Fix Up Your Front Porch

If you have a front porch, consider yourself lucky. I'd love to have a welcoming veranda on the front of my house, where I can sit and watch the world go by or chat with friends. Porches can be problematic, however, especially if they fall into disrepair. Fortunately, fixing up your front porch is easy - and the result boosts your home's curb appeal and offers a brand-new alfresco living area you can enjoy every day.

Just follow these 5 steps to take your front porch from failing to fabulous in no time.

1. Fix problem areas.
If your porch is suffering from sagging or warped boards, your first priority is to fix the porch floor. This project (which can be tackled in half a day) involves pulling up the old boards, installing new decking and trim, and sanding. While you have the boards pulled up, it's a good idea to inspect the joists underneath the deck for signs of rot. If it looks questionable under there, Calfinder recommends contacting a licensed professional for an inspection. You'll also want to make certain the porch stairs are secure. And while you're at it, why not add some architectural detail? You can find inexpensive trim suitable for your porch at most local home improvement stores.

2. Paint the porch.
Once you've fixed problem areas and sanded, it's time to paint. First, you want to make sure you pick the right paint. Options for porches and decks include epoxy, alkyd, latex, polyurethane, and rubber-based paints. While you're painting, you'll likely want to paint your porch trim, posts, and other exposed parts so they coordinate with your new porch floor.

3. Add furniture.
Now comes the fun part. How many furnishings you can reasonably add to your porch will depend on its size. A big wraparound provides plenty of space for multiple seating areas. Perhaps you'll designate one area for dining, another as an area for sitting and chatting with friends, and a third as a private escape for reading or relaxing. Even if your porch isn't that large, you can still include distinctive seating areas - perhaps a spot for dining plus a bench or a couple of chairs near the door for relaxing. Just avoid cluttering the space with too many furnishings - you should be able to easily to move around what's there. What kind of furniture you pick is up to you. With protected front porches, you can pick furnishings that are designed for use indoors or out - although outdoor furniture will last longer. Plan to store furnishings out of the elements during winter months to further extend their life.

4. Accessorize.
The same fundamentals that you use when decorating an indoor space apply with outdoor rooms too. Accessories will take your front porch from impersonal to warm and welcoming. Start by adding some throw pillows or chair cushions in playful patterns and colors. What other touches can you include to make this space feel like home? For personality and privacy, consider hanging curtains around your porch. Use an outdoor rug to delineate living spaces. Or paint your own right on the porch floor. A lamp rated for outdoor use or hanging lanterns allow you to extend your time on the porch past sunset. And the little touches - candles, a framed photo, a side table for perching drinks - make a difference too.

5. Add plants.
An outdoor space (or indoor space for that matter) isn't complete without plants. The easiest way to add fresh foliage to your revamped porch is by placing a few potted plants next to seating areas or hanging pots from the porch ceiling.

But the landscaping in front of the porch matters too. You can go lush or keep things simple with a few carefully selected bushes and perennials. Either way, the right plantings will draw the eye, and your welcoming front porch will keep it there!

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