Porch columns are vital components, both structurally and aesthetically, for the facade of many homes. Some styles, such as the Greek Revival style made famous in the antebellum South, accentuate grand columns to the point where they can eclipse the house itself. Porch columns should be sturdy, well made, and in proportion to the rest of the architecture.
Square porch columns can be made to appear more elegant by tapering them so that the bases are slightly wider than the tops. This can be accomplished by cutting the four pieces that comprise the column at a slight angle before assembling them. The taper should be very slight. Get an idea of the effect of various tapers by making scale drawings of the front of your house and adding differently tapered columns.
Center Jack Post
Sometimes columns are being replaced because of a sagging roof or structural problems with the porch. In this situation, the addition of telescoping jack posts is sometimes called for. One way to solve this problem is to permanently install a steel telescoping jack post to support the roof, and build the square column around it. With the four sides of the column surrounding the jack post, the jack post will be doing all of the work, but will be completely invisible. Be sure to adjust the jack post to the height necessary for it to support the roof before building the post around it.
The bases of posts usually rot out before the tops, because the tops are more protected by the eaves and farther away from the wetness and insects on the ground. You can save a lot of money by replacing only the bases rather than the entire posts. In order to do this, you need to install temporary jacks around the post, so that all the weight of the porch roof is taken off of it. Then you can cut the bottom off of the post, construct an identical part made of new wood, and install it in the same place. A bit of wood filler and a coat of paint will obscure the seam between the new piece and the old post above it.
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