Porch 2nd floor level

The old back porch left us with a few holes in the wall – the old joist pockets. Unfortunately, they didn’t line up with the new ones. In preparation for the 2nd floor porch level construction, my first task was to mix up some lime-based mortar, grab some of the leftover common bricks and fill in the old joist pockets.

Because we already had the post extensions in place, the second floor level went up like a breeze, including ledgers, joists and decking. The new back porch began to actually look like a porch, once the railings were installed. It’s curious what a difference such subtle things can make!

We also had some excitement with more post extensions, lapped scarf joints and heavy duty carriage bolts. The two shorter extensions will support the porch roof level, while two really long ones are needed for the roof access level. Those six by six posts weigh a pound or two, particularly if they are still wet from the pressure treatment. I was left admiring the calm and confidence with which the carpenter crew conducted these balancing acts.

And then there were the stairs — the good old stairs with post extensions and all. They had occupied my mind for quite a while.

From long landings to little landings

The stairs in the old back porch made the most of the available space. They had a short flight with four cross steps between the two long flights. The new porch plans called two long flights only with a long contiguous landing connecting them.


The proposed layout would take away 20 inches from the porch deck to make up for the four cross steps that had been eliminated. That didn’t sit well with me. I didn’t see the necessity for a contiguous stair landing, but rather was intent on maximizing the usable porch deck area.

I asked our porch contractor for advice, and he pointed out that we could bring back the four cross steps by adding two more posts. The extra posts would allow for the supporting joists for each of the two landings, one below and one atop the three cross steps.

One of the posts would be anchored to the foundation wall, but the other post would need a separate spread footing down at the basement level. Because I had that discussion early on, I planned for and installed the footing.

concrete-pour-04 concrete-pour-05 Back-porch-18

We were back to the same stair layout the original porch had, and with it we’ve made the most out of the space available to us. And I am still using that space daily, sitting in my rocking chair, sipping my morning coffee!

Relates posts:

About Marcus de la fleur

Marcus is a Registered Landscape Architect with a horticultural degree from the School of Horticulture at the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew, and a Masters in Landscape Architecture from the University of Sheffield, UK. He developed a landscape based sustainable pilot project at 168 Elm Ave. in 2002, and has expanded his skill set to building science. Starting in 2009, Marcus applied the newly acquired expertise to the deep energy retrofit of his 100+ year old home in Chicago.

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