DIY Build a Porch

rocking chairs on porch image by Kathy Burns from

Constructing a porch requires basic knowledge of how to build wood framing and design a concrete support base. You want to design a porch for your home that enhances the home's architecture, adds to the value of the house and something your family will use and enjoy. To get good ideas for the type of porch to add to your home, drive through upscale neighbourhoods to see what other homeowners are building. Take a look at the porches in your own neighbourhood as well.

Architectural Design

Design a porch in detail after you measure available space to use. This square footage will determine a lot about cost and design. If the porch expands across the entire front of your home, you will need to hire an architect or home designer to draw building plans. The roof line and angles of the porch will affect the overall look of your home. If the porch is well constructed and looks appropriate, this will add market value to your house. A poorly designed porch on the front or side of your home can detract from the value.

Enlist a Carpenter

Engage the help of a carpenter. Choose someone who has built porches on upscale homes. Check out his references. While you can assist with many tasks with a hands-on approach, you will need input from a carpenter on many details. For example, a good carpenter can help you review types of wood to use. He should be able to help you build posts that look proportionate with your house or select pre-made posts or columns.

Foundation Comes First

Build the foundation of the porch first. If your porch flooring will be made of wood, you will need to build footings to hold masonry support posts. If you plan to pour a concrete slab foundation for the flooring, you will need to build framework for the total pour. As a do-it-yourself, it's relatively easy to help dig out the ground and mix bags of concrete bags for footings. But, to actually build the framing box that will hold metal gridwork and wet concrete for a slab floor, call on a block mason to help. If you brick around the slab, for example, the mason will need to instruct you on how to secure the bricks to the slab.

Woodworking Takes Expertise

Rent scaffolding and bring all wood materials onsite to construct the porch covering. You will need to cut all pieces for roof trusses, rafters that will attach to the house beams, and cut all plywood pieces to enclose overhands and underneath the porch. A fancier porch can have mouldings and trim that are complex to install. While you can use a band saw, round-blade saw or handsaw to help cut the wooden pieces and sections of the porch, always have a carpenter help. Wood is expensive, so you don't want to make mistakes and have to toss out lumber or trim.

Construction and Finishing

Construct the porch decking, posts and roof area. A carpenter will need to show you how to attach the porch framing to the home's framework in the attic area. Tear away your home's exterior or roofing in good weather to prevent rain damage. Bring in extra workers to help place temporary metal support posts in place to hold up the roof of the porch while you add permanent columns or posts. A porch is extremely heavy, so never try to construct a large porch without plenty of help. Paint or stain the porch right away. Wood will darken with rain and moisture if left exposed. This can affect the look adversely if you plan to stain it.

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