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Front Porch Columns; DIY Customizing

Updated on December 31, 2013

There are several ways to customize your porch columns to update the look of your home. Some of the easiest ones include a simple change in paint color and pattern or purchasing moldings and new trim work. Some more labor intensive choices include adding a balustrade or replacing the columns with a new style column altogether. We are going to focus only on DIY porch columns that can be done as a simple weekend project here and just briefly glance at the prefabricated, high-end fiberglass and solid wood columns that are available for purchase.

Add a Moulding

A much simpler way to update the look of your porch columns is to add decorative columns or new caps to them. By doing this, you can change a modern looking column into a classic revival piece or update a craftsman style column and make it art deco or ultra modern. These moldings, caps and bases can be found at your local home improvement store or purchased from several online sources.

A great way to make a unique looking cap for your columns is to mix and match two or three different crown molding and base molding pieces and layer them one over another, thus creating a custom cap and base for each column. Another option is using medallions to create a pattern down the sides of your column. This looks particularly good on square columns. These can be painted the same color as the column for a subtle change in texture or can be done in a complimentary color to pop and add visual interest from the curb. (The further from the street your porch is, the more effective the complimentary color scheme will be.)

Update Columns Using Paint

Painting your columns is the cheapest way to update the look of your porch. Simply changing the color of the columns can help them blend into the façade of the house or cause them to pop out as an architectural statement.

Painting porch columns all the same color is one option, but there are some specific styles that may benefit from a multiple color treatment. This may include painting the cap and base the color of the house trim while the main column stays the same color as the house. This will help integrate the porch into the over scheme of the house. The opposite can be done to emphasize the porch.

Another option is to stencil designs on the columns. These can be simple stamps or fully developed stencils that cover the entire column. The use of a stencil in combination with medallions gives a luxurious feel to period houses. Although there are special “column stencils” available online, any stencil available at a local craft store will work.

The most popular painted porch columns are the Victorian “Lady” style. This is a specific patterning of three colors on a turned wood (or facsimile) set of columns. The squared off and other main portions of the column are painted in the same color as the house (traditionally a lilac or grey) while the rounded ribbing is painted in alternating mint green and pink. This is just the most common color pattern, any pastel combination can work.

Add a Balustrade

Another way to update DIY porch columns is to add a balustrade system to the porch. If your porch doesn’t already have a railing system, this simple addition can completely transform the look of the porch. It will create an enclosed feeling and further define the porch space as an outdoor room. If you already have a balustrade, consider changing out the spindles to reflect the style of your newly updated columns.

Constructing your own balustrade from scratch is a time-consuming and relatively expensive process. Purchasing a prefabricated system is more cost effective and will save countless hours of labor. Prefab balustrade systems are available in PVC, wood, aluminum and various other materials. In most cases, you should use the same material that your columns are made from. The only time you might consider something a bit different is if you are going with a metal balustrade. Metal balustrades add a complimentary feel to both wood and fiberglass columns, especially when used to accentuate a sleek, modern style.

DIY porch columns are an easy way to enhance the curb appeal of your home without spending too much time or money. Some projects can be done in just a few hours, while others could take the lion’s share of a weekend. Whichever way you plan to go, the results will be well worth the effort.

Replace a Porch Column

For the biggest porch facelift, replacing the columns is the way to go. With the sheer number of choices it is best to determine the feel you want for your home and then narrow it down from there. DIY porch columns are not extremely hard to replace and an entire porch can be redone in a weekend. This is by far the most expensive choice as purchasing all new columns can cost upwards of $5,000 if you choose solid cherry or walnut. There are more affordable options including fiberglass and PVC-based solutions that are available at a fraction of the cost. This is a great choice if you are going to be painting the columns after installation, because the cheap PVC look can be hidden. If not, you are better off using a higher quality wood casing around a metal support beam. This option will cost about $1,000 per four column set.


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