Front porch decking replacement 1880's Victorian

sarahandbrayApril 20, 2013

I just had a quick thought...our porch is set to be redone in a month so I want to get this right.
About 75% of our porch decking is fine--just the 25% near the edges is rotting, along with the columns. I've been pulling my hair out trying to figure out what kind of decking to get for this and have basically found out that A) I can't get the same kind if old growth clear vertical Douglas fir in 5/4 and B) what they do have isn't as good but is super expensive.

Then I thought--what if we just cut off the "bad" edges about 2' in and ran boards perpendicular the who,e way around. Kind of like a "frame"--it's all getting painted anyway. New columns, new stairs and VOILA!

Ok, so time for reality. Why won't this plan work? I'm no carpenter, so I'm sure there's a logistical problem here...

Sarah in Albany

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You can definately do this as long as nobody will be walking too much on these last 2 inches which I suspect they won't. I found 5/4 at Curtis in Ballston Spa but patching is tricky and an entire new floor would be a waste if most of it is in good shape. Do use a good piece of 5/4 rounded at the edge so that its not too conspicuous. Spend the money on the columns and stairs.
Joe from Castleton

    Bookmark   April 20, 2013 at 10:29PM
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Sarah, you say it is two feet, so I am assuming the flooring runs perpendicular to the house wall? If you cut off the last two feet, you will find that the joists run parallel to the wall, so there is no underlying structure to run them the same way--you would have to frame in pieces between the outer frame and the first joist.

You may have to give up on douglas fir and use other flooring which has the proper dimensions. Any chance of a quick sketch to make sure we are visualizing the same thing?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 1:12AM
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This is an issue for me, too.

We've finally (after 25 years here!!) got the front porch off in December. And we will NOT be replacing it.

But I do intend to reuse the substantially intact columns, entablature, frieze, roof and deck framing etc. on a porch on the other side of the house - north side where there won't be any loss of light.

Can't believe I suffered through 24 winters in the near darkness in my first floor due to that damn porch. Removing it made a tremendous, and completely positive change in my experience of my old house. I spent way to much time agonizing about altering an "old" element of the house. I was hoping that when we excavated we'd find it was a later addition. Alas, there it turned out to be no evidence to support that, and no evidence that the parts of the vertical wall framing that had been covered by the thickness of the porch roof had ever been covered by siding. So the porch must have been installed before it was first sided. By the time we could see this, however, we had already removed a good chunk of the roof decking and ceiling and it was nearly dark. The next morning I stumbled downstairs and I had sun streaming in through my front windows in my sitting room and dining room. It was around the winter solstice when, as you know sun is so precious. I couldn't get over it. When my DH asked for a decision about whether to continue, or not, I just said let's get it down. So there, I did it. I tore off and orginal, important element of my antique house - a half-height, but full-facade, Greek revival porch. And I am not the least bit sorry. But I did salvage everything and will allay any lingering guilt by re-erecting it on the back. What were they thinking when the blocked all that light since 1849?

But the far edge of my decking is unsound, too. I have considered making the new porch narrower. I was hoping to find new replacement material, but it sounds as though I'll be out of luck.

So my fall back plan is this: put the replaced (new material) section inboard, next to the house and install the salvaged floor boards turned around so the old, formerly protected parts will now be on the weather edge, and the seam between the two will be deep under the porch roof. That butt joint will be a place for development of problems in the long run (and with houses as old as ours, the long is run everything.) Therefore, the drier it stays, the better.

I may also turn the salvaged boards upside down as 160 + years of use have worn out the grain a bit, but the undersides are still fresh. Also the old face nail holes would be less visible.

I realize this will put the "seam" between the two surfaces in a somewhat more prominent place, but considering that I plan to paint it, and normally have a big door mat and an old settle against the wall of the house, I think it will be OK, and mostly hidden.

What choice do we have, anyway? No way would I want to think I was using any freshly harvested old-growth Doug fir. Nor do I feel comfortable with any of the tropical hardwoods (primarily teaks), notwithstanding the "certification" system.

I considered using one of the fake outdoor flooring materials (i.e. Trex). Can't go there for a flooring surface that I would want to walk on in barefeet. Though I do have a couple of pieces in very damp place in my spring house and I've been satisfied with them.


    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 6:07AM
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Thanks, all!!
I'll post some pics in its current state of disrepair and let me know what you think. Gut job? Patch job?
Contractor is great and will do either. All lattice and framing will be replaced as well. Def don't want exotic tree species. Something that might have been used on an 1880's Victorian in NYS!!

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 7:44PM
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Worst section--corner

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 7:46PM
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Another bad part...

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 7:48PM
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Better part...5/4 T & G fir?!?! I guess?

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 7:49PM
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Again same as I told you last year, more than likely 5/4 x 4 Douglas Fir.

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:36PM
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Sorry!! We work at a snail's pace remodeling this old Victorian, millworkman!!
Thanks for being so patient with me! :)

    Bookmark   April 21, 2013 at 8:46PM
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Are you painting the flooring? I don’t have any input on your actual question, but we redid our (also 1890 Victorian) porch… it was replaced with IPE, so totally different than yours.

But if you’re NOT painting, I had a really terrible experience with our stain color being totally different than the samples we’d applied… so make sure you sample from the actual can!!

Here is a link that might be useful: Our Front Porch Project

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 9:56AM
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The next morning I stumbled downstairs and I had sun streaming in through my front windows in my sitting room and dining room.

I've seen skylights (transparent panels, anyway) in porch roofs for just this reason.

    Bookmark   April 27, 2013 at 11:54AM
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