8 Ways to Upgrade Your Front Porch

These projects can take your front porch from a simple stoop to an outdoor living space.

U.S. News & World Report

8 Ways to Upgrade Your Front Porch

Entrance porch decorated with antique bench, big flower pots with flowers. Russian Federation

With some a little work, your front porch can be the place to be when you're at home.(Getty Images)

Depending on where you live or how you spend your free time, your front porch can serve as a setting for gatherings, solo time or a chance to keep up with the neighborhood around you. It may be where you sip iced tea in the afternoons and chat with neighbors. It may be an extra spot for guests to gather when you’re entertaining at home. It could also be where your kids do homework when the weather is good.

If your front porch offers views of mountains or water or overlooks the city, you'll probably find yourself out there even more. In Colorado Springs, Colorado, for example, many homes have views of the surrounding Rocky Mountains – and even the imposing Pikes Peak – and a front or back porch becomes a natural extension of living space for people to take in the sights, says Debbie Howes, a Realtor with Re/Max Performance in the Colorado Springs area.

“Even if there’s no view, even if the porch is small, people sit out there,” Howes says.

Of course, not every front porch offers the square footage or welcoming atmosphere you may desire. But there are a variety of projects – from major construction overhauls to simple decorating techniques – that can take your front porch from a blank slate to a haven for outdoor living.

Even if you’re just looking for a better spot for delivered packages to stay out of sight before you get home, a front porch upgrade can transform how people see your house from the street.

Here are eight ways you can upgrade your front porch:

  • Build a new porch.
  • Add a roof.
  • Bring in new seating.
  • Screen in the porch.
  • Install a swing.
  • Put in fans or heating.
  • Stain or paint the existing porch.
  • Add a railing.

Which Project Is Right for Your Home?

Making changes to your front porch for your own enjoyment is an excellent reason to explore a porch project, especially since it has the potential to make your home more attractive to homebuyers down the line.

If you live in an area where single-family homes are being built, those new houses you’ll have to compete with when it comes time to sell will likely have similar outdoor living space. “New homes all tend to have front porches,” Howes says.

However, Howes doesn’t recommend taking on a major porch project purely to increase your home's value and put it on the market in the near future. Instead she recommends focusing on other aspects of curb appeal, such as landscaping with well-maintained grass and colorful plants that can brighten up the front of the house.

But don’t discount the benefit you’ll get from a remodeled front porch while you live there. Homeowners and designers are focusing on helping to get people outdoors more and connect with neighbors.

“People, more than ever … are really coming to the awareness that you need to be connected to nature and you need to be connected socially for your health and well-being,” says Joe Raboine, an outdoor living and design expert with landscape design company and hardscape manufacturer Belgard.

To help make the front of your home more dynamic and bring you closer to the neighborhood, here are a few front porch project options.

Build a New Porch

If you’re looking for a brand-new porch that transforms the front of your home, be mindful that the porch follows the architectural style of the house. “The house will tell you what the porch should look like,” says Nancy Moore, founder and owner of The Porch Company in Nashville, Tennessee. If your home is modern, the porch should have a modern style as well, and the same goes for a brick cottage home, farmhouse or any other design style, Moore says.

Naturally, a new porch for outdoor living will likely have a hefty price tag. Home improvement cost comparison site Fixr estimates the cost to install a 16-foot-by-20-foot porch with a gable roof and railings will cost, on average, $21,440. The more elaborate your design, the higher the cost.

With a new porch design, Raboine says to focus on the finer details too, like lighting and heating or cooling options to keep the space comfortable throughout the year. Wiring to the right spots is far more cost effective when it’s part of a larger project, he says: “It’s fairly inexpensive to add (lighting) in a major remodel or build, but more expensive to add later on.”

Add or Upgrade the Roof

If your front porch qualifies as more of a stoop, consider covering the porch to add some curb appeal to your house’s facade. A roof over your existing porch is convenient to protect packages in rainy or snowy weather and can make finding your keys more comfortable in the midst of a downpour.

If you already have a roof over your porch, it could probably use some renovation. Moore suggests making the porch more functional by expanding the roof so there’s a bigger overhang – maybe even larger than the overhang your roof has over other parts of the house. With a bigger overhang, you can still sit on the porch and stay dry when it’s raining.

Bring in New Seating

A quick and far more cost-friendly way to make your porch look inviting is to upgrade your outdoor seating. Plastic chairs or collapsible lawn chairs often look like they don’t belong on a front porch, so consider Adirondack chairs, wicker furniture or metal seating and tables designed for the outdoors. Outdoor cushions meant to withstand high temperatures and some rain can also add a pop of color.

Screen in the Porch

If you’re hoping to use your porch as outdoor living space you can use every day, you may want to consider screening in your existing porch to help add a bit of privacy and reduce the number of bugs in the space.

Install a Swing

A porch swing is a classic alternative to regular seating. Of course, by being attached to the roof of the porch, the swing requires more work than placing a chair or bench outside. Eye bolts that allow you to hang the swing’s chains from the roof should be solidly screwed into ceiling joists.

Put in Fans or Heating

Fixr reports a ceiling fan costs between $110 and $400, not including the cost of an electrician to wire the porch if it’s not done already. Be sure to shop for exterior fans only because the blades of fans meant for interior rooms only will droop in hot, humid conditions.

Raboine says fireplaces are gaining popularity on front porches as well. But if a fireplace is a project beyond your budget, he notes infrared heating can help make your porch more comfortable for use during colder months, with both gas and electric options to heat the space.

Stain or Paint the Existing Porch

A project guaranteed to freshen up your porch that won’t cost you too much money is a fresh coat of paint. “The thing that makes the most amount of difference is paint,” Moore says.

If your front porch is an unsightly concrete block, staining the concrete can help it to look more polished. The cost to stain concrete is between $2 and $4 per square foot for basic preparation and staining, according to ConcreteNetwork.com.

Add a Railing

Adding a railing around the porch and down the steps to your walkway is a fairly simple porch remodel. If local code requirements don’t require a specific height for your porch railing, Moore recommends lowering the railing along the porch to 30 inches, which allows you to see over the railing while you’re sitting down.

Moore also stresses that to keep the porch from looking cheaply done or flimsy, make sure the newel posts – the support and end pieces for the railing – are wider than 4 inches by 4 inches. Look for posts that measure larger, like 6 inches by 8 inches.

“That changes the look from just this average ‘Jim-Bob put up my railings,’ to something architecturally designed for the space,” Moore says.

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