Andrea Davis is the editor of HomeAdvisor, an online service that connects homeowners with home improvement professionals in their area for free, ensuring quick and reliable contractor services at reasonable prices.
Your backyard is an oasis for people to walk through and admire. So why not invest in a porch for admiration from afar, especially in the evening? Also, if you intend to entertain or grill, it’s good for people to have a place to sit and relax. Designing a porch can add to your home and help it withstand inclement climate conditions like rain and snow. Here are some porch design elements to consider for maximum efficiency and enjoyment.
Laying the Porch Foundation
Most porches are made of concrete that’s poured into the ground with posts around it. Some are built out of concrete with gravel mixed in, and atop that are floors made of brick, stone or tile. Some homeowners might design a foundation made of wood with matching support beams. This porch type more closely matches the design of a deck.
No matter what kind of porch you design, there are rules you should follow with the foundation to ensure it lasts a long time against the elements.
- Install flooring that slopes away from the home to move rain and snow away from the foundation and prevent damage.
- Add vents for airflow underneath the porch to decrease mold and rot problems.
- Consider mesh to keep rodents and pests out from underneath the foundation.
- Understand if soil and water conditions require deeper or reinforced concrete.
- Make sure the foundation can support the weight of occupants, the furniture and the roof.
Making Your Porch Comfortable with Seating
Having a porch is nothing without comfortable seating. There are various seating options for your porch including a dining area, swings, chairs and couches. You might be limited by the square footage of your porch, so be sure to install seating without crowding the space.
Some of your seating options might also vary by season and climate conditions. For example, you might add brightly colored cushions and a floral centerpiece to your table for the summer days. During the winter you might have a fire pit installed so you can circle around it with your chairs or couches.
Adding the Right Porch Lighting
Porch lighting is also essential for providing a good atmosphere during the nighttime or cloudy days. There are several factors that will determine the number and type of porch lights you can install including location, home style and size.
First you need to determine the location of your lights. If you’re replacing old fixtures on your home, then you might be limited in the types you can have. Updating a wall fixture means you can only have wall-mounted porch lights, for example. If your home had no porch lights when it was built, then you can install types like hanging, flush mount, post or recessed porch lights.
Then there is the style of your home and porch to factor in. Your porch might be designed to match the style of your home, whether it’s southwestern, rustic, colonial or any other style. However, if your porch does not have any particular style, then the lights you install don’t have to match it. There are various types of styles for lighting fixtures including rustic, traditional, casual and contemporary. The type you choose should be based on what best matches your porch and the surrounding landscape.
The size of your porch will determine how many porch lights you will need as well. You want to illuminate it in a way that’s comfortable and cozy without making it as bright as the sun. Make sure to consider the size and wattage of the bulbs when determining how many you’ll need, as smaller bulbs will illuminate less of an area than larger bulbs with higher wattage. You might also consider installing low-voltage lights that will save you electricity while still giving off a nice glow.
Landscaping with Porch Plants
With these elements in place, it’s time to bring the landscape back in with a few plants. Your choice of plants is almost endless, and the only limitations you have are square footage, climate and the amount of maintenance you want to do. You have the choice of potted, boxed or hanging plants. Be sure you don’t pick plants that need a lot of sunlight, as the porch’s awning will prevent them from getting maximum exposure.
Here are some good plants to consider for your hanging and boxed or potted areas:
The key to keeping all your plants in good condition will be regular watering, fertilization and making sure they stay healthy through the winter. It might be a good idea to pick perennial plants instead of annuals to ensure healthy plants through particularly cold or hot seasons, just in case.