Dentil Molding Description and Examples

One of the more elaborate things that can be done with exterior moldings is the use of dentils. Often misspelled as “dentals”, dentils are described by wikipedia as:

A Dentil (from Lat. dens, a tooth) is, in architecture, a small tooth-shaped block used as a repeating ornament in the bedmould of a cornice.

For thousands of years, dentils have been used on high-end structures as a purely visually feature. They softly imply “not only do I care enough to decorate my home/office with moldings, but I have taken the additional time and expense to ensure that it is done well.” They are typically placed just under the larger-top-part of the molding (known as the bed mold), where it transitions to flat.

Dentil Molding on Cornice

Dentil moldings work well with other repeating features, such as keystones or window sill brackets

Being repetitive by nature, they go well with other decorative features that also repeat. Decorative features such as wall brackets or window sill brackets and keystones have a similar shape to the dentils – often squared or rectangular – that contrasts well with the smooth and elongated window trim, sills and wall bands.

The standard exterior dentil is rectangular, has an equal project and width, with the height typically being equal or larger. The spacing between dentils was traditionally half-the-width of the dentil itself, but the venetian dentil (dentil space = dentil width) is seen more commonly in modern architecture.

There are various styles of dentils available on the market today. The square dentil is still the more popular, but cast materials such as polyurethane allow for the use of other decorative dentils.

3 different dentils

Possible polyurethane dentils