Scrounging a porch

I have several pieces of good 3/4″ plywood, none very big, to use as decking for the new front porch. I have a non-negotiable width of 12′, and a depth to be determined – depending on what I can do laying out the pieces.

It’s not as weird as it sounds.

Big Brother brought up four pieces, which once held up his waterbed. We took them out of his SUV and stacked them in the woodshed last month, and I never really paid attention to their dimensions. At the time it didn’t matter: Those four would determine the porch size, full stop. But then the plan changed, and the porch needed to be 12′ wide. Would those four pieces serve as a basis for that?

They certainly will and then some. I had assumed without really thinking that they were four pieces of one 4X8 sheet, and that was far from the case. In a line they stretch well past 12′, which is good because half of one piece is separated and most of that should be discarded if possible.

I also have three scraps left over from Ian’s porch roof project…

…of varying width but each a full 8′ long. Even Innumerate Joel knows that 3X8=24, which is 2X12. So twice the narrowest scrap (16″) is 32″, plus the width of BB’s pieces which is just shy of 30″, gives me a very respectable 5′ 2″ deep porch. Unfortunately that would involve some weird bracing, because the seams don’t work out.

I’ll have five piers to work with, which means five braces between the piers and the cabin, which is perfect for the four 3′ pieces plus two 6′ pieces. So – let’s not go as wide as we possibly can: Let’s not use the narrowest piece of Ian scrap as the template for the long pieces. Let’s use the second narrowest piece. That’s 21″.

That makes the bracing situation simple and doable, with a porch depth of 4′ 3″ which is perfectly nice for a sittin’ and thinkin’ chair and a side table. Could be deeper, but what the hell? The deeper I make the porch, the bigger I have to make the inevitable porch roof in the fullness of time. And a sittin’ porch won’t really be a lot of use anyway until I do the roof – which will not be this year. All I really want is an area that will let me get to and from the front door without constant fear of falling and breaking bones.

So! That’s the plan.

About Joel

You shouldn't ask these questions of a paranoid recluse, you know.
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9 Responses to Scrounging a porch

  1. Kentucky says:

    Don’t forget . . . CUTE!

  2. Bear says:

    “Don’t forget . . . CUTE!”

    He could paint it pink. He’s probably has some of that AK paint left.

  3. Judy says:

    Grin – You could ‘gingerbread’ some of the plywood you are not using as trim and porch railings.

  4. Norman says:

    Not to complicate things, but…won’t a solid floor tend to accumulate water, dirt and especially, water? You don’t get much rain, but a little goes a long way with plywood. Unless there’s something I’m missing, I’d think individual boards spaced to allow for drainage might be a better bet for porch longevity. More expensive, surely, and more work to assemble, but also more long-lived. Whatever you choose, I’d offer that some coarse sand mixed into the paint might increase the traction on whatever the floor winds up being.

  5. billf says:

    Norman has a point,usually people use pressure treated 2×6’s for decking if there is any weather involved. How big is your “ideal” porch,and how much would deck boards cost ?

  6. Kentucky says:


  7. Joel says:

    Sure, plywood isn’t forever. But it’s what’s here, and it’s replaceable in the fullness of time, and if I keep deck paint on it this stuff’ll last a good long while. This is roofing plywood, not meant to be exposed to the weather permanently but that’s where the deck paint comes in. Which will, by the way, contain an element of grit. I’m an amputee, as I have mentioned, and I have a real opinion about wet painted surfaces. Pressure-treated 2X6s would be great, true, but so would a new Jeep. The first rule of shoestring living is to have enough of what’s good enough.

  8. Mark Matis says:

    If you pitch it slightly AWAY from your home, the drainage should be sufficient for a floor that narrow.

    Could you make an “awning” like they have on RVs to provide a sun roof until you get around to the real thing? Roll it up and clip it to the wall when weather approaches… Use a tarp from Orange or Blue for the awning material.

  9. Norman says:

    However it works out.

    I understand the “exigences of the moment” RE: materials available vs. materials (temporarily) unobtainable. That said, it may be beneficial to design for future enhancements, which will arrive disguised as “the plywood’s all rotted/warped/delaminated so it has to be replaced” which will eventually occur.

To the stake with the heretic!