Last edited 21 Jun 2021


Mouldings, also known as covings, are decorative strips used to cover transitions between surfaces in aesthetically pleasing ways. In classical architecture they are commonly found on columns and entablatures. Traditionally, mouldings were carved in marble or stone, but today, they are also commonly made from timber, plaster and plastics. Mouldings come in a variety of shapes, profiles and forms.

  • Astragal: A small convex moulding.
  • Bead: A convex moulding, usually semi-circular. There are a variety of different types of beads, such as angle bead, nosing bead, double bead and so on.
  • Beak moulding: A moulding that is shaped into a beak-like form.
  • Bed-mould: Part of the cornice that appears under the projecting edge.
  • Congé: A concave moulding.
  • Cyma: Sometimes called a wave moulding, this is a double curvature that is used as the uppermost element in a cornice.
  • Echinus: Sits below the abacus and above the necking of a column.
  • Ovolo: A convex moulding, also known as a ‘quarter round’.
  • Reed: A series of convex mouldings running parallel to each other. Also known as reed moulding or reeding.
  • Scotia: One of the elements used in the attic base of columns, it is a concave moulding between two fillets.
  • String course: A horizontal moulding usually made from a series of complex profiles.
  • Three-quarter hollow: A three-quarter concave profile.
  • Three-quarter moulding: A three-quarter convex profile.
  • Thumb moulding: A thumb-shaped moulding.
  • Torus: A semi-circular, convex moulding that is one of the distinctive elements in the attic base of columns.

NB Drawing for Understanding, Creating Interpretive Drawings of Historic Buildings, published by Historic England in 2016 defines mouldings as: 'Continuous projecting or inset architectural embellishment. Mouldings are used to enrich, emphasise and separate architectural components by casting shadows and otherwise making the item they form part of visually distinct from their surroundings. They are to be found on doorways, structural beams and other parts of buildings. Their distinctive style is often used as a means of dating the part of the building on which they are found.'

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