Planning a Porch

A successful porch becomes a key element of family and community life. Here's how to plan a porch that's just right for your house.
The Basics

Size Matters

Color is a simple, effective way to
make a porch stand out.

How much porch you need depends on how you want to use it. A 4-foot-deep covered porch will protect your house and doorway from the elements, but you'll need at least 6 feet of depth to comfortably sit on your porch, and a porch should be 8 to 10 feet to accommodate a small dining table and 4 chairs or benches around it.

In addition, the length and height of your porch should be in scale with your home. Don't let the porch overwhelm other architectural features. Similarly, don't make your porch too small, or it will look like an afterthought. The best porch stretches across the front of the house, but it's not so deep that the main floor windows recede from view.

Location Logic

Which direction the porch faces is an important consideration, and depends on where you live. In the Southwest, for example, you could sizzle on a south-facing porch. In northern states, however, a porch facing south may provide just enough sun. And if your dream is to sit on the porch and watch the sun set, don't put it on the east side of the house.

Material Choices

Porches are usually built with the same materials used elsewhere in a home. Wooden porches remain the most popular choice, but there are other options if you don't want the burden of maintaining the wood. For example, you can use vinyl lattice for skirting the underside of your porch or as screening between rails. Molded polymer millwork mimics wood but has lightweight, closed-cell construction that prevents water absorption, resists decay and insects, and can be painted or stained to match your home. Wood-polymer lumber resists moisture and insects as well, and can be used for porch floors and railings.

Continued on page 2:  Design & Function