Tuesday, June 13, 2017

Recreating the porch

After more than two years in a balcony-less condo, I find I am missing our old porch like it's a person.  Have you been around long enough to remember all the knitting pictures I took there?

Ugh, even in 2013 it was looking pretty rough.  And that's what's got me busy today, because we are almost ready to move on from house interiors to porch reconstruction.  We have the basic structure framed in, and the new steel roof can go on any time; iit's the floor, column, stairs, and railings we have to sort out... hopefully, something with that looks like the wood we had, without the maintenance and inevitable rot.

As you can see in the picture above, our old columns didn't rot.  I think it must be because they were set on a galvanized steel base with air pockets around the bottom.  We could reuse them - Ray has kept them safe since the old porch went down - but he suggested we consider fiberglass this time around. 

I did some digging and it turns out fiberglass can be painted just like wood can, and ends up looking the same as wood, but because it doesn't swell and shrink like wood the paint on it is less likely to crack.  It's not physically capable of rotting and because all these features make it more popular than wood and it can be mass produced, its cost is now actually less than the real thing it mimics.

Kind of a no-brainer, right?  But just like with everything else, there is SO MUCH CHOICE.  Not all fiberglass is created equal and not all columns are what we had before.  I looked at a few options, thought Hmmm this doesn't look right, and realized that what we had was a Round Tapered Smooth Column (as opposed to non-tapered, or square, or fluted.) 

After a lengthy search I found a company that produces the exact column we want, in fiberglass, at a price that suggests it won't be subject to the same negative feedback I saw about some other versions.  And then I noticed the same company sells high-density polyurethane railings.  Which are paintable.

That's pretty intriguing because...

UGH, can you see the mess on the railings at the top of this very stripey sock?  So much rot!  That's where our real problem was - the railing structure.  If we could replace all that with something that didn't suffer every time it was exposed to rain and snow, even if we had to go on repainting every few years, I would be a happy girl.  But it would have to look like the old porch.  So while I wait to get out to the showroom with Pete to make sure this can work for us...

... I've been hunting up old pictures of the porch, like this one, to remind me exactly how the original railings were set up. 

Seeing them all makes me pine for our little outdoor haven all the more!  The way the sun patches fell between the shadows from the railings... the way the planks made a perfect frame for a ball of freshly-plied handspun...

The way the paint peeled off the floor no matter how many times I repainted...  Well okay, I don't miss that.  And we have to have a wood floor again, because that's one area you can't completely replicate with plastics (yet).  I mean I'd go for cement in a heartbeat if it didn't mean the house wouldn't look like itself.  BUT this time, we are using opaque stain on the wood instead of paint, so hopefully it will just sink in and not peel any more!

Bye-bye huge exposed areas of old wood, no matter how beautifully they showcase handspun yarn:

I will try to get along without them, perhaps by making good use of the flagstone out front, or the new deck we'll eventually get out in back.

The main thing is to get back to the welcoming photography background that is this!

I kind of can't wait, can you?


Kathy said...

Your house is looking wonderful and I so admire all the effort and care that you have both put into it. Your research of materials, objects etc. whilst fun, is also hard work.
It is going to be a very happy home condusive to muuch craft activity!

JackieLemon said...

I've been following along with your reno and hope you have a big reveal when it's all completed. Any estimate on when you will move back in?

Mary Keenan said...

Thank you so much Kathy! I really appreciate that :^) and I am SO excited to finally have all my creative stuff in one place and the free time to pursue it!!

Mary Keenan said...

Definitely a big reveal, JackieLemon!! We are hoping to go back in for sleepovers at least, as soon as the porch is ready - mid July, probably. But I don't know whether I will have the energy to do a big pack for movers at that point, it's been a busy spring. We decided to give me a little leeway on coordinating that job ;^)

Laurinda said...

The news about the columns is exciting to hear, because I so love round tapered columns & now know that I cam have some too!
I'm surprised you're not putting down the plastic(?) decking on your porch, since it looks just like wood planks & I think comes in different colors.

Mary Keenan said...

I pitched that decking pretty hard Laurinda but Pete says Gotta Have Wood and Ray says the plastic isn't long enough on the market yet to really know how it will behave... also some of the early stuff got a bit slippery with growths of some kind? Actually Ray is also telling me that polyurethane railings still look like plastic soooo... it may be a wood porch again, except for the columns. Maybe I will just hire professional painters for it every two years instead of trying to do it myself :^)