what do I do with an ugly concrete stoop?

kebc77May 29, 2007


We're developing a landscaping plan for our front yard (ripping out most of the lawn and the scraggly shrubs as seen in this pic, putting in shrubs/perennials). Picture of the yard is here:

We don't want to do a real extensive front porch (husband prefers a back porch, and we don't have a whole lot of space b/w the front window and the big maple tree). But we would like to do something with the concrete stoop to make it less ugly. Doing a search on this forum, I found this thread and it gave me the idea of covering the stoop with wood or composite: http://ths.gardenweb.com/forums/load/porch/msg0713313330517.html

Thanks for the great idea...I was thinking about something like this but wasn't sure if it was doable.

I still have some questions after reading this thread that I hope you can help me with:

1.) How do we replace the handrail that's bolted into the concrete? Can a homeowner rent a tool to do this?

2.) We're considering a pergola or trellis (with vines) around the front door, built into our landscaping plan. We've already removed the metal awning. Do think this would look good, or is it not suited to the style of the house?

Thanks :)!


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I don't think this is up to code and I'm surprised this even got past your home inspector. He is liable for that if he did not specify in his report that it wasn't up to code when you purchased the home. I believe you have up to one year from the time of inspection. That's your first issue.

Next, my main concern would be curb appeal, and how your changes are going to have an impact on your investment. What is going to look better for the next buyer when you try to sell the house? I would not do a pergola or trellis. A pergola is more suited for a patio area, and a trellis is only going to cheapen the look of your home, and most of these have to be painted. That means long term maintenance. We've done so many renovations on our home, and made a lot of mistakes because we tried to go the cheap route. I would call around for contractors - I can't imagine that a new concrete slab on the front will cost too much money. My neighbor has a huge front porch that he had completely done over along with his front sidewalk and steps, and he paid less than $5k, and what you have is a lot less. I would just expand or replace the concrete slab on the front to make it wider - maybe just a foot or so on each side - it will give the illusion of a bigger house with a wider porch, put railings around the perimeter and up the steps, and you can put one concrete planter on each side of the front porch (one in each corner) for symmetry and curb appeal. In the long run, you will be happy you did.

If that isn't doable, I would at the very least replace the stairs with concrete steps going up to the porch, and widen them. They should be at least as wide as the door frame. It will look much better than what you have.

You could also try adding pavers on each side of your walkway leading up to the porch. That would look nice too.

    Bookmark   May 29, 2007 at 4:06PM
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It's been a while since I looked in our home inspection report but your question about the code did get me wondering, and the stoop is the maximum height before a railing is needed. Now that I think about it, I remember wondering about that when we bought the house. Most of the houses on this street have the same size stoop (I call it "post-WWII ranch house stoop", lol.)

Thanks so much for your suggestion, ITA about the widening the steps and doing the railing. I'd prefer the look of composite decking over concrete (my neighbor has it covering a similar sized concrete stoop and it looks much better IMO) . And I will save the arbor for our next house ;).

    Bookmark   May 30, 2007 at 6:51AM
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As far as the surface of the concrete, I used a product call Skimstone, to resurface concrete. It looks very rich. There are other concrete resuracing products, That would be cheaper than your other options. I think it would look better too.

I think your biggest problem is the proportion of the second step down. It just looks to small. I would either make that bigger, or surround it with full round shrubs.

I would add a little roof oveer the front door. I would make it peaked, repeating the shape of the exsisting roof. Then I would use columns, or something else that's verticle, at the corners of the roof over the front door, for your vines to grow on.

    Bookmark   June 1, 2007 at 9:15PM
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Hi Freedee---just a quick question about Skimstone--is that something that can be done DIY or do you have to hire someone? Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 12:01PM
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Kristen, please post pics here when you are done with the renovations. I love viewing before and after pics.

We're thinking of a composite deck in the back of the house. The stoop back there is too low underneath our back door - carpenter was here (on another matter), and he's the one who told us it wasn't up to code. It's probably a distance of a foot from the platform of the porch up to the step of the back door. He built us a temporary step to use in the interim, until we install a deck. Grandma was happy since she had a hard time getting in the back door!

Can't wait to see the finished product. Good luck.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2007 at 10:33PM
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