Porch Flooring and Foundation

Get tips on foundation construction and finding the right flooring.

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Photo courtesy of AZEK

A well-built porch starts with a solid foundation. As a structure attached to your home, a porch is required to have a foundation that meets local building codes. The region you live in and your building site will determine the type of foundation your porch needs.

For example, a home built on a steep slope will often require foundation piers and needs to be engineered not only for porch load, but for factors like the climate, soil and geologic conditions in your area. These issues should be addressed before your porch foundation is selected and installed.

Tips for Planning Your Porch Foundation

  • Make sure to slope the soil underneath your porch and direct water away. This helps avoid floor damage or mold issues on porch surfaces where water accumulates.
  • Use lattice skirting or ornamental vents to encourage good air flow underneath your porch, to reduce the chance of mold and rot problems.
  • Depending on the height of your porch, you can use hardware cloth or mesh behind lattice as rodent screening to keep pests out.
  • Vent columns and newel posts at the top and bottom, and prime all sides, including cut edges, of all the materials used on your porch.

Flooring

The flooring you choose for your porch is also very important. You want a durable porch floor that is resistant to the elements, complements your home and provides a beautiful backdrop for the rest of the space.

There are plenty of flooring options for a typical porch partially exposed to the elements, including wood, composite flooring and decking, brick, stone, concrete and ceramic tile. The right floor for your porch depends on the type of foundation you have, the location of your porch and the look you want to achieve. There are pros and cons with each material, so it pays to make sure the type you choose works for your specific porch.

Consider these things when choosing a porch floor:

  • While natural fir is the traditional choice for a porch floor, good wood alternatives include cedar, mahogany and Brazilian Ipe.
  • You can add interest and texture to your porch floor by mixing woods or laying boards in a creative pattern.
  • Wood-free composite floors and composite tongue-and-groove flooring made from wood fibers and plastic resins offer a durable floor that has a natural wood "look" and is easier to maintain, but always follow manufacturer's instructions for installation and care.
  • Masonry floors of brick, stone or tile are popular choices, as they're water-resistant, but the weight of these materials can require additional support when used for elevated porches.
  • Poured or stamped concrete is another option. High-grade paints especially formulated for concrete give you the option of adding color or designs to your porch floor.

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