Home>Discussions>YARD & GARDEN>Decks, Patios, & Porches>Planning for spring/summer redo of 1890's porch
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nylicens
Planning for spring/summer redo of 1890's porch
nylicens

Planning for spring/summer redo of 1890's porch

My porch

needs a bit of TLC. I noted this summer that one post seemed to have moved a lot in just a couple of months, so I tore into it and discovered rot and ants had really affected it Interestingly it was ants & rot on the column itself and not under the porch floor. The T&G flooring sandwiched between was not affected other than age. Nor did there seem to be problems with the foundation. This pix was taken from inside:

So I proceeded to repair the column. I removed the railing and cut out the bad wood from the post. I removed the T&G under the column and stripped them and used wood hardener and epoxy to touch up many nail holes and dents from years of weight from the post, and repainted and reinstalled them. I stuck PT 2x4 up the inside of the column and completed the column and pedestal.

It’s hard to miss the previous repair of the porch, which wasn’t very elegantly done

The piers have sunk over the years but not excessively (IMO) except for one, and seem to be in good shape otherwise. The joists are notched into the rubble foundation and the structure above that seems OK too

It is just that almost all the columns are a bit out of whack. I’d like to get the columns straight and the porch floor back a bit more level. The porch is 79” front to back, so it should be about an inch & a half down with the ¼ inch to a foot drop (it’s about 2 ½” drop now consistently so I wonder if it was a mismeasurement?). Anyway, the exaggerated drop of the porch floor has led to the columns working their way out of vertical with vibrations from traffic and the expansions and contractions of weather.

I am also stripping the handrail & bottom rail. I hope to have new balusters made because the old are in bad shape

Some of the problems I am mulling over: Once I get the columns straight, how do I keep them in place, - or should I let them float as they’ve been doing? Can I mix plastic T&G or should I just bite the bullet and use wood for patching and strip and repair the old stuff? If I need to replace or match some of the T&G, I will need to cut it down to 2.5”. Is there anyplace that still makes the 2.5 size?

If there are any suggestions, or warnings or advice I would love to hear them all.

dj1
Re: Planning for spring/summer redo of 1890's porch
dj1

At a certain point, repairs are too costly and don't improve the general quality of the porch. If that's the case, a total demolition and replacing every piece of lumber will give you the results you are seeking.

More expensive, yes, but it's worth it.

If you decide to do it, have the roof supported with temporary posts.

hollasboy
Re: Planning for spring/summer redo of 1890's porch
hollasboy

Only way to get all the pieces to line up perfectly straight is to start over with a complete rebuild, all new materials. I have seen footings twist in different directions and sink at different rates. It's usually a factor of soil moisture, which can vary significantly just a few feet away, due to shade, plant roots, soil variation, and roof drip.

What is the time span that the existing movement occurred in? If it's...say 30 years, I would rebuild on the same footings and expect the same amount of movement in the next 30 years, and be happy with that. Use shims and some creative carpentry to re-grade the support joists to the right slope and alignment. If the movement occurred over just a few years, your rate of movement is quite high and you need to consider a better foundation before doing anything to the upper parts of the porch, as the foundation will affect the whole thing.

My dad and I had the same problem with an old farm house. We eventually removed the individual footings and replaced with a poured-in-place, steel-reinforced, continuous concrete beam under the perimeter, then used cement footing blocks on top of that. It made movement a lot more difficult, and if it does occur, it will be spread evenly over the entire length of the porch, rather than footing by footing. Of course, this is in the south where the ground does not freeze, so consider that too. It is a thousand times easier to align posts in a series on a perfectly straight, level porch.

Jack
Re: Planning for spring/summer redo of 1890's porch
Jack

I can't see the construction that well in the pictures but I wonder if the deck was repaired or extended. Perhaps the previous owner wanted a wider porch.

Jack

nylicens
Re: Planning for spring/summer redo of 1890's porch
nylicens
JLMCDANIEL wrote:

I can't see the construction that well in the pictures but I wonder if the deck was repaired or extended. Perhaps the previous owner wanted a wider porch.

Jack

Not really. That saw slice only goes about 2/3's the way across the porch. So I view it just as a fast, cheap repair.

nylicens
Re: Planning for spring/summer redo of 1890's porch
nylicens
hollasboy wrote:

(snip)

What is the time span that the existing movement occurred in? If it's...say 30 years, I would rebuild on the same footings and expect the same amount of movement in the next 30 years, and be happy with that. (snip)

I think we're looking at the original repair as something done in the late 50's early 60's. So I'd be happy with another 50 years or so :-)

nylicens
Re: Planning for spring/summer redo of 1890's porch
nylicens
JLMCDANIEL wrote:

I can't see the construction that well in the pictures but I wonder if the deck was repaired or extended. Perhaps the previous owner wanted a wider porch.

Jack

As I was thinking about this, I was wondering if I could just jack up each of the bearing posts under the porch (the ones set in the foundation notches), and then shim up the piers to get rid of the excessive drop in elevation. I'd like get the total drop to be 1 to 1&1/4 inch.

Wonder if the porch roof would be OK.

Still haven't figured out whether to leave the columns floating or somehow fix them in place once I get them straightened.

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