Curb Appeal Facelift Part 3: Covering the Porch in Pine


Covering your cement porch in wood is simple and easy, but not an incredibly quick task. You will have to consider a few things before you start, like securing the whole thing properly to the existing structure, drainage for water that falls in between the planks, beginning and ending board width, and waterfall control from the roof if there is a high flow point when it rains. You will also want to check your local building codes to ensure that you need or don’t need a permit to complete the work.

We are lucky that our cement porch already drains properly away from the house without any pooling areas, so that issue (probably the biggest one) does not have to be addressed for our project. We also have an access hole in the basement that goes up under the porch, and in a heavy rainfall there is no leakage, so no cracks will have to be filled. Assuming that drainage, leakage, and a permit are not an issue, we are ready to begin!

img_2321This is what our home looks like right now with its cement porch.  It isn’t horrible, but it is not striking or beautiful in any way. The porch we will build (and the pergola after this project) will really be a facelift on curb appeal!

img_2347Milling on my table saw, I cut enough sticks of wood to cover the whole porch at a 16″ interval with plenty of hangover that will be cut later. I would not ever suggest spacing these more than 16″ apart. Since water flows away from our house already, it will fall between these “ribs,” travel horizontally and then vertically to run out into the yard.

img_2354I set them all down, marked with chalk where they needed to be, and used an outdoor decking construction adhesive to put them in place.  I will also use cement screws to firmly attach them to the cement, but I have seen a few blogs where this is all that is used.  I would not recommend that. I have also placed a lot of my decking wood on top of these pieces to give it some weight while it dries.  The curing time for the product I am using is 24 hours, so this is it for today.

Here are three more shots of where I am today.  I attached the glued wood to the edge piece with some clamps.

img_2352Today I have drilled holes through the wood, then through the cement on every piece at about 16″ apart. This can require an impact drill, but I used (and it is completely possible with a bit of muscle) a regular corded power drill with a cement bit. If you only have a battery drill, I would suggest asking your neighbor if you cam borrow a corded drill for this task.

img_2353Now I have all of the cement screws fastened in place. These “ribs” are fully secured to the cement, and are ready to have wood decking planks attached to them. Also, I added a piece next to every other rib because I needed a place to have my breaks in the wood (because we are using 8′ pieces of pine and our porch is about 30′ long).

img_2358This is the first plank I’m setting against the house.  I opted to have a full piece as my last outer plank without having to shave it, so my measurements indicated this width for the first board. This, of course, will be different for every house. Now that I’ve got the hard part done, I just need to begin attaching full planks and cutting them to end between the two double-ribs.

img_2364It’s time to quit for the night, but you can see the initial progress on the decking boards.  There are a few tips to keep in mind here.  Every piece of wood has a slight curve to it, and you want that high curve of the board to be on the top side.  For example, if you were to stand at the end of a board and look at its short edge, the edge will have a rainbow shape.  You want the rainbow shape to be oriented just like a rainbow is, with the high part in the middle, and not in a bowl shape.  This is for drainage purposes, and I hope that makes sense! Make sure to check this with every decking board.

I finished all of the decking on the porch today, aside from the stairs. To get the front of the porch attached, I added vertical ribs to each of the horizontal ones and cut off the excess with a handsaw then attached the decking boards as usual.

img_2369Here I have just added the ribbing for the stair.  You can see that the method was the exact same as the porch, but there was no need to have a doubled piece anywhere because the wood does not need a break in it to cover the stair. By the way, I like safety and being wise and all of that good junk, but I almost exclusively wear sandals and I do not change that when I’m working with power tools and wood.  My toes don’t appreciate that sometimes, but I just don’t care.  They can find another person to attach to if they are that upset about it.

img_2372I added the stair decking in the same method, then added the first coat of timber oil.  It is starting to look really sharp!

img_2394This is a terrible picture because of the sunlight coming straight back at me, but you can see two things here; the stairs and all staining are done, and it is a completed job! I have also tacked up a few test boards to see what kind of design we want for covering our arch above the door.

We tried a couple different designs here to see what we might like.  It was obvious that the brickset pattern was the best fit for our house.

img_2398Once we decided on the brickset pattern, I removed the old vertical boards with their awful curved bottoms.  I was so incredibly happy to be prying them off our house! Whoever lived here before us spent a lot of time covering the cracked old paint with new paint, and didn’t scrape off the old curled paint first.  It looked so terrible!

Finding this backing wood in pristine shape (after 66 years) was such a relief! I was worried that I would end up needing new wood, but The Fates smiled down on us. Now I can begin to add the new wood.

img_2431 Here are all of the full pieces in place.  I will begin to cut in the partial pieces tomorrow.

To make these wood pieces, I have taken 2X6 pine boards, cut them all to the same rectangular shape, made them thinner (about 3/4″) by shaving them down  (“ripping”) on my table saw, then I ran them through my surface planer for the smooth texture.  If you don’t have a surface planer, you can just screw in all of your boards and then sand them down if you don’t like their natural texture. I would hope that you have a power sander though!

Now all of the wood pieces are in place. I slapped up the first coat of stain as well today, and I think we will want at least two more coats before we’re happy with the color.  We are matching this to the porch, so we used the same stain. Also, the voids from the previous arch cover and paint (the curvy line below) will be covered by the pergola, which you can follow the building of by clicking on:

Curb Appeal Facelift: Porch Pergola with Mister

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