Architrave is an accent frame that is added as a finishing touch to both doors and windows. It is perhaps not considered an essential feature of interior design, and yet it has survived many different design periods and is still widely used today. Architrave serves a dual purpose in terms of aesthetic appeal – it provides elegance and symmetry – and it also has practical uses – it protects the edges of the door or window frame from damage and also conceals cracks, joints and expansion.

What types of materials are used for architrave?

Typically there are three materials to consider when choosing architrave:

  • Hardwood – A popular choice for its elegance and durability
  • Softwood – More affordable and versatile than a hardwood
  • MDF – The cheapest option but not recommended for architrave because it can warp, chip and crack, can’t be machined into period styles and is rather featureless and lacking in character

Why are hardwoods good for architrave?

Oak is by far the most popular hardwood, and has been for many centuries. It is long-established as a staple of interior joinery and there are lots of varieties of oak, all of which have strength and resistance to moisture. Oaks tend to get stronger the older they are, so their durability is ideal for architrave and skirting boards. Oak is quite light in colour and carries a prominent grain, which makes it attractive as a natural wood, particularly if it is lightly varnished or oiled to bring out the grain even more. Another feature of oak is that it is resistant to fungal growth, which means if you have areas of the home prone to damp or mould, an oak architrave would not be affected.

Sapele is another hardwood widely used in interior design. This is a wood derived from large trees in East and West Africa, and while it looks like mahogany it is harder and heavier in its composition. Otherwise Sapele has quite similar properties to oak, although its popularity also comes from the fact that it takes screws, nails and glue very well, which is of course exactly what you want for an architrave, skirting or any kind of interior moulding. Other popular hardwoods used in interior design include Maple, Walnut, Ash, Beech and Tulipwood, which is a wood primarily found in the US. Tulipwood is a medium density wood that is perhaps more versatile than some other hardwoods, because it can withstand knocks and has good shock resistance, which again makes it ideal for interior joinery such as architrave.

What are the best softwoods for architrave?

Softwoods are known as a renewable wood source and hence are a little more affordable. They are not necessarily softer than hardwoods, despite the name. By far the most popular softwood is pine. This is used widely in modern homes because of its versatility and availability. Pine is readily available as it comes from coniferous trees, these grow straighter and faster and hence pine is easier to machine and therefore easier for stockists to handle.

Pine is very adaptable because it can be machined easily, but also because it can be varnished and sanded-down to repair and maintain and to produce different finishes. Softwoods are generally more versatile, although they perhaps lack the same durability as hardwoods over the long term.

Wood architraves from Period Mouldings

At Period Mouldings we can supply your choice of hardwoods or softwoods at various lengths and sizes. You can speak to our experts who can advise on the best woods to use in your home, based on the age, size, style and condition of your property. Our sales teams have vast experience in advising period homeowners over which of our authentic traditional architraves to select, and you can be assured of quality workmanship with products proudly hand-crafted in the UK, so make the right choice for your quality wooden architraves and get in touch with Period Mouldings today.


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