Fixing up Your Front Porch

From on June 02, 2008 in Decks and Patios

front-deck.jpgThe front porch is a vital part of your home; it welcomes visitors and acts as a nice, relaxing refuge for you to sit and watch the world float by. However, front porches are usually a frequent candidate for home maintenance as they are subjected to all the twists and turns of weather: snow, rain, wind, hail, whatever.

Most front porches are basically decks, usually with a small roof over them. As with any deck, your number one structural problem is rot and water damage. Not only are porches often subject to direct rainfall but they also must contend with water dripping from furniture, plants, etc., long after the rain has stopped.

If your deck’s in good shape now, try and keep it that way by regularly re-staining or painting it and keep an eye out for places where water is prone to stand and not run off. For those of you who have already noticed problems, you have a little more work in store. If you see rot occurring on deck boards you need to take care of it ASAP. If the water gets down into the joists then you’ve opened up a whole other can of worms and the fix-up will likely get much more difficult and expensive.

However, replacing deck boards is not too difficult of a task. The first thing is to find new boards that match the old in thickness and width. For older decks, this may not be such an easy mission, as standard dimensions for milled lumber have changed over the years. If need be, the boards can be milled to the proper dimensions with a table saw by an experienced carpenter or you. When you are ready to repair, you will first need to cut through one of the existing boards lengthwise to remove it and the necessary boards around it. Be careful to set the depth of your power saw to the same depth of the board to avoid cutting the joists beneath (this tip assumes that your deck is tongue-and-groove, if you have standard deck boards just remove the nails or screws and lift).

Note: Even if the only part of the board is rotting, it is best to remove and replace the entire length as small patches stand out and leave unsightly seams.

Once you’ve removed all the rotting boards, inspect the joists beneath for any signs of rot. If you don’t like what you see then, think twice about just covering it back up. It would probably by wise to get in touch with a licensed professional for a more thorough inspection.

Aside from that, you are ready to install the new boards. If your front porch is painted then you should prime all sides and edges of the new boards to protect them from moisture. It is also a good idea to use construction adhesive on all exposed seams and on the deck joists. Press the groove of the new board onto the tongue of the old board and toenail it down to the joist through the tongue with a ring shank nail. Toenailing it back toward the existing boards will ensure a tight fit.

After you’ve installed all the new boards (you will have to trim the tongue off of the last board in order to fit it into place), you may need to sand the new boards so that they flush out nicely with the old. When that’s done you can apply a matching paint and you’re done. Small repairs such as these can often be done in the span of an afternoon