Entry Upgrade

By: Danny Lipford
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Jonathan and Page Ellis with Danny Lipford
removing porch railings

Danny and Allen remove the porch railings.

Seven years ago Jonathan and Page Ellis built a home for their family on land that has been in Jonathan’s family for generations. Page designed the house, which reflects her affinity for Victorian architectural details. But, one entry on the side of the house still seemed unfinished and had suffered from exposure to the weather.

So, the Today’s Homeowner team worked with the homeowners to enhance the entry, including reconstructing the porch and adding a roof that tied in to the rest of the house. We built a small arbor to support a bench swing and connected that structure to the upgraded entry with concrete stepping stones.

And, Jonathan and Page cleaned and made some repairs to their weather-worn deck, followed by a fresh coat of gray stain. The deck now acts as an asset to the house rather than a liability. See the Three Key Steps for Wood Deck Maintenance and Repair.

Adding a Porch Roof

porch roof

The reconfigured porch and new roof look like they were part of the original home.

By raising, reconstructing and adding a roof to the porch we did more than protect the entry from the elements. The scale, proportion and architectural details of the structure make it look like an original part of the house, adding value and style to the Ellises’ home.

The first step was removing the old porch, so it could be reconfigured to support a roof. That meant placing new posts inside the joists of the porch and securing them with fast-setting concrete, allowing us to re-hang the steps almost immediately. Then we reattached the porch surface, this time a little higher.

We cut into the siding to attach the support beams for the porch directly to the framing of the house. Then we laid out the rafters, positioned the ridge for the new roof, and installed the rafters and roof decking.

To weatherproof the new roof, we nailed down underlayment on the decking before installing the shingles; and we tucked metal flashing behind the cut-out siding to keep the seam dry where the roof meets the house.

Once the columns were plumbed and secured, we installed the bead board ceiling and re-built the handrails that surround the porch and stairs. The final touch was installing captain’s rail under the porch beams.

Building an Arbor Swing

arbor swing

The arbor swing provides a focal point and destination for the pathway.

The arbor we built adds visual charm to the view from inside, and the swing ensures that the space will get used often by the whole family.

To match the design of the arbor to the house, we added a decorative scroll-cut detail to the beams. Between the posts we created a lattice that will later support climbing vines.

Watch How to Build a Backyard Arbor Swing for instructions on a similar project.

And here are some ideas to Enhance Your Pergola or Arbor With Climbing Flowers.

Creating a Stepping Stone Walkway

Filling the WalkMaker forms with concrete.

Filling the WalkMaker forms with concrete.

To connect the upgraded entry way to the new arbor swing, we created a stepping stone path using Quikrete WalkMaker. These are concrete forms that mimic the look of stones or pavers. After spreading and leveling the dirt, we laid out the forms to determine the spacing.

We added a charcoal color to the water before mixing it with the cement. Then, it was simply a matter of shoveling the mix into the forms and spreading it evenly with a screed board. We tapped the sides gently with a hammer to release any air bubbles before removing the forms.

Watch Creating a Stepping Stone Path Using Concrete Forms for details.

Other Tips from This Episode

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Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
How to Make a Hanging Colander Planter

To create a unique hanging planter for the porch, all you need is a metal colander, some chain and S-hooks. Watch video.

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Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Fiskars Power-Gear Titanium Loppers

The technology for loppers and pruners hasn’t changed much over the years, but Fiskars’ Power-Gear technology multiplies your leverage to give you up to four times more power on every cut. It is available at The Home Depot. Watch video.

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Entry Upgrade