Porch posts and columns are integral to many homes, lending structure to the roof and overhang, while also complementing the appearance of the home. Most posts and columns are made from wood, which may split or rot over time, and will need replacement. If you’ve been wondering how to replace porch posts or columns, you should make sure that you understand all of the considerations that are important. From material choices to safety concerns, there are several steps that need to be taken before proper replacement can begin.
1. Select Your Replacement Materials
Porch posts and columns come in many different materials including stone, metal, and wood. If you’re wondering how to replace rotted porch columns, then it’s likely that you had wood, and to keep the style of your property, you’ll want to go with a similar material.
Keep in mind that there are many types of wooden porch posts, including those made of solid wood and those that have been laminated. Solid wood posts are the most likely to develop future problems with rot or to crack over time, so many have been pressure- treated. This slows the decay, but can leave the wood discolored, and not really ideal for use on a porch. To cover the discoloration and poor surface appearance, you would need a covering sleeve or wrap which adds further cost to the project.
Appearance manufactured preservative treated laminated wood posts are a better option. They’re more structurally sound, not prone to cracking, and are more rot-resistant. They even come pre-primed to make the finishing process easier.
2. Safety Factors
If you intend to try to replace your front porch posts yourself, you should consider the safety of the project before you begin. Porch posts are usually load bearing, which means that you must provide temporary structural support before removing them. Safety should be your first concern then the process of removal and installation of the new posts or columns. These 2 things should be included in your budget as you consider how much it costs to replace front porch posts.
Furthermore, if you have porch columns or posts on an upper story, you will also need to find a way to get the posts up to that level and to install them safely. It is recommended that for most projects, you contact a professional who can assist with the installation, or at least with the structural integrity.
3. How the Process Works
Before you can begin removing and replacing your posts, you need to make sure that you have selected and ordered the correct replacements. This means measuring the existing posts carefully, choosing your materials, and making sure that you have all the correct tools, post bases, bracing, and supports which will include a saw, temporary support material, new post material for each post you are replacing, jack, level, hammer, plinth if necessary, sealant, and finishing fasteners.
To safely remove the old posts before installing the new ones, the porch roof needs to be securely supported. This is usually done by jacking up temporary post material to take the weight of the roof so that the rotting post or column can be removed. The jack can be adjusted up or down until the roof is level. Be sure to understand the weight of the structural load and provide an adequate level of structural strength in your temporary support.
Once the roof is supported, the old column can be removed. The new column should be fit, and cut as needed, and the plinth, if you are using one, should be put in place. Any cut areas on the post or column should be sealed, as should the plinth. The post or column is then installed, and the support removed. The column can now be painted to match the rest of the porch.
4. Cost of Replacement
The total costs of your replacement will depend on several different factors, including whether you hire a professional, what material your replacement posts are made of, how large, decorative, or ornamental your posts are, and whether or not they are load- bearing. In addition, the total number of posts that you are replacing can also factor into the total cost of the replacement.
When hiring a professional to replace an ornamental porch column, you can expect to pay between $400 – $600 per post, but your total costs can vary tremendously depending on the material and other factors.
5. Time Needed for the Project
Once you’ve selected and ordered your materials, and have everything ready to go, the entire project doesn’t take that long. It should only take a few hours per column that needs to be replaced, and a team of professionals can shorten that time frame even more. (This assumes that the rest of the structure is in good condition, and that there are no surprises once the work begins.)
6. Where to Buy Replacements
While it’s possible to find pressure-treated wood nearly anywhere, this is far from the best choice for most porch columns. To find high-quality, laminated and preservative-treated porch columns that have been primed for painting, visit Belco Forest Products to take a look at their XT Post product.
Replace Your Columns the Right Way
If you’ve been wondering how to replace your front porch posts, remember that this is a complicated job that will take careful planning. Whenever possible, hire a professional to do the job, and make sure that you use the right materials so that your replacement is built to last.