October 2009: D.I.Y. Diary

October 2009: D.I.Y. Diary

Front porch blues

A front porch is a wonderful piece of civilization, but not if it threatens to dump guests onto the ground when the framing underneath it finally gives way. This was the unpleasant prospect that drove us to renovate our little veranda. What drove us to do it on a sub-freezing January weekend, with an icy carpet of snow on the ground, is less clear.

Problem number one: The frame under the porch floor consisted of joists that bowed wildly, pulling their ends away from the center support to which they should have been nailed. Instead of removing these, we just doubled them up with new lumber—a technique with a satisfying name: “sistering.” With my mom’s help, we got eight new joists cut, measured and installed in one very long Saturday afternoon. Mom probably expected us to stop after four, but she was a good sport when—already deep into the darkness of evening—we decided to go for all eight.

Problem number two: Two of the columns supporting the porch roof were rotting at their bases. We built all-new columns—a good excuse to use our trusty hydraulic to raise the roof while slipping the old column out and the new column in.

Problem number three: We were cold and exhausted. Fortunately, this one was easiest of all to fix.—Spackled Egg