Old House Porch Remodeling:
Tongue-and-groove flooring is
pre-primed and installed on the porch framing.
3-4 (Moderate to Advanced)
About 8 Hours
Bruce W. Maki,
To repair the porch similar to the original design, the owner of
this old house purchased a large quantity of Southern Yellow Pine
tongue-and-groove flooring. Some people use pressure treated
radius-edged decking for porch repairs on old houses, but that
material is anything but authentic.
||The porch framing after completion. We had laid
some scraps of OSB over the framing so people could walk over
the porch and use the front door.
Since the floor planks were all the same length, about 5 feet
long, we pre-cut all the pieces.
A few days before starting, we treated the flooring in a special
water repellent mixture, using a piece of rain gutter as a
basin. We let the boards dry for a day.
||Then we painted the back side and the groove of
each plank with oil-based primer.
We used Sears Weatherbeater Exterior Oil Primer, an
excellent product with one possible drawback... it takes 24
hours to dry. Slow drying may allow the primer to penetrate
better, and drying time was no problem here.
Most Sears paints are made by Sherwin-Williams, so a similar
product may be available at other stores.
|We were careful to get paint into all the
grooves, as well as the other end of the boards, which will be
against the house when installed.
The ultimate goal here is to paint all 6 sides of each
plank. It took a little extra work, but there is plenty of
evidence to show that a fully-painted piece of wood will
last much longer than a board painted on only one side. Why?
Because complete paint coverage means that moisture (liquid
and vapor) will be discouraged from entering the wood, and
it's well known that most problems with wood are caused by
||We tacked a strip of flooring to the front rim
joist, to act as a stop block for the floor planks.
|This is the pneumatic finish nailer we used to
fasten the flooring.
I used this tool because I could not find an ordinary
flooring nailer or staplers that used any sort of
fastener. I took a risk with this tool, as 2 inch finish nails
do not have as much holding power as other flooring
fasteners. But after 18 months in use, none of the planks
have come loose.
To start the floor installation, I nailed the first piece against
the short wall, making sure it was perfectly square with the front
edge of the porch. I had to drive nails into the face of the first
board because there was no way to hold it down on the grooved side.
||I painted each tongue with oil-based primer
before installing the next plank.
||I used a small pry bar to force the planks
against the stop block that I nailed to the front edge of the
|I used a scrap of flooring and a hammer to tap
the board tightly against the previous plank.
||The first nailing technique I tried was like
But it didn't work that well, many nail heads stuck up a
|As this photo shows, this approach keeps the
nail gun above the surface, which is not good.
||It may be hard to see, but this nail is typical
of the problem I had with my first approach. The nail head would
stick up about 1/8 inch, and had to be driven in with a hammer
and nail set.
|I ended up holding the nail gun like this, which
was a more awkward position since I was standing on the ground
in front of the advancing flooring. I didn't want to sit, stand
or kneel on the newly installed flooring, as I would get paint
All the flooring nailers and staplers I have seen employ a
position like this.
Hand-nailing can be done by driving ring-shank siding nails
(hot-dipped galvanized or stainless steel) at an angle through the
tongue. Pre-drilling the holes might be helpful, and near the ends
of the boards pre-drilling might be necessary to prevent the wood
|Many planks were quite banana-shaped (Southern
Yellow Pine has a nasty tendency to warp). To make the wood
comply, I used a Quick-Grip clamp at each end, acting like a
spreader, to push the board against the previous plank.
It is surprising how compliant wood can be. If you can force the
board into place with clamps or a pry bar, and then drive in enough
nails in the right direction, the wood will probably stay put.
||Working around obstructions like this newel post
can be tricky.
|I cut a notch out of this piece and laid it on
top, to check for fit.
||I had to slip the plank in on an angle, but it
went in just fine.
|The notched plank ended up with a good tight
fit. I later caulked the gap between the planks and the newel
||As I worked I painted the deck with oil-based
|Some boards required a lot of clamps to
counteract their warp.
||At this point I realized that my
stop-block/strip was too high. The Quick-Grip clamps couldn't
reach over the stop strip, so I had to use small blocks of wood
to extend their reach.
The Final Piece Of Flooring:
||I saw that the last piece of flooring would be
narrower than the others and not have enough support beneath it
because it would hang over the edge so far.
So I applied a bead of exterior wood glue to the tongue on
the second-last piece...
|... and clamped the narrow final strip to the
second-last piece. But, the final piece was mitered to
form a tight corner joint with a long strip that will cover the
ends of all the floor boards.
||I had to leave the final strip a few inches shy
of the other end, so it would fit around the existing trim on
|The red arrow points to the narrow final strip.
The ends matches up with a mitered end of the front cover
strip, which hides the end grain of all the floor boards.
At this point the porch corner post was dangling from
above. The roof was supported by a pair of 2x6's.
Once this front piece was installed, we were able to lower the
roof so the post rested on the floor deck once again. We then
fastened the post with 3" deck screws.
||This photo shows the front cover strip as
it was being installed. The flat piece was attached to the
vertical piece using biscuits and glue, although nails or small
screws may also work. This assembly was attached to the porch
framing with deck screws.
Since I did not have flooring long enough for the 13 foot
front face, I made this cover strip in sections, and used a
bevel cut to overlap the joints.
After all the flooring was installed, I gave all the bare wood a
coating of oil-based primer. When that was dry I painted the porch
floor with latex exterior porch-and-floor paint.
Back To Top
- Pneumatic Finish Nailer
- Quick-Grip Clamps
- Basic Carpentry Tools
- Small Pry Bar
- Painting Tools
- 1x4 Tongue and Groove
Porch Decking (Pressure-Treated Recommended)
- Ring-Shank Siding Nails
- Oil-Based Primer
- Wood Preservative