Mistakes That Make Your Porch Look Bad

Is Your House a Clown House?

  • Repairing vs. Replacing your porch and what you need to know
  • Height of Railing for Porches, Building Code vs. Curb Appeal
  • Latticework beneath the Porch
  • Porch Ceiling Color

The Porch Railing and Other Features of the Porch

The porch is a very important feature on a house. It softens the appearance of the facade on the building, creates sharp interesting shadows that are pleasing to our senses, and provides a space for healthy outdoor living. The porch balustrade (hand rail, lower rail, and balusters), columns, posts, and other porch features, all work together to tell a story that represents the style and period of the house. The size and proportion of these various features are all based on the architecture of the building and any alteration to a single element will not only upset the composition of the porch but the visual integrity of the building as a whole.

All the beauty and enjoyment which a porch provides comes with a cost. Being so opened and exposed to the elements, the porch railing, floor, columns, posts, newel posts, and balustrade take a huge amount of abuse from the weather. All of these features require much more preventative maintenance, such as painting, more frequently than the house itself. Unfortunately, many homeowners do not always maintain their porches as they should and their porches quickly deteriorate. Once we notice our porch has begun to deteriorate, we have lost our chance for an easy and inexpensive preventative maintenance procedure. We now need to make repairs, and this is where the problems really start!

Your Porch as You Know and Love may be Gone and Lost Forever

First of all, it is very important to the overall aesthetics of the house that the appearance of the porch railing, balusters, posts or columns and newel posts remain exactly as they are. Unfortunately, this seldom happens even by homeowners who have the best of intentions. It is very possible that your porch, as you know it, may be gone forever. There are a few reasons for this – some beyond the homeowner’s and contractor’s control. Thankfully, there are a few ways to circumvent this problem, so read on.

Repair or Replace your Porch Balustrade?

The Secretary of the Interior Standards for Rehabilitation offers the most logical advice for any work done to old buildings. It should not matter whether your home is a prime example of historic architecture or is just an average old house. This publication offers excellent advice, providing your home with the best possible curb appeal. An element on an old building should first be repaired. If that is not possible, it should be duplicated exactly. The rule is simple and basic – follow it. Avoid the temptation to be creative or settle for something else. Falling off the path will affect curb appeal!

Rotted wood can be repaired to look like new with easy-to-use epoxy fillers.

If your balustrade is rotted, it is best to repair before you replace. I personally recommend a technologically advanced product made by ABATRON as follows.

YouTube Video showing how to repair rotted wood.

Click here to purchase

Unfortunately, today we live in a “disposable society”. Modern products are manufactured not to be repaired. If something breaks, not only is it easier, but it is now the mind-set to send it to the landfill and purchase a replacement. Sadly, this is also the same mind-set of many professionals that do carpentry work today.

If you are lucky enough for someone to actually respond to your phone call and provide you with an estimate for porch repair work, be prepared for a large bill. If a small amount of rot exists on your porch rail, the contractor will rarely offer to repair the rotted wood. Most likely a complete replacement will be suggested.

As stated above, replacement is a second option but there are many problems that come with this option too. You really need to be on the ball here and don’t rush into making any immediate decisions or agreeing to have work performed that you may later be sorry for. After all, if the porch were maintained as it should have, you wouldn’t have to cope with the dangers and problems connected with replacement of porch features.

Inferior Replacements – What you need to know before you replace features on your porch

Your carpenter or subcontractor should be aware that you have an old (vintage) house, but there are a lot of old houses, and a lot of people that just don’t care about what their house looks like – or at least to the extent that they should. They know that the porch is broken, it needs to be fixed, and in this economy, money is tight.

Many people do not understand aesthetics. There are an abundance of “cookie-cutter” porch parts manufactured to fix a porch. Be aware that your carpenter may be most accustomed to repairing a porch in this manner. If you request an original historic look, it may be a fun challenge for him. Review his plans before any work is performed. You may need to educate him. You must realize that just because someone loves old houses and works on a lot of old homes, it doesn’t mean they understand aesthetics and architecture. Most should stay far away from old houses.

In many cases the carpenter will replace and reconstruct not only the railing, but the entire balustrade with what is currently available and popular in the large discount home centers. That 100 year old wood that was lovingly maintained for you by previous owners for many years will now go to the landfill and be replaced with today’s inferior fast grown wood that will never last as long as the original, even if it is well maintained.

Your carpenter may inform you that they are still manufacturing the same style porch posts and railing. They can easily be replaced with something very similar if not exact. Don’t believe it. Today there is an abundance of architectural products on the market advertised as period styles. Unfortunately, although advertised as such, these products are watered-down versions of an original or merely a period interpretation designed by someone obviously unfamiliar with period details. Those with vintage houses may hastily, yet innocently, choose one of these products as an inadequate replacement for an original since it is the closest to what they have.

Aside from design, the most important difference in a reproduction architectural product (decorative molding, newel posts, railings etc.) is the size. For example – most replacement porch newel posts, although only about two inches narrower than an original can drastically affect the overall appearance of a house, causing it to lose its sense of structure and appear to be off-balance.

Most porch newel posts on older homes were 5.5 inches wide. This size is not easy to find today since it requires a large lathe. The 5.5 inch base width is a good starting point for most newel posts. I would not go any smaller for a newel post on the front porch of the house. Some porches have much larger newel posts. Replacing newel posts to the correct size will require custom mill work.
Although this newel post is of similar style, it is entirely too thin to provide the appearance of a solid support anchoring the stairs and balustrade to the ground. This toothpick styled post creates an appearance of weakness to the overall structure of the house.

NOTE: Never rest wood on concrete for it is porous and will allow water to wick into the wood. Brick or slate is good. Better yet is space. There are metal or plastic feet that can be used as a spacer as in the above photo to the left. Be sure to periodically remove debris from underneath. The bottom of the newel post should be painted and a layer of caulk applied for extra protection.

The newel posts should noticeably mark the entrance and provide a feeling of welcome to visitors as they proceed up the steps to the house.

This photo is from my archive taken a few years ago showing Home Depot style, weak toothpick-like newel posts.

Since then the newel posts and balustrade on the steps have been replaced. The entire house appears more grounded and the entrance welcomes you with a feeling of embracement.

Vinyl Replacements

Another option would be to replace porch elements with a vinyl product. While I am all for saving trees, the vinyl products I have seen look exactly like what they are – plastic! They appear cheap, very shiny, and lack the sharp detail that only real wood can generate. They look absolutely awful!

There are other manufacturers that produce quality composite balustrades and other architectural features. I have seen them advertised through Period Homes magazine . These manufacturers state that they do custom replication of historic details in a composite material that is designed to be painted and not look like the junk you see on most houses. I was told they will duplicate a balustrade or any feature exactly to look like wood. I have not had the opportunity to validate this since most homeowners seem to choose a cheap looking replacement. If you’ve used these materials, I would appreciate if you’d contact me telling me your experiences.

Please keep in mind that the individual components of your balustrade must be custom made using wood, composite vinyl, hardiboard, etc to look its best. A pre-molded balustrade is a violation of the integrity of your porch.

Remember the Arm’s Length Rule. Substitute materials are acceptable providing they are indistinguishable from the product they replace at an arm’s distance. If you have found a non-wood product that you feel is indistinguishable from wood, please contact me so I can share it with our readers.

Custom Made Wood Reproduction Railing May Not be Allowed

A good carpenter may offer to custom-make a new railing using a high quality wood such as Spanish cedar (depending on your region). Although not nearly as good as repairing your original, this custom duplication will be your best bet. Yes – Spanish cedar or a comparable quality wood for your area is much more expensive, but this is a good lesson learned on how important preventative maintenance can be. Just be very sure that the proportions and details will not be changed from the original railing.

In the event you are unable to repair your porch features, it would be best to have an exact replacement custom made using good quality wood. Sounds like you finally have the answer to your problems right? No you don’t! You may have the perfect carpenter with the perfect experience, but your municipal building code may prohibit you from duplicating your porch railing!

Building Code, Permits, and Grief

A building code, as stated by Wikipedia, is a set of rules that specify the minimum acceptable level of safety for constructed objects such as buildings and non-building structures. The main purpose of building codes are to protect public health, safety and general welfare as they relate to the construction and occupancy of buildings and structures. The building code becomes law of a particular jurisdiction when formally enacted by the appropriate authority.

Building Codes vary by state. Municipalities are usually required to follow the codes set by the state. There are, however, some code inspectors who interpret the code to their own liking and also have the authority to do so. This prerogative may cause the homeowner additional grief. I recommend that you first find out what your local building code requires before planning any porch work. If you question that code, you should contact your state agency to find out what the official definition of the code entails. That doesn’t mean that you will get your way, but you may have a legitimate argument.

When do you need a building permit? A building permit is required when the scope of work is of a structural nature. For example, if you make repairs to your porch floor, you will not need a permit unless it becomes structural. What this means is that you can replace your porch floor boards without a permit, but when you need to replace the boards under the column or post, that column or post will have to be removed to support the porch roof. This now becomes structural work and triggers the requirement of a building permit.

If a building permit is required just to repair the porch floor, you will also be required to bring your entire porch up to code. That means you will be required to replace your railing with one that is permitted by code – even if your railing is in perfect shape and does not need replacement. This is a catastrophe and you will soon learn why.

Building Code Requirements Can Destroy the Appearance of Your House

Many homes have low porch floors that were never designed to have a porch rail. In these cases, adding a rail and balustrade will NOT necessarily improve the overall appearance. I would suggest leaving it as it is.

There are building code requirements for a porch. In the USA, if your porch floor is less than 30 inches high from the ground, a railing is NOT required by code. In Canada the maximum height from the ground is 24 inches.

If your porch floor is over the heights stated, the code requires a railing and balustrade. The problem is that the building code rail height must be at least 36 to 42 inches. Well that may not sound high to you but in almost all cases that is entirely too high! Your historic railing is perfectly legal since it is grand-fathered to code. Replace it or make structural changes and you’re welcoming additional problems.

This house looks great as it is. Adding a balustrade can subtract from its appearance.

Porch Rail Height vs. Building Code

Here is where you must follow the architecture of your house to determine the porch railing height. The window sill overlooking your porch can determine the height of the railing from the porch floor. Although all features on a building are based on the classic orders of architecture, the simplest and most logical method is to use your window as a guide. Your porch railing should never be higher than the top of the window sill. That may mean that your original railing is only 25 inches high above the porch floor. When looking out the window from indoors, the railing and balusters should never block any of your view.

There are many other areas of error for various porch features and architectural rules to follow. In this article we will focus on the height – one of the most common errors.

True, building codes exist to protect the public. Yes – people have fallen off porches in the past, but these old historic porches are usually not that high up from the ground. True, someone may fall off the porch and spill their drink all over their nice clean shirt. In the interest of public safety, I would advise that you do not plant rose bushes at the base of your porch in the event your guests take a tumble. The trend of forcing homeowners to live in a protective bubble comes at a great cost – the loss of curb appeal!

Having a porch rail that is architecturally wrong – higher than the window sill gives the appearance of one of those fun-house mirrors or like a clown wearing pants pulled way up high. Your rail and balustrade looks stretched out and abnormal. Your railing is a decorative feature, not a cage to keep you on the porch.

Here are some photos to show you the difference.

This house looks like there is a baby crib attached to the front. This railing needs to be stretched back down. Both the railing and Marilyn Monroe’s head appear abnormal. Beauty is turned into something unappealing.

If this railing or this clown’s pants were any higher, you would think you were at a zoo watching animals in a caged-in porch. This is a “high-water” railing.

Good – Rail is at base of window.

Bad – Rail is too high and appears to be constructed of toothpicks.

Proper height and appears strong.

Too high and weak looking.

New construction also looks foolish with such a high balustrade. Although there is a Victorian door, this is a Colonial style house. Aside from a high railing, notice how thin the posts are. I bet the builder shops at Home Depot.

This could be a very attractive porch. The width of the balusters and the spacing between them are just right. The top rail should be about 2 times thicker, and of course the entire railing is way too high. The columns are not original, but seem like good quality replacements. Notice that the square – lower portion of the column is higher than it should be to accommodate a higher railing. It looks like a lot of money was spent for a not so great result. This homeowner really did try, but building code prevailed at a very high cost – the cost of appearance.

As you can see this railing overpowers the house. However, the top of this railing is only a few inches higher than the window sill. If the railing were made lower and even with the window sill, it really would only make a small improvement. What happened here is that the first floor window is a new window that was installed much higher than it should be architecturally.

The point to understand here is that all features must work together on a house. Wrong windows do not make a right railing. There are rules for window sill heights which affect the railing heights, which affect the overall balance of the house. And yes, this harmony or lack of harmony transfers over to how you see the house next door.

This house has a closed balustrade that is the perfect height.

Here is an exception to the rule. The windows are quite large and extend down to about 8 inches above the porch floor. The rail height here is only 25 inches above the floor. Yes the rail is above the window sill, but since the window is so low the balustrade appears very attractive and in proportion to the house. The shrubberies should be kept lower, however.

Best Options for a Porch with Curb Appeal and Building Code

Your House Is In A Historic District

If your house is in a Historic District, you are safe from building code requirements. First speak to your Preservation Commission for approval and obtain any other helpful advice they may have for you. They may even recommend a good carpenter. If they do, terrific, but please DO NOT depend on them being totally knowledgeable. Let the buyer beware in all cases – don’t take any chances with any lack of communication or assume knowledge.

Being in a Historic District does add a level of security in knowing that the character of your neighborhood will remain the same as time goes by. When you look out your window today, you know you will enjoy the same view tomorrow. Your investment is safe while homeowners in unprotected neighborhoods will see changes and may be forced to move as the houses on their street slowly lose their charm.

Your House is NOT in a Historic District

If you are not in a Historic District, then you are officially required to purchase a building permit and follow your municipal building code requirements which will destroy the appearance of your house. You do however have three options.

Option 1
One choice you have is to build an architecturally correct railing, paint it, and then quickly install it without a permit and risk the possibility of being fined. If questioned later, if the carpenter did a good job and it looks original, the code inspector may think it is a well maintained original railing that is grand-fathered by code.

Option 2
The other option is to build an architecturally correct railing with a building permit, but modify it temporarily to pass building code approval. This is very simple to do as you will see in the image below. Your first priority, as a steward for an old home, and a good neighbor, is to have an architecturally correct railing to enhance the beauty of your house and your neighborhood. Your second priority, if you so choose, is to pass building code approval.

Here is an example to follow:

Building Code: Your rail height must be 36 inches or more. There cannot be any space of more than 4 inches. (remember to first check with your local building code department).

Architecturally correct railing height for the house in this example is 27.25 inches or lower. This places the rail even with the window sill.

For building code approval, the rail must be 8.75 inches higher to be 36 inches from the porch floor.

A 2″x 3″ or 2″x 4″ piece of lumber is installed at this height using wood blocks or fasteners to provide support. This is the “code rail”. Your railing height is now up to code. Well – almost to code.

However, there is now a 6.75 inch gap between the architectural rail and the code rail.
(8.75″ – 2″ = 6.75″) A 4 inch gap is the maximum space allowable by code. Yes, this is another requirement to remember.

Therefore a 1 x 1.5 inch strip of wood is attached to the support blocks. You now have a space of 3 inches on one side and 2.75″ on the other side.

Remember – this is just temporary. There is no need to paint it. Upon building approval, dismantle the code rail and seal up all the holes from the screws you removed. Paint the repairs to be sure the new, architecturally correct rail is protected from the elements.

For those of you who may not be comfortable removing the upper “code rail”, the only other option is to follow the instructions as above except use a pipe or thin metal rail instead of wood. For a secondary rail constructed of pipe, the code permits a narrower size. Be sure to paint these attachments BLACK so they are minimally visible and not match the color of the main balustrade.

Option 3
This option comes from one of our readers. Create a raised bed around your porch. Let’s say your porch is 6 inches above the height requiring a railing. All you need to do is to add 6 inches (do 7 inches to be safe) of dirt around your porch to create a raised bed. Surround this dirt with rocks to keep it contained and add some plants. Now the ground is higher and code does not require a railing. Therefore you can install a railing that is not to code. The photo our reader sent looked quite nice. Their new balustrade is architecturally correct and the permit was approved.

If the dirt you add is against your lattice it can cause rot. Either rebuild your lattice to the new height or just leave it as is until you get your permit approved then remove the dirt and replant the plants. If this makes you uncomfortable, keep the rocks that surrounded the previously raised bed and no one will know the height of the dirt behind the rocks surrounding your porch. (Thank you Stephany W.)

This rail is 25 inches above the floor. If work were performed that would trigger a building permit, the current balustrade would not be permitted. Replacing this rail to code would block the windows.

This historic balustrade could be re-used and temporarily modified to code as shown in the above option. Wood slats would need to be added vertically to fill in the space between the balusters. Being in a Historic District would avoid these issues.

Porch Railing Before and After

Here are some before and after photos of my house. The original 1910 balustrade was unfortunately removed by the previous owner and replaced with an ugly railing to code. The following photos show the “code” railing being replaced with one that is architecturally correct. The photos really don’t do it justice. The code at the time must have been 32 inches. The new rail was made 6 inches shorter which is now 26 inches from the floor to the top of the railing.

Full house view – Before

Full house view – After

Porch view – Before

Porch view – After

Compare the difference before the last section is replaced.

Note the rail height is just a few inches too high. It is also entirely too thin giving the appearance of a toothpick rail and balusters.

The new railing in this photo was installed graphically. Note the difference.

Contact us for consulting services to see the curb appeal possibilities for your home.

Other Points to Keep in Mind

If you have a similar railing to mine, the balusters should be 1 inch wide with a 2.5 inch space between each. The lower rail is 2.75 inches high and the upper rail (hand rail) is 3.5 inches high although usually both upper and lower rail should match in size. Both rails should be pitched for water runoff. This will add to the life of the rail and reduce maintenance.

National Park Service Technical Bulletin on Preserving Historic Wood Porches

The National Park Service – Department of Interior provides a Technical Preservation Service. Writers working under contract with the federal government have assembled more than 40 booklets designed to help owners and developers recognize and resolve common preservation and repair problems.

Porch Details for the Style of your Home

Here is a great article written by Brent Hull for the Old House Journal. Do you have a Colonial Revival, Victorian, Bungalow, etc. house and your porch is missing? Find out what style of porch features will be appropriate for your house style.

Porch details by the book

Porch Skirts and Lattice – Are You Making This Mistake?

The area under the porch (or mud room) is referred to as a Porch Skirt. The porch fascia board or skirt board directly under the porch floor transitions the porch to the porch skirt. The porch skirt, like the foundation, visually anchors the house to the ground.

Besides being a decorative element on a house, the porch skirt must provide necessary ventilation and prevent leaves and debris from entering under the porch. Good ventilation will add years to the life of a porch floor exposed to the weather.

The most common porch skirt is that made of lattice. Unfortunately this is an area where many homeowners are unconcerned with the appearance and attempt to take the easy way out. This mistake results in a capital T for Trashy! So read on and learn how to make your porch skirt add beauty to your home.

Lattice Hole Size

When using lattice, the first issue is the size of the holes. The type of lattice most homeowners are using today have holes that are entirely too large. The size of the holes are really very important. Too small and it looks optically strange. Too large and it appears too bold and attracts your attention. When looking at a house, you do NOT want your attention to be attracted to the lattice. The porch skirt should NOT be the focal point of your house. Don’t believe me, drive around and see how your eyes are attracted to that white shinny plastic lattice with giant holes.

Do NOT USE lattice with giant sized (2 3/4 x 2 3/4 inch) size holes sold as Garden Lattice – this is too large and bold looking. This is what most homeowners are using and it looks absolutely awful.

Do NOT USE lattice with holes that are too small. How small is small? I have seen ¾ x ¾ inch size and that is absolutely too small. They appear like hundreds of pin-holes and play visual games with your eyes.

Lattice with smaller holes are sold as Privacy Lattice. Lattice labeled as “Privacy” may or may not work depending on the size of the holes.

Color also plays an important part. The holes are much more noticeable when the lattice is painted white.

OHG recommendation:

1 to 1 3/4 inch wide holes (larger lattice panels can lean toward the 1 3/4 inch hole), Wood slats are 1 1/2 inch wide and 3/4 inch thick.

Pressure treated wood, 3 inch frame.
1″ x 1″ holes

Pressure treated wood, 3 inch frame.
3/4 x 3/4″ holes

Although both examples of lattice above are constructed of wood, the example on the right with 3/4 inch openings, appear too small. The openings seem like small dots from the street and will not provide sufficient ventilation.

Wood Lattice VS Plastic Lattice

We all would like to save ourselves some maintenance but choosing plastic lattice over wood lattice is NOT the way to go. Real wood (pressure treated) lattice, is composed of wood slats that are about 1 1/4 inches wide and 1/4 inch thick that cross over the top of a second layer of slats going in the opposite direction.

The shiny plastic lattice sold is not lattice but merely one sheet of super thin (1/16 inch) plastic with diamond shaped holes punched out. The plastic is etched with a fake grain to look like wood slats to fool you. Funny that real painted wood does not have this fake grain although most people still fall for this trick. There are no shadow lines with plastic lattice of course. It looks cheap because it is cheap.

A 1 inch square hole in wood lattice will look quite different in plastic because of tighter spacing between holes. The slat width for wood is 1 1/4 inches while the slat for plastic is 1 inch.

Plastic lattice is a sheet of plastic with holes cut out. There are grooves to simulate wood for those that do not know any better.

Wood lattice is composed of slats. Notice the shadows and texture

If you really must choose the plastic lattice, you can paint it (usually the base color of your house) and it will look a bit better.

Diagonal lattice is most commonly used, but slats can go up-and-down, or form other patterns of design. You can easily make your own. First construct a frame, and then create your own pattern with slats of wood.

Horizontal-vertical slats were very popular. If you construct your own, be sure to place the vertical slats in front of the horizontal slats. The vertical slats take precedence since they follow the upward flow of the building.

The horizontal lattice above and diagonal lattice were both used historically. Here are some other options instead of using lattice from a 1903 Millwork catalog and a 1910 Sears Building catalog.

Lattice Must be Framed

Lattice and everything in architecture must have punctuation. There must be a visual beginning and end. If not it looks like a mistake – something trying to, but not succeeding to blend into the surrounding area. It looks like it does not belong there.

Lattice should always sit inside a frame (Do not let the bottom of the frame touch the ground, otherwise you run the risk of rot and termites). The width of the frame should be about 3-4 inches.

If there is a wide distance between piers, consider separating one lattice panel into two or add a piece of the frame wood in the center.

Some porches are low to the ground – sometimes with only several inches of clearance. For this situation you have to make a judgment call. Choose the smaller 1×1 inch hole lattice. Make a frame at least 1 1/2 inch wide (slat width).

The lattice is attached to the back of this frame. This frame then sits between the piers (stone, brick, or concrete block column supports) and just behind the porch fascia. The piers/column supports are under each porch column or post and should be visible and not covered by the lattice.

To be aesthetically correct, the column that is supporting your porch roof needs to be visibly supported by a pier directly below. If the pier is hidden behind a lattice panel your inner mind will interpret this as unpleasing. There could be a steel girder supporting the porch but your mind needs to visualize structural support. Click here to learn about the psychology of architecture.

Although not completely aesthetically correct, historically there are some design exceptions. If the piers are not visible then the side frame of the lattice must be located under the column to show the appearance of structural support. This frame must also match the width of the porch column or post.

The top of the lattice frame will fit and be held in right behind the porch fascia. The sides of the frame will be flush or slightly back from the piers. The bottom of the frame can rest on a few bricks to keep the wood off the ground.

Each lattice panel may hold in place on its own, but securing them with screws would help. Don’t forget to make one or two removable for access under the porch. Some people use hinges. If you use hinges, make sure the panel swings back under the porch for the panel should sit behind the fascia board not even with it. When doing it this way you will lose the shadow line.

Although this balustrade looks good, it is evident that some homeowners do not care about the little things like lattice that can have a large impact on curb appeal.

The next three photos show how proper lattice installation can improve the appearance of this house.

Modifications were performed graphically. We can do this for your house too!

This lattice has a house attached to it! It actually appears like a dust ruffle for a bed.

Never cover up the column supports! To show you the difference I corrected the errors graphically. The piers are a very important feature that provides a strong visual base for the house and support for the columns. The brick was manufactured in the next town in a factory that closed down in the 1920’s. This old unpainted brick has a great patina that deserved to be shown.

The lattice here is now framed with a 3 inch wide wood border which provides a nice crisp looking shadow-line. The large holes still detract from the house.

Here the plastic large hole lattice is replaced with 1 x 1″ wood lattice and is painted the base color of the house. Notice that your eyes are first attracted to the porch columns and balustrades and not immediately to the lattice below. Compare the photos and see the difference.

Although the homeowners did their best to make their house look very neat and clean, that is all they accomplished. By following the advice above their home would be more aesthetically pleasing and have curb appeal.

This porch has a high-water handrail. The upper and lower rails are too thin; the newel posts are too thin and weak; the lattice holes too large and unframed; the foundation base of posts are hidden behind the lattice; not to mention a 1950’s style door on a pre 1900 house!

Remember – understanding aesthetics creates curb appeal and an environment that is pleasing to your senses. Allow your home to be aesthetically pleasing, and the law of attraction will spread through your neighborhood (with your helpful education and this site), and beautify the area where you live.

If a house is allowed to slowly lose its aesthetic charm, this too will spread. Good neighbors will move as a re-muddled neighborhood attracts the folks below.

Give your house the best curb appeal possible to attract good neighbors!

Porch Ceiling Color

Many porch ceilings are composed of bead board. What color should your paint your porch ceiling? The majority of late 19th century Victorian and Colonial Revival homes have porch ceilings that are painted a light blue with a greenish tint. There are many reasons for the origins of this such as blue being a soothing color, an insect repellent, and protection from evil spirits. There are also many porch ceilings that are only varnished.

Historic New England states the following:

Paint curators have found evidence for use of a strong turquoise blue on late-nineteenth-century Queen Anne-style porch ceilings and the California Historic Colors of America shade called “Veranda Blue” is a good match for that “Victorian” blue. On Colonial Revival-style houses, a blue related to the typical Prussian blue pigment might be more suitable: California Paints’ “Seaside” (DE5765) is typical and somewhat less turquoise. For a lighter blue ceiling, “Skyscraper,” one of California Paints’ 20th Century Colors of America, is a good option. If you aren’t prepared to go blue on your porch ceiling, a safe bet is to paint the porch ceiling to match the rest of the trim on the house.

The bead board porch ceiling in my 1910 home in New Jersey was originally stained and varnished. Sometime after that it was painted various shades of blue and turquoise. I was advised and now have my ceiling painted Sherwin Williams – Blue Sly #0063

There are many more crimes performed by homeowners to various porch features. By understanding the key issues discussed here, and sharing them with others, we look forward to enjoying more homes with curb appeal. Please visit our other pages to learn more.