Sunday, October 2, 2011

Almost a Porch, Almost A Set of Stairs

We spent the weekend working out front of the Cheney Cottage. It was beautiful weather, perfect for outdoor work, and we focused on rebuilding the front porch and steps.

The first thing we did was calculate how much lumber we needed: how many 2x8s for the porch floor joists, 2x12s for the stringers to support the stairs, 2x4s to frame under the porch. We decided not to buy the porch decking or the treads for the stairs yet, as they will probably get seriously damaged during the rest of the construction. We also bought a 6x6 post, as the porch roof is supported by carved 6x6 posts. Even though the porch was spec'ed to have a 4x4 post, we went with the larger size to be historically accurate.

We started by putting down the pressure treated sole plate on top of the concrete foundation. Then we put the header against the house, and built the headers for either side of the porch. We decided to run the joists parallel to the front of the house, so the decking would run perpendicular (and be more likely to shed water). We used Simpson ties on the headers, which are significantly easier to install before handing the headers.

Then we cut the 6x6 and put up the headers, making sure the posts were plumb and the headers were on a slight angle (to make sure water drains off the porch). The we put headers across the top of the stairs, to tie the two posts together, and keep the porch plumb.

Next, we turned our attention to the stairs. The code calls for a stringer every 12 inches, so we need to make 7 stringers. For once, calculating the rise and run of the stairs was not difficult - it worked out that the rise is exactly 7 inches and the run is 10 1/2 inches.

Using a framing square, we made the first stringer, and fitted it in place. It fit perfectly, so we used it to make three more stringers (as we were running out of time). Then, again using Simpson ties, we hung three of the stringers, notching them to fit on the sole plate, and nailed them in place. Finally, we put a piece of plywood down on the porch, and put 2/8 scraps on the stringers to make temporary steps.

So now, when we go work at the Cheney Cottage, we don't have to climb the ladder - we can walk up the stairs to the porch, and walk up to the door. This is definitely progress!
The usable, albeit unfinished, porch and stairs

Tomorrow, the roofers come to start installing the roof shingles over the building paper. And the house will have a good roof, one that should last 30 years or more.

Next up: working on the kitchen. Now that we have stairs, we can bring the kitchen cabinets and the appliances in. First, we have to rough in the plumbing (all the wiring is in) and then we can install the cabinets, make counters, and install the appliances.

And of course, we're still scrapping paint and stripping the beams in the living room, and still have scrapping to do in the dining room. Lisa has showed up unannounced several times to help us scrape, which has been great. It's a good job for anyone who likes to pick at things, as all the little paint chips have to be painstakingly scraped off.

The built in china cabinet has been particularly stubborn, and the heat gun barely made a dent in the orange paint. So we removed the cabinet doors to bring them back to Parker Street, to work on stripping them during the week.

And then plaster patching, the bathrooms, and the heating system. And then we'll finish the landscaping.


  1. We used Simpson ties on the headers, which are significantly easier to install before handing the headers.

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