Portico vs. Porch

Jennifer Gittins

When building a home or adding on to a home, many homeowners consider remodeling or adding a front porch. Some builders may try to pass off the term "portico" as a fancier version of the porch, but in all reality the terms are interchangeable and both simply mean the same thing: porch.

Identification: Portico

Portico is the Italian word for "porch," so aside from the language, there is no difference between the two. However, through the years, portico has developed into a type of porch. As of 2011, a portico often specifically refers to a covered entrance to a porch that has columns and may extend the entire length of the front of the building. A portico can be square, rectangular or jetting out in a circular or ovular fashion. The term portico can even be used to refer to a small but elegant or extravagant front porch.

Identification: Porch

The definition of a porch can vary greatly. Merriam-Webster defines it as any type of covered front entryway with a separate roof. Nick Gromicko and Rob London of Nachi define a porch as a room or wooden structure at the front of the house where muddy or wet clothes can be removed. Not all porches feature a roof, and they can be made from cement, wood, metal or stone. Furthermore, modern porches are generally significantly smaller than porches on historical homes, where the porch was a social gathering place.


Several styles of porches and porticos are available. For example, a wraparound porch, which is common on Victorian-era homes, literally wraps around the entire house. With screened-in porches, a small room has been constructed using screened windows to create an entryway. Other types of porches include balcony porches, two-tier porches, Greek-style porches featuring columns and elaborate Italianate- or French-styled porches.

Cost of Building a Porch

Unfortunately, there are too many variables to consider in adding a front porch or portico to a home. A small, simplistic square concrete patch may only run a couple hundred dollars, but a larger covered porch can cost in the thousands. Price can also vary based on the region of the home, the contractor chosen, the style of porch being built and unforeseen issues with the the exterior of the house where the porch is being connected or with the land surrounding the area or local laws, rules and regulations regarding porches.