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Egg Spurt
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Discussion Starter #1
So we got this job to replace 4 porch columns with 1x8 appearance boards forming the columns. The problem is they're empty, no 4x's or 6x's inside of them. One of the fears is that nothing else is holding up the porch roof, just 4 1x8 pine boxes.. Yup, the name goes on and quality isn't even a consideration.. They're already rotted at the bottoms.
Any suggestions other than replacing them very carefully one at a time? We're really not to excited about buying more lumber to shore up the roof, but I have a feeling there won't be a lot of other options..
 

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We're really not too excited about buying more lumber to shore up the roof.
then, how excited would you be to be called back to fix the roof that fell
due to insufficient support ??
if this is a contract job, you should consult with the owner.
if this is for you, friend, or family, I would get the appropriate posts.

and no - the right way to do it is jack up the roof and replace each one individually.

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Egg Spurt
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Discussion Starter #4
I wasn't the one that took the job..my son did, but it's had several pieces replaced at various times. Looking at it its not hard to see that entire chunks have been replaced instead of all at once.
Like I said, I'm not wild about buying more lumber, but I don't think we'll have much choice in the matter. I certainly don't want the responsibility of a fallen roof. I don't think my son does either.
The owner is out of state trying to sell the property ASAP. Originally the job was to just move the railings someone replaced with the Micky Mouse method, too high for code so there's a foot gap between the railing and the floor of the porch..
 

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as usual - we can not be there for an "on site" evaluation for you.
photos - would help a lot.
this building may even have a cantilevered supports for the roof (we don't know - do you ??).
like Frank said: either decorative or structural columns (or both).
since the property is up for sale ASAP, I bet you he wants just band aids to pass inspection.
there are times to just walk away - this may be one of them.
reply to the property owner: "terribly sorry, but upon further investigation of the issues, this job
is beyond the scope of the initial price quote. here are the details and additional prices to do
the job correctly". after that, it is either a yah or nah in which direction you proceed in.

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two 2x4 nailed in T formation with a 3 foot 2x8 top and bottom to spread out the load would probably do the trick for a normal 5 or 6 foot porch. most commercial posts are hollow, 1x8 in box form is a lot stronger than 4 1x8 nailed together flat, even then 4- 1x8 would be equivalent to double 4x4. allow for drainage and on a pressure treated base it should last a long time
 

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structurally unless there mega-weight being supported in addition to "the roof" - a four side 1x8 box is plenty strong.
I'd do a shallow rabbet or dado (design detail per need) to facilitate locating + glue + nails for the 'joints'

a top and bottom bearing surface/plinth is needed - i.e. setting a 2x4 plate directly on the end grain of a 1x8 is highly not recommended.


pressure treated should be used - as you see, the main issue with pseudo columns is rot.....


jack up and replace one at a time.
 

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Rule of thumb: You touch it; you own it.

What TomCT2 said, plus add a concrete pediment high enough to keep wood above standing water during rain or washing down.

What is there to secure the bottoms of the columns laterally?
 

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mike44
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Cut a birds mouth in a 4x4 that will go under the rim joist or beam. Place at an angle about 20° from vertical and onto a mudsill ( 12'x12" or so plywood or piece of plank) that is dug into the dirt. Place mudsill on an angle with a scrap lumber under the brace. Try to lift the rim joist slightly, about 1" or less by prying on the brace.. Remove the post and install new one. Remove the brace and repeat on the next post. I usually use a brace for each post , if you do one post at a time the only extra lumber will be a suitable 4x4 or doubled up 2x4 .If the post height is more than 10'-0" switch to double 2x6's.
Economical way to make the posts using PT lumber , instead of 1x stock , use 2x6's. Saw or plane off rounded edges first. Saw or rout rabbits on two opposing sides and both edges. Leave about 1/4" . Width of the rabbit should be 1/16" more than the boards thickness, about 1-9/16" assuming the lumber is 1-1/2" thick. This leaves a small amount to sand flush. The rabbit will be 1-9/16" wide and 1-1/4" deep.
Use nails screws etc to put the 4 boards together. An adhesive on the rabbit will stop nail popping do to shrinkage. PT lumber is generally wet and shrinks when it dries. I use subfloor adhesive or a PL adhesive.
This gives you an almost solid post.
mike
 

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Egg Spurt
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Discussion Starter #10 (Edited)
Got it shored up and braced fine.
It's not my cup of tea since the entire porch drops off about 5-6 feet with no railing and our ladders aren't quite high enough..Gonna have to borrow one for working the outter edges.
I didn't used to be afraid of heights until the awake/sleep dream of falling about 12 years ago and that came out of nowhere..Now I hate being as tall as I am. I'm looking forward to old age and shrinking I think.. This is the last ladder job I'm doing. This is a young man's job. Just dragging treated lumber around about wore my ass out just getting it to the truck much less up on the porch..
Nope. I think I'm sticking with the shop stuff from now on. I can cut headboards just fine and don't have to worry about falling 5-6 feet doing it..
To top it off my shop looks like white primer everywhere since I shot primer on all the boards in the shop this morning.. Well..kind of white striped everywhere..I forgot to get out the cardboard.. At least the saw's fine. No primer on it.. At least I have no problem finding the dog holes on the bench now..and the surface is more or less cleaned off..That'll last a day or two.
ignore the alleged tool well..It's an official junk collection port..
 

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There should be at least a 4x4 in the middle. Even the fiberglass columns you buy at the box stores should have a post in the middle. It's more than vertical strength, the column is needed to hold the roof down in high winds. I would frame the porch with pressure treated 4x4's firmly fastening them to the roof and ground and then put the 1x8 wood around the posts as cosmetic.
 

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Egg Spurt
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Discussion Starter #12 (Edited)
Lots of things I would do differently, but a lot of houses are on the market here and the sellers are doing everything possible on the cheap and probably for good reason, these houses for the most part are jerry built . Slapped up with little thought to quality..as long as it's pretty the first few years and that's it..
We were talking with the painters working in the place and the consensus seems to be the only thing holding up the walls is the paint..
 

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Lots of things I would do differently, but a lot of houses are on the market here and the sellers are doing everything possible on the cheap and probably for good reason, these houses for the most part are jerry built . Slapped up with little thought to quality..as long as it's pretty the first few years and that's it..
Problem is if you do something that isn't up to industry standards you could be held accountable if something goes wrong, especially if someone gets hurt. If they just get enough straight line winds to pull the roof off the homeowner could sue to replace the porch. Could be a lot of grief over 30 bucks a post extra.
 

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Ancient Termite
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In all probability, just decorative.

As you said, " They're already rotted at the bottoms." That really says a lot!

It has been my experience that the porch columns are decorative. Think of how a roof is constructed. It is the exterior walls that support the roof.

My home built in 1962 had a steel decorative trellis purporting to support the roof. The kids cam in one day blaming each other for knocking the trellis loose. I went out and looked. all four had rusted through and were just hanging there from the underside of the roof. They were loose like that for probably 10 years before we were having some work done and finally fixed them.
 

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Discussion Starter #15
All in all they're up. We're still going to toenail them to the top railing above them just in case, but the weight of the roof will likely hold it all. The originals had nothing but weight holding them in place.

Sure, there is the possibility of a storm ripping it off and somebody suing us, but neither my son nor I have much to sue for.. Kind of hard to collect turnip blood..
 
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Discussion Starter #16
Still have railings to go up. The handrail on the left side of the steps was already little more than top soil with a few screws holding it up so of course it gets replaced. It really is little more than decorative. We did use the 4x4 to support each column as they were replaced, but nothing visually sagged at all anywhere, even the columns rotted through and two already were so if anything were load bearing everything behind the columns must have been awesomely built which isn't likely considering everything else we noticed around the place not to mention the other homes in the area also falling apart.
I think if anyone is coming after us for shoddy workmanship in that neighborhood they'd really have to get in line after all the blatant examples of shoddyness on display at almost every house. I'm in no way suggesting it can't possibly happen, but around here the entire house would pretty much have to fall over because of what we did on the porch. One doesn't have to look far and wide around here to find p*** poor construction methods.. That seems to be a selling point around here.
 

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a picture is worth 1000 words, i would not have recommended any bracing on that porch
you could have knocked out every other one and been fine with that one
 

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Discussion Starter #18 (Edited)
All done and painted. Other than one rainy morning and a bit of cracking from drying out it came out just fine. Always something new to learn on every job..

That left handrail for the steps was no fun trying to figure out the angle, but we got it and it matches the right side just fine. I only stepped on one petunia plant. I don't know why they planted spring flowers in October, but oh well. They want to sell it ASAP. We did kind of lucked out in that they had very recently painted all the siding the exact same shade of white as the porch. Otherwise we would have had a hell of a problem with overspray painting it. Instead there's no sign of it..
 
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