Summer House Project (Repair Front Porch)

Susanna and I are working on a 5-year plan to get the house in shape so it will be ready to sell. A 5-year plan will give us a few years of wiggle room on selling the house before I retire. There are a lot of projects that should be done before we should sell the house. The most pressing project is the front porch.

The paint was peeling from the porch ceiling, the light was no longer working, and the front steps were rotting. Susanna kicked off the project a few weeks ago by pulling down the stairs and then removing the existing ceiling, which appeared to be thin (1/4″) wainscotting-type boards, likely original from when the house was built 140-years ago. It does look like the roof isn’t leaking, and the peeling paint was just due to age. The boards were solid (no rot), but it wasn’t worth the effort to remove the peeling paint and properly prepare the original boards.

I decided to replace the ceiling with tongue and groove boards milled from my existing stock of eastern white pine (at least as much of it as I can get out of existing stock). I think I have enough to do about half of the ceiling, so I’ll have to pick up more in the near future to give it time to dry before milling.

I milled up a few sample pieces a week ago to make sure it was what we wanted. I was able to get 4 pieces from each of the rough pine boards I had stored in the loft, for a total of (I think) 48 pieces. This morning I took a few hours and milled up all the lumber I had. The boards were milled to about 7/8″ thick and 4 3/8″ wide and between 5′ and 6′ long. I then ran them through the shaper to give the tongue and groove profile.

My next step is to prime and paint the boards, and then finally cut to proper length and install. I was hoping for a nice day this week to lay out all the boards outside and get the painting done in a batch, but with rain today and a lousy week forecast, I started painting them in the workshop tonight with Izzy’s help. Not the fastest process, but she was able to help me get 10 boards primed before she had to come in and get ready for bed. Tomorrow we can put on the top coat of exterior paint.

I was a little hesitant about using eastern white pine. It is very soft and has zero rot resistance. However it is local, cheap , I had a bunch on hand and I can still find it for $1/bdft. I kept the boards fairly thick and am using a decent primer and paint, so hopefully this ceiling will last another 100 years and paint job will last a decade or more before needing work (or at least past us selling the house).

My workshop helper: Izzy helping me prime the boards for the front porch ceiling.

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