Technically, a porch is any structure that covers the entrance/exit to or from a building. A veranda is an enclosed porch that typically wraps around at least two sides of a building. The term "porch" is widely used to describe different styles of front porches, such as an enclosed front foyer, a mud room and a screened-in area off an indoor room in the house. Front porch styles include Italianate, Stick Style, Romanesque and Second Empire Style.
Two-Story Colonial Style
In the late 1800s in Pennsylvania and New York, Loyalists often had their houses built with double front porches, one above the other. These Colonial style porches offered twice the outdoor space attached to the front of the house. Colonial style front porches can still be seen in Africa, New Zealand and Australia. The facing of the upper and lower porches may or may not match exactly in design.
Loyalists often built front porches on their residences with a smaller second floor balcony as well. Shipbuilders would often spend their winters staying in Georgian homes and would pay for room and board by making detailed front porches, which explains why the detailing on Georgian porches is similar to detailing seen on wooden ships. Symmetry was a typical element involved in Georgian front porches.
Classical Greek Revival Style
During the middle of the 18th century, those who were relatively well off typically built their homes with classically Greek porches. The house might even look like a temple with grand columns in the front of the home. Doors and windows would also display Greek detailing. A staircase often would lead up to the front porch for an opulent look. Some houses had a matching second floor porch/balcony.
During 1840 to 1860, architects such as Andrew Jackson Downing introduced front porches with a Gothic styling. Influenced by British architecture, front "sitting" porches became an integral part of building a house. Gothic style front porches were typically decorated with ornate lattice, brackets, porch posts, aprons, rails and other such Gothic framery.