In many homes, the porch is the first thing a visitor notices when pulling into your driveway. If your porch is run-down or shabby, with chipping paint or torn screens, it reflects poorly on your entire home. Make your home look beautiful inside and out by overhauling your porch. A porch renovation project can be time consuming, but careful planning and construction strategies will make your new porch an attractive part of your home. After completing your new porch, adding some casual patio furniture and potted plants will make it a relaxing, inviting space.
Plan Your New Porch
Never begin a home improvement project without a detailed plan. Before stripping paint from your porch or tearing down the railings, think strategically about what you want the final product to look like. Think about how you typically use your porch. Do you like to gather with a group to have a drink in the evening or is your porch a private reading sanctuary? These considerations will affect the size of your porch, its style, how many electrical outlets you need and how you decorate the space.
Draft a detailed plan including precise measurements, design features and construction materials. Set a budget for the project to ensure that your new porch remains cost-effective. Once your plan is in place, you are ready to tear down the old porch and begin building anew.
Basic Structural Considerations
A strong, well-constructed foundation is the key to a long-lasting porch. Consider local soil conditions, temperature fluctuations, the weight of your porch and any slopes that may affect your foundation. If you live somewhere that freezes in the winter, ensure that your concrete footings extend deeply into the soil to create a sturdy foundation. Building your porch so that water runs away from it prevents later structural damage. Many porch builders use pressure-treated wood, which is relatively inexpensive and resists insect damage and decay.
Typical porch foundations have floor joists running perpendicular to your home. These joists support the decking material and are placed 16 inches on center. If you have a particularly long span, you may need bridging between these floor joists to further strengthen the porch and prevent swaying.
If your porch needs a new foundation, you will need to enlist the help of a professional. While you shouldn’t redo the foundation without professional help, taking care of the problem will set the stage for your DIY porch makeover.
Planning the Design Details
After constructing a strong foundation, turn your consideration to decking materials. Wood is the most commonly used material, but deck tiles and brick porches can be lovely as well. One of the most popular pressure-treated lumber options is Southern Yellow Pine, which is easy to stain and paint. Other porch flooring favorites include Ipe wood, which is very strong and resistant to cracking. Tigerwood also has beautiful coloring and resists termites. Angel’s Heart, a light tan alternative to cedar and mahogany which has fewer knots than other woods are also commonly used on porches. Red cedar, which is both beautiful and extraordinarily durable, adds a punch of color to any porch renovation.
Next, choose a stain or paint that complements the color of your house and overall vibe of the porch. Rich, dark stains look good on many porches, while a simple coat of white paint enhances a classic Southern style. Water damage is the enemy of your porch, so weatherproofing is an important step. Finish your porch with deck enamel as opposed to polyurethane, which may not stand up to rain or snow.
Although not all porches have railings, they can provide safety as well as enhancing the look of your home. Whether you prefer simple squares slats or elegant scrollwork, a railing sets the tone of your entire porch. Many porch railings are wood, but wrought iron or aluminum railings can be durable alternatives. Many pre-made railings can be purchased at your local hardware store and self-installed.
Depending on your climate, having a screened-in porch may be a good idea. Screens keep bugs out of your porch area, making it a relaxing oasis in insect-filled summer months. Carefully choose the mesh size and material to complement your overall porch vibe.
The Finishing Touches
The last step in renovating your porch is to decorate the space. If you tend to host gatherings on your porch, ensure that there are plenty of chairs and tables for food and drinks. Alternatively, place a few comfortable chairs or a couch in the space for a relaxed reading cove. Ensure that the overhead lighting is appropriate for your needs, and add other lighting sources as necessary. Use weatherproof furniture in your porch area to prevent damage.
Regardless of which type of renovation you decide on, sprucing up your porch adds curb appeal. Plus, with a personal DIY remodel, you will be able to better utilize the space for your needs!