How to Use Trees for Columns on Front Porches

Billy McCarley

Tree columns are popular among owners of rustic dwellings such as cabins or with Old West appeal. Although tree columns are stronger or as strong as any other porch column material, they will need to be prepared beforehand to withstand the forces of nature, as well as the direct pressure of the overhead roof that will be resting on the trees. The average do-it-yourself homeowner can install tree columns in one to two days, depending on the size and scope of the project.

Tree log
  1. Treat the dried trees, one for each side of the porch, with bug-preventive treatment. Use a pump-up garden sprayer to apply the bug treatment liberally to the dried trees. The bug treatment will help prevent termites and carpenter ants from infesting the vulnerable tree wood. After the trees have dried, use the same garden sprayer to apply two to three coats of water sealer. This will seal out water and prevent rot.

  2. Measure the distance between the floor and ceiling of your porch and cut the trees to length using a chainsaw. Although it will be difficult to get a square cut on a round log, make every effort to get a straight cut across the log. One way of doing this is to wrap a sheet of poster board around the trees after you have placed a mark. Use the top edge of the poster board as a template for tracing a straight line for cutting.

  3. Stand the trees upright and slide into place, so they are not hanging over the edge of the floor or ceiling of your porch. Use nylon strings pulled from the outer edge of the porch ceiling and down to the porch floor as a reference for setting the trees.

  4. Drill holes through the top and bottom of the trees about 2 inches off of the edge and at a 30-degree angle toward the porch ceiling and floor surface. Space the holes at 6 inches apart around the diameter of the trees. Use a countersinking bit, so the screw heads will sink beneath the surface of the wood.

  5. Insert wood screws into the counter bores and tighten the trees to the ceiling and floor surface of the porch. Don't over-tighten, but make sure the screw is snug and just beneath the surface of the wood. You will need to determine the size of the screw based on the size of the trees being attached. Usually a tree with a diameter of 8 to 10 inches will need 3-inch screws; the larger the tree, the larger the screw.