After working on my porch floor for several very long days without a break (if you missed it, you can click here to see my porch floor project where I built a wood porch over an existing concrete porch), Matt insisted that I take a day off to recuperate. I definitely needed it, but at the same time, I was chomping at the bit all day Tuesday to go out and wrap the front porch posts. So yesterday, there was no stopping me. I’ve been so anxious to do this project for a very long time, and my one singular goal yesterday was to get as far as I could with turning those skimpy, plain 4″ x 4″ front porch posts into pretty, decorative columns with a traditional style.
So after working until it was too dark to work anymore last night, this is what I had accomplished.
I ended up going with the simple design rather than the tiered design that I really wanted. And since I only have three columns on the whole porch, and I decided to forgo the balustrade and the tiered column design, I made these columns a bit thicker and chunkier than I had originally planned. I really like the more substantial look.
I’m still undecided about how I want to trim out the tops of the columns. I have a couple of ideas rolling around in my head, so hopefully I can make a final decision and get it done today.
So let me show you how I went from skimpy 4 x 4 posts to (mostly) trimmed out 6.75″ columns. (Note: If you plan to tackle this project, please be sure to read Part 2 of this project. The link to that post is at the end of this post. I show some very important design changes that I made and the reason those changes were necessary.)
The first step was to add spacers around the posts. I started by cutting six 5-inch-long pieces of 1″ x 4″ lumber for each post, and attaching one piece to either side of the post using exterior construction adhesive and 16-gauge 2-inch nails.
And then I cut six more pieces to go on the front and back of the post. These had to be ripped down to the correct width using my table saw.
I repeated that on the middle of the post and the top of the post (which is why I needed six pieces of each size).
On the other two posts — the ones that flank the front door — I actually put both of the side spacers on the left side. The reason I did this is because when I stood back and looked at the posts flanking the front door, the door looked just a touch off center between the posts. So to try to correct that, I used the spacers to try to move those two columns over to the left just a bit. So here are the two side spacers attached to the left side of the post…
And then I did the front and back spacers the regular way…
And just like the end post, I did the spacers at the bottom, middle and top of each post. Here are the two posts flanking the front door with the spacers attached to three sides of the posts…
Next, I used my table saw to rip some pre-primed lumber to the correct widths to make a box around the posts and spacers. For each box, I used two pieces that were ripped to 6.75 inches wide, and two pieces that were ripped to 5.25 inches wide. I put three of the pieces together (the two narrow ones and one wide one) using wood glue and 1.5-inch 16-gauge nails.
After letting the glue dry for a few minutes. I placed the 3-sided box around the post and spacers.
And then I attached the fourth piece (the second wide piece) in the same way.
That gave me the basic column, but of course, I wanted to dress it up a bit. I started by cutting pieces of 1″ x 8″ pre-primed lumber to fit around the base. I didn’t miter the corners because my miter saw does a terrible job at mitering any lumber wider than a 1 x 5. But with wood filler, sanding, and caulk, this will look just as good.
And then I used two of my favorite decorative moldings — panel molding and base cap molding — to finish trimming out the base.
Since the panel molding is raw wood and it’s sitting at the base, I pre-primed the bottom and
And that’s it so far. Like I mentioned above, I didn’t trim out the top because I’m still undecided on exactly how I want to finish the tops. But I can assure you that I won’t be leaving them plain like that. 🙂
When I stopped for the evening, I had the two columns by the front door both completely wrapped and the base trim attached. The third column was still at this stage…
And here are a couple of pictures that I took early this morning showing the two columns at the front door…
And that’s the progress so far!
The columns are finished! Click the links below to see the rest of the posts for this project.
- Part 2 – My big porch column mistake, how I fixed it, and what I’d do differently if I were starting from scratch
- Part 3 – The finished porch columns