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Old 11-24-2015, 09:13 PM   #1
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Building porch columns out of 1x8s


A few days ago I started tearing my 90-year-old front porch apart to rebuild it almost entirely from scratch. 90 years had not been kind to the untreated lumber!

I was surprised to pry a 1x8 off of the first column I was removing and discovering that the square box was hollow -- the column was made by 1x8s whereas I had always assumed there was a 6x6 post or something else like that inside.

With this revelation, I'm planning to build my own porch columns, but I'm wondering if modern treated 1x8s really are enough. I've read a couple of how-tos that indicate it's fine, but other readings say to use 2x material to make the columns, or even using a 6x6 post and just wrap it with whatever.

My old columns made from 1x8s held the roof just fine (even as they were starting to rot at the bottom) and I happen to have a lot of 1x8s on hand, so I plan to use that material, but I thought I'd ask for a few more opinions. (Any horror stories?)

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Old 11-24-2015, 10:04 PM   #2
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Any possibility that the porch roof is just a cantilever with no posts needed?

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Old 11-24-2015, 11:25 PM   #3
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Personally I would probably see about using Pressure treated 6x6 for the box and then every so often, place a plate to help keep it from twisting. Then cover it with whatever you want for the final look.

If you have someone in your lical area that runs their own mill. You may be able to get them made at the original cut size, then today's finished size.
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Old 11-25-2015, 06:52 AM   #4
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If you do not mind a post full of knots and will not hold paint well then go with the pressure treated.
The main reason that old post rotted out is because it was in direct contact with the deck.
I agree using a 4 X 4 or 6 X 6 sitting on a real Simpson Strong Tie post base and then wrapping it and keeping the wood up off the decking slightly would last far longer.
I use PVC wrapping so there's no more rot or painting.
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Old 11-25-2015, 07:30 AM   #5
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That column would be a non-prescriptive element in a modern code book. However, depending on where you live, replacing it in kind would probably meet a modern rehab code. In any case, why not just be safe and install a prescriptive post on the inside, since you already know the structure has been attacked by rot.
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