Stepping up!

My folks bought themselves a new house, so I built them a new front porch to celebrate, and to sit around on. They wanted something big enough to have room to sit without interfering with people walking by to the door, but not so big that it would take up a lot of resources. I was happy to oblige!

I walked the space with them, we came up with the dimensions, and they gave me some ideas of what they wanted. From there, I picked some plans from the many decks and porches i’d already built, and got to work!

I started by marking my post locations for the 8′ x 12′ porch. The design I used calls for the beams to be bolted to the support posts, then hang my joists, then lay my decking. I laid out and dug the holes so the support posts would be just inside the beams so we could cover it with lattice later and give it a nice finished look. I got excited and started building before I started taking pictures….

I chose to build a detached porch so I wouldn’t have to be worried about attaching to the house, and so any expansion wouldn’t cause problem between the house and the porch. I left a 1″ gap between the beam and the house, which I later covered with decking.

We had a set of temporary steps on site from the house install that worked okay for the porch, but they didn’t like them; too steep, too shallow… really annoying.

Once the joists were hung, I laid 5/4 x 6″ x 8′ decking, offsetting each string from each end, so the joints didn’t line up. I also used decking screws, NOT NAILS. Nails are for holding things vertically, screws are for holding things horizontally.
After that, I attached my 4×4 posts to the outside of the beams, used the same decking material for top, side, and bottom rails.

Next, we ran 2×2″ pickets on 4″ centers. I don’t have a picture of the spacing jig I made, but it’s just a picket with a 2×4 spacing block cut to the width we want attached to the top and bottom with two screws to keep the blocks from twisting. We set that against the post or last picket, snug the next picket up to it, nail in the next picket top and bottom, then pull the jig out. It works great and saves a tremendous amount of time, especially if you have two people that get into a rhythm! I like to have one guy holding the jig and running the nailer, and the second guy placing the next picket. We pay out pickets ahead of time, then just put them up!

For the steps, I measured the distance from the deck to the ground, then divided that space up until I got to an even number I liked. I was aiming for 6″ to make the each step short and easy, but I used 2 x 12″ treads (and stringers) so they’d be big, and solid.
I finished them out to match the rest of the porch, and trimmed my spacing jig blocks to set the pickets.
Once all that was done, we celebrated, and then I moved on to another job.

My step-Dad, Doug (shown in the pictures here) later cleaned and sealed the whole thing with spray-on deck sealer.

Another project done! For this I used my miter saw, circular saw, screw gun for the decking, framing nailer for the pickets, and of course a tape measure, pencil, speed square, levels, and common sense.