Porch Column Replacement

By Robert Robillard on Columns

Replacing A Wood Column With A Fiberglass Column

These 8″ round, wood, porch columns are approximately 15 years old and severely rotted. The lack of a gutter above didn’t help matters either.  this article will explain the steps necessary for a porch column replacement.

Both porch column bases are completely rotted and a colony of bees lives inside this one.

I convinced my client to allow me to replace the 8″ round porch columns with HB&G brand PermaCast® columns with ornamental capitals and base / plinth.

Fiberglass-Reinforced Polymer Columns

These columns are cast from a proprietary fiber-reinforced polymer composite with exceptional strength-to-weight characteristics and requiring minimum maintenance.  They are weatherproof, insect proof, highly durable and easy to install.

TIP For Load Bearing Columns:

Make sure that you ensure you have concentric loading of the column. 100 percent of the bottom must come in contact with the deck or floor, and 75 percent of the top of the column must contact the beam or sofit.

Support The Roof

Normally performing a porch column replacement I release pressure on the porch columns with a hydraulic jack, raise the roof slightly and then provide structural temporary supports to hold the porch roof weight while I remove the porch column.

Because this was a small porch roof with very little roof weight so I used my third hand poles to raise and support this roof to facilitate my porch column replacement.  Each pole supports approx. 75 lbs.

I was able to use these poles to lift this porch slightly to get my new porch columns in.   Below I am tracing the old porch column capital as a guide for replacement.

Note Old Column Location

Using a plumb line can be helpful to determine locations from the center of a beam or ceiling position to the floor

The wood porch column capital and base were secured to the porch ceiling and deck with 4 screws each.

Remove Old Column

The wood porch column base crumbles on removal. I’m pointing to the bee’s nest. thankfully I was no stung.

The porch column bottom was not primed. Water wicked up through the end grain and eventually created rot.

Measure for New Column:

With the column removed I measured for the new porch column replacement.

Cutting The Fiberglass Column:

To cut the fiberglass porch column I used an abrasive masonry blade, but a carbide blade works too. Remember to wear a dust mask.
Cutting Tip:
Secure the porch column to the saw horses with bungee cords.
Trim the porch column shaft [lower section for tapered columns] Minor adjustments can be made with a rasp, sander, grinder or the side of the masonry blade. Sometimes adjustments are needed to ensure you have even load distribution on the bearing surfaces.
I cut the porch column a few inches at a time, stopping occasionally to turn the column.

Installing The New Column

Prior to placing the new porch column in place you need to slip on the top capital and bottom base cap.

Once the porch column is in place and plumbed I used two angled mounting brackets to secure the column to the roof.
Make sure these L-brackets or mounting brackets do not interfere with the seating of the capital or base.  I pre-drilled the column and used two pan head screws to secure the bracket to the porch column.
Galvanized deck screws were used to secure the bracket to the beam and deck.  After the brackets are installed I remove my braces and allow the roof weight to bear on the column.
Column Brackets:

Two brackets secure this porch column to the deck. The reason the brackets are not on opposite sides of the porch column is because I installed them so they could be screwed through the decking and into a deck joist.

Plumb the Column:

Double checking for plumb as well as how the new column relates to where the old one was positioned.

Securing The Base Plate:

Construction adhesive was used to glue the capital and base in place. Four galvanized screws further secured it while the adhesive dried. The screw holes can be filled and painted over.
Squaring the bottom base trim in relation to the house, the decking and to the other porch column.
Caulking the seam between the base trim and the fiberglass porch column.
Porch column replacement is finished and awaiting paint!
Side view.
Painting Tips:
1. Follow manufacturers instructions when painting a fiberglass column.
2. Do not paint a fiberglass porch column a dark color. A dark color is any color that falls with in the L Value of 56 to 0. L is a measure of lightness of an object and ranges from 0 [black] to 100 [white].
3. Do not spray paint fiberglass porch columns – use a brush.

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About the author

Robert Robillard

Carpenter / Remodeler / Editor / Video Talent

Robert Robillard is a general contractor, carpenter and operates a remodeling company located in Concord, MA. He is the editor of ConcordCarpenter.com and ToolBoxBuzz. Rob is a recognized leader in tool and how-to information for building professionals, he hosts the Concord Carpenter Cable TV Show, offering advice on home repairs and maintenance. On his website, Rob uses his knowledge and experience to help and educate on best practices in the remodeling industry. His motto: “Well done is better than well said!”.

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