Craftsman Porch Columns for an Island Home
JLC’s Coastal Connection has been following a bottom-up gut/rehab project on Peaks Island in the Portland, Maine, harbor for six months. At this point, the crew is working outside in perfect June weather to apply finishing touches—including the porch column wrap and railing install we’re showing you here (see slideshow).
The client, graphic designer Will Crosby, has played a major design role in this part of the job, consulting with island architect Rachel Conly and the Thompson Johnson Woodworking crew on shapes and color schemes. Now it’s up to the crew to bring that vision to life.
Starting with the 6x6 structural porch posts (which support an occupied space above), the crew built a tapered upper section on each column. The sides of the tapered column were ripped to the required taper using a track saw, and joined into a box using stainless steel trim-head screws. At the top of each column, the inside dimension of the tapered box is 1/8 inch larger than the pressure-treated wood post, to allow for seasonal movement of the wood. At the bottoms, only two faces of the tapered wrap are fastened to treated-wood blocking (on the railing faces of the columns)—again, to allow for movement.
The porch bases are boxed out with 1/2-inch pressure-treated plywood over pressure-treated 2-by blocking. The blocking wraps each post at the top and bottom of the lower section, and then four vertical 2x4 nailers are installed, connecting the upper and lower blocking, to serve as nailing for the plywood box.
The lower sections of the columns are clad with pre-primed and pre-painted white cedar shingles, fastened with stainless steel staples over MortairVent rainscreen fabric, which will promote drying of the wood and prolong the service life of the shingles and the paint job. Before installing the shingles, the crew set solid blocking at predetermined locations to provide solid nailing for the lower porch rails (below). See the slideshow for a step-by-step look at the shingling and rail installation processes.