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The Building Blocks of Beginning Porch Planning
Written by Peter Malik   
Tuesday, 10 May 2011 17:12
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North, South, East or West – all over the country, porches convey peace, family and friendship. Country folks might use their wide wrap-around porch to enjoy the tranquility of rolling hills, blue mountains, and a pitcher of ice-cold sweet tea. On the ocean front, a sea-side porch hosts a gathering of giggly friends enjoying Chardonnay in the fresh salty air, while a water-colored sunset fades into the ocean's horizon.

Miles and miles away, inner city porches are compacted together with folks leaning on paint-worn posts discussing the latest news and keeping a watchful eye on their kids running neighbor to neighbor and porch to porch as toys get strewn about. As the night falls far off into the distance, a penthouse porch turns into a midnight dance floor for two, where a full moon hovers over the cascade of glittering city lights below.

Good times don't always require planning, but planning for a perfect porch will give you assurance that good times can always be had. To plan a perfect porch, start with examining each building block of the porch planning process. The building blocks of porch structure are floors, walls, ceilings, columns, and roofing. The building blocks of a porch interior are floor coverings, wall coverings, furniture, lighting, electrical outlets and plumbing. The final tier of porch planning consists of the final touches – plants, vases, paintings, artifacts - all those special touches that make a porch uniquely yours.

But before your inner interior designer personality surfaces, consider the practical. Picture all possible uses for your porch that could happen over the next 20 years. Brainstorm potential uses with all family members. Older family members might envision of place of solitude and quiet gatherings, others might envision a place for crafts, gardening and games. Young adults might be thinking about entertaining friends, and young children might look forward to an outdoor playroom.

After the life of your porch has been defined, you can start thinking about floors and walls. Wood floors are classic, but a porch floor can be made of stone, ceramic, brick and other assorted floor covering alternatives. Or it can simply be covered with an outdoor carpet. But your porch floor covering must fit your lifestyle, and must be able to tolerate the elements of the outdoors.

Your porch roof should be chosen primarily for protection, and then for aesthetic appeal. You may need a strong roof to support winter's continuously falling snow, or perhaps a light canopy is all you need to keep the sun from burning your skin. Your ceiling choice must of course be compatible with the roof, and it should also become an attractive extension of the walls and home.

Although weather is a primary consideration when planning a porch wall or enclosure, the aesthetic appeal of your walls will have a far greater impact on daily living than the aesthetics of the roof over your head. Keep in mind that porch “walls” can be windows, screens, glass blocks, drapes, blinds, or a host of other materials. Porch “walls” can be movable or permanent, decorative or protective. Likewise, the columns you choose should complement your chosen flooring and wall material – and ideally your decor.

The lifestyle your porch supports will determine how you approach each building block of the porch planning process. Review the potential for safety and danger in every building block choice your consider. Your decisions will change over the years, but it's a lot easier to change your furniture and décor than it is to change your ceramic or stone floor. Make sure you consider the long-term effects of each decision.

Planning the perfect porch is a fun project that must not be done hastily. Great thought must be given to weather, safety, design, practicality, growth and changes, lifestyles, and of course personal preferences. A sturdy porch built to your well-thought out expectations one building block at a time will give your generations a place to always have good food, good friends, and a welcoming place to always enjoy home.