Home Improvement DIY - Porch

A porch is an invaluable addition to a home. It helps stop cold winds blowing into the house every time you open the front door, conserves heat and increases security. It also forms a small addition where you can safely leave a bike, take off and store wet clothes, boots and shoes and stand wet umbrellas.

Planning a Porch

Porches are subject to local zoning laws and building codes. These regulations are constant­ly changing, so you should check your own plans with the local building inspector to make sure your proposed porch meets current requirements.

Insulating a Porch

It is certainly worth insulating a porch. Glass areas including doors should be double-glazed and solid wall areas should have insulation built in within their structure. Timber walls should be similarly insulated, with a polythene vapor barrier between the inner and outer cladding. Alternatively, insulating sheetrock can be used for wall lining. This can be used to line the ceiling as well.

Finishing Off

The porch will need an interior light and ideally an exterior light, too. So put in the necessary wiring for this during construction.

You will also want to incorporate heating in the porch, especially if it contains a half-bathroom. So at the building stage either extend the heating system or incorporate localized unit heaters.

Security is a very important factor, so make sure the porch is fitted with a high security lock. In the case of an open porch, make sure the house door is really secure. The danger here is that a partially enclosed porch may allow an intruder to work on the house's main front door in comparative privacy.

Converting a Porch

If you have a traditional projecting porch that is seldom used, you can enclose it to expand an existing room or, if it is big enough, to create a new one - a separate study or bedroom, for example. The basic structure is already in place, although because of the porch's exposure to the weather some parts may be in need of some repair or renovation work. Before you start work, check that the conversion will not block the required daylight and ventilation of adjoining rooms; your local building code office will advise you of the various code requirements.

Begin by removing the existing porch ceiling, its railings and the outer steps, unless these will lead to a new entry door. Then inspect the foundations, the floor, the corner posts and the roof, and repair them as required.

If the porch floor is sound and level, lay a new plywood subfloor directly over it. If it slopes, lay tapered joists across it (if possible, thick enough to bring the porch floor up to the level of the floor in the adjoining room), nailed to new headers at the front and back of the porch, and then lay plywood sheathing over them as before to create a new floor platform.

You can now construct exterior wall frames to fill in between the new floor, the porch roof, the house wall and the front supporting posts. Unless you want to keep the existing wall finish on the back wall of the porch, remove this before fitting the frames and replace it with sheetrock (drywall) or other sheathing later on. With the framing complete, add the new exterior sheathing, fit insulation and nail up sheetrock inside. Insulate the porch roof thor­oughly too before putting up the new ceiling. Then finish and decorate the new conversion.

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