Instructions to Build a Back Porch

Constructing a back porch can enhance your home's living space and market value. It's relatively easy to add a back porch onto almost any type of structure, since it requires only a basic plan and affordable materials. If you have a concrete slab or decking already in place, this will make it easier to construct a porch. Always obtain a building permit before you start to build.

Sound Flooring

Some type of back porch will fit almost any home.

Before you design the porch itself, spend time getting the support decking or concrete base in shape.  You might need to deepen or widen a concrete base.

Or, you might want to expand decking to provide flooring for a bigger porch covering.  Make any repairs on an existing base or build one that is strong enough to support the new weight.

If you're in doubt, tear up flooring and build from the ground up. 

Detailed Plans

Never attempt to build a porch without designing every square inch on paper.  A porch will add more value to your home if it's planned and built well.

Do a lot of measuring and draw sketches of your home with a precise design.  Graph paper should be used to lay out the spacing of the posts and rafters from different perspectives.

You want to construct a porch that enhances the architecture of your house, so build the roof pitch and underhangs to blend with what's in place. 

Quality of Materials

The type of wood, railings, steps and roofing material will affect the design of the porch.  Avoid using second-grade lumber or recycled material.

Instead, shop for first-rate materials in classified ads that are left over from other projects.  Build posts from lumber no smaller than 8 inches by 8 inches to get an upscale look.

Skimping on materials can make the porch roof weak, too.  Drive around your neighborhood to view types of back porches in place.

Professional Help

Building a porch yourself can go smoothly, even without a great deal of experience, if you have a good carpenter to assist.  It's important to cut rafters and railings on specific angles and miter corners professionally to get a nice look.

Spend time on detailing all workmanship, since materials will cost basically the same for an average job or an excellent job.  When it comes to carpentry, precision in cutting and fitting all pieces together will result in a job you'll be proud of.

Assembling the Unit

How you hammer and nail sections together is important.  For example, use stainless steel nails to prevent future rust marks on the wood.

Use a nail gun to counter-sink nails so they won't show in certain places.  Flat-head nails and flat-head screws yield a better job of crafting the porch.

It's often easier to buy pre-made railings with balusters in place, since it's difficult to get this kind of professional look by building rails yourself. 

Finishing Touches

Once you have the porch framework secured in place, go back over the surfaces to use caulking or wood filler before painting or staining.  Craftsmanship takes time, but it will add to the end result of the porch and its value to the overall house.

Preserve any lumber decking with primer, quality paint or stain and sealer.  Do not put furniture on the porch flooring until the surface has dried for several days.

About the Author

Judi Light Hopson is a national columnist for McClatchy Newspapers. She is founder of Hopson Global Education and Training and co-author of the college textbook, Burnout to Balance: EMS Stress. She holds a degree in psychology from East Tennessee State University, and has been a professional writer for 25 years.

Photo Credits

  • rocking chair on cape may home porch image by Jorge Moro from Fotolia.com