A porch may seem pretty simple at first. Many think that parts of a porch include a deck with stairs and a handrail, and if it’s covered, it has a roof.
It looks that simple from the outside, but when it comes to building or repairing one yourself, you’ll soon realize that there are a lot of little pieces that make up the entire unit.
Not every porch is the same. Some are simple, while others are intricate.
Some people have built accessible porches with ramps or lifts to make it easier to get on them. Some porches are entirely closed in and have windows, while others offer no protection at all.
One must consider the style they’re going after, too, since frilly handrails look much different than modern, simple designs. Let’s jump into all the different parts of a porch.
- Frieze Beam
- Electrical System
- Post or Column
- Bottom Rail
- Newel Post
- Step Tread
- Step Riser
- Floor Joist
The following parts of a porch are listed from top to bottom, starting with the roof and ending at the foundation.
25 Different Parts Of A Porch You Need To Know
A roof is typically a single plane covering the porch area, although a vaulted roof is pretty standard. Some porches may not have a roof and will be left uncovered or have a pergola covering them instead.
The fascia is along the sides of the roof. It makes the porch look tidy.
3. Frieze Beam
The frieze beam is a supporting beam that distributes the roof’s weight to the columns. Frieze beams are typically accompanied by decorative frieze panels that cover the ends and provide a clean look.
The ceiling may be an afterthought when designing your porch, but taking the time and money to make it look beautiful will give your home extra flair.
You can go for a fancy wooden look or keep it simple and paint it. Ceilings are typically 8 feet (2.4 meters) high, but this can vary.
Some porches have lights or ceiling fans installed in the ceiling, or you may just have a porch light in the wall beside the front door.
6. Electrical System
If your porch has lighting, it has an electrical system with it. You will likely have local codes to abide by when adding or removing circuitry.
You should talk to a professional before you try to make any changes.
7. Post or Column
The posts or columns are what hold up the porch roof. These can add a lot to the character of a home. Some are simple posts, while others have stone bases or are carved with a design.
The capital is the top decorative piece on a column or post. Capitals can be flat or highly decorative with intricate carvings.
The balustrade may also be called a handrail or guardrail. It’s the fence that goes around the porch to prevent you from falling off. The balustrade is made up of three parts: the railing, baluster, and bottom rail.
The railing, or handrail, is the top bar on the balustrade. It’s typically rounded or has softened edges so it won’t hurt to hold onto.
The balusters are the vertical pieces that prevent things or people from going between the balustrade and falling off the porch.
Depending on where you live, there may be a code in place that determines how much space is between each baluster.
Some balusters that aren’t confined to a code can be decorative, with the pieces going diagonal or staggered to create eye-catching designs.
12. Bottom Rail
The bottom rail is attached to the bottom of the balusters and is usually slightly above the porch floor.
Every porch will have at least one door since it’s attached to a house. However, some porches are completely covered, called enclosed porches, and will have an extra door that leads to the stairs.
The types of doors used on enclosed porches will vary, but screen doors, sliding doors, and floor-to-ceiling doors are popular choices.
Similar to doors, the windows of the house will be accessible from the porch, and enclosed porches may have additional windows surrounding the porch.
An enclosed porch may have tall windows that can open all the way or be covered with large screens to allow the area to have total shade.
The handrail is on each side of the stairs and usually matches the balustrade.
16. Newel Post
The newel posts are attached at the ends of the handrails on the stairs. They usually match the columns of the porch but are shorter and function as part of the handrails.
17. Step Tread
Step treads are the flat part of each step on the stairs that you walk on. They usually have a blunt edge called nosing.
18. Step Riser
The step riser is the vertical part of each step on the stairs. They prevent gaps between the stairs. Some stairs don’t have step risers that allow you to see the ground beneath them.
Stringers are the stair-shaped pieces that hold stairs together. The step treads are placed on top of the stringer grooves to create the steps. Stringers are typically hidden or look like the sides of the stairs.
Ramps aren’t common in residential homes and are typically used by those who need an accessible way to get up to the porch.
Porch ramps usually have a very gradual incline and wrap around most of the porch, or they’ll stick straight out or make a Z or L shape. The shape will depend on the height of the porch.
Low porches may not need a long ramp. It’s common for there to also be a small set of stairs near the ramp.
Lifts are small elevators big enough to fit a wheelchair. It’s an alternative option to a ramp and is a compact choice if you don’t have the space to build a ramp.
Lifts are typically more expensive to install than it is to build a ramp, and they may need to be repaired more often since they're electrical.
Decking is what’s used to create the floor of the porch. Wood may be the most popular choice, but plastic, composite, and reclaimed wood are common materials to use, as well.
There are many creative liberties you can take when it comes to decking, and it’s something that’s pretty easy to change out when you need to replace, repair, or refresh it, although it can be an expensive venture depending on the size of your porch.
23. Floor Joist
The floor joists are the long beams that hold the decking together and create the porch. Joists are held up by the posts that are cemented into the footings.
Skirting is the material that goes around the bottom of the porch to hide the posts that hold up the entire porch. skirting is typically wood, but it can be a variety of materials, including vinyl.
Some people get creative and use planter boxes to cover the space instead of skirting to make use of the space. It’s wise to have a small door on the skirting so you can get underneath the porch for repairs when necessary.
Since porches are raised, they need a solid foundation to hold them up. Porches don’t usually have a concrete slab like the rest of the house.
Instead, they have posts that go into what’s called a footing that’s filled with concrete. The posts hold up the entire porch, and the footing is what keeps it in place.