Hello - I have a new project to build a small front porch/stoop roof. No big
deal except this one will have a barrel vault ceiling. Essentially it will
look similar to this one
The one in the picture has a bead board ceiling following the 2x4 rafters
and a curved plywood front. My customer wants a true barrel ceiling. I have
the plans for the design in my picture and everything is straight forward
but since the plans are for the ceiling following the rafters, not the
curve, I have a question or two.
First - The rafters - I figure I will use 2x material with plywood cut to
the appropriate radius to attach my, probably shop made, t&g boards to.
Construction adhesive and brads or finishing nails here. I'm not too keen on
nailing into the edge of ply. Any thoughts on this?
Second - THE MAIN QUESTION. How would you handle the details of the
connection between the plywood facade's radius curve and the ends of the
beadboard? Would you lap the bead board ends under the plywood and have the
end grain exposed to the front? Would you butt the ends of the beadboard to
the plywood and have the plywood edge exposed below? I think I am leaning
toward the second. If I go that route would you do anything to finish the
plywood edge or just paint it as was done in the picture above?
Third - And a just curious question. How long would it take you to build
what is shown in the picture with the modifications I described above?
Support would be via brackets, not posts. Siding will need to be cut back, j
channel installed, roof applied and a light hung (Including new wire from
existing switch). Customer will paint, I will caulk, fill, sand and back
prime. Moldings are stock. Would you completely site build it or would you
build it in your shop and do final install on site? I'm thinking of building
the gable and brackets in the shop, install the brackets and get someone to
help me lift the whole thing onto the brackets then trim it out, wire it and
roof it. Barring that, I may build the trusses and brackets ahead of time
and then put it all together on site.
I'd do the second BUT I'd cover the curved ply edge with a board
extending back maybe an inch (and probably forward 1/2" or so) so that
it is flush to and laps the bead boards a bit. Run a molded edge on the
back bottom edge and - if extended forward of the ply, an edge there
too. Maybe bullnose...
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I'm not sure I followed the whole idea but...
It sounds like you will have plywood cut to a radius to provide the
ribs to which you can attach slats. Yes, nailing into the edge of ply
is not very effective. I would either use solid material or add backer
boards held back bit from the radius edge, (running on short chords of
the arc) and nail into them, letting the ply hold the shape but the
solid material take the fastener.
On the front, I think you should bend some edge molding for the best
look. If this is to be painted, you might be able to get some sort of
plastic molding that would be easier to deal with. If not, then some
experiments with Pine or maybe steaming.
Consider not using plywood? You're already making a nice custom
stoop, if the radius is gentle enough, you might get it cut out of a
1" x 12" plank of doug. fir or cedar. Then you can cut the triangle
for the peak out of whatever you like and join them together. In that
case, it'd look really nice if you butted the bead board against the
back side of the curved piece with a little bit of the facade (maybe
an inch or so) hanging below the level of the ceiling.
If you're set on plywood (and it may be the best choice) I'd do the
same thing as above, and secure a thin strip along the end grain with
some adhesive and a couple of small brads. It'd look a little funny
if the end grain of the bead board was hanging out.
In either case, it might not be a bad idea to use a circle cutting jig
and a router to cut a shallow curved dado for the bead board to slide
into, for alignment purposes during installation, as well as to accout
for any future wood movement.
Are you looking for a guess so you can make an estimate? It's really
hard to say until you start working on it- there's always a surprise
or two waiting for you. If it were me, I'd say two or three good
days. Two or three hours for demolition, 4-5 hours for framing, 5 or
6 hours for trim, an hour or two for shingles, 2-3 hours for priming
and 1-2 hours to replace the siding you removed. The light is fairly
I'd fabricate the facade off-side, and then frame the rest in place,
starting with the brackets, then the horizontal members, and the
trusses- ending with the facade. Once all that is in, slide the
beadboard into that curved dado, and lift into place, tacking it
however you can until it is all roughly there. Then to support it,
I'd make a thin curved piece that matches the facade, and secure that
directly to the wall to align the curved ceiling and keep everything
in place. Then you can reach between the rafters and secure the
ceiling from above with some finish nails.
Of course, there are any number of ways to do any project, and you may
use entirely different methods!
If you fabricate the whole thing in your shop, you've got a couple of
problems- first, it's going to be heavy and clumsy, and there's a fair
chance you could drop it and have to redo some of it. Second (and
more importantly) you should tie that peak into the wall- If you've
already got the whole thing assembled, how are you going to reach
inside of it? Unless you're planning on using L-brackets or
something, it seems like a bad idea to me.
Anyhow- it looks like a fun job, enjoy!
My vote goes for Promethius' suggestion with one change: rather than route a
curved dado, just glue/screw a series of mounting blocks to the inside face
of the pannel. You could use a jig saw or band saw to cut a concave surface
to which the beadboard would be nailed.
Thanks dadiOH, Sonoma, Prometheus and future responders. I apreciate your
feedback. I have priced this job out and plan to build the brackets, trusses
and front facad in my workshop. My goal is to build enough ahead of time so
I can install everything in one day. Too bad this project will not require
any new tools. :(
I just finished building a porsche, so I have a good idea of the work
involved (although mine was smaller)...
2*4 material for the rafters and 2*6 for the structure is OK.
for the front, I would use particle board or osb or similar to get the vault
and then, in front plyboard that goes lower as in the picture (and but end
my roof boards on it (it would be supported in the other placed by the
particle boards)... caulk the bottom to avoid water sipping in...
I would build the brackets and cut the plywood/particle board in the shop,
and then go onsite and install the stuff... easier that way cause you can do
it easily by yourself...
I would say that you should be able to knowk it off in 5 work day
day 1: mesuring, planning, buy material prep the brackets
day 2: finish the brackets, prep the t&g prep particle board/plywood
day 3: remove siding, install ledger and brackets, framing
day 4: install roof and ceiling, start trimming
day 5: finish trims and calking/puttying
but I might be wrong...
Thanks - I am vehemently opposed to using particle board and OSB in any
outdoor project despite manufacturer claims. If I decide to eliminate the
plywood I will build my exposed front arch from boards, jointed, with
biscuits and glue. In fact, as I write this, I'm thinking that's what I may
end up doing. If I use 5/4 stock I would have enough room to cut a rabbet
for my ceiling planking to sit in!
Thanks again for your suggestions!
I think nailing into the edge of plywood would be a Really Bad Idea.
I would frame the porch roof using 2x10's or 2x12's and cut the radius
of the ceiling directly into the rafters themselves. From the picture
I would bet that the curve is only at the bottom 2/3 of each stick.
Just make sure that the thinnest piece of the rafter is at least 4"
thick. Of course, this would depend on your particular design
As for the front end detail, let the beadboard die into the face of
the plywood end panel. As we all know, edge grain exposed to the
elements (especially a horizontal piece) is a no-no and would
certainly look amateurish in this context. Secondly, having the front
fascia lower creates a drip edge for water falloff.
I like the clean look in the picture, but would probably double up the
plywood to 1-1/2" to make it beefier and in better proportion. Make
the front fascia radius about 2" smaller than the radius of the
beadboard ceiling. Install a second curved 2" wide x 3/4" plywood
piece under the already installed beadboard to hide the BB connection
with the front panel.
Carefully backprime everything. Seal the edge of the exposed plywood
with epoxy or something else to enable a smooth stable prepped surface
for painting, that won't soak up all the paint and any rainwater via
I have no idea how much time it would take to do this job. I'm not a
carpenter, but I did stay at a Holiday Inn last night.
Thanks again to all who replied. I haven't gotten the go ahead on this job
yet but I expect to.
Anyway - I was visiting a friends house last PM and he had a portico like in
my picture on his house. It looked almost completely prefab! It looks like
it came in a kit. The curved trim details were so precise (wood) that they
must have been cut on a CNC machine or at least with a template. This was
not a one off as there were others like it in his neighborhood. The ceiling
was a flexible vinyl 'bead board' that installed like vinyl soffit into j
channel. Has anyone ever seen these kits anywhere?
It would be interesting to compare materials costs. Higher is suspect. And
then to figure labor. Slightly lower I suspect.
Since in my business (A side business, nights and weekends sort of thing) I
am really only charging my time, something that makes the job faster will
only hurt me unless I start to fix price my jobs.
So, to stick build this, with attention to detail, will give my customer a
one of a kind design that will fit into their house and last 100 years. I
suppose a kit would loose some of the benefits for my customer.
Sorry for the ramble....
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