Way back in 2013 (so pretty much forever ago), we decided to try stripping the paint off of our front porch. Young House Love had done a post on stripping their deck with Behr Wood Stain and Finish Stripper and it seemed to work really well for them so I thought we should give it a try.
Here’s our very attractive porch before:
Here’s our porch part way through the process (look, it’s working! Kind of…):
Now, before I show you the after I just want to say that I’m sure if our porch had only one or two layers of paint on it, we could have knocked this out in a weekend. Unfortunately that was not even close to a reality for us, so 6 layers of paint and primer, one gnarly bruise from falling down the steps and landing my arm in the bucket of stripper (at least it wasn’t a bucket of strippers, amiright?), and 3 weekends later, we were left with this:
OH, and this:
Womp, womp. We had finally gotten down to raw wood in some areas but we weren’t even close to being finished.
Here’s what stress relief looks like:
Of course it was at this point that Kyle’s dad suggested just flipping the boards over and using the other sides. Brilliant. So that’s exactly what we did…a solid six months later.
Lucky for us, Kyle’s parents came over to help while they were in town (Thanks again for all of the help! We would probably still have a horror movie porch if it wasn’t for you guys).
First, Kyle pried off all of the boards and I helped his dad pop out all of the old nails so that we could reuse the boards. Our porch looked like this:
Kyle’s mom was on sanding duty – she used a belt sander to get off any paint and crud that had dripped down onto the side we wanted to use. In the meantime, stair treads were removed:
And the risers soon followed:
And then we discovered that our stringers were rotted out because they were sitting directly on the ground or directly onto other pieces of wood which were sitting in the ground.
We also discovered that whoever built the porch had a thing for Cheetos.
Barley and Otter supervised.
We tossed the deck boards and stair treads back in place, unsecured, until we could get new stringers put in later in the week. Turns out, nobody sells the size we had so we ended up putting in a 5 step staircase instead of 4 like the original. This was the easiest part for us because we didn’t actually do anything – Kyle’s dad came over while we were at work one day and put the new stringers in place for us (thanks again)! Using the 5 step stringers actually worked out really well because now they sit on the concrete walkway instead of in the dirt.
Unfortunately for us, we also couldn’t reuse the risers or treads, so our porch looked like that until we found the time and motivation to grab more lumber to finish it off. I’m sure our neighbors loved it.
To put the porch back together, we just carefully measured and leveled each tread and riser and screwed the pieces in using decking screws. We also went back and put screws into the deck boards on the porch to secure everything. Here’s what it looks like now – we left a gap at the bottom for drainage since water likes to pool there:
We’re planning on staining and sealing in the next couple of weeks. I would love to go ahead and do it now, but it’s super important to give pressure-treated lumber several weeks to fully dry out so that you don’t seal in any of the moisture which could cause issues like warping and can also cause your finish to bubble. We still haven’t decided if we’ll add hand rails back but for now we like it the way it is. In fact, once the staining and sealing process is over I think we can officially call this project dunzo.