How to Fix a Back Porch?
The first thing you need to do is check if there are any dangerous objects like broken glass or other debris around your home. If so, then it’s better not to attempt the job at all. You might want to consider hiring someone else to perform the work instead. Also, make sure that no one lives in the house where you’re going to be working on it because they could get hurt while doing their own part of the task.
If you don’t have any danger lurking around your house, then you can proceed with the rest of the steps. However, if there are dangers lurking around your house, then you’ll probably need to hire someone else to do the job.
Step 1: Check Your House For Dangerous Objects Around Your Home
After checking your house thoroughly for dangerous objects, it’s time to start cleaning up and making some preparations before starting on repairing a back porch.
You’ll need to take into consideration several things when fixing a back porch. These include:
Your budget. Do you really have enough money to spend on a project like this? What materials will you need to buy? Will you need any special tools or equipment? How much time does it take you to complete the job? Is there anything else that needs to be done around your house besides the repairs that are needed right now (like painting)?
The area behind your house. How big is the area you need to work on? What kind of surface is on the ground (concrete, grass, or dirt)? Will you need power tools to complete the job correctly? Are there any other things that need to be done in the area beside porch repair?
Time. After answering the above questions, put them all together and make a timetable that will help you stay on track with everything.
Your tools and equipment. Do you have everything you need? What can you do without and get by with something else?
Also, keep in mind that the best way to approach fixing a back porch is to work on one area at a time. This will allow you to stay organized because things won’t be cluttered everywhere and it’ll cut down on how much taping, sanding, and painting you’ll need to do in the long run.
Step 2: Get Your Supplies
The second step to fixing a back porch involves getting all of the things you will need. The first thing you need to do is get all the supplies and materials you’ll need to build new steps. Next, get the tools and equipment you’ll need to complete the project.
Concrete (Part A and Part B)
Landscape Fabric (if you’re not placing the steps on grass or dirt) Gravel (for the base layer of the steps) Sand (for the middle layer of the steps) Decorative Stones or Pebbles (for the top layer of the steps) Cement Patio Blocks (for underneath each step; a.k.a. “pumpkin blocks” or Cinder Blocks) Waterproof Concrete Reinforcement Bar (for underneath the pumpkins; a.k.a.
“rebar”) Gypsum Board (for under the patio blocks; a.k.a. “stringers”) Scrap 2x4s (for framing out the tops of each step; a.k.a. “framing planks”) Pressure-treated Lumber (for making a frame and installing seat boards) 3″ Deck Screws Nails Corrugated PVC Roofing (for protecting the underside of the steps; a.k.a. “waterproofing”)
Miter Saw Power Drill or Screwdriver (depending on if you want to use screws or nails) Sandpaper Level Tape Measure 2-by-4 (optional)
Sledgehammer Concrete Curbing Knife (a.k.a. “rebar cutter” or “rebar bender”)
Step 3: Build the New Steps
This is it! The moment you’ve been waiting for. Time to build! Take a look at your plans and get started.
It’s easier to build the steps on the ground, so if your yard isn’t completely flat you might want to put some gravel or sand over any uneven areas before you get started.
Start by standing up all of your 2x4s. If you want a deeper step (which will make the steps slightly narrower), put the 2x4s at a 41° angle. Make sure that the sides are perfectly straight and plumb them by measuring with a level from the side to the top.
The next layer should be cross boards nailed to the sides of the stringers. The cross boards should overhang the stringer by a few inches on both sides. The last layer is the top framing planks nailed to the top of the cross boards (and overhanging the cross boards by a few inches on both sides). If you want a deeper step (which will make the steps slightly narrower), steepen the angle of the 2x4s.
You should also consider adding a 1″ x 4″ lip on the top front face of each step to prevent people from hurting themselves if they trip going up or down the steps.
Step 4: Prepare the footings
Now it’s time to get the footing ready for the new steps. This is much easier than digging the old one because you don’t have to work as hard to make it level (and it doesn’t need to be quite as level since people won’t really be standing on it).
First, you need to cut your pumpkins so that they fit into the area where you want your new step. Try to pick out pumpkins that are about the same color and size so that your step will be a nice color and design.
Now roll the pumpkins out to your work area so that they aren’t in the way of the rest of your project and so that they don’t get stepped on accidentally. Even though you will push most of the dirt to the side as you dig, it’s best not to get dirt all over your pumpkins.
Carefully dig straight down about 12″ and then start angling the walls out at about 45 degrees so that each step is a little wider than the last. The dirt will naturally fall to the side, so try to dig straight down into the ground without getting dirt on the pumpkins if you can (but don’t worry if it does).
Step 5: Form and pour concrete
With your footings in place, it’s time to make them stronger by “rebar reinforcing”. It’s sort of like when your mom uses a clothesline to keep a pants-folded-on-the-floor “structure” from collapsing.
You’ll need a couple of pieces of rebar and a sledgehammer. Carefully measure and cut the rebar so that it fits inside the footings with about 2″ sticking up out of the ground. The ends should be cut at a 45 degree angle so that they are sharp and poke into the pumpkins (this is where the clothesline comes in).
Now take your pumpkins and lay them on their sides over the footings. You may need to trim the bottom of the pumpkin so that it will fit tightly in the footing.
Carefully smash the ends of the rebar into the pumpkins until they are firmly attached. Make sure the rebar ends stick up above the pumpkins by at least an inch.
You’re done with the footings now. Let’s move on to the forms.
You’ll need to make two forms for each step because your steps are going to be double-decker (remember, this is a big step and you don’t want people falling through).
The forms should be made out of something light (like wood or pvc) and strong (like plywood or hardboard). They should also be taller than your step so that the concrete has somewhere to go when it is poured in (otherwise it would just leak out the sides of the forms).
Make sure you pay attention to the angle of the steps when you build your forms (and make them all the same angle). Your top step needs to be a little higher than your lower step (don’t worry, you’ll still have plenty of room up there).
Now back to where you made the pumpkins into nice round spheres. Those freshly-cut ends are going to be a big problem because they will let the water and concrete leak right through them. We’re going to need to caulk those babies up so that doesn’t happen.
We’re going to need to cut some strips of burlap and I’m going to tell you right now, you are not allowed to use the good burlap. The nice, soft one with tiny flowers that you can feel under your bare feet in the garden is NOT what you’re looking for. You need the big, ol’ heavy duty canvas-y kind that they sell at the hardware store to wrap up planting bulbs in. If you’ve been good about picking your own rocks, you can even get the “free” bulb burlap (they’ll give you a big bag of free bulbs every fall if you’ll just take them home and plant them).
You’re going to need to cut about 60 strips. Each one should be about a foot long and about as wide as the diameter of your pumpkins (so they will wrap around it snuggly).
Burlap is made up of long fibers and if you look closely at it, you’ll see that those fibers run the length of the strip. You’re going to want the fibers to be running the same direction as the strip so that they grab onto your pumpkin.
Wrap one strip around each pumpkin and put a little Elmer’s Glue (or some other glue that dries clear) on each end. Press the glued ends together and let them dry before you go any farther.
Let’s step back for a second and talk about safety. Concrete is really heavy and when you pour it, it’s going to be REALLY heavy. Not only will it be very heavy, but it will also be extremely hot. You need to make sure that you are not skipping on safety so that you don’t get hurt and so that you don’t ruin all your hard work.
There are two things that you should be aware of when working with concrete:
1. Concrete gets extremely hot as it dries. When it’s wet, it has a cooling sensation (this is why mom puts it in her garden to help retain moisture in the soil during the summer). But, once the concrete dries, it traps in the heat and the surface can become very hot.
2. Wet concrete has a tremendous amount of strength. It’s similar to wet spaghetti in that respect (although a lot stronger). After it dries, it not only doesn’t have quite as much strength, but it also becomes fragile (like wet spaghetti after you pull it out of the pot).
You need to be VERY careful when transporting the pumpkins/concrete mixture so that you don’t drop it. Dropping something heavy and wet on your foot will more than likely cause a serious injury.
The next thing you need to watch out for is setting the pumpkins down where they can easily be damaged (i.e. Next to a wall). If one of the pumpkins were to get bumped up against a wall, it would most likely crack or break completely.
We need to get them out of the wheelbarrow in an area where they won’t be bumped into something or knocked over.
Since you are putting these outside, you are going to have to work fast. Concrete dries fast in the outdoors (much faster than it does indoors). We don’t want the pumpkins setting out in the sun before the concrete has time to dry.
The final thing to watch out for is water. Let’s say it’s a hot day and you’ve been working pretty hard. It would be really easy to start sweating (especially when you’re lifting those pumpkins). A few beads of sweat falling into the concrete mixture would ruin everything.
It’s probably a good idea to wear clothes that are lightweight and cover as much skin as possible. Long pants, sleeves, and maybe even a hat. Concrete is notorious for giving people heat burns so the less skin exposed the better.
We need to get these pumpkins outside before the concrete sets up.
Let’s start by getting one of the pumpkins out of the wheelbarrow. You’re going to have to be careful not to drop it so make sure you have a good hold on it.
Now that you’ve got one in each hand, you’re going to want to take them out to the patio. Since it would be really easy to trip and drop one (or maybe even trip, drop both, and have them smash on the floor), you’re going to want to carry these carefully while stepping slowly.
Walk out of the kitchen and into the foyer. As you pass through the foyer, you may notice the big, ornate mirror hanging on the wall. It’s a little weird because you don’t remember that being there before. In fact, it almost looks like it wasn’t here and then suddenly just appeared.
Anyways, carry the pumpkins over to the double doors leading out to the patio. It’s a little tricky because these are pretty big pumpkins and you don’t want to fall down the stairs to the patio (and risk dropping one of the pumpkins).
As you step through the doorway and move onto the stairs, turn to your right (clockwise) just a little bit…
Now that you are on the first step, turn towards the door and take another step down (again, turning to your right).
You should be parallel with the wall now. Take another step down (turning to your right again) and you should now be at the bottom of the stairs. Turn one more time (to your right) and you should now be facing towards the wall beside the bottom of the stairs.
Sources & references used in this article: