It ended up taking me about two weeks, with the bulk of the work done
on a Saturday, and then a brick a day during the week. I made a lot
of mistakes but learned a lot as well.
I started on the front outside corners first, then the sides(sans the
bricks against the foundation), and then the front. I used this
mortar at first, http://www.ctscement.com/MortarMix_FAQ.asp . Not
knowing anything about mortar I just picked it up, at $17.00/50lbs.
It dries *really* fast and is rock hard. I ran out of that stuff and
ended up buying some Quickcrete Type S mortar, which is way cheaper
and takes a lot longer to dry. I don't know if this is a bad
practice, mixing mortar brands, but hey.
One thing that bugged me was packing in the 4 inches of mortar between
the slab and brick. It tended to bulge out, via gravity I suppose,
when left alone to dry. I'd come back every 15 minutes and smooth it
out again, but I couldn't stop it altogether. So where the mortar
meets the brick is not a smooth transition. I've been going out and
shaving it down with a flat chisel and that kind of works, but I'm
going to cover it all up anyway.
Speaking of which, I spent a couple of hours at Lowes and Home Depot
yesterday looking at tile. Any suggestions in this regard would be
appreciated. Everyone is telling me not to use slate on the surface
of the porch due to the cold weather and ice, but I've found some
pretty rough slate, so I don't know. I certainly don't want the
mailman to slip and fall.
Go Michigan State!
It looks nicely done there!
I've never mixed types but can't see as it's any real harm. The quicker
setting one doesnt 'bulge' much which is it's charm but you have to work
fast with it.
I'm looking at it and thinking of several ideas, various expenses involved.
The surface of the upper slab looks to be almost 'pebble' sort? If so, it's
a decent one to keep there. Now, if the color doesnt appeal to you but you
do not mind repainting pretty much each spring, paint can do a lot there to
bring it to a mix with the rest of your evidently sand-toned house. I
estimate you can paint it in less than 2 hours including cleanup with a big
nap roller. Next year, add 20 mins more time with a 'greenie weenie' 3M pad
to remove any obvious bubbling and repaint same color. Probably only the
cinderblock will bubble a bit and it won't be much.
I like contrasting colors so would go with either dark brown or a darker
blue. Since i can't see the rest of the house, I dont know if any of your
other trim is on any color other than sand-tone. If there is another color,
replicate it as close as you can to the paint for the porch stump. It will
look nice and make it a feature instead of just a needed step.
If your house is all sand toned, adding a darker base of still sand-tone in
the porch will look nice.
A more expensive but nice looking bit, is to put paving tiles up on the
sides. I'm not quite sure the mechanics of that for your icy area. Here,
we use that fast set mortar and a block of wood to hold it up til it dries
solid. Dunno if that will work in your freeze-thaw as you are obviously
well north of me. Heck, we are cropping tomatoes already here in our back
As for slipping and falling, what you really need is rails on both sides.
The easiest way to do that with your construction, is to build a tight
fitting wood frame around the existing structure and make rails on that.
Darn, I know in my mind exactly how to do it, but not how to describe it.
I'll try though. This all goes on flat 2 inch or so thick cinderblocks so
settlings isnt a problem.
Take a 4x4 and cut 2 lenghts, each 4 inches longer than the sides of the
porch. Now cut 2 more of same size and lay them 4 inches away so you can
fit a 4x4 inbetween. Cut another 4x4 to fit flush to the front of the porch
and between the 2 parts that stick out. Use angled 'L' metal (galvanized)
joints to hold these in place.
Cut 2x4 or 4x4 posts which will fit in the back near the house, and at front
just where the porch ends. Stand these up in place and add more 'L' joints
or heavy nails. How tall you make these, depends on if you want to make a
little rain shelter roof, or just rails. If rails, make the stand up parts
all the same tallness. Then, cut a runner piece for the rails and nail it
on top. I think with your dimensions, you just need the 4 riser pieces. A
larger porch would need more.
Now, if you want to make a roof, cut the back risers to 1.5 inch below where
your roof ends. You will tuck the new portico roof under this. Cut the
front set away from the house, about 3 inches lower. You will need to angle
these cut so you can lay a piece of heavy plywood to lay flat along it yet
slope. Since I dont have the exact inches of your porch, I can't say what
that is but 30degrees looks about right with a 3 inch drop on the second
front set? The easy way is to angle cut the back set, then a piece of
plywood just a little bigger than the porch (you want some overhang) and
hold it up there then mark with a crayon/pencil where it hits the front wood
so you can cut it there. Nail the plywood to the top posts. Nail matching
tile to your roof to this with tarpaper under it. Seal the outer edges of
the plywood with acrylic caulk to help weatherize it.
If you go the portico roof, you then will 'sister' more 4x4 to the 4 posts
up to the level where you want the rail, then use that to hold the rails up.
You will now have a small section of freespace between the 2 layers of 4x4's
at the bottom. Only some is used up to hold the posts. For the part where
the stone step needs to go, cut more 4x4 til it hits flush with the steps
(may need a smaller piece, thats ok). This should be same size as the
steps and just layered up. It's only so they fit back where they need to
In the gaps, there are a bunch of ways to use that. For long lasting wood,
I suggest not just filling with dirt and putting plants in there. I suggest
instead small 4 inch or so wide plastic longish planters with the holes
sealed at the bottom. Pansies, mint, even morning glory seeds which will
grow over the porch a bit. With the plastic ones, you can lift them out and
shift contents as often as you want to.
Ok, long winded but hope you have the idea.
Is that a mini porch with no steps, if so it seems useless. Slate gets
very slippery when old and wet and bonding morter to old concrete
requires alot of work. Didnt you ever see road machines gouge the old
road. If its not prepped right you will have a bigger mess in a few
This one worries me but couldnt tell for sure. It looks like damp damage to
under the house there?
The slab itself is ok. With some buddies, I'm pull it out in one piece
(looks like it slides out and lifts off) then just knock out the whole base
and start over. Put some blueboard (I think thats the right name) at the
back where the house crawspace is.
Run a level and make sure there is a slight slope to the slab so it drains
away from the house. when you put it back on. Then, you can add some sort
of prettier looking top layer over it all. I like wood but that may not
suit your climate well.
Grin, BTW, we dont call little things like that 'porches' here in the south.
Thats just a landing. A porch holds a rocking chair or 3 at least.
I wouldn't fool with rebuilding the steps. You can get ready-made concrete
steps - in almost any size and shape - from lawn dealers and others.
Simply move out the old and set the new product in place.
I have to agree witht he other posters about demolition and start
over. There may be a water or freeze/heaving issue that needs to be
addressed or incorporated into the new stoop. Or, consider a small
wooden deck instead of concrete.
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