This historic porch renovation came about because of two photographs that showed the original design of the front of the home. Our clients Peter and Susan recognized the treasure that they had and took the opportunity to return the house to its original Victorian grandeur. The clients were not searching for an exact historical reproduction. Their goal was to create a porch that was visually similar to the original while using parts that could be ordered through our lumber yard and standard suppliers. Low-maintenance products were evaluated and weighed against increased cost.

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A Porch Past Its Prime Gets Replaced

Beyond the desire to recreate the Victorian look, the porch was failing. The boards were worn, and the wood columns had been removed many years before and replaced with an anachronistic style of wrought iron. The footings were inadequate, and as is often found in Victorian-era homes, the foundation was settling. The good news was that the roof structure was in good shape. A new roof membrane had been applied only a few years before.

Saving The Existing Roof

All the work was completed while leaving the existing roof intact! Temporary shoring was set up to hold the headers, ceiling, and roof in place. Bobcat tractors were used to excavate the footings, concrete was poured, and all the needed carpentry work was performed until the fiberglass columns could be installed to permanently support the roof system.

 

Recreating The Victorian Look

A pair of the existing original half columns provided a visual guide for choosing the new columns. An off-the-shelf structural fiberglass column was selected. Low maintenance materials are used for some trim details, but the cost of using Fypon or cellular PVC for all of the railing components proved to be out of the price range. Instead, painted cedar was chosen for the railing system and balusters, and Doug Fir is used for the decking.

One critical element that had to match was the block foundation columns. Because the same block is used for the house foundation, the block had to be dismantled, salvaged, stripped of mortar and then rebuilt after the new footings were poured.

Additionally, the historic upper railing was recreated. This required careful flashing work to cut through the rubber roof membrane, install the newels for the railing, and waterproof the system back together in such a way as to continue the long life of the roof structure.

The Completed Porch

It is difficult to discern the difference between the fiberglass columns and the wood columns. The railing components match the original historic appearance, and the lattice is one of the low maintenance features that we installed. Proper graspable handrails are installed at the stairway to meet modern building codes. This was an area where current requirements trump historic appearance. A single round ball sits atop the round newel to the right of the stairway, while square newels made of low maintenance materials sit exposed to the rain on the bottom of the stairwell. We are proud of the craftsmanship that has gone into this Victorian porch recreation. It’s beautiful, and it’s a period-appropriate.