Art Decor

Front Porch Progress & Decisions (Plus, Realizing My Biggest Front Porch Mistake)

We had more gorgeous weather this weekend, so I decided to take advantage of it to do more work on the porch. My main goal right now is to get the porch boards stained and sealed before my studio cabinets arrive on Wednesday. Once those cabinets arrive, my front porch will be the last thing on my mind.

I had already pressure washed the entire front porch area a couple of weeks ago and the front porch boards were looking much better.

So I planned to do just a little bit of sanding to remove the roughness left by pressure washing, and then move on to sealing the boards. But once I started sanding, the color of the boards started changing pretty drastically.

I realized that there was really no way I could do just a quick sanding job. I ended up taking way longer than I had anticipated, and doing a much more thorough sanding job than I had originally thought the porch needed. I was pretty amazed at how much color the sanding removed.

After the whole thing was sanded, the boards looked almost new. Almost. Here’s what it looked like once the whole porch was sanded and swept.

That took me way longer than the quick sanding I had planned to do, so I didn’t get the stain/sealer on the porch yet. But after researching the possible deck stains and sealers available, and reading a ridiculous number of customer reviews, I finally decided to use Cabot Australian Timber Oil. I used timber oil the first time as well, but it was a different brand. So I’m sticking with what I know because I was pretty happy with timber oil the first time around.

But the entire time I was working on this, down on my knees and sanding each and every board with my 5-inch sander, I was thinking that my biggest mistake on this porch was using real wood for the actual porch boards and not spending the extra money for Trex or something similar.

And why did I not use Trex the first time? The cost. I didn’t want to pay that much money for the front porch. I wanted to do the porch makeover on a budget, so I used cedar. Cedar wasn’t the cheapest wood I could have used. I did choose cedar because it’s a very weather-resistant wood, so I was okay paying a little more for it.

But in hindsight, I realize that when it comes to outdoor projects like porches, decking, etc., trying to save money up front means you’re stuck with a lifetime of maintenance as long as you have that porch or deck. That means you will end up paying that money, but it’ll be spread out over the years. And in addition to the money, you’ll also either have to spend hours and hours of your time doing the required maintenance, or you’ll have to pay additional money to have someone ese do the maintenance.

I’ve come to realize that it’s not worth it to try to save the money upfront, especially on outdoor projects that have to withstand the abuse of the weather and sun throughout the year. It would have been much better to spend the extra money upfront, and then just to be able to enjoy the front porch without having to worry about continual maintenance.

So that helped me decide how I want to handle things like the wood on the columns that has separated at the joints, and this area on the skirting that is literally spongy.

For now, I’m not replacing anything. I’m going to use wood hardener on the spongy wood, and wood filler and caulk on the non-spongy areas that need attention, and I’m going to paint them. And of course, I’m going to re-seal the porch boards now that it’s all sanded and ready for stain and sealer.

But this is the last time I’m going to do this. When we have our addition built, which will include a deck on the back of the house, I’m going to have that done with Trex. And at that time (or whenever this porch needs to be redone again), I’m going to have it redone with Trex as well. And from now on, any other outdoor projects will be done with longevity in mind, and not with the goal of spending as little money as possible at the time.

If you have a Trex porch or deck, I’d love to know what you think of it! The company claims that it requires literally zero maintenance. Has that been your experience? Or if you have a different brand of no-maintenance composite deck boards, I’d love to hear about those as well.