Protect Your Wood Porch Foundation

Out of Sight Should Not Be Out of Mind

Simple but important: Protect Your Wood Porch Foundation.

You've probably visited an older home with a sagging front porch. Not only is this dangerous, but unattractive. That's why you can't afford to overlook your porch foundation.

beautiful deck with lighting and chairs

Whether you are building a new home or adding or replacing a porch, the details matter. From the concrete in the footings to the flashing tape, you want to think about the best materials and construction practices that will ensure the long life of your porch.

Protecting the Wood Foundation

Many porches are built on a wooden frame of posts, joists and beams. As with all wood, over time, moisture will begin to break down its fibers. That's why it's essential to protect that wood, no matter whether you use wood or composite boards on top of the substructure.

If you add a very good quality flashing tape to the tops of beams and joists, you'll help protect their longevity. It is also essential to protect the ledger board that connects the porch to your home.

wood porch foundation

Joist tape is placed on the top edge of the wood during construction or it can also be applied with you replace deck boards. The tape acts like a sealant, creating a thin barrier that is waterproof.

On decks and porches, joist flashing tape is applied as a water barrier on top, giving the other three sides of the wood to breathe. Flashing tape also protects around the holes left by hardware during the construction phase, reducing corrosion that is caused by moisture. If the screws are applied right through the flashing tape, they help to hold the tape in place.

What Kind of Flashing Tape Should I Buy?

A quality flashing tape should:
  • Reduce maintenance
  • Support your porch's structural integrity
  • Extend the life of your porch
This comparison looks at material, price, warranty, etc. for several kinds of flashing tapes. There are two primary materials to consider: butyl and asphalt. Butyl is generally more long-lasting and easier to install. Additionally, self-adhesive butyl tape lies directly on the boards and requires minimal cuts.

How Is Flashing Tape Installed?

wood porch foundation with flashing tape

Installing joist or flashing tap is a straightforward process:

1. Prepare. Buy tape in a width that fits well on the top of your boards. Clean the surface of the joist by getting rid of debris and making sure it's nice and dry. Install when the temperature is somewhat warm, 50 degrees F, if possible.

2. Apply. Take off the tape's backing and apply the tape right to the surface. Firmly press on the tape with your hand to secure it.


How Can I Extend the Life of My Wood Porch?

Once you've constructed your wood porch, you want to enjoy it for many years to come. Here are a few tips to prevent sagging, splitting and rotting:

1. Sweep it off. As we've already covered, moisture is not your porch's friend. Over time, any debris on the porch will absorb moisture and accelerate rotting. Taking time to sweep of your porch, not only keeps it looking nicer, but it will also protect the wood.

2. Clean annually. It's important to wash off your porch at least once a year. Again, debris, especially little bits of leaves and soil that sink into crevices, can trap moisture. Use a bristle brush, some warm water and soap. Remember that pressure washing can cause wood to splinter, so if you go that route use a lower pressure setting. Be sure the wood is well rinsed and dried so the soap doesn't leave behind a sticky film.

wash your deck to keep it in good repair

3. Seal the boards. If you used wood boards, you'll need to seal them once a year. Before you begin, be sure to clean the porch. Use sealer or stain with clear sealer to cover and protect the top boards.

4. Inspect your porch regularly. Each year do an inspection of your porch using this handout from the North American Deck and Railing Association. Fix any damage you can and call a pro if the job looks too big. he main culprit in porch damage is rotten wood.

Look for soft, spongy or discolored wood; test for soft spots with a screwdriver. Pay special attention to any spot that the wood comes into contact with the ground or house.

Protect your wood porch foundation to clearly make a difference in the long run. While it takes a little extra intentionality, it's worth your time.


Won't you stay a while? You may also enjoy perusing this porch flooring series.


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