April 15, 2014

Replacing Bad Stair Boards: A Front Porch Makeover

So I made a little trip to Lowe's last week to pick up a few boards for a project I've been meaning to get to since we first moved into our house. For a refresher, here I am walking up our front stairs on moving day back in 2012...

Well, over the past 2 years we've worn down the paint on those front stairs pretty significantly, but the real gem that's been lurking under our front matt can be seen below:

Yep, that's rotted wood (and what appears to be lots of dried Christmas tree needles). The boards were so bad in fact, that the entire area was beginning to bend under our feet every time we walked in or out of the house. Basically, we had a terrible hazard that needed updating for basic safety outside of any curb appeal.

This was actually one of those smaller item fixes that came up in our home inspection during the buying process that I knew I could tackle, but hadn't gotten around to replacing the boards since we hadn't fixed the root of the problem — repairing the leaking front gutter that was causing the buildup of water damage and rot. Remember all those roof repairs we had done earlier this year? Well, that set of repairs took care of this front gutter. Once I was sure the ongoing moisture wasn't building up any longer on the steps, I was ready to replace some boards!

To get started, I measured the length, width and depth of the boards to match up at the hardware store. Once I found the correct replacements with matching width/depth measurements, they cut the correct length for me right there in the store — it was great.

From there, it was just a matter of pulling up the damaged boards, sliding the new ones in place and screwing them securely to the wood supports beneath the stairs. Once I began pulling up the rotted boards, we realized the damage was actually much worse than we thought — they basically just crumbled up and apart in my hands:

I'm actually surprised (and seriously relieved) they lasted as long as they did without falling in. Once I removed all of the bad boards, I took the time to go underneath the front porch (proud of how limber I am at 48) to screw some of the lower stairs tightly into the supporting frame. A couple of them have been a little wobbly, so this was the perfect chance to check out the situation and how to fix it: 

From there, I just slid the 3 new replacement boards evenly in place:

Then screwed them firmly into the supporting porch frame:

The whole replacement process probably took an hour and we were both excited at how strong the boards feel — no more slight give or wobbles when walking on the porch!

To complete the project we decided to give the stairs a new coat of paint to help the new boards blend in and just generally give the front porch a little update — you could really see the wear and tear from the past few years:

Since it's such a small space, we picked up a small can of Valspar's latex porch and floor paint since it's made for exterior jobs like these:

Now some of you might recall how Mary has teased me about my "paint visor," one of my favorite hats that I've happened to be caught wearing while painting indoors. Well, it looks like I'm not the only one that wears a painting uniform — it appears Mary wore the same outfit while painting her Aunt's stairs during her Syracuse trip. Payback always comes to those who wait. #shesallmine

After two coats across the stairs, we were feeling pretty pleased:

 And someone else was feeling pretty good too:

It's spring and you can see the footprints from pollen in the shot above, but such is life and I'm keeping it real.

This ended up being one of those weekend projects that was pretty quick, painless, under 50 bucks — and big enough of an update that we're feeling pretty accomplished. Down the road we dream of completely replacing this front stoop area with a true full covered porch where we can relax on rocking chairs looking out over the street. Between now and then, we'll probably need to get the banister rails replaced since they've got some water damage as well.

And that's where we find ourselves out front — one more thing crossed off the list!

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1 comment

  1. I enjoyed reading this. Thank you for posting it. Did you have to prime the wood before painting?


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