Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Porches Covered

Soft white clouds so nice to see
with blue surround and flowing free
as though they have a place to be
away from you, on way to me.


That's what Rochester, NY has to offer today. I'm standing on the wood floor of the breezy covered front porch of my 1927 vintage American Foursquare house, unwinding the winding flags, and happy the raining is waning.

A lot can happen on a covered porch. I grill, have picnic suppers, swing, hang out my flag collection, and even have my hair cut. And I can do it in the rain. It's like having a rigid tent. The floor is made of tongue & groove boards, just like an indoor wood floor, but painted and sloped, and the whole thing is protected by a roof and surrounded by a railing. Unlike most porches, this one has no stairs leading to grade, a feature that provides some security, a sense of privacy, and served well as a playpen for my toddlers. If you want stairs in your new porch, a gate to close off the stairs serves just as well for a toddler or dog enclosure.

Wood used in an outdoor setting makes a few demands.

1. If I'm not protected from vertical rain, like in a siding application, I need to be cedar or fir, or some decay resistant species. I don't need to be stained or painted, but I'd prefer it.

2. If I am protected from vertical rain, I can be a less expensive species like pine, but I definitely need to be stained or painted. (The board behind the gutter, the fascia, can be clad in aluminum.)

3. If I must lie flat, which frankly I hate, make me tongue & groove fir, tilted slightly, with three coats of porch paint, and put a roof over me. And don't let snow lie on me forever! I'm tough but come on....

4. If I must lie flat with no roof cover, make me pressure-treated Yellow Pine, but stain me anyway. And use stainless steel fasteners.

A traditional wood porch has a wood floor (see #3), wood railings, balusters and newel posts (see #2), wood posts (see #2), wood steps (see #3), and a tongue & groove beaded wood ceiling, which commonly comes in fir and should be painted or stained.

These products have individual demands, but together insist that an architect be hired to ensure that they are assembled properly so not only can they can live long lives, but so they form a pleasing whole. Can you blame them? To make sure they last the longest and look their best, quality wood products, of course, insist on design by LaFrance Architects.

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