Front Porch Progress (No More Sagging Roof!)

Well, it turns out that fixing the sagging roof issue on my front porch was way easier than I had thought it would be. This is how it looked just a few days ago. The sag wasn’t horrible, but it was definitely noticeable, and it bugged the heck out of me every time I looked at it.

I thought it was going to be some semi-major construction, removing the existing sagging beam and replacing it with a new beam. In fact, I had already been calling around trying to find a way to transport something so long, since there’s no way to transport something that’s 16-21 feet long in my truck with the 8-foot bed.

But then the other day when I was on the front porch cutting tile for the fireplace, I started wondering just how hard it would be to straighten out that beam. Does it actually need to be replaced? Or does it just need taller support under it? After all, there have been times when that post under that portion of the roof has been so loose that it moves pretty easily if you lean on it or put any pressure on it at all.

So I took a break from tiling, searched for a 2 x 4 and then wedged it in there next to that post and hammered the bottom in as hard as I could to see if I could raise the roof just in that section. And it worked!! You can see the progress here…

When I took that picture, it wasn’t quite up there where it needed to be (you can tell by looking at the trim above the front door that it’s still just a bit too low), but it was pretty darn close! I did a little bit of hammering, wedging that 2 x 4 in there even more, several times over two days before it was perfectly straight (or as “perfectly straight” as you can get on a 70-year-old home).

Then yesterday, my brother came over to help me replace the old posts with new ones.

With that beam straightened, we were able to take the measurements for the height of the new posts very easily and then put them into place. We used pressure treated 4 x 4’s rated for ground contact, and my gosh, were those things heavy!! Getting that center beam into place took some effort, and lots of hammering with a 3-pound hammer since the post was now carrying quite a bit of weight, but we finally got it into place. And you can see that we also added a post on the other side of the front door for symmetry when I add the balustrade later on. There’s not much room for a balustrade on that side of the steps, but I still think it’s needed. And I love the symmetry around the door.

I only wish my windows were centered between the middle and outer posts, but that would make them ridiculously close to the corner of the living room inside. My symmetry-loving brain will just have to deal with off-center windows on the front porch. And since I’ve been looking at lots of front porches lately for ideas, I’ve noticed that windows generally aren’t centered between posts anyway. So I’m learning to be okay with it. 🙂

But just take a look at that beautiful straight beam…

My brother removed the rest of the metal wrap that was wrapped around the fascia boards, and he did uncover some rot. Fortunately, the rot was just contained to the boards that will be removed and replaced with Hardi boards, and none of it was on the actual beam that supports the roof. That was a big relief.

But that’s also a perfect demonstration of why I really do not like vinyl or aluminum siding, and would never choose to install it. (Mine was vinyl siding, but they used metal wraps on areas like this and around the windows.) Vinyl siding looks perfect for decades, while possibly hiding all kinds of rot and potential structural issues beneath that perfect facade. (Here’s an example.)

I won’t bore you with my long siding rant. 😀 Just know that when we bought our house, while it was in rough shape from a cosmetic standpoint, the siding and wraps around the fascia boards and windows looked to be in good shape. But there hasn’t been one single piece of metal wrap that we’ve removed so far — from the back side of the pantry, all around the studio, the front of the breakfast room, and now the front porch — that wasn’t hiding rotten wood.

Anyway, one more thing my brother and I did yesterday was add spacers between the rafters on the front porch ceiling. The funny thing is that I expected the posts to be the hard project of the day, and these spacers to be the easy part. It was very much the opposite. The posts were a breeze compared to these spacers…

That picture cracks me up. We started on the far side (close to the front door) on the house side and worked our way towards the ramp. You can see that that first row is all nice and straight. Then we started the spacers on the front yard side, and they got worse as we went along. 😀 Our arms were so tired from hammering those spacers in there, and then hoisting my massive, very heavy, and very finicky framing nail gun over our heads to nail those in there.

But it’ll do. The purpose of those spacers is to give me something to nail the ceiling boards to since I couldn’t just do things the easy way and run the boards parallel with the front door wall of the house. Nope, I want my ceiling boards to run perpendicular to the front door wall of the house. Naturally I’d choose the way that requires more work. 😀

I thought I could actually get the ceiling installed yesterday, but when I went to Home Depot to buy the supplies, I couldn’t find any boards I liked with enough stock for the job. I’m looking for either tongue-and-groove or lap siding boards that are 3/4″ thick, solid wood, 4″ to 8″ wide, with relatively few knots. I did find some lap siding that would work, but they only had 4 boards in stock, and I need at least 25 boards, depending on the width I use. I can still check at Lowe’s, the other Home Depot (yep, we have two!), and local building supply companies. Surely one of them will have what I need. I really need to get this ceiling in this weekend.

So it’s not much progress as far as making it pretty, but I feel like we made some pretty significant progress yesterday! We’re getting things prepped so that the pretty stuff can start happening soon. I can’t wait!

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  1. Maybe you could add some weight to the right side of the porch with some sort of trelis or decorative woodwork? That would make it seem like your windows are “centered”

    1. That’s were Matt’s ramp is I believe, but I know if Kristi decides she wants her windows to look more centered she’ll figure it out.

    1. Yes, definitely Matt….and you are a blessing to her for recognizing it. Sounds like you two complement each other quite nicely. 🙂

    2. she cracks me up with all of her rants and etc. I just love her and her work…I know you do too…
      Great post, Kristi, we can’t wait to see what is next.

  2. I know you are relieved to get that fixed. Looks good.
    Loved that fireplace. Didn’t like the teal for shutters when you first showed it with the blue.
    But now I don’t know?

  3. I can’t believe what a difference that makes! The porch looks so much newer and fresher just by making it level! My very untrained and unsophisticated eye could tell that there was something off about your porch before, but I really couldn’t distinguish that it was the sag that was causing the problem. You truly have the gift for this stuff and I’m always so impressed by your ability to solve the problems. Great job!

  4. Nice job and a LOT of work for you and your brother. Wow! Could you move your corner post in about a foot to give it more symmetry with the front window? Just a thought…

    I think tongue and groove ceiling would look great. Are you going to add a fan for air circulation?

    1. My first thought too was simply move that right column closer to the window, but you’ve got to have a post in the corner, especially since she wants to add a balustrade.

      It’s too bad there’s not room to add a fourth column to balance out the window, and end up with the two rightmost columns with the same spacing as the two leftmost columns. Oh well. It looks fine and is way better than those porches with columns in front of windows.

      Kudos to Kristi and I sure wish I had a helpful brother in town to help me with those heavy lifting projects!

    2. No, I won’t be putting a fan here. My porch really isn’t big enough for stuff like that. When we do our back porch/patio/deck, I do plan to have part covered and I’ll make that area much more comfortable with a fan and comfy seating, etc.

  5. I love how this is coming together!! Your vision is really coming to life! That 3rd post really makes all the difference to me! I think the space on the side of the windows would be a perfect place for a tall potted topiary or a rocker/seat but not block the view of the beautiful windows!

  6. Wow, I can’t believe fixing the sagging roof line would have been so easy. I too thought it would have been a major fix. Kudos to you for thinking of putting the wedge under the post first. Well done Kristi and what an amazing brother you have to come and help you with replacing the new posts and putting in the spacers for the ceiling. It’s great to see your exterior coming to life and adding the balustrade is going to make such a difference to the curb appeal. So exciting to see this come together!!!!!

  7. Hi Kristi-

    Gosh such a neat job you and your brother did on that roof! It’s amazing what a few inches can do to freshen up a space. Wish it would be that easy on my face!!!

    My humble suggestion for the window would be to add another post and center it to the window. You added one so why not two? You could wrap them and even out the window and porch.

    1. I like Melinda’s suggestion. If you want symmetry, it seems like MORE support is better than not enough support. However, it really seems fine the way it is and with a decorative railing I think it will be perfect.

  8. I live in Waco. Have you tried P&P Surplus Building Materials (they have a page on Facebook) They have had outdoor bead board sheet like what you have described.

  9. Glad the sagging roof was an easy(ish) fix!

    I think the extra post does it for me. I really don’t notice the window being off center – maybe because it’s so large. Or maybe I would notice it more in person, I dunno, but I was surprised how much that one extra post seemed to bring the door into focus. It definitely frames the entrance.

  10. kristi, I just wanted to say how’s much I love your front door and how the porch when it’s done will be so inviting. WHat are your plans for the cement on the porch and steps? I can see myself sitting on your porch in some black stained rockers and a cup of iced tea and scones.
    I look forward to your posts with such excitement

    1. I’m going to float a traditional stained wood porch over the existing concrete porch. And then I’ll be adding new wood steps. The way my steps are now (four short steps), I’m actually required by code to have a handrail. But I have no need for such short steps, and I really don’t want a handrail, so if I can rebuilt with three steps, I won’t be required to do a handrail. And I’ve always loved wood steps that go with a wood front porch.

      1. I really want to give my front porch a makeover also so I am really excited to see how your wood front porch comes together. Everything is looking awesome! Love how handy you are.

      2. I put in a handrail for three steps so that it would be easier and safer for my mother to use when she visited. That was 23 years ago and, thankfully, at 89 she is still using them…and so am I more and more often! I made it to match the porch rails and I really like how it looks.

  11. Kristi

    You’re on the right track! T&G boards, perpendicular to front (painted light blue) are classic in the south. And adding that third post really helped!! I think that once you add your balastrade, your eye won’t be jarred by the windows. I wouldn’t add another post – too busy. If anything, I would wrap posts in composite to help with maintence and give them more heft. You are so clever with trimwork, I bet you can really make them an anchor for the porch.

  12. Good job on the posts! If that beam would have been bad, I don’t think just the two of you could have attacked that, those suckers are heavy! I’m wondering if you don’t need another post though, between the two that were already there. That looks ( in the photos ) like it’s a big distance. I have heard they should not exceed more than 8 ft. but I don’t know what that distance is on your porch. Seems to me that the area in front of the windows now seems to droop a bit. Am I wrong?

    1. I don’t think it is. I opened the photo in my photo editing program, then got all of the horizontal lines (i.e., the ones that I know are straight, like the windows) perfectly level and the vertical lines (again, the ones that I know are right, like the windows and door) perfectly plumb, and then put a horizontal guide line on the bottom edge of the beam, and it looks to be perfectly straight and in line with the tops of the door and windows. I think it’s the messed up fascia boards, the bent drip edge flashing, and the few shingles that aren’t lying perfectly flat that are making the beam appear to not be straight. Once those things are fixed (hopefully next week), I think that visual effect will disappear.

  13. I’m glad the porch is nearly finished. Can you hurry up and do your pantry already??!! I waiting to do mine and need you to yoursmto see what to Do!!!

    1. I’ll definitely be doing the pantry before I start tackling the studio. I’d like to get a few more random projects finished (not necessarily the front porch) before I start the pantry, though. For some reason, I think I’m really nervous and apprehensive about that pantry. I don’t know why, but I feel like my old self where the pantry is concerned. My old self would get stuck in the planning stages — planning, tweaking, rearranging, scrapping that plan, designing a new plan, upgrading the plan, tweaking the plan, and on, and on, and on — and never actually get to the work because the planning stage was the “safe” stage. I need to just jump right in with both feet.

  14. Great work!

    The windows actually look rather symmetrical to me because it looks like each section of siding is the same width (between the windows and the corner, between the door and windows, and between the door and corner on the left). Maybe you can re-train your brain to see it that way instead of comparing to the posts and it might stop bugging you?

  15. I have been following you for some time now and look forward to every change and every project you take on. I even get impatient waiting for the finished projects. But I have to say you are AMAZING! I wish for you and your husband the beautiful home you deserve. Looking forward to what comes next…..

  16. I just love it when you do construction work! There are not too many women or even men who can do what you do. So how are the posts fastened? Do you just wedge them in and leave them or did you have to do those pocket holes and screw stuff in? Also I think you have a gap in the drip edge. ??
    i can’t wait to see what you get done on the porch over the weekend.
    Can I come over and rake up the leaves and pressure wash the sidewalk? I’m just itching to rake those leaves.

    1. Right now they’re not fastened. It’s just the weight of the roof holding them in place, but I can assure you, they’re not going anywhere. That little roof is heavy! But I will fasten them into place just as soon as I’m absolutely positive that they’re right where I want them. I’ll use some metal brackets and screw them to the post and to the concrete on bottom and the beam on top. The drip edge will be replaced when the rotted fascia boards are replaced with Hardi boards, which will hopefully be next week.

  17. Kudos to your brother for coming to help you out when you really need it. And to Matt for complimenting your work. Glad you have such great support. And of course, we love everything you do.

  18. Well done. Your determination continues to amaze me. The coral door is brilliant. BTW, do you rent out your brother?

    1. Haha! We have a running joke in our family. His name is Rod, and we call him Triple Rod (a take on AAA), always ready to come and help when any of us is in a bind or needs help with something. 😀

  19. This may be wacky, but what about adding another post on the right side just about the same distance as the new post on the left to the side of the house? If it doesn’t “center” the window, it might be close. Then you would have 2 shorter lengths of balustrade on either end, i.e., symmetry for those and on the window. Just a thought. Everything is looking so good!

  20. I found your blog a while ago when I saw your fretwork type French doors on Pinterest maybe? I check in every once in a while and binge read your posts. I love what you are doing with your house. Your energy is astounding! And you have a great eye for design. I had to move for work and left my 1874 vernacular farmhouse after I had almost finished updating it. I have been living in a beautiful apartment in a Victorian house but you have inspired me to take the plunge again! Thanks, your blog is great!

  21. The posts — the symmetry appears off. What if… you put a fourth post on the right, the same distance away from the corner post, as the one on the left is, from the house? It should still be outside the window frame…

    Also – you ROCK! I am constantly amazed at all that you do!

  22. Kristi – This stayed in the back of my mind for a couple of days after reading it. The railings feel off to me on a porch that narrow. I know it’s ornamental but I kept thinking it’s more about the columns and that larger posts could do as much if not more to complete the look. I wonder if some bulky columns and some brackets like you have on the studio portico wouldn’t help the look more than railings would. And if you played with them a bit, you might even be able to deal with window not being as centered as much as you’d like. See this link for a quick mock up I did:

    I got this general idea from several different images I looked at so I can’t point you to one design, but I saw multiple where they used angled brackets and some put both brackets on one post. Others did it as I did with separate posts with a bracket going one way on one and one way on another. Particularly on the corner. If you played with the spacing, you could frame the front door and the front window, maybe?

    I also felt like the brackets helped “lift” the porch roof up just a bit. I know this is probably not exactly as you’d do it but I hoped maybe it would spur your creativity!

    Whatever you end up doing, I look forward to seeing the result.

  23. The porch looks much better. I feel like if the front porch is off it’s like the brim of a baseball hat that is too low and covers a bit of the person’s eyes. It’s now like “yay! I can see your eyes!”