Front Porch Posts: Construction

Written by DIY, Outdoor, Renovation

It only took us a quarter of a year, but the front porch posts have been constructed! It was way back in April that we planned and purchased everything. This summer has just been throwing us curve balls the whole season with torrential rain for weeks on end, flooding and then hotter than hell temperatures. It’s honestly kept us from doing a lot of things we enjoy outdoors. It’s safe to say we are ready for fall. But before then, we have a few projects to wrap up – including finishing our front porch overhaul!

This article is gonna be chock full of details on how we constructed these new beefy posts thanks to Jordan. But before we get into the nitty gritty, let’s look at a side by side… I mean… I do think we deserve that much for how long it’s taken to get to this point!

Old

Removed Railings

We removed the railings and added the new mailbox in the spring. I wrote about it here, and I love my optimism at the end of that article… so naive.

Today

If you want more proof of how much time has gone by between these photos, just look at the size of the bush between the bay window and porch in the last two images.

Ok, so how did we get here – Let’s dig in shall we?

We finally got a day that wasn’t supposed to rain and we would be home. It was as humid as anything but we were sooooo determined to get this started. Step one for us was to remove the scallop decoration around the roof and see if there was anything we needed to repair. Well… we didn’t even get that far. As we started playing with this we quickly realized this board went at least three inches under the aluminum flashing. We wouldn’t be able to remove them. Defeated and soaked through our shirts even though we had basically only been standing outside for 10 minutes, we packed it up and decided to call a pro to just handle this crap for us and get it done.

The pro we hired did an amazing job! We chose to tackle a few other things since we had someone coming out to do the work and would rather bundle projects than pay for their travel multiple times. They redid our two small spots of siding on the house so everything matches now and isn’t worn looking, removed the aluminum awning on our sunroom and removed those blasted scallops for us! What they did was amazingly simple though.

They used a circular saw to cut the scallops off at the edge of the header beam. Next, they wrapped the beam in aluminum, leaving the old piece of wood behind it. We wouldn’t have been able to do the aluminum work as nicely as they did, so I’m glad we got someone else to tackle it for us. Then, FINALLY, we could start!

This ended up being a two day project just for construction due to weather… surprise, surprise. But we could have gotten this done in one full day if we started early and finished later in the evening. I’ll let Jordan explain the technical details of what we did. He masterminded the entire construction. I just show him a sketch of what I’d like and he figures out how to make it happen <3

This seemed like a tricky subject to cover just in written text, so I tried my hand at a video for you guys and made Jordan explain himself a little bit. It’s not totally comprehensive, but hopefully helps things be a little more understandable. Or just skip ahead to reading – whatever works for you!

(Jordan ‘cuts’ in here…..GET IT?!?!?!) The construction of each post is different, due to us using the existing metal support on the outside corner. We chose our board width based on that (9″), and after cutting the sides of the boards with 45 degree angles, the inside width was just right in order to encase the metal with our wood post.

 

 

We secured the outside facing boards of the outside corner post to the metal supports using sheet metal screws. To keep the boards tight against each other, we also used some scrap wood and screwed the pieces in to the back of the boards through the ornamentation.

The inner-facing boards we had to measure and cut to fit snug inside the porch for a finished look. Lesson learned: double check Erin’s measurements. Everything was perfect except she measured from the outside edge of the porch header, not the edge of where the post itself would start. We were able to salvage this piece for the front of the other post, so no harm done.

The inner-facing boards we then secured using wood blocks on the corners, which gave us some ‘meat’ to screw in to.

The post close to the brick wall had no pre-existing structure to attach to, so maximum effort was required in order to ensure it ended up straight, square, and sturdy. We secured the bottom of the post using metal angles with bolt holes. We used threaded masonry anchors and fender washers secured into the brick below, and some simple metal angles and wood screws for the top.

The first board installed was the outside facing piece, which we carefully aligned: first with a level, and second visually. The key here was to view the post from the street at various angles and distances so as to ensure it LOOKED straight and square. It turns out we needed to kick out the bottom a few degrees, so it’s not technically level but looks square with the wall. Once that first board was secured, we then secured the board facing the wall, since it was going to be the hardest to install given we had to work from the INSIDE. The original plan of using wood block turned out to be misguided, so we decided to use small metal angles and wood screws. This made things a lot easier!

Once the angles were all secured and the bottom masonry anchor in, we then added the bottom ‘moulding’ to this side since we would have to screw the board in through the back. We just had to make sure to use a screw that wouldn’t go all the way through both boards. Next, we attached several wood blocks which the final side would attach to (Thinking ahead!). Next we started on the board opposite (facing the other post). Now here is where things get tricky! As you slowly enclose the post with each side, you give yourself less and less room to work with.  So for this post (the third of the four sides to go up) we lined up the board and marked the angle locations. We then pre-installed the angles so that we wouldn’t have to worry about any screws being difficult to reach thanks to the opposite board being in the way (we so smart!). With everything pre-installed we secured the third side to the front board, anchored into the brick below, and found ourselves with one last board to install!

This final board was relatively easy thanks to the forethought made on the previous two boards. We first set it in place to mark where the angles would go at the top of the two previous boards. We held off on those in case we needed some flexibility, which we did. We then installed the angles to anchor the top of the post more securely, and even had to make a small adjustment to the masonry anchors below to get the right fit for the last board. Thanks to some marks made to help guide us to the locations of the wood blocks we installed, screwing in the last board was easy, and once done we essentially had a second VERY solid post! Now on to the final touch:  The bottoms!

The bottoms of each post looked uneven and had large gaps, but we had planned to cover that up using the same board as the posts, but as ‘moulding’ at the bottom. A few deft measurements and cuts and we were able to make these fairly quickly, screw them onto the posts, and VOILA!

It’s Erin again! I helped along the way, but my part at the end was doing a ‘lean’ test (where I lean on them and then try to shake them using my full body weight – that’s totally what you do when you lean on something, right?) on both posts and they didn’t budge at all. Jordan did such an amazing job! You could find us both relaxing on the front porch more often after that. Even with them still in their raw wood state, they are beautiful to me!

Then, guess what happened!? The day after we finished the construction the temperature and humidity dropped. Like, I need a light sweater in the mornings kind of dropped…… SCREW YOU WEATHER! At the time of this writing, those weather conditions are still going strong with no rain in the forecast for the next few days. So over the weekend, we spackled, sanded, caulked and painted the posts! I can’t wait to share the full reveal with you SOON!!!!!

Last modified: August 28, 2018

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