Porch extensions done right

Why opting for total demolition or adding wood deck isn't recommended

Q: I have a ranch-style home with a front porch that is not deep enough — certainly not deep enough for these old bones to enjoy a rocking chair from which to spy on my neighbors. It also has a concrete walkway from the street leading to very narrow and steep concrete steps. All of this has been painted an ugly shade of rust. So it’s time for an upgrade.

I’m wondering if the porch’s depth can be increased. If not, could a wooden porch be built over it to the correct depth? If none of these is viable, I could hire someone to demo the stairs and rebuild them, depending on the cost. Finally, can brick veneer or some sort of tiled stone be laid over the concrete porch, steps and pathway to improve the appearance?

The porch is approximately 10 feet long and 4 feet deep. I’m willing to have someone do the stonework, if it doesn’t cost me my 401(k).

I suppose if worse comes to worse, I could paint the whole thing and put my rocker on the back patio.

A: You don’t have to be relegated to the backyard. A porch extension is definitely doable.

The best way to increase the depth of your porch is by adding a concrete extension. Secure the extension to the existing structure by connecting it to the old porch with steel rebar set into the old slab and protruding into the new. Holes are drilled into the side of the existing concrete porch, and pieces of rebar are cemented in place with fast-drying Portland cement. The extension will be supported by a concrete retaining wall with a footing set into the ground on the outside edges.

This is a big job that requires a building permit. Make a trip to your local building department to see what they require. Expect to submit a plan and possibly blueprints.

You could also cover the porch with a wooden deck. This would probably be the least expensive alternative. The only stumbling block we can see is that you may not have enough clearance at the threshold of the front door for the decking to rest below the threshold. We would shy away from this solution. Our thought is that it would look like what it is — a wood deck tacked onto an older house. We think it would make your house the ugly stepsister in the neighborhood.

Doing a total demolition and rebuild in either wood or concrete is the most expensive option. It’s also the most straightforward. Essentially you would be removing the old and starting with a clean slate.

Covering the existing porch, steps and walkway with a brick or stone veneer is certainly doable, but that doesn’t solve the depth problem. To view stone and brick options, a masonry supplier is the place to go. Avoid the big box stores.

Our best suggestion is to pour a concrete extension and face the old and new with stone or brick veneer. The stone will cover the seam of the extension and rebuilding the stairway will allow an entry that is less steep.

Make sure not to short yourself on the width of the porch. You need to have plenty of room for your rocker so you can survey the goings-on in the neighborhood.

                                     

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