Many older homes have a porch – front porch, wrap-around porch or back porch, just to name the top three types of porches. If you live in an older home or a heritage home with a porch that looks a little worse for wear, you might wonder if you need to replace it or repair it instead.
Type of Damage
If you’re not sure whether you should spend money on repairs or invest in a total rebuild, start with an inspection of the porch to assess what type of damage has been done and to what extent.
A loose handrail, a few raised nail heads, or one peeling porch column are easy DIY repairs.
When it’s still sound but just looks a little tired, sanding the boards and staining or repainting them can give the porch some fresh curb appeal.
Posts that show visible signs of water damage (wood rot, large cracks) probably should be replaced. However when the paint on porch columns is mostly intact, it can be repaired by sanding, filling in small holes, and painting.
Porch replacement or porch rebuild would, again, depend on how widespread the water damage is. Signs of water damage include:
- Wood rot affecting several boards (repair) or found in multiple areas (replace)
- Stains on the soffit of the porch roof – if contained (repair) or widespread (replace)
- Porch roof noticeably sags – ask a pro if just the roof can be replaced
However, if the damage involves structural issues, porch failure is a distinct possibility and replacement is probably the safest choice. Signs of potentially serious structural damage are:
- Numerous, deeply cracked boards that leave obvious holes in the flooring
- The foundation of the exterior wall to which the porch is attached is sunken or has shifted
- Posts or columns supporting the porch roof are severely cracked or have rotted beyond repair
Consulting with a professional will help you decide exactly what the porch rebuild requires in order to maintain the structural integrity of your home.
Age is a useful factor when determining to repair or replace a porch. When the porch is five years old or less, fixing minor problems will be more cost-effective.
If it is 20 years old or more, chances are it is in need of an update, regardless of the actual extent of the damage. It is highly likely that the porch no longer meets current standards due to changes in local building codes, new construction practices, and the latest technologies.
When age and structural issues aren’t specific concerns but you’re still undecided what the best course of action is to take – replace or repair – do the math. If you have to constantly make the same types of repairs, it might be cheaper in the long run to rebuild the porch or replace a section of it. It might also be more expensive to repair a porch when replacement materials are hard to match or are expensive.