Beefing Up the Porch Columns: Part 1 of a Gazillion

Since I removed the railings on our porch earlier this summer, the plan has been to make some epic craftsman columns. What we didn’t anticipate was that this project would turn into quite the Pandora’s box…the project that just keeps on giving.

But, I’m happy to report, progress has been made! This is what has been consuming my Saturdays. Kenny mows the lawn, and I get out about 30 different saws and make quite the racket.

I first began by building out the bottom of the posts and added some trim. I mitered the corners of the trim which was no easy feat for this novice.

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Then I capped the top of that part of the post, thinking I was nearly done.

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Alas, I wasn’t loving the proportions. I liked the bottom half of the columns, but the top half was looking a bit spindly to me. I wanted chunky. Which meant more work and more moolah, of course. That’s the way things go!

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So I added and added and ended up with posts that look like these:

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As you can see, I reattached a small section of railing there on the end since there’s about a 6ft drop off that side of our porch.

The columns are FAAAAR from perfect, but I’m pretty proud of them nonetheless.

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Each post has 24 different boards that make up the column. I cut every darn one of them. No wonder it took me for.ev.er.

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Now we’re back to the initial dilemma–what color to paint them? They aren’t good enough to stain (and some of the boards I pre-primed, as you can see), so that option is out. Check out this post for more on the dilemma or join in on the debate in the comments–white or dark?

UPDATE: We finished this project! Check out the reveal here.

26 Comments

  • I think the chunky columns look awesome – great job! I also love the new blog design! Are you still going to have a blog roll? I thought yours was fantastic :-)

  • I have been waiting for this post – we want to do the exact same thing. Details coming? What did you use as spacers inside the posts?
    Looks great! I vote white

    • Hi, Rachel–I hadn’t planned on getting into the details too much, since it’s a fairly specific project you’ll have to adapt to your space. But here are some details–the spacers inside the posts are just scrap pieces of wood. We used 1×10 and 1×8 cedar planks for the bottom half of the post and 1×8 and 1×6 cedar planks for the top half of the posts (well, there are some pine planks mixed in there on our columns but I wouldn’t recommend that–cedar will last much longer outside). We used 2x4s for the middle “cap.” We tried using brad nails (didn’t work) and 8 gauge finish nails (also didn’t work) and ended up using some heavy duty 2 1/2″ nails that are meant for exterior wood projects. If you have more questions feel free to ask!

  • Forgive me, but I can’t remember– did you just paint the shutters dark? (Or am I confusing you with my neighbors who just painted their shutters?) At any rate, if the shutters are going to stay dark then I’d go with dark posts. I think the white would stand out a LOT unless they have something lighter to smooth them in.

    Those posts really do look great!

    • The shutters were tan colored, and we painted them navy. I just primed the columns and it was a good trial run for the white–it definitely sticks out!

  • I love the way you beefed up the posts, I have bought the wood to try it myself. I noticed your downspout runs down the last post,like mine,but in the pic you haven’t reattached it. My question is, with the bulkier bottom half post, how did you run your downspout?

    • We cut the lip around the middle of the post to fit the downspout and it hugs the bottom half of the post but it sticks out a few inches from the top half of the post. Hope that helps…good luck!

  • Looks nice! We are in a similar dilemma as we need to replace railing, but wanted to add a bit style to the posts like yours. Are you planning on putting railing back in?

    • We replaced the railing along the left edge (there is about a 4′ drop) but we like the front without! Just our personal preference.

  • Do you actually have a cut plan or were you just cutting as you went? I see the pictures but if I were to do this, what would I need? Another problem is my columns are concrete blocks and then stucco :/ Not sure how I would go about doing this but I totally want to.

    • I was just making it up as I went; sorry! You could maybe glue the first wood pieces to the concrete/stucco but I would invest in some very strong glue if you go that route.

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