Fiberglass vs wood 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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We have fiberglass columns holding up our wisteria-covered pergola over the stone terrace. We painted these (or the contractor did) when our house was remodeled 7 years ago. They look lovely and they don't need repainting (yet). You'd never know they weren't "real." Whether white would be too stark against wood siding, I cannot say. Our house trim is white, which is why the columns are white.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 1:31PM
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schoolhouse, I feel your pain. I have a custom-built wood pillar sitting on top of a stone column - only 7 years old and already rotten. I'm looking at non-wood options too, even though I really didn't want to go that route. Mine would need to be painted to match the trim. The material he would use would be AZEK which I know nothing about yet.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 2:03PM
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We have AZEK on our porch. It is a bright white and it does not need painted. We love it, it cleans up very easily.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 2:56PM
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The white trim on the brick house is Azek. The Columns on the gold house are fiberglass.
The Azek is very had to tell that it is not wood, it can be painted and routed.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 4:48PM
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I cross posted this on the Remodeling Forum and got a reply there. Here is my reply to that one:

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.

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 photos here - the columns do look nice. I notice that the homes in the pics have vinyl siding tho, my house has wooden siding. That is why I'm having to think about this alot. arapaho, check out that HG&B site and then call a lumber yard in your area to see if they can order the product or have experience with it.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 5:01PM
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When my upstairs deck railing gives up the ghost, I'm using Azek. It's not the cheapest but I've seen it in person, and found it indistinguishable from wood, especially since the samples at the show had been worked to look unique. The quality of wood available today is not what it was when things were built to last.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 6:58PM
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Annie Deighnaugh

All of our exterior trim is azek (except for mahogany front door). We wanted as low maintenance as possible.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 7:40PM
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schoolhouse, my home is sided in cedar shingles so I have wanted to stay with wood. When I had the half-pillar replaced 7 yrs ago it was about $700. Now the estimate for Azek is between $700-950. That's one expensive half-pillar. I wish I could do it myself. I found a video on how to build an interior pillar but I don't have a table saw or miter saw. Other than that, it doesn't seem that difficult.

Here is a link that might be useful: Video on how to build a pillar

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 8:26PM
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When we moved here in '98, we found that termites had made a trail up to the rotting base of the wood column in front of our house. They were replaced with what I think was fiberglass. We have moved but drive by that house on occasion and they still look great. I suspect the same was done on this house before we bought it. Between the moisture and the termites, something other than wood really seems the only way to go here.

    Bookmark   July 10, 2012 at 8:32PM
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