it is very different. The door frame is an essential element of a door system and sits within the door opening to support it. It includes the door lining and the jambs and the door itself is fixed to the door frame, while architrave sits outside the door frame on the wall.

Is architrave easy to fit?

Yes, and it is a common DIY job, although you need to understand what a mitre joint is and how to cut lengths to suit this. You can usually get pre-cut standard lengths of architrave at a DIY store, but you can get different profiles and period designs also. The fitting process should include:

  • Measure the sections you need for the top/head of the door and the sides, allowing for the longer lengths required for the mitre joint
  • Use a mitre box, tenon or fine-tooth saw to cut your lengths
  • Fix the head section first using grab adhesive
  • Fix the side sections next and then tap in countersunk nails at intervals
  • Fill the holes for the nails and sand them neatly
  • Use decorator’s caulk to fill any gaps along the wall-side of the architrave
  • Paint the architrave as the last job

Do I need architrave blocks?

Architrave blocks are decorative features used to bridge two sections of architrave where you might have two different styles or design profiles, or where two sections don’t line-up neatly (perhaps in a period home for example). It is not entirely necessary to fit blocks, but if you do then they would normally be fitted between the head and sides at each of the top corners, and are useful where joints or mitres are difficult to get right.

What styles of architrave are available?

It is important to match architrave to the overall design of a room and to be consistent, because you will notice if you get this wrong. So for a period home – where architrave is more common – you can get Edwardian, Victorian or Georgian architrave, or you can get a contemporary style for a more modern home. The best architrave to get uses hard or softwood because this is longer lasting and is much easier to sand, treat and paint compared to something like MDF.

Authentic and traditional architrave from Period Mouldings

Contact Period Mouldings today for a great range of architrave styles from different design periods. These are hand-made from quality woods and using traditional techniques to ensure the profiles match common design periods, so check out our range and make the most of your home with a decorative addition of quality architrave.


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