Tuesday, August 12, 2014

the back porch

When we bought the house, one of the first things we had to shore up was the two story back porch.  While it was a large and glorious space, the wood was rotting, it was home to thousands of honey bees, and had a variety of odd patches and makeshift walls.  There's no way of knowing what would have been here originally, but we did find a fair number of artifacts in the dirt under the porch, including the decorative iron brackets to the original screen door.  Our guess is that the brick replaced the original decorative woodwork...

Luckily, the three brick columns added in during the 1920's conversion to multi-family were stable and well-built, and the brick used was even a good match to the original brick of the house.  The first thing we did was tear off the bizarre attempt at a stud wall and remains of the fence picket railing on the second floor (first that is after taking care of the bee problem)...  After that we patched the rotted original floorboards on the second floor, and rebuilt the first floor porch from scratch, reusing as much of the original wood as was possible and moving the stairs from the side to the front, giving us a nice sitting area.

second floor "railing" there was only this one section...

Although the ends of the fir tongue and groove boards were rotten, we figured out that they were all reusable if we cut off the rot, and made up for the shorter lengths by laying a border around the perimeter - doing this just required extra framing underneath to attach it to.  This wood is far better than anything you could buy today, it was a shame we ended up painting it.  

After building a railing to satisfy the bank's requirements, we let it sit.  And sit and sit and sit.  At the time we did the work there was no money to buy nice materials, so we had to make due with 2x4's and salvaged spindles.  Coming up with a design that looked decent and met building code was more than a little bit aggravating.

2x4 Victorian railing with salvage spindles and newel posts

Truthfully, I'm not all that pleased with it, which may be the reason I put off doing any more work on it.  Now that it's not falling off, we won't be investing any money into it anytime soon, so it was time to try and prettify it somewhat.  We straightened some of the pieces that had warped, and renailed others with the better nail guns we now own.  After that we scrubbed the railings with bleach (actually my mom did last time she was here), and after everything was dry we primed and caulked all the joints.  Finally, 2 years after we built them, we painted....  Although we still haven't finished the second floor since some bees have moved back in *sigh*

Next time, the door...

But as ugly as the porch has been, it's had to argue with view like this out your kitchen window while you're doing the dishes....


  1. That's a very nice original-type screen door. Are you going to put some red accents in it to tie it in with the revamped railing?

    1. We think the door dates to the 20's. It was very nice shellacked fir when it started life, but it was always a foot and a half too short for the opening, and has been broken so many times it has VERY little life left in it.

  2. I like the way the colors tie in with the brick! I never know what colors to put with our brick. And maybe you could just think of it as doing your part to provide a refuge for the endangered honey bees?

    1. The brick is easy to deal with as long as you just look at it as being a paint color to work with - alternately, you can look at every brick house on the internets to see what looks good! As for the bees, these swarms can't be saved since the hive is inside the column, luckily bees are doing ok here, beekeepers aren't even interested in collecting wild swarms as far as we can tell....


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