I need to replace the posts on my porch and it looks like doing this
will be the best way to go about getting the job done.
I don't need much in the way of supporting strength, as the porch is
small (8' by 13' and 8' tall), and I'll be replacing 2 "3 S" corner
posts with 3 of these wood columns.
I'm currently considering using bald cypress (Taxodium distichum)
because I can get it straight from the lumber yard. They have 6x6
posts, but they're green, and otherwise have a decent selection of
kiln dried boards. If I select carefully, would buying the 6x6 posts
be a good option, or would it be better to buy some of the smaller
boards and build up a column out of those with glue and nails? If the
latter, what's the best way to combine the smaller boards to form a
Cypress isn't bad, but if going for the 6x6, I'd recommend buying the
stock now and storing it at least over the winter for a spring project
so that what it moves it will have done mostly by then. W/ a 6x6, you
could then if chose to square them up and still have more than enough
Many porch "posts" are nothing more than four 1x pieces nailed/screwed/
glued in a box w/ butt joints. In compression they have considerable
strength. If desired, frame them around a metal post for extra
I've spent considerable time trying to figure out if using 1x or 2x
stock stuck together like that would be sufficiently strong to give a
stable, long term solution. I may not have been searching using the
correct terms, though. I'm not hung up on using solid stock, I just
want a good looking porch that won't fall on my head or on the head of
someone who buys my house after I'm done with it. One benefit of the
6x6 green stock is that it will wind up being about 1/3 the cost of a
bunch of thinner kiln dried stock.
However if I can just combine thinner stock and then box it in, I can
use PT SYP and put some dried cedar up for painting.
If you or anyone else can recommend a book that would educate me on
this kind of thing, I'd appreciate it.
I considered getting some of those adjustable steel columns, but
because of the size of the porch, I didn't think they'd be necessary.
I don't have a handy book off top of head, but there's quite a lot of
estimators for beams and columns online that could/can be used to
estimate loadings. For a column the moment is dependent on whether
it's solid or not of course, but a hollow box is a common form.
As for what you really need, it isn't so much the areal size that's
controlling but how it's attached and what's there to be supported.
If it were overhung extended rafters, it could be mostly self-
supporting whereas if it's an addon it needs full support. Of course,
unless there's an upper floor or something, there's not a whole lot of
weight in just a minimal porch roof. All depends... :) How's that
As for strength/cost tradeoff, the use of just a treated 4x4 for the
post and wrapping it w/ 1x stock for appearance would probably be a
compromise. For an 8-ft height, 4x4 will support quite a load. Three
or four to share would be quite stout.
OTOH the metal poles have the advantage of being able to adjust if
need to correct an existing sag (might get by w/ only two, say and 4x4
for others, too) in place. There are a lot of choices--pretty much
pick one and go... :)
Recently....(well not that recently, fall 2006) I rebuilt a failed,
75 year old patio cover.
I rebuilt it pretty much in keeping with the original design. I
bought 6x6 rough sawn Doug Fir posts & rough sawn 4x4's for joists
(had low head height issue)
I spec'd them FOC (free of center). I had the stuff delivered and
sure enough one of the posts had the "center of the tree" at one
end. The posts were rather pricey, so I took the bad one back and
they swapped, no questions.
I'm glad I rejected the post with the center. It would have cracked &
twisted. I let the posts sit for several weeks (SoCal) and they
stayed straight. Still straight to this day.
Select decent posts, lay them out on supports and they should dry out
& remain straight.
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