Introduction

Front Porch Fix-up tout
Photograph: Kolin Smith
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More than a century of blowing snow, dripping rain, and the steady tread of foot traffic had finally taken its toll on the flooring of Ken Brown’s porch in Montclair, New Jersey. Despite its well-maintained coat of paint, the old fir decking had become soft and splintered along the exposed edge just above the steps. “It was a real eyesore,” Brown says.

Aesthetics were the least of his problems; this type of damage has to be fixed right away, before moisture reaches the joists and turns them into a breeding ground for rot. Once that happens, the joists themselves have to be replaced, a far more difficult and expensive project.

Replacing porch decking is not a challenging task for any homeowner who’s used a circular saw and a table saw, particularly if you have replacement boards milled to the same width as the originals. Just resist the temptation to cut out only the damaged areas. Short patches leave obvious and unsightly seams. Instead, follow the steps of This Old House technical editor Mark Powers, who installed only full-length boards on Brown’s porch. The new vertical-grain Douglas fir blends perfectly with the old wood and, if given a coat of paint regularly, should survive at least another hundred years.
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    Tools List

    • belt sander
      BELT SANDER
    • hammer
      HAMMER
    • circular saw
      CIRCULAR SAW
    • table saw
      TABLE SAW
    • demolition chisel
      1-INCH DEMOLITION CHISEL
    • flat prybar
      PRY BAR
    • nailset
      NAILSET

    Shopping List

    1. DECKING

    2. OIL-BASED PRIMER

    3. POLYURETHANE CONSTRUCTION ADHESIVE

    4. STAINLESS STEEL RING—SHANK SIDING NAILS

    5. WOOD PUTTY

    6. 80-GRIT SANDPAPER

    7. TACK CLOTH

    8. OIL—BASED DECK PAINT