The Lowdown on the Perfect Porch

Not all porches are created equal – some are made for greeting guests and others are all about relaxation. A well-built porch can add beauty, comfort and value to your home.

Technically speaking, porches are covered or enclosed transitional spaces, external from the home. Depending on where you live, they used to protect the home from harsh weather; or provide a space for shedding your dirty work clothes or winter gear before going into the home. In Halifax today, people are mainly looking for extra living space and enhancing their curb appeal.

If you’re considering a new porch (or even just upgrading an existing one), you’ll want to have elegant proportions that fit the character of you home. Porch additions should be unified with the existing house and use similar design elements and rooflines.

During the planning phase, you’ll want to maximize the use of your space and how it works with your lifestyle. Keep in mind:

  • Your budget and timeline
  • How you want to use space – for greeting guests? Entertaining? Relaxing?
  • When do you want to use it – during warmer months or extending its use into winter?

Aim for a minimum of 6 to 8 feet in depth to give you plenty of space for seating and traffic flow. You’ll also need to decide on design elements like:

  • column styles
  • walls or railings
  • solid or latticed skirting
  • cathedral or flat ceilings and roof lines
  • open beams or finished trim
  • fans or skylights for air circulation
  • propane heaters of fireplaces for warmth
  • flooring materials

Here are the different types of structures to consider:

An Open Porch is essentially a roof with support columns over a deck or patio, without walls or screens. They’re great for providing shade and can cool hot summer temperatures by a few degrees. They’re not so great for keeping out the bugs or wind-blown rain, but add plenty of charm and character to any home.

Not surprisingly, a Front Porch is simply a porch on the front of your home. They can be open or closed-in with walls. If open, they provide a social purpose and valuable outdoor living and entertaining space. If closed, they provide a convenient place to shed outdoor gear before entering the home. Either way, they make a welcoming entry for guests and add curb appeal.

A Portico is smaller than a porch and typically just covers the front entry area. They’re both functional and decorative and can make a huge impact to the look of your home. It welcomes guests and gives protection from weather. Consider its size during the design phase so you can decide if you would like seating or space for flower pots etc. You don’t want it to look to small for the scale of your home.

You guessed it, Back Porches are found at the back of the home often together with the deck or patio area. They can offer more flexibility and are more informal then a front porch. It’s a great way to connect your home and transition to the outside providing protection from the elements. They tend to be bigger and more functional, often with cooking areas or access to the indoor kitchen or mudroom areas.

A Wrap-Around Porch or Veranda is a roofed platform along the outside of a home. It’s level with the ground floor and extends across both the front and side(s) of the structure. These expansive porches connect the inside living spaces with the surrounding landscape, making the whole home feel larger. With a wraparound, you have the space to create different zones for entertaining, lounging, and dining.

The Screened Porch offers the same open and breezy outdoor experience, but with less exposure to the bugs and weather elements. Screens allow you to use the space more often and add versatility to what the room can be used for. There are fiberglass and aluminum mesh options, and more recently, sun-blocking, pet-proof and heavy steel mesh options. Motorized screen systems are now available to automate the space and remotely open screens.

Here are a few of our porch projects and screened porches to give you some ideas for your own space.

And, if you want to learn even more about porches, check out this in-depth article from HGTV.

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