Colonial Style Homes
When I designed my new colonial style home, my wife only had a couple of must haves. The biggest one on her wish list was a full length farmer’s porch. I was skeptical at first because I wasn’t exactly sure how our large colonial style home would look with such a large porch on it. As it turns out I think it’s the most defining architectural feature of our home and it’s best asset!
Farmer’s porches are one of the biggest requests that we get from prospective buyers at work. As beautiful as they are, it’s important to realize how expensive they can be. The average farmers porch can cost between $15,000 and $25,000 to build.
When building a farmer’s porch, or any style of porch, you should consider adding a “skirt” to close off this space from skunks and other animals. You want to make sure you leave air spaces so there is good circulation under the porch to prevent rot. When trying to decide what style “skirt” to put under our new farmers porch, it finally came down to cost. I was thinking about using an older style where you put vertical boards with a small gap between them. However, the materials were going to be about triple the cost.
I decided to build the entire farmers porch out of PVC trim and PVC lattice. Each panel is made out of 1×6 Kleer PVC trim for the frame and 1/4″ thick PVC privacy lattice. Each piece of the frame has a 1″ wide by 5/16″ deep rabbit on the back side to receive the lattice. One of the biggest problems with vinyl lattice is the amount of thermal expansion and contraction. If you just nail the stuff in place it will buckle. I’ve nailed the frames in place but the lattice just floats inside the rabbits.
Above you can see the lattice held in place by the rabbit in the trim piece. I’m also using PVC cement for the miter joints and scarf joints. I’ve found that this stuff really wants to move when the temperature changes and once you glue the joint it will never come apart. I’m using stainless steel siding nails to attach the trim boards.
Bonus Tips for Working with PVC
It’s VERY important that you understand how to work with PVC trim before tackling a project like this. While that discussion is far too lengthy for this article it is worth noting some key considerations:
- Thermal Movement – PVC trim expands and contracts more than traditional wood trim. This means that the material must be fastened according to the manufacturer’s specifications. This typically includes using more fasteners and shorter intervals. We normally use either stainless steel ring shank siding nails or stainless steel trim screws.
- Glue Joints – Gluing the joints is almost 100% necessary in our experience to prevent sightly opening. We typically glue all miter and scarf joints with “clear” PVC cement (this means both clear primer and glue). Gluing the joints has proven very effective in combination with proper fastening to keep the joints nice and tight.
- Don’t Be Afraid To Paint It - While many people think that PVC trim doesn’t need to be painted (it doesn’t really), it does look much better if you do because the paint helps hide the fasteners and joints. Paints will last a very long time on PVC as the substrate will not absorb water which is the normal cause of paint failure.