Passive Solar Porch Reno – Part 2

Aluminum siding removed from porch This 2nd post in my Passive Solar Porch Reno series focuses on the exterior aspects of this project.

The late summer weather was perfect for working outdoors and aside from having to evict a nest of carpenter ants (and replacing the framing they damaged below a window) it went as well as expected.

Exterior improvements

The exterior work started in September as soon as the new windows arrived – I wanted to get the exterior mostly finished before the wet and cold fall weather arrived. My contractor looked after the windows & door, rigid foam insulation, vinyl siding and deck. I installed the trim from the window sills up to the soffit, installed the railings and spread about 16 tons of topsoil to bring the lawn up to a grade that allowed for a railing-free lower deck.

Front windows and door installed over rigid foam insulation New framing to repair damage by carpenter ants To keep the cost down and minimize air leakage I went with fixed windows (don’t open) across the front of the porch and awning windows on each end. Opening the windows on the ends allows the breeze to blow through the entire length of the porch. The awning windows were an aesthetic choice that enabled me to replicate the original three over one glass windows that suit the porch.

As the pictures show, we worked so the porch was closed to the weather at the end of each day.

Awning end windows let breeze blow through porchPorch structure:

  • removed aluminum siding, vinyl soffit and old windows
  • resized rough openings for the new windows
  • nailed 2″ rigid foam to exterior sheathing from soffit to sill
  • installed new double-glazed vinyl windows and insulated door
  • taped joints in foam with red ‘Tuck Tape’
  • installed house wrap (air/water barrier) over rigid foam
  • sealed window nailing strips to house wrap with DuPont flashing tape
  • installed 2″ rigid foam on concrete foundation to 6″ below grade
  • installed new vinyl siding up to window sill
  • installed PVC window sill and cladding up to soffit

Deck, railings and steps

The deck was built before the siding was installed since it had to be bolted to the sill above the old concrete steps. The upper landing rests on top of the old concrete landing that – amazingly – was still dead level after 40 years!

New two-level deck under constructionThe lower deck ‘floats’ on deck blocks sitting on the crushed rock. There may be some up and down movement in the spring so I’ll just have to wait and see what happens. Since there was a significant slope up to the new deck, I added a faux stone step before spreading the topsoil for the new lawn. Faux stone step leadiing to deck

To save time and avoid future painting and maintenance I bought railing components made of a composite material at Home Depot. It was easy to install and it should hold up better to the blistering sun than any wood railings I could have built. I didn’t like the style of post caps they had in stock so I made my own from PVC material I had leftover from trimming around the windows. There’s not one drop of paint applied to the porch or railings and it looks great!

My final outdoor operation for the fall was to temporarily cover the foam on the foundation with landscape fabric to keep the sun from degrading it over the winter. I’ll complete the outdoor touches in the spring – parging the foundation, skirting and staining the deck and planting perennials to tie it all together.Finished porch exterior and deck

I’ll be posting Part 3 soon which will cover interior insulation, air sealing and how well it’s performing in our frigid Canadian climate.

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Passive Solar Porch Reno – Part 1
Passive Solar Porch Reno – Part 3

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