Need ideas to improve porch!

party_music50May 1, 2009

Hi --

I'll be having the porch foundation replaced (again!) next week and this time I'm having the concrete steps REMOVED! I won't have much money left for a major face-lift, but I've always hated the way this porch looks. The odd levels and pyramid-shaped ends/posts all covered in siding annoy me.

I've had a few people take a cursory look, and they say they can't tell what's under the siding on the porch "posts" without actually removing the siding. Some speculate that it's a shell around normal posts, and some speculate it might be covering brick. I'm almost afraid to have it removed for fear of uncovering a worse mess. :(

I'd like to replace the concrete stairs with wood. I'd like to replace the wrought-iron railings along the stairs and sides of the porch. And I'd LOVE some ideas on how the pyramid-shaped oddities can be altered/corrected to be more attractive.

Can anyone make some suggestions? Show me photos of ideas that would work for me?

Here are a few views to show the odd shapes and jogs that must be dealt with... Can anyone help me, please?!

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I wouldn't be surprised if the original siding was cedar shingles. Of course the siding may have been clapboards or novelty siding, but those tapered porch buttresses looked really good in shingles.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 8:24AM
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Your house once had a pretty craftsman style porch it looks like. I hope its still under there! Seems like they wouldn't have bothered to make the pyramid shape if they weren't covering up a pyramid.
good luck and post pics if you do tear the siding off.
Why have you had to do the foundation 2x?

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 10:44AM
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Thanks for the replies.

My original post was written late and probably wasn't very clear. lol!

The house was built in 1938. I bought it 8 years ago as a foreclosure -- did a TON of work to get it back in shape. Part of that work was to rebuild the collapsed porch basement wall. The guy that did the work apparently didn't "tie it in" properly and/or 're-seat' the steps securely? so the weight of the steps shifting against the wall quickly broke down his repair work.

The new guy I found will cost 3 times more, so I'm hoping he's 3 times better!

Anyway, what style would the house actually be? Arts & Crafts, Mission, Bungalow? I want the porch to match the style, but trust that you understand why I think it's ugly now. LOL!

And do you think I should start by just ripping the siding off the pyramids and hoping? lol!

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 11:05AM
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Another example of why I hate aluminum and vinyl siding!

Be aware though, if you "let her rip", you may be in for a big bill for putting whatever's under there into good condition. When I was renoing for resale, I would leave a porch like that well enough alone, aware that many buyers would actually prefer that to the original.

    Bookmark   May 2, 2009 at 11:57AM
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You have a very cute Arts& Crafts bungalow. If you decide to leave the siding on after all, I suggest you get some large A&C style pots for the posts and let them command the attention at the entry. You might be able to forget how much you hate the siding.


    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 10:14AM
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Just an observation... the contact points at the top appear relatively small and the expanse of the porch without any additional support leaves me to wonder if you might find a steel beam with some nondescript lally columns supporting the whole front of the porch. They may have felt the corner supports looked "whimpy" and tried to add some mass as well as a little privacy to the front facade. Be sure to let us know what you find.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 12:51PM
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FW, you are SO right! I tried a mixture of large pots (and plants) on both levels of posts last summer and they looked fantastic. The flower color and lush growth took my eye away from the rest of it. lol!

I will have to research what an "A&C style pot" would be. I'd guess angular?

paul: I've always wondered about those small posts at the top... making me suspect something different hidden beneath. But concretenprimroses already pointed out that it's unlikely to contrive that shape if it didn't already exist, and that makes perfect sense to me.

After what you've all said, I'm really nervous about trying to uncover the pyramids now. lol! paul's description of the steel beam and lally columns makes me think of "Mr. Blandings Builds His Dreamhouse". LOL! (I love the scene where Myrna Loy describes her paint color choices!!!)

    Bookmark   May 4, 2009 at 10:27PM
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Yes, it's a bungalow. You may discover upon removing the wraps that there is an inset area between the two pylons that defines their corners all the way down. The siding contractor filled these fields in flush with the column surfaces giving him an easier time.
A&C planters could be any shape. A ginger jar to a cauldron to a squared-off FLW geometric.

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 7:52AM
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I was in the home decorating forum and happened to see this photo of a porch that reminded me of yours. Maybe that is whats under the mystery forms

Here is the link to the site it came from called 'in praise of porches'

Here is a link that might be useful:

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 12:28PM
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Sorry, Here's the picture

img src=

and here is the link it came from

Here is a link that might be useful: In praise of porches

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 1:06PM
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That's a lovely house. It reminds me that my father has tried to convince me to change the location of the stairs on my porch!

In the meanwhile, I have found the blueprints for the porch! It says they are to be shingled. The shape is as shown, but it looks much prettier in the diagrams, of course. There is clear definition between each of the sections between the steps and the corners, if you know what I mean. lol! Sorry... I don't know the correct terminology.

It would look much nicer in shingles -- but not with the house still in vinyl siding. I guess it will have to wait...

I will try to have the stairs made as the diagram shows, with triangular openings at the base. They didn't show any railings in the diagrams though. What would you all use as a replacement for the wrought iron that's currently there? and would you omit the railing from the steps?! They're at least up to 4 feet off the ground!

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 8:39PM
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Wow, am I clairvoyant or what?

    Bookmark   May 5, 2009 at 11:11PM
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I don't have railings on my front porch steps but the porch itself is only 30 inches off the ground. Most people (including my elderly mom) come in the back where there is a railing cuz thats were they park.
We have aluminum siding on our house but not on the front porches or the window trim. I used to hate it but it has grown on me because I just don't see us painting the house often enough to keep it looking nice. We are in the processof painting all the trim including 4 porches and with the scraping and repair and the porch rails and fancy columns that will take a few years. Dh is also painting the aluminum siding with a brush as it had faded over the past50 or so years. The brush work helps the appearance, and the paint should last alot longer than on wood siding. since he's doing it the same color, theres no rush tho. He did one side when he did the trim so I could put my flower garden back in knowing that side was all done. What we have done recently is taken off the aluminum corner pieces and added appropriately wide boards to return more to the original look of the house. I'm wondering if your porch couldn't have shakes and the main hosue be as it is? This is assuming there is something under the porch siding. Could you peel back a piece and look?

    Bookmark   May 7, 2009 at 8:14AM
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I wanted to post an update to this old thread...

The foundation walls were replaced *again*, but this time the contractor said he thinks he found the real source of the problem... and he ended up repouring the footer/slab? And I had the concrete stairs removed for good!

It took a long time, but the porch is well underway to looking good again! The original siding was cedar shingles, but I'm not about to remove all the vinyl siding now! The "pyramids" are original exactly as they appear, and are hollow inside. :) The old porch flooring had been overlaid w/ 3/4" plywood, so it all had to be ripped off and everything was re-pitched more as it should be. There is a basement beneath my porch -- which is apparently odd -- so that posed a few different problems...

I have the full blueprints and intend to replace the railing with simple 4x4 posts... the original was 6x6! And the stairs are in place, but still need the risers, rails, covers, etc. Anyway, here it is so far!

    Bookmark   June 29, 2010 at 7:15AM
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Hello again --

I know I had two different threads going way back when this work started... and it's taken a LONG time to complete... but I LOVE my porch now! and I wanted to report back what we ended up doing.

The original blueprints showed 6 x 6 widely spaced beams for the porch "railings", with no railings on the stairs. We obviously couldn't do that and it seemed like it would be too overpowering anyway.

I wanted 4 x 4 railings used as a substitute, with the same going down the stairs. I had also posted asking about 'period' furniture for the style of the house, and since it seemed that pretty much anything would go, here's where it all ended up....

While in progress -- here's my new porch deck and furniture with most of the railings in place:

When done -- here's how we did the front portion and stairs. I found newel caps that are almost identical to the decorative elements used on the 'Niagara Colonade' between the DR and LR:

I LOVE IT!!!!!!!!!!!!! Maybe now I can find some time to fix those poor dug up and stomped-on gardens around the porch. lol! :o)

    Bookmark   September 12, 2011 at 5:21PM
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That looks great. I love it when people come back to post updates. Thanks.

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 7:01AM
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Your porch remake looks super!

    Bookmark   September 13, 2011 at 3:47PM
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