Arthur strives to balance aesthetics, functionality, and quality with costs when planning DIY projects in the home and garden.
In the Beginning
Many years ago, when we bought our house the existing porch, which had cute Georgian style windows and an ornate door, was just an uninsulated cold empty shell. It was only a single stone wall construction with a concrete floor, and all the wooden window frames and the door were rotten, so at that time it was in obvious need of a complete renovation.
On a shoestring budget:
- I ripped out all the old windows and made my own window frames to fit, making the new frames from pressure treated 2 x 2-inch timber.
- I measured window openings and, after deducting an eighth of an inch all-round to fit the glass, I ordered the required plate glass from a local glazier.
- Once delivered, I secured the glass in place with beading and silicone.
- After carefully measuring the door opening we nipped down to the local restoration yard and picked up a really nice recycled exterior door for just £10 plus £5 delivery; £15 ($20) in total.
- A local hardware store gave me a small piece of hardwood for free (when I asked him nicely) which I used to make an external door sub-sill.
- I then tiled the floor
- Added some shelving under the windows for plants, tiling it with the same tiles I used for the floor
- Replaced the doorbell with two bell pushes (one on the outer porch door and one on the inner door) and installed a new chime (wired to the mains) that plays 25 different tunes, and
- Painted and decorated the porch.
Time for Another Porch Renovation
Many years later, since my initial renovation, the porch has slowly got tatty over time, with some of the beading around the window frames starting to rot, and so had the bottoms of the doorframe.
Therefore I considered it was time for another major makeover and renovation. This time the main tasks being:
- Adding roof insulation
- Restoration of rotten wood
- Building cupboards under the window shelves, and making an umbrella and walking stick rack; both of which are covered in detail in separate articles, and finally
- Painting and decorating
DIY vs Professional Builder
Gaining Access to the Roof Space
The two options for accessing the roof space were either to take slate tiles off the roof or cut through the ceiling from below.
Although either option would have been fine, I chose the latter because I just didn’t fancy taking the roof off; repairing a couple of large holes in the ceiling is relatively easy for me.
Having decided on the course of action, but not knowing where the ceiling rafters were, I started by cutting a small exploratory hole in the ceiling with a 3-inch hole saw. I then enlarged the hole with a conventional fine tooth saw in all directions up to the rafters; making the hole large enough so that I could get my shoulders and arms through. I repeated the process at the other end of the porch so that I ended up with two access points from where I could work to get the insulation into the roof space and lay it out properly.
Adding the Insulation
Once I had access, I stood on a small step ladder so that I had sufficient height to be able to lay 6 inches of loft insulation above the ceiling right across the whole porch; using both access points to reach all parts of the roof space.
In the process of laying the insulation, I was careful not to block the space above the eaves, so as to allow for ventilation; ventilation being critical as it prevents the build-up of damp.
Having insulated the space, I then cut a couple of pieces of plasterboard to fit the holes, nailing the edges to the ceiling rafters and then plastered over the top.
Plastering doesn’t come naturally to me, but over the years I’ve had enough practice on other DIY projects around the home to be able to do a reasonably good job; and once it’s all decorated it looks as good as new.
Porch Wood Restoration
Doors and Windows
The two areas of restoration were the:
- Internal beading for the windows
- The bottom of the exterior door frame
The wood I used to restore the beading and door frame were pieces of mahogany and teak (hardwood) which I salvaged and stored in the back of my workshop; the teak came from our old living room French doors when we replaced them with a modern uPVC double glazed door.
Most of the beading was ok; it was only in some areas where the softwood beading had rotted. This being due to the porch having just single pane glass and being unheated, which then causes a build-up of moisture during the winter months from condensation on the glass.
Replacing the rotten beading was a quick, easy and inexpensive job; all I had to do was:
- Ease the old beading up with a couple of chisels, and gently cut it off at a convenient point where the wood was good.
- Cut enough strips of hardwood to the same dimension, which for this I used some salvaged mahogany that I had in the back of the workshop.
- Cut all the pieces to the correct lengths.
- Fix them in place with a small staple gun; panel pins and a hammer would be just as good.
- Run some silicone along the edges of the new beading, where it butts against the glass.
Door Frame Restoration
The door frames were the original softwood frames, which I didn’t replace when I first renovated the porch; so I’m surprised they’ve lasted as long as they have.
To replace the rotten wood in the door frame:
- I firstly cut the old wood out, above where it was rotten, using my SoniCrafter with the saw attachment.
- I then used the rotten pieces as a template to cut a new piece to fit, from a spare piece of salvaged teak wood; having first taken careful measurements of the gap to be filled.
- Glued and screwed the new pieces in place.
Demo of SoniCrafter I Used to Remove the Rotten Wood
Painting and Decorating
I frequently use teak oil around the house and in the garden as it puts natural oils back into the dry wood, enriching it, and if used outside provides protection from the elements.
However, I don’t buy the expensive small tins or bottles, but buy a cheap 5L (1 gallon) container from Amazon for a fraction of the price. The large container is a lot more liquidly than the expensive stuff, but this makes it easier to rub in to the wood (like a polish), it goes a lot further, and it gives good long lasting results.
The Final Touches
Having done the roof space insulation, the wood restoration, and adding the built-in cupboards and rack (covered in separate articles), it was just the finishing touches. All that remained was the painting and decorating before putting everything back, including the plants.
Following the golden rule (as a general guide) of working from top down, I decorated the newly renovated porch in the following order:
- Painted the ceiling with two coats of white emulsion, and at the same time painted the walls white with the emulsion.
- Once the emulsion was dry, I then did all the white gloss, which included the coving, door frames and skirting boards.
- Once the gloss was dry, I stained all the wood, which was mainly the door, cupboard door and window frames.
- I then quickly rubbed in teak oil on the two sliding doors to the shoe racks and the wood panelling on either side of the inner door.
This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.
© 2017 Arthur Russ