Rebuilding My Porch and DIY Credibility{29}

back porch before repair

Patched, painted and sistered: My back porch in a weakened state

I keep a mental to-do list, a growing index of things I want to get done, or more importantly that need my attention, or better put, needed my attention yesterday, and the day before that, and the day before…. Well you get the idea. Some tasks have been on the list as long as I can remember, no doubt born in my consciousness the day I signed the mortgage papers.

bulldogs on the porch

Gracie and Boz had no objections to the derelict stoop.

Number one on the oft-ignored, albeit ever-present list, was repairing my back stoop, the most-used portal into and out of my house. The wood was meringue: soft, crunchy and crumbling. I believe there is more tensile strength in a Kit-Kat bar that in the floorboards under my feet. And yet it could still support the weight of one beefy farmer and his cadre of bulldogs, so why rush into things.

porch defying gravity

Day of reckoning: Darn you decay and gravity!

Over the years I sistered joists, bolstered newel posts, replaced a floorboard or two, and even (gasp) painted over rotten wood. My carpentry and DIY bandaids served me well, until last week. I was carrying two armfuls of groceries in, trying to manage both while opening my back door without having to set the bags down. Leaning heavily on the rail was mistake number one; it broke away from the house. In a move that would have made Gene Kelly jealous, I righted myself, and descended full force to the second step. Ah, but safe I was not. The risers decided they had had enough and broke away from the stoop. For my second dance move I tripped the light fantastic to the first step board where balance was returned. No injuries to report, other than to pride.


“And just how am I supposed to get from Point A to Point P?

The optimist in me chirped, “Well, I got an extra ten years out of it.” The pragmatist chimed in, “Well, I know what you’re doing for the next three days.” Buddy was incensed by the whole episode and the resulting inconvenience. In his mind, I had basically destroyed the only entrance and exit to the farmhouse. Distraught, and standing on the doorway cliff, he’d bark and whimper as if trapped in the house, never to touch the green green grass of home again. Of course, he could have used any of three remaining exterior doors available to him, which I might add are always open this time of year. Oh, Buddy.

buddy bulldog on the porch

Porch approval from Buddy, “Now that’s more like it!”

I went straight to the internet for help, searching for “How to build a small stoop” which later I changed to “porch” and then later to “deck” as it seems savvy carpenters on the Web have no use for the word “stoop.” Apparently that term is now fully-owned and co-opted by urban hipsters. Needless to say, there were more videos on the subject than I cared to watch, but I did find one that suited my attention span and ability to extrapolate.

porch stairs

Buddy, “You sure these stairs are safe?”

So 32 YouTube viewings, and 16 trips to the lumberyard and hardware store later, a wee porch is born, and Buddy can now leave the house without the discomfort of having to break a habit or a sweat, and I can sit my keister down without fear of crashing through a floorboard or two.  Ah, all is right with the world, at least for the next ten minutes.


Tom and Buddy pondering the next selection on my to-do list.

Related Video: Tom Silva From This Old House