Do you have a front porch on your house? Have you ever inspected the columns or supports that hold up the porch roof?
If the answer is no then this post might persuade you to do so!! The first rental home I ever bought here in Pittsburgh is a 100-year-old charming little house that has a relaxing front porch made from wood.
Even the columns look original to the home which is cool because they provide some character. Over the years I noticed the bases under the columns started to deteriorate. They’re also made from wood and get pummeled by rain due to the porch facing west and probably leaky gutters that can’t handle strong storms.
One day I decided to take a closer look at the column bases and see how badly they were damaged. My fears were instantly realized.
Did you ever watch a Nightmare On Elm Street movie as a kid and then rehash bad memories as an adult. Well, that’s kinda how I felt after looking at all the rot in this base holding up the house column.
Pressure-Treated Lumber for Porch Columns
Yep, this is super bad. My best guess is that whoever replaced these columns did so in a rush and didn’t really care about their craftsmanship. And it looks like they used scrap pieces of regular 2×4 lumber, not even pressure-treated.
Why is pressure treated better? It’s meant to be used outside and has a protective coating that resists rain and moisture. Plain old 2×4 lumber is meant for inside your home and as such doesn’t need any special treatment. It’s not expected to be rained on or have birds poop all over it like pressure-treated wood.
After scratching my head and having a minor panic attack I decided there was only one option and that was to jack up the porch roof and replace the rotted base.
Inspect Your Porch Columns
The big lesson here is to inspect both the bottom and top of your porch columns. Whether you have steel posts, brick supports or wood columns like mine it’s a good idea to take a close look at them for rot, rust, or severe damage because if they’re weak your porch could collapse. And a collapsed porch means someone might get hurt or even worse die.
A contractor who owns several rentals told me a story about one of his porches collapsing while both tenants were standing on it. His tenant broke her ankle and ended up suing. The insurance company settled the lawsuit for hundreds of thousands of dollars.
This entire fiasco could have been avoided had my friend just inspected the porch for rot or disrepair.
Don’t put yourself in a perilous situation. Inspect your porch.
The Good News
The good news is that if you have a wood porch column base like mine it’s easy to build. So at the very least you could hire a contractor to jack up the porch roof and slide your custom-made bases under the columns.
Of course, you’ll also want to inspect the columns themselves for any rot or insect damage. I found some issues with our old wood column but was able to fix it with wood epoxy.
My next post will share how I built the porch column bases from pressure-treated lumber and why I chose wood over PVC.
This is something you can do if you have a circular saw, measuring tape, and safety glasses (even though my eyesight is terrible I still prefer to have two eyes versus one).
If you follow my adventure I promise you’ll learn how to make the porch column bases, fix rotted wood with epoxy, prevent existing wood from getting damaged, and easily add a cool decorative effect to any piece of wood with a trim router.
Oh, and just as a tease I wanted to share the final product!! It’s not entirely finished but at least my porch is much safer.
Making the front porch column bases was a fun project – and saved me a ton of money!
Plus, it’s cool to learn carpentry skills that can be used over and over.
If you’re doing a bathroom remodel and need help, join one of our online courses – they’ll make your bathroom renovation much easier!
Let me know if you have any questions and I’ll do my best to help.
Thanks as always for reading, watching, and being part of our awesome community.