Cross post from home decorating- porch columns

schoolhouse_gwJuly 10, 2012

So this morning I get ready to scrape, caulk cracks, and paint the porch columns - again. My scraper takes a big chunk right out of the wood at the bottom of one column. I come in the house and start investigating fiberglass columns once more. Then I call another lumber yard and he recommends a type called "Permacast", a composite that comes "ready to paint".

I'm looking at prices for the fiberglass: $139.13 each., the Permacast: $144.00 ea. plus the $9 installation cost.

Now, I really hesitate to put vinyl or fiberglass anywhere on my old schoolhouse. Has anyone had experience with fiberglass porch columns? Do they look very fake? Would the stark white be TOO white against a wood sided house that looks reasonably good between paint jobs? Does it sound like the Permacast columns would still need painted every few years? Anyone have experience with this material?

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There are Fiberglass, Fiber Reinforced Polymer composite (FRP), and Cellular Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) columns. Some can be load bearing and others can't. They all must be painted but will never rot or absorb water so they don't need to be repainted very often. I suspect cellular PVC would be the most expensive & durable, then FRP, then Fiberglass.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 3:15PM
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Soon after I posted, I drove over to the lumber yard where the guy had a Permacast column leftover from an order. It looked very durable, heavy, and cap and base of the same material. I was impressed with it overall, but one thing I noticed is that the finish was pitted here and there. So you'd have to do some spackling and sanding before painting. Should have asked if this type of quality was the norm or this was a reject and thus ended up in their back warehouse. ha. The company that makes this particular product is HG&B. You can find them online.

You are right, sure sounds like less maintenance. With material and labor I wouldn't be surprised if this turned into a $500 project compared to $200 for pine. I need to call my GC and see what he thinks. Thanks for the reply.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 4:51PM
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I think these were permacast; they smelled like polyester resin (bondo) when I cut them.
They are very heavy and hard. Not a fan of the capitals and bases, but it ain't my house!


    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 7:33PM
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Yeah, the lumber yard guy mentioned the word "resin" and the column definitely reminded you of it. So Casey, are you saying you have installed these things? Were they easy to cut? have ragged edges to contend with? notice any pitting on the surface? What was your overall impression of them? worth the money or not.

I need two that same style as in your photo, appx. 6' something high. What kind of adhesive did you use and what about the installation kits a person has to buy, it looks like they consist of clips for the cap and base. In the booklet that was with the column I looked at today, the manufacturer recommended "Devore" finish paint. I'm assuming that's a brand but I'm wondering if a normal paint won't do for durability.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 9:40PM
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1) Large round columns are never easy to cut, these had to be scribed to the sloping porch floor, so the install for 4 took the better part of the day.
They are chippy to cut, but I cut them by hand, then scribed with a belt sander.
2) no pitting but a distinct area where the 2 halves of the mold met.
3) don't know precisely what they cost; they are substantial, and much less expensive than decent (Chadsworth) wood columns of same size.
4) Adhesive?
5) the clips anchor the shafts to the beam and floor; pretty much necessary, but you could improvise some other metal brackets.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 10:51PM
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Thanks. The cutting to a sloping porch floor was a concern for me early on because my porch floor is wood and altho not old it's not new either. Had the idea to get good measurements by my GC and then have the lumberyard cut the columns for an extra $$ since they would have appropriate tools,ect. But I'll wait and ask GC. An adhesive was mentioned in the installation instruction booklet that was in the box of that column I saw at the lumberyard. I'd go ahead and buy the $9 metal brackets just to be safe.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 8:51AM
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The last set of columns I installed were Turncraft Poly-classic.

I was a little dubious at first, but was sold on them by the end of the project.

Well made, smooth surface, easy to cut (abrasive blade on a circular saw, easy to install, and they took paint and primer very well.

They'll hold paint. No moisture or ventilation worries as with wood columns.

I don't recall the exact price. 8" columns, 10' tall, roughly $150 each? They were cut down to around 9'.

    Bookmark   July 11, 2012 at 3:47PM
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HB&G has been in business for years. Good company. And they have the coolest southern accent when they answer the phone, from Troy, Alabama.

    Bookmark   July 13, 2012 at 2:48PM
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we installed 5 of the HB&G columns on our front porch and garage overhang. Don't know what else to say about them besides they hold up the roof fine and look good.

Mine didn't have a pronounced seam, cutting wasn't difficult with the circular saw, and they're plenty strong.

we got 10" diameter 8' for the porch, and 10' for the garage overhang.

Also, if you're going for 8" HB&G columns, they are an in stock item at my local Home depot.

    Bookmark   July 20, 2012 at 12:17PM
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HG&B columns available at Home Depot?? Hmmmmm. Well, the nearest HD to me is about 40miles away, but I wonder if the prices would be less? I'm having a local small town lumber yard special order them for me, so I suppose I'll pay some extra fees somewhere. Plus the cost of gas. But thanks for the info chrisk, that's good to know.

Here's another question that came up. While my carpenter was measuring my old porch columns he stated that with the new permacast columns, I'll probably want a wooden post installed up in them for more stability. I told him I don't recall having any wooden posts in either the original or the present set of wooden columns on my porch. He argued that he bet there was. I say not. And from what I understand the permacast is suppose to be very good at load bearing. And as you stated, they hold up your roof fine.

Could the cracks radiating from the base of my wooden columns actually be stress related or mostly the water damage like I'm assuming. By the way, my porch is very small, not a sprowling promenade.

    Bookmark   July 26, 2012 at 2:47PM
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When we got the square fiberglass columns for our porch the contractor had the option of getting ones that were load bearing or ones that acted like sleeves for the real load bearing wood. He chose load bearing ones, which makes more sense to me than hiding wood in a perpetually dark environment that has little to no airflow, and could be exposed to water seepage if caulk fails. I'm probably over estimating the risk of that, though.

So maybe your round columns have the same option, load bearing vs sleeve?

    Bookmark   July 27, 2012 at 8:33AM
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Here are the new Permacast porch columns, installed this afternoon. I had ordered them on Aug. 13th, and waited and waited and then told they were on a two week back order. Finally they came in and then waited a week for the lumber yard to deliver them to my house. Called contractor twice but he never returned my calls. I found out this morning that he had been on vacation in Colorado! Good thing he called, I was going to give him the rest of this week and then I was finding someone else. ha.

I think the columns look great. NO pitts, NO cracks, No seams. I was going to hire a painter but since they look so good and contractor didn't even recommend sanding, I'm going to do it myself. The only thing is they didn't countersink the screws that went in under the caps. Some were sunk better than others but he said he was afraid to tighten too much for fear the material would crack. I suppose I can fill them over with a bit of caulk before I paint. Probably be the only person who notices.

Anyway thought I'd post an update. So far, I'd recommend this product to others. However, we'll see after painting how well the paint holds up to weather,ect. Thanks for all the input while I made my decision.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 4:35PM
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Not sure what happened to my pics, so I'll try again:

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 6:35PM
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Again, I'll try direct upload to the forum.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 6:37PM
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Second photo.

    Bookmark   September 19, 2012 at 6:38PM
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Two coats of primer, and two of the finish coat put on today. They look pretty darn good. Would look better if my old porch wasn't so wonky and the guys had to tweak the caps to fit under the eaves. Oh well. That's life - or I should say, "that's character!". lol

    Bookmark   September 21, 2012 at 3:25PM
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looks great! So you didn't need any wooden posts inside?

    Bookmark   September 24, 2012 at 12:09PM
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Thanks, scrappy. No need for wooden support inside the Permacast. When I suggested that to the contractor in the beginning, he said he had never heard of that. And in the literature it says the 8', 8" columns can support up to 3,000lbs. John said my little porch will fall apart before the columns do. ;)

I'm hoping the only prep work I did before painting, wiping down the dust and the coats of primer, was enough. Time will tell.

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 10:27AM
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What did you wipe them down with as there is generally an oil residue on them form between the GC's hands just general manufacturing and handling

    Bookmark   September 25, 2012 at 1:02PM
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Permacast columns are decent, but if you were trying to install columns that are architecturally correct (based on the dimensions of the Greeks & Romans) then I wouldn't go with Permacast.

If not, then Permacast is okay.

Also, from your photographs - the columns are not installed correctly -- just a nit-picky detail I noticed.

    Bookmark   June 13, 2013 at 12:55PM
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