Porch Progress — Critter-Proofing + Installing The Porch Boards (Finally!!)

I debated whether or not I should share my progress with y’all today or just wait until Monday, because quite honestly, I didn’t get very far on the pretty stuff (i.e., installing the porch boards). But I did make some progress, and I was just way too anxious to wait until Monday to share. If you’ve missed the previous posts for this project, you can click the links below to get caught up.

Before we get to the pretty stuff, I have to share one more bit of prep work that I decided to do at the urging of a few of you.

I thought my prep work on the front porch was just about finished two days ago when I did the spray foam insulation to fill the gap between the porch and the house…

I thought I just needed to trim it, paint it, and then I’d be ready to install the porch boards.

But then some of you made a very persuasive argument that I needed to somehow critter-proof the area between the concrete and the wood porch boards. Mice, rats, and probably even squirrels, could easily climb up in the space I left for water runoff between the edge of the concrete and the skirting board…

…and they could make their cozy little nests right in that space between the concrete and the wood.

I tried to ignore y’all. Seriously. 😀 I tried to convince myself to let Future Kristi deal with that problem if it arose so that I could get on with the fun stuff. But in the end, I knew y’all were right. So off to Home Depot I went to purchase some 1/4″ hardware cloth, which is a wire mesh with 1/4″ squares that would still allow for water drainage while keeping out the critters.

You absolutely have to wear gloves to work with this stuff because those cut edges will tear you up. It’s awful to work with. I cut strips of the hardware cloth about 6 inches wide using my metal shears. Then using my narrow crown stapler, I stapled the hardware cloth to the top edge of the skirting board. Then I cut it right in the middle of the riser board (i.e., the joist) and pushed it down so that it was against the concrete, and stapled the ends into the sides of the risers to keep it in place.

That process was very long and tedious, but I’m glad I did it. Now I can rest assured that there will be no critters nesting under my porch. And with that awful and tedious project done, I was finally able to get to the fun stuff — installing the porch boards! I didn’t get very far since I started on the outside edge where I had to make sure everything was very straight and square, and then I had to cut some of the boards with my jigsaw so that they would fit around the columns.

Another decision that slowed me down was that I decided to seal all sides of my boards rather than just doing the tops. If you’re planning on doing this project, I highly suggest that you take about an hour and read up on the pros and cons of sealing all sides of your boards (you can read all about it on various contractor sites) and decide if this method is right for you. Several factors will determine if you can and should do this, including the type of wood (pressure treated will be too wet unless you’ve let it dry for several months before installing, but cedar and other woods may be dry enough depending on your climate), where the boards are being installed (mine is just inches from concrete where moisture may take longer to drain/evaporate, so I wanted to protect the underside of the boards from that moisture), and several other factors.

After reading about and debating the pros and cons, I decided to go ahead and do it, which meant that I had to seal the edges, ends, and bottom of each board after cutting it and before installing it. I did this by brushing a coat of Thompson’s Penetrating Timber Oil onto the bottom, sides, and ends before installing each board. That’s a very slow and messy process.

So I was only able to get two rows done before it got too dark to do any more work. (I took the pictures below this morning since it was too dark for pictures last night when I stopped. And yes, I left some of my tools and supplies out there overnight. 🙂 I did put away the big tools, though.)

The second row was kind of a pain since I had to cut around the columns, which I did using my jigsaw.

I’ll have to do the same thing on the third row, but the rows after that should go much faster since they’ll just be straight rows with nothing to work around. I do dread the row that goes right up against the house, though. I have a feeling that those will need to be ripped on my table saw, which might be a challenge working by myself with such long boards. I might have to call in reinforcements. Plus, I’ll have to figure out what to do around the door. That’s going to be basically a zero threshold door on the exterior side.

So that’s it for now. I really need to get all of the porch boards installed and sealed today because there’s a chance of rain beginning tonight and through tomorrow. I have my boards stacked outside, and they’re thoroughly dry right now. Rain at this point would set me back a several days since I’d have to wait for the boards to dry out again before I could seal them. So it’s a race against the storm clouds today. If I make as much progress as I hope to, I’ll share a sneak peek or two on my Instagram. And if all goes well, I should have a finished porch floor to share with y’all on Monday!


The new wood porch floor is finished! Click the links below to see the rest of the posts in this project.


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  1. You’ll be glad you critter proofed the edge. Nothing worse than a dead mouse or squirrel underneath your home. Ugh. I think it’s going to look great and I hope you have a good day to work.

    1. I dunno. In my mind a live snake slithering around my porch and up through any gaps between boards would be infinitely worse!

  2. Kristi,
    You are amazing – this is why we love you!! You share your knowledge and experiences – good and bad, you read comments /feedback and when a helpful suggestion is made you acknowledge it.!! That is so wonderful and makes us feel great!
    Thanks for what you do!

  3. critter damage is key …and you nailed it (pun intended) love seeing how this is going to come out.

  4. You will pat yourself on the back in the future for doing that. You cannot imagine how much damage critters can do when they invade small dark spaces. I just spent $11,000 to remove bats from my carport attic. They took up residence in the last 18 months entering through the air spaces in the metal roof. Hundreds of them after the adjoining property clear cut 300 acres to build 660 home development! Had to put the hardware cloth cutouts in every crevice in the roofs of the house and surrounding buildings so they don’t go there, too. Odor was unbearable.

  5. I just have a quick question. Did you put a metal plinth under your posts? If you didn’t then you may have to go back at a later date and replace them because they will soak up any moisture from the concrete or any water that happens to get that far up on the porch. Even if they are pressure treated they will rot.

    1. I didn’t because I used pressure treated 4 x 4’s rated for ground contact, and since this porch is 24 inches above the ground and don’t have contact with moisture very often (I’m in central Texas), I’m not concerned about them rotting. The last (non-pressure treated) columns lasted 70 years. I think these will be fine.

  6. My father ended up with a family of tree frogs under his deck and I had to gut a bedroom to the studs to find the source of a horrendous smell that turned out to be a dead mouse in the rafters (metal roof too.) better to be safe than sorry. I, glad your readers suggested the critter proofing. I am planning to enclose a porch and I wouldn’t have thought of that, even after two previous problems. I hadn’t thought about how I could have prevented those problems. I love this forum of like minded people sharing ideas with each other. Thanks for producing this for us.

    1. A dead mouse will stop smelling in a few days. I know it’s horrendous when it’s in your house, but ventilation and a few days time will take care of it. No need to gut to the studs.

  7. I never even thought about the critter problem when reading your last post and I should have. We built a raised deck off the back of our house several years ago and now have a rat problem because they are living under it. Thankfully, they haven’t made it into the house or anywhere else but we are now looking at tearing it out and replacing it with something else. We just don’t know what yet. We can’t lay concrete or anything too permanent because some of the main drain lines run under it and we want to be able to take it up without too much trouble if we had to. So glad others warned you of this and you heeded their warning! It was so worth that extra work!

    1. Place chicken wire under the sod extending about 2.5-3.0 feet from perimeter of the deck and on the ground under the deck. Use landscape pins/staples to hold it in place. Make sure it overlaps so no gaps between pieces. replace dirt and sod. This will keep out burrowing animals.

      Alternatively, especially since you have an existing deck, put in a rat wall: https://www.creaturecontrol.net/what-is-a-rat-wall/

      1. Thank you, Adele. We could do a rat wall if we wanted but I think there are spaces on top of the deck they could get into, if they really wanted, as well. It would almost entail taking it apart to fix the entire thing, at this point. It is a large deck – approx. 14′ X 21′ – so it would be quite a large job. I wish we had known when we installed it that we might have this kind of problem and we could have done these things correctly at the time. It just never occurred to us since we never had rats or anything before. On top of that, the wood has not fared well, even though we treated it before installing it, so we think we want to go with something else longer lasting at this point.

        I do appreciate you taking the time to send such helpful advice and hopefully it can help someone else! Thank you!

        1. I, unfortunately, am the host queen of urban wildlife. I have had a large family of raccoons that bent open the louvers of the aluminum air vent in the gable to set up housekeeping in the space between the upstairs cross-ties and underside of the roof; fox squirrels that traveled down the chimney flue to the basement,; red squirrels that chewed away cedar shake siding to then run in the walls; a skunk that regularly crosses my yard about 9 pm each night; and a groundhog that has burrowed under the basement floor–the sound of his snoring then reverberates through the walls leading house guests to conclude my house is haunted. And all this ignores the mice, chipmunks, rabbits, opossum, toads, tree frogs, carpenter bees, and yellow jackets. Thank god no snakes or I would just have to move.

  8. You know…I almost mentioned yesterday that I used spray foam in some cracks on my front steps and the chipmunks actually ate it to get into the cracks again.

    I didn’t even think of critters living under there, but that has happened to me, too. I have a deck built over an old patio near my garden and the bunnies like to live under it in the spring and then treat my garden as their own personal buffet. I had to resort to chicken wire and boards to block them out. Glad you thought to put the hardware cloth in. It’ll also keep leaves and debris out of there.

    1. I did spray foam along the fireplace because someone in the dark ages removed the trim to put up asbestos siding. We bought the house with that siding removed and I was worried about heat loss that’s why the foam. This winter squirrels moved in between the house and the fireplace. I would remove them but it almost 30′ up and snow and ice on the ground. Anyway I get the pleasure of hearing them move around all day because that is my bedroom wall.😃😃😃 Come spring it will be time to get some scaffolding, trim and now thanks to Kristi something metal!

  9. I dunno Kristi, I think I’d carry my porch boards into the shop if it was going to rain. I think I’d rather do that and be able to work with them after the rain rather than having to wait for them to dry out. Just a thought. And I’m glad you were proactive on the critter-proofing project. This way you won’t have to worry or wonder IF something was living within the porch!

  10. Wow, finally my eyes stopped falling for the optical illusion. I couldn’t understand why you mentioned cutting around the columns on the second run, when clearly they were further in … the black paint was fooling my eyes. I had to look very carefully at your Facebook picture.

  11. My husband would be so proud of you for critter proofing. He makes money by trapping and relocating squirrels, skunks, opossums, raccoons, huge rats, snakes, etc. which have burrowed beneath peoples foundations and porches, etc. I love what You’re doing, and can’t wait to see a finished outside.

  12. I, for one, am so pleased that you aren’t afraid to listen to suggestions. Some bloggers would maybe not admit that they took the advice of readers, or just think that they have all the answers. But not Kristi! Even though it may mean you have to work on something you’d rather not, you think it through, and decide for yourself – and then you actually TELL us! I think you will be happy you took the extra step now, even if it did mean another not fun job to do. I still remember the smell of dead mice from way back when I was a child, it died behind Moms gas range, and we tore the house apart trying to figure out where it was! UGH, awful! And also my mother in law calling us at 11:30 pm to help her get her dog out from under the deck, where it had trapped a possum – dang dog would NOT BUDGE!
    Can’t wait to see the porch all fancy-pants!

  13. When we had our house built we save some money by doing some work ourselves… like staining the cedar siding before it was installed. We were in our early 20’s and did not even think to research the pros and cons of sealing all sides of the wood. I wish we had as some of the wood cracked like crazy because it wasn’t sealed and had to be replaced. Even though it was just a handful of boards, we still think it would have been the better choice. Glad you thought to do that. I’m amazed at the details involved in this project. Kudos Kristi! You persevere through it all. I love how you didn’t leave the unfortunate possibilities for “Future Kristi.”

    Hope the rain held off and you were able to get a massive amount of work done today… and maybe even finished. My fingers are crossed. I’m sure you are very tired tonight regardless.

  14. I know exactly what you mean about yearning to get to the pretty stuff, but you’ll reap the rewards of critter proofing and sealing your boards. I’ve had a dead bird decompose in an outer wall, and snakes (plural) trying to follow concrete cracks into the house (unsuccessfully, thank G-d!) I’ve also had to use 0000 steel wool and rope caulk in the window gap of a rental to keep the wasps out. The time you take to button up your porch underpinnings is time well spent. Well done and brava!

  15. Gotta chime in here with my own critter story. At a previous house, we had tree frogs getting into the house all. the. time. One night I got up to go to the bathroom and happened to look down in the toilet, and there was a tree frog looking up at me from the side of the bowl! Years and several houses later and I still can’t sit down without looking in the toilet first. We finally figured out they were coming down the sewer vent on the roof and coming up through the toilet. Screen on the vent took care of it.

  16. A mouse can get through a hole the size of a pencil eraser, as my scientist-sister told me to my horror year go. Chicken wire or even smaller mesh isn’t going to do it.

    1. I don’t think that’s true, and I’ve been googling it, reading articles, and watching videos for the last hour trying to confirm that they can get through such small holes. So far, I haven’t found any evidence of it. What I have found is that mice can fit through gaps that are 1/4″ wide (which is the height of a #2 pencil) or they can fit through holes that are 3/8″ (the size of a dime) or bigger. But after watching videos of mice struggling to fit through holes (always needing food on the other side of the hole as a motivator for squeezing through), I’m quite confident that my 1/4″ metal hardware cloth will do the job.

  17. MY sister in law is a scientist who works with mice all the time, and she’s the the one who told me that. Good luck.