Porch Post Installation
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Proper installation of Porch Posts allows
everything else to fit square, plumb, level, and flush.
The following discussion does not take into account structural
considerations. We cannot make these determinations at long distance, but generally, for standard porch construction, Porch Posts can be spaced up to ten feet apart. It is typically not the strength of the Posts, but of the beam above, that limits such spacing. If you are unsure of the structural aspects involved, please seek the advice of a qualified contractor, architect, or structural engineer.
Determining Location of Posts
First, determine the location each installed Post will occupy (see Floorplan). Actually, you have already done this if you're following these instructions in order, as you needed this information to cut the
Balustrade Rails to length.
It will be easier if you take the time to make a cardboard pattern of
the exact "footprint" of your Posts, including a second pattern board
for Newel Posts, if used. Then set these patterns aside for a moment, as we first want to determine only the approximate location for each Post.
Marking Your Porch Floor
Begin by marking in pencil directly on your porch floor a "P" for the
location of each corner Porch Post, an "H" for any Half Posts used
against walls, and an "N" for Newel Posts.
If you're not using Newel Posts to provide an opening between
Balustrades for steps, then also mark a "P" approximately where Porch
Posts will be used on either side of each set of steps. Now, with
ends, corners, and steps located, fill in approximate locations for
the remaining Porch and Newel Posts.
In determining these intermediate locations, consider the symmetry
you're creating. It's better to avoid having Posts in front of
windows or doors. Obviously, things will appear more balanced if all
Porch Posts are equally spaced, but this is often just not possible,
given the location of existing steps, width of the porch, etc.
Let your sense of proportion be the judge. If necessary, cut "dummy"
two-by-fours, position, and observe from a distance. Spend some time
experimenting with different possibilities.
Once you have the best possible Post layout, go back with your
pattern(s) and mark exact Post locations. Generally, you'll want the
face of the Posts set exactly flush with the face of the beams above
them. This will allow the addition of Post Face Brackets now or later, adding a very pleasing Third Dimension to your porch!
Typically, when the Posts are installed plumb (straight up & down),
their bottom front edges will be back just a bit from the edge of your
porch. Obviously, they must sit on a structurally sound portion of
the porch, so they can transmit the weight of the roof properly to
the underlying structure. We cannot properly advise on this at long distance. Please confer with a qualified professional if you're unsure how your porch design carries the load of Posts and roof.
Cut Porch Posts to Length
Typically, Porch Posts require shortening prior to installation.
Please remember the height of your Installation Accessories when making the following determinations. Which Post end to remove excess length from or whether to remove some from both ends depends upon the decorative trim to be installed at the Post tops, and upon the installed height of the Handrail.
Generally, it will appear more balanced if the lowest portion of the decorative trim at the top falls slightly above the point where the Porch Post turning begins. Typically, a little more of the square portion of the Post is left above the top of the Handrail. There are no rigid formulas for this vertical positioning of the turned portion of your Posts. However, the decorative trim at the top and the Balustrade must fall entirely within the unturned portions of each Post.
The worksheet below will help determine the proper amount to be cut from the tops and/or bottoms of the Posts to achieve the desired balance. Printer friendly version .
Post Cutting Worksheet
A. To provide adequate Handrail height for safety
(please check building codes for your area.)
B. To provide a pleasing visual balance between the various
components of the porch.
C. To accommodate the proper installation of the various
A. Final Post length after cutting __________''
(finished floor surface to bottom of overhead beam)
B. Desired Handrail height __________''
C. Total vertical height of decorative trim at Post tops _________"
3. Calculations for Cutting Posts Printer friendly version .
| Post |
| Before |
| After |
| Amount |
| Unturned Top || || || |
| Turning || || || ---- |
| Unturned Base || || || |
| Overall Post Length || || || |
| Installation Accessory Height || || || ---- |
| Finished Total || || || |
A. Cut one Porch Post (or a 1x4, if you're unsure)
B. Hold it in the approximate location that each of the Posts will
occupy. Be sure to set it on an Installation Accessory.
C. If all appears correct, cut the remaining Posts to length.
Nail Porch Posts Into Place
Installation technique depends on type of Installation Accessory used and the structure above Porch Posts. Usually, toenailing Post tops is sufficient. Twelvepenny finishing nails (2 on each of the four sides) works well. It's easier to predrill holes in Posts for nails. First temporarily nail into place, with nail heads left up slightly. Then use a nail set to set heads slightly below the Posts' surface. Wood filler can be used to cover nail heads.
Position all Posts accurately, assuring they're true in all three
directions (up & down, side to side, and front to back). If you've
been following this How-to in order (we hope so), you may want only
to nail your Posts in place temporarily and then verify the fit of
your previously assembled Balustrade Sections between Posts. Adjust
Posts as necessary before final Post nailing, but do not install
Balustrade Sections yet.
Instructions for Specific Post Types
We are available by phone or email for free personalized consultation.
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