How to Build & Design a Porch

Updated February 21, 2017

Almost any home looks good with some type of porch. Where you place the porch in relation to doors, windows and roof lines will be very important. You want a porch to look as if it's always been part of the house instead of an afterthought. A nice porch can expand living areas of your home and help you access beautiful outdoor areas. Think of a porch as a way to blend indoor and outdoor living.

Figure out how much square footage you can allow for the porch. Sketch a porch that is at least 10 feet long by 5 feet wide to hold basic furniture. Design a deeper porch to accommodate dining or entertaining, if you have room. Add just 2 or 3 extra feet from front to back, for example, to expand room for adding dining furniture and more chairs for sitting.

Allow one square of graph paper to represent 6 inches of real space. Draw your house facade, porch foundation, railings to construct and roof you will add. Put in overhangs, guttering, downspouts and splash blocks. Design the porch to look indigenous to the original house plan, if your home isn't new. Consult home design books to get ideas for roof lines that blend with what's in place on your house.

Buy pre-made railings and balusters to build your porch. Purchase 2 x 8 lumber boards for the rafters of the porch, foundational framework and steps leading off the porch to the yard. Buy 2 x 6 boards for the walking areas of the porch decking. Purchase boards that are salt-treated lumber. Download a porch plan from the Internet to construct the basic footings, foundation and framework in steps.

Dig concrete footings for porch support posts that will hold up the decking area. Pour concrete 18 inches square for each support post. Use a circular saw to cut foundational lumber for the decking area. Install with 4-inch stainless steel screws and nails. Secure pre-made railings around the perimeter of the decking. Install a set of wooden steps using 2 x 8 lumber boards secured with stainless steel screws. Avoid using nails on direct walking areas.

Build the porch roof with 2 x 8 lumber boards for all framework. Install ½-inch plywood sheathing covered with asphalt shingles to comprise the roof. Build in overhangs and add guttering, downspouts and splash blocks to tie in the design with the rest of the house. Paint all wooden surfaces with exterior-grade paint in several thin layers, allowing paint to dry thoroughly between coats.


Create a wrap around porch where possible. This extends the space enormously and provides two sides of the house to take advantage of views or oversee children playing in the yard. Design a porch to hold potted plants or climbing flowers, if this is appropriate for your neighbourhood. Space containers to hold evergreen shrubbery that will look good year-round, if you need a more formal look.


Install motion detector lights on your porch. You don't want individuals to be able to walk upon your porch undetected, if it's after dark.

Things You'll Need

  • Measuring tools
  • Sketch pad and pencil
  • Graph paper
  • Home design books
  • Concrete for footings
  • 2 x 8 lumber boards
  • 2 x 6 lumber boards
  • 4-inch stainless steel nails
  • 4-inch stainless steel screws
  • Pre-made railings
  • Online porch plan
  • ½-inch exterior plywood
  • Asphalt shingles
  • Paint
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About the Author

Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.