Front Porch Design Considerations

Important Elements for the Perfect Front Porch

Include the following front porch design considerations when planning to build a new porch or replacing your existing one. Why? To save you time and money while creating your dream porch.


Think About the Pitch or Slope of Your Roof

Ideally, you want your porch design to blend seamlessly with your home's architectural style rather than appearing as an add-on.

So generally speaking, the steeper the pitch of your roof, the more design options you may have to integrate a porch roof and maintain the required slope. However, there are exceptions depending on your preferred porch roof design.

Porch roofs, like your home's roof, normally must comply with local building codes. These codes vary depending on your geographical area and may limit your porch roof design options.

cottage style home with steep gable porch roof
Steep house roof allows for wider gable roof


Get familiar with various porch roof designs. Which works best with your style home?
Become familiar with different porch roof designs

Your Geographical Location is Key

Your geographical location may dictate the type of porch roof and construction materials that are best suited for your area.

For example, a hip roof is better suited for areas that experience high winds while gable roofs can handle heavy snows.

Again, local building codes may require specific construction practices or materials like hurricane straps as an example. Other codes could include roofing materials, depth of footers, and even the strength of porch columns.

front porch in snow storm
Additional structural materials may be required depending on where you live



Don't Overlook Local Setback Requirements

Setback requirements, meaning the distance a structure can be located from the street, are usually established by local governing bodies through ordinances and building codes. Because porches are attached to the home, the setback requirement can limit the depth of your porch which in turn could affect the porch roof design.

Know your local setback requirements before beginning any project on the front of your home.

home with minimal setback
Setback requirements can limit both home and porch placement



Consider Height Restrictions Also

The distance between the top of your windows and front door to the eaves of your home may affect your porch roof options or styles. The greater the distance between the two, the more options you may have.


porch with both gable and shed roof
Insufficient height limits this shed roof from being extended
Note in the photo above that there is minimal distance between the tops of the windows and door to the eaves. The shed roof cannot be extended to create additional porch depth because there would be insufficient headroom on the porch due to the roof's slope.

However, while there isn't enough height to extend the shed roof on the above porch, there is a potential alternative solution. The porch's shed roof could possibly be removed and the gable roof extended to achieve more porch depth and maintain sufficient headroom on the porch.


porch with American flag
See how a porch roof is constructed



What's Your Available Space for a Porch?

Another front porch design consideration is the space you have available for a porch. Perhaps you have trees, landscaping or walk ways that you want to retain or have a steep slope that could limit the depth of your porch.

two large trees in front of ranch home
Keeping these trees here will limit the size of a front porch
Below is a rendering of the same home with the trees removed and a large front porch attached. Note that the dormers on the roof, landscaping, and nice walk way add additional curb appeal.


rendering of a ranch home with dormers and front porch
Trees were removed to facilitate a front porch



Traffic Patterns - An Important Front Porch Design Consideration

Consider how you, your family, or friends will travel across or through your porch to the front door. You may also want to consider how your porch will be used. This is especially important for determining the location of steps in conjunction with your front door.

For example, placing porch steps in the middle of the porch will cut the porch's functionality into halves.

If you want an area for conversation and a separate area for reading a good book, then placing the steps in the middle or off-setting the step location may be a wise choice.

Give thought to your front porch design in terms of how you will use your porch.


front porch with steps located in middle
Front porch divided in half by the porch steps
Locating the steps on or toward the end of a porch usually offers the most usable space but may lengthen the distance to the front door depending on its location.


front porch with steps located in middle
Steps on one end allows for more continuous floor space
The location of porch steps can also affect your walk way and landscaping designs in addition to defining how your porch will be used. Often, it's a preference where you place your porch steps, but always good to think through it.


porch steps lined with geraniums
Get some front porch step designs



Keep Porch Railing Requirements in Mind

Did you know...
Many local building codes require a balustrade (railings) if the porch floor is 30 inches or more above the ground. This requirement can prevent an open style porch (no balustrade) if your porch design is over 30 inches.

Many people opt for an open porch especially if they do not want anything to interfere with a pleasing view. Open porches also make small porch appear larger.

If you desire an open porch and your porch floor is a few inches over 30 inches from the ground, you might be able to raise the ground level adjacent to your porch using creative landscaping or hardscaping to meet that requirement.

front porch with gingerbread trim
Open porch with gingerbread trim



cape may nj victorian porch with painted balustrade
Victorian front porch with painted balustrade
Explore your front porch design railing options.


porch railings add loads of curb appeal to your porch
You're in the right place for porch railing ideas



Know How to Control Water Runoff

Water is an often overlooked consideration when designing a front porch but perhaps a most important one.

Controlling water runoff can save you thousands of dollars later. If not designed properly, water falling onto your porch roof could eventually cause severe damage to your home's roof or eaves. Or it could cause structural damage if not properly directed away from your porch's or home's foundation.

The primary function of a porch roof is to provide protection from the elements, whether it be sun, rain, or snow.

A porch roof with a large eave, plus gutters on all sides, is an optimum solution. Although many porches tend to have gable roofs, a hip or shed roof provides the most protection along with several other advantages for ranch style homes.

A rain chain is not only decorative but also nice alternative to down spouts on your front porch.


picture of a water chain
Rain chain - photography by J Paul Moore



Check this rain chain out.

Blue Powder-Coated Rain Chain - available on Amazon (our referral link)

Mary and I hope these front porch planning factors will help you design your perfect outdoor space.


More Front Porch Design Ideas

ranch home with gable porch roof
Ranch Style Home Porch Designs

While simply designed, ranch homes offer opportunities for fantastic front porches. Explore ranch home porch roof designs, column and railing ideas.

depiction of ranch home with a selected porch roof design
Great Front Porch Designs

We show you how different porches change the overall appeal of a home. Choose between a ranch or two-story homes.




colorfully decorated small front porch with gable roof
Small Porch Design Options

Small front porch designs can pack a big punch! See ideas for designing your new porch or remodel your existing one.

privacy porch with rectangular lattice work on one end
Privacy Porch Ideas

A privacy porch design offers you solitude and can also help block wind, rain, or an unsightly view.











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