Step 5: Consider Your Porch Foundation
When building a porch foundation, assess your terrain, the porch size, and the climate where you live. The larger the porch, the more the foundation your footings will need to support. If you live in a snowy climate, the footings will need to sit below the frost line to remain stable and so your porch can accommodate snow without buckling. Research the frost line depth in your zip code for specific measurements. You may need to call the local utility company to find out if there are any cables buried under your future porch before you start laying your foundation.
Step 6: Build Your Porch Foundation
Install a ledger board on your house to support the porch. Then, use an auger or post digger to dig the holes for the footings. If you live in a colder region, you may need to dig down four feet to prevent frost heavings. You’ll need foundation tubes, cement, rebar, posts, and post anchors. Place the foundation tube in the hole, pour in the cement, and secure with rebar. Next, you’ll anchor the posts to the footings. Your porch framing will attach to these posts.
Step 7: Frame Your Porch
When framing your front porch, start with the perimeter beams. Lay them out on top of the porch foundation and nail the end beams together. Check that they’re level.
Step 8: Install the Joists
The joists go on top of the foundation beams and support your front porch flooring. You’ll need to place them at regular intervals to support the weight of the porch. The distance depends on the size of your porch, and the recommendations from the decking manufacturer on allowable joist spacing. Attach them to the framing with galvanized screws and check that they’re level. When you’re certain they’re aligned, attach the joist fasteners to hold them in place.
Step 9: Add the Railing Posts
Use a pencil to mark where the railing posts will go around the porch edge. Prior to adding the decking (in the next step), you’ll need to make notches in some of your posts to ensure they fit around the railings. With the railing posts in place, you’ll be able to better measure and fit the decking to the space without leaving any gaps between your porch’s decking and your posts.
Step 10: Add the Porch Floor or Decking
Attach the decking allowing for a small space in between each board. The decking will have a slight overhang from the edge. Later, you may want to sand your new front porch and clean up any stray pieces in preparation to paint or stain it, if that is part of your plans.
Step 11: Build the Railings
During the early planning stages of your porch, you decided on the style of front porch railings to give your porch a cohesive look that works with the facade of your home. Regardless of whether you choose clean and simple posts or more elegant ones, you’ll want to install your railing posts and secure them to the porch for a stable structure. Then, you’ll need to install the cleats that will support the railings all the way around the porch perimeter.
Step 12: Frame the Steps
Whether your porch needs two steps or 22, you’ll need posts, stringers, treads, and risers to build your porch stairs. Start by adding a ledger board to the porch posts for stability. Next, add the stringers for the stairs. Make sure they’re even as they’ll support the steps. Then add the risers. Finally, you’ll add the treads for your porch stairs. (Please note that in some instances, treads may sometimes need to be installed before the risers.)
Step 13: Build the Porch Roof
Porch roofs usually have a shallow slope that allows for ample headroom. Your home’s ceiling height, window placement, and door frame will likely dictate your porch roof’s height, but you may also want to consider an allowance for any ceiling fans or overhead lighting you may wish to install, too. Your porch roof covering - metal, asphalt shingles, or other roofing material, looks best when it matches your home roof, so certainly keep this in mind when developing a coherent aesthetic for your new porch.
Step 14: Finishing
Once you’ve completed building your new front porch, you’ll want to sand the railings and floorboards and choose a paint or stain to tie your look together and give it a polished look if you’ve chosen wood decking materials. Proper finishing will help your porch stay fresh looking for years to come. If you’ve chosen vinyl, plastic, or composite decking materials, you’ll be able to forgo painting or staining your materials.
You can see more pictures of porches here.
A front porch offers an elegant entry and beauty to your home. You can see porch plans and designs to choose your new front porch.