This small porch with simple steps provides easy access to the house and a convenient spot to set groceries while we unlock the door. The construction techniques are relatively simple. If you have basic carpentry skills, you can pull off this project and with the right choice of materials, you can keep the costs quite modest.
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Building the porch perimeter
After removing the old structure or rotted wood, youíll begin construction with a ledger board. If the ledger board from your old porch or stairs is solid, you may be able to reuse it, but if thereís any rot or sponginess, you must replace it. Because I wanted a single step to lead from the porch to the patio surface, I made the porch 7 in. lower by using lag screws and building straps to secure a secondary 2x8 pressure-treated ledger board to the old porch's original ledger. If you prefer, you could simply frame the porch so that it sits on the same level as the existing doorjamb, but you'll need to incorporate additional steps from the porch to the patio.
Attach the end joists to the ledger board using the joist brackets and joist nails. To support the end joists, I used the 4x4's that supported the roof of my old porch. However, you may need to install new 4x4 corner posts to support the opposite ends of the end joists. Attach the rim joist to the corner posts, and the basic perimeter of your new porch will be established.
Installing joists and supports
Mark the locations for the joists in this case every 16 in. OC on both the rim joist and the ledger board, and install joist hangers at those marks. Drop the 2x8 joists into the hangers and fasten them using joist nails.
To add stability to the porch structure, I fastened two additional 2x8 pressure-treated supports to each of the end joists. They are equally spaced and fitted tightly against the patio to prevent bowing.
To frame the steps, start by building a simple box from pressure-treated 2x8s. Cut the two boards that will form the ends of the stair box approximately 6 in. longer than the tread depth as you slide the stair box in place, you'll nail through those longer ends to secure the stair box to the rest of the porch framing.
Porch cladding and decking
I clad the 4x4 posts with clear 1x cedar to enhance their appearance. I also attached cedar cladding to the rim joist, end joists and exterior surfaces of the stair box.
Fasten cedar decking to the stair box and the porch structure, being careful to space the deck boards so that none will have to be ripped to fit against the wall. All thatís left is to install the side railings and coat the cedar with a clear preservative or the finish of your choice.
Although this project was built to suit the needs of my house, it can be easily modified to fit any structure. You can extend or shorten the porch, build more stair boxes, remove the roof or incorporate other structural elements from your home to create a similar addition to your backyard living space that is more than merely functional one that makes the back entrance of your home as attractive as the front. After all, curb appeal shouldn't be limited to what can be seen from the street.
Building the Railings
Because I was incorporating the roof from my old porch into this project, building the side railings was fairly easy. I started by attaching cedar 2x4 rail posts to the surface of the stucco using outdoor construction adhesive. (If you have siding, scribe the posts to the profile before nailing and gluing them in place. If your stucco or brick surface is in poor condition or too rough to make good contact with the adhesive, you may need to grind the surface or make other repairs before adhering the rail posts to the house.) To simplify construction, I purchased cedar rails and caps that incorporated milled grooves for the balusters. I fastened them to the rail posts and the 4x4 posts; then I screwed the balusters in position between the rail and the cap, following the spacing dictated by my local building code authority.