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trobinson017 05-14-2008 01:03 PM

Advice on replacing porch supports
I have a 50 year old single story house in Florida that has a front porch overhang. Currently the overhang is supported by metal (wrought iron?) supports. Very elegant looking with a vine motif. These supports are about an inch or so thick, about 9" wide and 80" tall. All are in need of replacement very soon. One has already been knocked out of place and I now have a temporary support made with 2x4's in its place. My problem is that the top beam where the supports attach is only 3" wide. All the column/support products I've found locally start at 6" wide for square posts or 6" in diameter for round posts. I cannot find any place that sells similar wrought iron/metal supports as what exists now. I can't even find stuff online. The other issue is design continuity. I don't want colonial posts on my bungalo type of house.

Here's a link to photos online:

Any advice on what I should do now? Should I restructure the overhang so it's wider and the attachment point thus allowing for the common sizes of columns in my area? Or, is there something I can do to the existing beam to make it possible to use the larger sized posts while still being structurally sound and visually appealing? Perhaps I should look into building my own 3" wood posts? Living in Florida I don't think wood would be a good idea given the high humidity levels we have. Might rot the wood in a few years.

Any advice would be much appreciated.


Termite 05-14-2008 01:17 PM

You probably won't find them as a stock item anywhere anymore. They were very popular in the 50's. I had the same thing on my house.

Contact ornamental iron companies. They're often associated with wrought iron fence companies. Get ready to get your wallet out!

You could have wood timber posts cut for you out of a decay-resistant species such as cypress or cedar. Cypress would work very well in your climate, and is probably readily available down there. Combined with some brackets of corbels in the same material, it would look nice on a bungalow.

Adding to the beam might be possible, but I don't see the point. Many of the spun fiberglass columns available these days are incredibly strong, and given your relatively light load, they wouldn't have to be concentrically loaded. If you wanted, you could fur out the beam for aesthetic reasons once the columns are in.

trobinson017 05-14-2008 01:36 PM

THanks for the info, 'mite!

I'm not sure what you mean by "...fur out the beam for aesthetic reasons....". Can you elaborate?

The only reason I mentioned doing anything to the top beam was to make it wider to accept the common 6" posts I'm finding down here. But, I'm not sure how to do it or even it's is possible or desirable to do so. When I picture those common posts installed they would overhang that beam by about 2" on each side. Not very attractive. But if I can find cypress posts like you mention and can have them shaped to fit the beam's 3" width that would be good. I'd go with that.

Thanks again! I'm off to research availability.


NateHanson 05-14-2008 01:48 PM

Why do the current posts need to be replaced? Are they beyond salvage because or rust, or something? I think the best course would be to take them to a wrought iron shop, and see if whatever's wrong with them can be fixed. It'll preserve the nice look you've got there, and I'd be surprised if it weren't the cheapest option too.

clasact 05-14-2008 02:52 PM

I could be wrong here but from the photos it looks like the iron post are ok maybe just in need of some cleaning up and repainted but your top plate is roten.If this is the case that will have to be replace ,as for reconnecting the post I do know that most home and hardware stores sell small L brackets that you could drill into the post and then run a metal screw in to it.The weight would still sit on the post and the brackets would hold it in place with no need to replace anything but the top plate or whatever has rotted to make them come lose

Termite 05-14-2008 04:00 PM

True, a little sandblasting and paint would probably fix them right up.

To elaborate...
What I mean by furring out the beam is to make the beam appear wider than it is in order to aesthetically (not structurally) accomodate the width of whatever post you decide to put in there. This can be done by fastening 1x2 or 2x2/2x4 material pieces to give you something to attach a new side piece to the beam. You could use 1x material or A/C plywood for the new side and the new bottom. The width of the beam facade would be determined by the thickness and orientation of your 1x or 2x furring strips, which would be attached horizontally to the side of the existing beam (top and bottom).

In your climate, I would recommend painting primer on EVERY SURFACE of the boards you use, even the areas you won't see. This is called backpriming, and is a good practice.

I bought a couple semi trailer loads of cypress when I was in the lumber biz...For the life of me I can't remember my source. I imagine that most specialty lumber retailers in the gulf area will have cypress because that it where it grows. I doubt that you'll find it at home centers. You need to find a milling operation or timber sales company. It will withstand being wet forever, and is easy to work with as well.

trobinson017 05-14-2008 05:28 PM

Wow! Great advice on the existing supports. Thanks nate, clsact and thekctermite!! The current posts are a bit rusted, particularly at the base. But if I can correct the top plate issue and use brackets top and bottom that would be excellent. The only problem there is that the one misssing post (currently replaced by a 2x4 temporary post assembly) is gone. So I still either need to find a replacement post or replace all with the same style. I don't want 3 posts all one style and one that's a misfit.

Anyway, you've all been great with the help! I appreciate it much. Now if I could get the same kind of help with my boat motor..... :wink:


clasact 05-14-2008 06:01 PM

while you have the post off take one to a fence company and ask if they can get you one. You may spend a few bucks on one and not have to replace them all to match.I would also do as thekctermite said and treat all side of the wood you replace it with,in your climate it is a must

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