Articles & Advice

Front Porch Design

by Marcus Pickett

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Decks & Porches

Once you've decided you want a front porch for your home, you should also decide how you want that porch to work for you so you can find the right front porch design to match your needs. While you might think of a porch as a wood floor with a couple posts and a roof, front porch design is more complicated than that and will dramatically influence the function and curb appeal of your home's exterior.

Open and Screened Porches
This is usually the first and one of the biggest decisions you'll need to make for your front porch design. Open porches are by far more popular for front porch design, as open porches tend to be more welcoming. Wide steps can help enhance the inviting effect of this type of porch. The porch can still be used to extend the living space of your home, although the weather will naturally limit how much time you can spend on your porch.

Creating more of a sense of privacy, screened porches tend to be used more widely in back porch design. These porches are more about extending the livable space of a home, and space heaters and outdoor fans are often installed in conjunction with a screened porch. Another advantage of the screened porch is its ability to exclude bugs and other pests.

Box, Wraparound, and Two-Tier Porches
Wraparound porches are just that...porches that wraparound at least one corner of your home. These porches can make your home look significantly bigger, while retaining and even enhancing its elegance. Too often, home additions sacrifice the aesthetic unity of a home. Rarely is this a problem for a wraparound porch. The big disadvantage is cost. Not only are wraparound porches bigger, but the added design element of a right angle can complicate the installation considerably. Your porch contractor should know how to handle this design element, but it will cost you. Another way to create a large porch for a small home is to make it two-tiered. This tends to work much better for back porch design, where the bottom level can be used for general use and the top level can add a great outdoor component to your master bedroom suite.

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Other Front Porch Design Considerations

  • The vast majority of homeowners prefer hardwood for their porch installation, but wood composite is a viable option with easy-to-install interlocking tiles or more traditional planks.

  • Another valuable part of your front porch installation is the decorative elements of the trim. You'll want to make sure that it adds not only to the appearance of the porch but to appearance of your entire house.

  • Gabled porch roofs can add depth and style, especially for smaller porches. Often, gables are used when the house has matching gables. Flat roofs can save space but won't last as long.

  • Discuss your front porch design with a professional before you get stuck on one idea that may not be the best fit for your home.
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Marcus Pickett is a professional freelance writer for the home remodeling industry. He has published more than 600 articles on both regional and national topics within the home improvement industry.