Replacing an exterior post on our front porch


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Old 05-23-20, 09:44 PM
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Replacing an exterior post on our front porch

Our house was built in the late 60's, and as far as we know the post in the pictures below is from the original construction. Regardless, it is rotting away at the bottom. In general, I'm wondering how much effort it will take to replace it. My biggest concern right now is determining if it is load-bearing. I'm inclined to suspect that it is bearing at least some of the weight of the trusses that extend over the porch. Not sure how to verify that though. Guessing I'd need to open up the soffit around it as a first step?
 
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05-24-20, 04:25 AM
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Hard to say if it's load bearing from those pics but that would be a good bet.
I'd erect a temporary support and then remove/replace the damaged post. A post bracket/spacer will hold the bottom of the post off of the concrete enough to help prevent a reoccurance of the rot.
 
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Old 05-24-20, 04:25 AM
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Hard to say if it's load bearing from those pics but that would be a good bet.
I'd erect a temporary support and then remove/replace the damaged post. A post bracket/spacer will hold the bottom of the post off of the concrete enough to help prevent a reoccurance of the rot.
 
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Old 05-24-20, 04:55 AM
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A piece of asphalt shingle also helps prevent rot.
Place it with the grit on the concrete.
Then once the post is installed trim off the excess.
 
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Old 05-24-20, 06:51 AM
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A picture from further away would help but even if load bearing it's not going to be significant that as noted a temp support will handle.

Check out Simpson post supports, a better way to get the post off the ground, many different types, some are even decorative, all depends on how the post will be finished!

https://www.google.com/shopping/prod...xoClOEQAvD_BwE
 
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Old 05-24-20, 06:58 AM
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Looks like you are in luck. The vinyl soffit around the post looks to be the last piece installed, so should remove easily. Remove the soffit piece and use a temporary jack post to raise the structure slightly. Replace the post and lower the weight of the structure onto the new post. Replace the soffit.
 
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Old 05-24-20, 08:14 AM
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I would also extend the horizontal part of the downspout away from the post/sidewalk.
 
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Old 05-24-20, 10:02 AM
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Thanks everyone! I appreciate all the advice! A follow-up question or two...

I've never worked with soffit before. Will I need a special tool to separate the pieces? (I'm assuming they're linked together in some fashion, somewhat similar to vinyl siding pieces?) Also, the soffit is metal (assuming aluminum), in case that's relevant.
 
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Old 05-24-20, 11:15 AM
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Soffit material just hooks together lightly, no tools needed!
 
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Old 05-24-20, 11:48 AM
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Do you have access to the same post style? If not and you want to preserve the look after you remove it you can cut off the bottom rot and replace it with good wood. If your in luck, the rot doesn't extend up farther than the square part of the post.
 
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Old 05-24-20, 03:55 PM
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Good idea, @Tumble! Unfortunately (for the work involved), we have no interest whatsoever in retaining the same style of post. My wife has been scouting around on Pinterest and has some neat ideas for changing up the style. Not sure yet when I'll be tackling this; hopefully sometime this summer. Have several other long-running projects that I'm spending most of my time on these days, and they still have a long ways to go. Might need to put one on pause to get this post issue resolved though sooner rather than later. Probably not too critical if it isn't load-bearing, but since I don't know for sure if it is, think it'd be best to play it safe and not put it off for too much longer.
 
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Old 11-07-20, 01:35 PM
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I started tackling this today. I have the end soffit partially lowered down, enough to see what appears to be the top of the post. Not sure if it shows up clearly in the picture, but the white-painted wood above the soffit is above the post as well. Unless there's a smaller section of the post above the visible part, but that doesn't seem likely.

My challenge now is figuring out where I can safely put a jack. I had expected to find the trusses directly on the other side of the soffit, not solid wood covering the entire expanse. Wondering if I'll need to cut away a section of that wood to confirm the truss locations. Actually, now that I'm thinking about it more while typing this out, it sure seems like the whole south end would have a truss member above it. So as long as I place the jack underneath that south side, it should be good. Would sure feel better about it knowing for sure, though. Suggestions? Also, I'll have to somehow get that end piece of soffit completely removed to fit the jack up against the wood and not the soffit. It seems to be securely crimped into the adjoining piece. Not sure I can get it detached without mangling it in the process.



The east side of the post


The west side of the post.


Some water damage to the wood above the soffit at the front (west side) of the porch


Outer view of the south side
 
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Old 11-07-20, 05:05 PM
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My wife just thought of something that hadn't occurred to me...so the new post "look" will be wrapped PVC - my original plan was to replace the current post with a 4x4 cedar post, then wrap all 4 sides with 1x8 PVC boards (we're going for a wider look). Rather than replacing the existing post, any reason I can't just add 1x4 cedar boards to 3 or 4 sides of it, and then add the PVC around those? Reinforce the existing post, in other words, instead of replacing it. That was her suggestion and I really like it for the lower effort/cost involved.
 
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Old 11-07-20, 07:25 PM
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Looking at your first pics, 1 if not 2 sides of the current post if wrapped would not fall completely on the concrete. So they effectively are not included in support. The other two sides touching your concrete would be at most 1.5" thick (thus providing very little lateral support). One of the properties of vertical wood support qualifying as structural is the continuous cross section of wood. You can eliminate the current post as providing any support due to the rot (I know it provides some currently but because of it's condition I wouldn't use it in any support equation). In the end you'd wind up with the 1x's boards as the only effective support.

I'm not a structural engineer but I wouldn't do it that way.
 
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Old 11-08-20, 02:19 AM
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My challenge now is figuring out where I can safely put a jack. I had expected to find the trusses directly on the other side of the soffit, not solid wood covering the entire expanse. Wondering if I'll need to cut away a section of that wood to confirm the truss locations.
Take a 2x4 or 2x6 and use it to span 2-3 ceiling/roof joists and then put your temporary jack studs under it.
 
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Old 11-10-20, 03:58 PM
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Thank you, Tumble and marksr! Quick update: We ditched the wrap-with-1x4s plan and replaced it with a replace-existing-post-with-new-4x4-post-then-do-the-PVC-wrap-on-the-new-post plan. I cut a small hole in the panel that's above the existing post, to see what I could see above the panel. Was surprised to see a beam sitting on top of the post and running cross-wise (North-South) to how I expected to see a truss member oriented (East-West). That either disproves my assumption that the porch roof consists of truss ends, or means the truss ends are sitting on top of the North-South beam. Anyway, I fashioned a temporary support from a couple 2x4s screwed together, jacked the ceiling up enough to get the base of the existing post a fraction of an inch off the ground, and then set that beam down on the double 2x4 support.

I haven't removed the old post yet, but it seems it wasn't attached at all on the bottom (since I can swing it back and forth a bit now that it's no longer sitting on the ground), and is attached on the top. I don't see any plate or screws/nails at the top of the post, which leads me to believe the panel above it was attached to the top of the post to hold it in place, then the beam was set on top of it. I'll likely have to use my recip saw to cut it free.

Looking ahead to installation of the new post (4x4 cedar), I've bought one of these for attaching it at the top, and one of these for the bottom. I'm wondering if using both of them is overkill, though, given the old post wasn't even attached at the bottom. At first I thought it'd be quite difficult to use connectors at both ends without lifting the roof up quite a bit more, which I definitely don't want to do. With these two connectors though I think I can attach the top one to the beam, then insert the new post into the base unit and slide them both into the top "base" from one of its open sides.
 
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Old 11-10-20, 05:32 PM
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Post a pic of the top of your post as it exists. I personally wouldn't use the EZ base for the bottom, too much surface area to hold water between the bracket and the bottom of the post (promoting rot), plus you have ground contact. I've always like to expose as much wood to the air to promote drying. I'm thinking this Post Base Standoff would be better for the bottom.


 
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Old 11-10-20, 07:47 PM
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The first pic in my Nov 7 post shows the top of the post from one side. The other sides look the same.
 
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Old 11-11-20, 10:22 AM
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which leads me to believe the panel above it was attached to the top of the post to hold it in place, then the beam was set on top of it.
Would be an interesting technique for construction. I would bet they toenailed the post and beam together somehow. You could do the same for the new post (use nails not screws) and to reinforce the connection if you desired use a Strap Tie or similar. If the panel is in the way as you indicated you'd have to make a cut for the Tie to fit up there though. I'd remove any part of the panel sitting on top of the post and cut the post so the beam rests on the post directly.

Both the top and bottom steel would all be hidden by your trim boards.
 
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Old 11-11-20, 07:51 PM
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I took the old post down tonight. If my understanding of toe nailing is correct, then you're correct about it being toe nailed to the beam. Nails were angled up from the top sides of the post and into the wood above, but the heads were embedded into the post and then apparently patched over to make them invisible from the surface.

I enlarged the hole a bit as well. I can see the truss-like members now. The beam is pretty big, didn't have my tape measure with me at the time so haven't measured it yet. Looks like probably a 2x8 or 2x10. Haven't confirmed the width yet, need to drill some more holes to find the other side of it. It's curious that the beam wasn't centered on the post, but on the edge of it. Next step is to find the other side of the beam, then cut away the plywood underneath the beam where the new post will sit. Hoping I can then securely attach it directly to the beam without messing with toe nailing myself. Once I confirm the width of the beam then I'll know what my connection options are.


Top of the old post, showing two nails that remained in the post when I pulled it down.


Surface area where the top of the old post touched the plywood above.


Glimpse of the truss section and the beam.
 
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Old 11-12-20, 10:23 AM
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Yes, that is toenailing. Simpson makes all kind of straps to attach wood at different angles (see hurricane ties). I'm thinking you'll need to remove those 3 stacked boards, they'll interfere with your trim boards. I know it's another tool to store when not in use but if you don't have one, get a oscillating multi tool. They're $100 and up. They are so useful for so many projects. They would make opening up that plywood to expose the beam/rafter very easy and clean.

Toenailing upside down is can be challenging. I've found it easier sometimes to start the nail more perpendicular to the wood, then sort of bend it up/down to the desired angle. That way the nail doesn't skip when you initially hit it.
 
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Old 11-12-20, 01:14 PM
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i bought this one 5-10 yrs ago. not as nice as a quality tool but it's worked well for me [not used professionally] https://www.harborfreight.com/oscill...ool-62866.html
 
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Old 11-12-20, 04:17 PM
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Thank you for the oscillating tool idea! I already own one and it's proven very useful for a number of small projects over the past several years, but for some reason it never occurred to me to use it for that plywood. It would've saved me a fair amount of time already just from the small amount I've already cut away. Definitely going to use it for the rest of the cutting I need to do!
 
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Old 11-12-20, 05:45 PM
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Turns out the beam isn't just one 2x8 or 2x10, but three of them sandwiched together. The one whose side is facing the plywood hole is roughly a 2x10 (1 5/8" x 9 1/4"). The middle one is even wider, as I can tell by feel that it extends another inch or two above the top of the first one.



The old post was centered underneath the first of the beam boards, not all 3. The 3 beam boards together have a combined width of 4 7/8 inches. My plan now is to place the new 4x4 so its edge is aligned with the edge of the first beam board, and connect the two on that side with a Strong Tie AC Post Cap. As the opposite side of the post will be underneath the 3rd beam board, I'll have to somewhat improvise I think. The Strong Tie DJT Deck Joist is almost just right for the task, but the post-edge distance to the beam edge will only be roughly 1 1/4 inches, not the 1 1/2 inches for which the DJT appears to have been designed. What do you think about toe nailing it on that side, and then overlaying the toe nailing with the DJT? Would it make sense to shim out that side of the beam by 1/4 inch so as to get a secure fit with the DJT?

Unrelated to the current task, but this hole in the plywood makes it appear that the plywood was the original porch "ceiling" for the house's initial years, as it looks like a hook was screwed into it for hanging a flower pot or something.

 

Last edited by jessman1128; 11-12-20 at 06:45 PM. Reason: Fixing typo
 

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