Front Porch Renovation

Yellow Front Porch in Elora, Ontario  with wicker Chair One way you can improve the appearance of your property is by doing a front porch renovation. A front porch can be an open verandah style, screened, or in colder climes fully enclosed; and each type presents its own challenges for the DIY home enthusiast. We’ll leave aside things like re-painting doors, windows and even walls; as these are all things that aren’t specific to front porch renovations. However, hopefully you’ll find the following ideas both useful and practical.

Renovating a Verandah Style Porch

The three things most likely needing attention here will be the decking and its balustrade, and steps. Renovating the decking could mean anything from replacing the odd board to a complete rebuild. However, if you really want to give a verandah front porch a make-over then you should at least consider replacing the existing boards.

Replacing the existing boards means you have to remove the old ones. Yes, I know that’s stating the obvious but there was a reason for it. With the old boards removed you can properly inspect the inner and outer joists as well as any joist supports. If they’re all sound and the foundations are still solid there’s no need to set about replacing them, unless you want to alter the shape or size of the porch.

You’ll want people to notice that you’ve gone to the trouble of renovating your porch and two things will immediately grab people’s attention. One is to use a different wood for the decking, especially a different colored or stained wood; and secondly change the alignment of the decking. So, if you had horizontal boards renovate the porch with boards arranged on the diagonal or in a chevron design.

Don’t forget that diagonal and chevron board arrangements use an on-center measurement of 12 inches, compared to horizontal boards at 16 inches; so check the joists spacing before you start. If the old balustrade’s broken or would needs lengthy restoration work doing to it - it might be simpler to just replace the whole thing. If any exposed outer joists or joist support posts are looking rather ‘tired then you can easily fix a skirt all the way along or around the porch.

If only one or two treads or risers on the stairs to your porch need replacing then that’s probably the best thing to do - replace them. However, if the whole staircase creaks, or worse wobbles, then it really is time for a new one.

For a small, three or four, step stair case cutting the stringers yourself should be possible, as well as making and fitting your own treads and risers. Cutting the strings needs to follow a fairly basic formula, which you can find elsewhere on the internet. Alternatively, you can buy all the components ready cut for a new staircase from most lumber suppliers or DIY stores.

Renovating a ‘Closed’ Porch

In colder parts of North America the porch may well be a brick construction with a tiled roof, windows and a door. Over time mortar in the brickwork will break down and crumble away, so one thing you can do is re-point the brickwork. Especially in colder regions having a fully enclosed front porch will help stop draughts entering your home and keep warmth in.

Fitting double pane window frames and a door with double pane windows will further help to insulate your home; helping you to both reduce your bills and be more energy efficient. If you don’t mind taking on a bigger renovation job on your porch; you could remove the ceiling and install some insulation material between the ceiling and the roof of the porch and, if appropriate, fit cavity wall insulation.

Finally, whether you’ve got tiles, boards or carpet on the floor of your porch - replace it with a new floor covering.

Photo by Jennifer Aitkens, Creative Commons Attribution License