Stoops and Steps

Old House Journal - - Contents - BY MARY ELLEN POL­SON

Re­con­struct­ing en­try steps: de­sign for longevity and guide­lines for con­struc­tion; build­ing a wooden stoop.

The land­ing pad be­tween house and front walk or city side­walk, a “stoop” may be as small as a sin­gle step to the front door of a coun­try farm­house, or as tall and im­pos­ing as the stone steps lead­ing to the par­lor floor of a Brook­lyn brown­stone. The word “stoop” comes the Dutch term for “step,” and has be­come a handy moniker for all sorts of struc­tures that pro­vide ac­cess to the house or porch. Stoops and en­try steps are ig­nored un­til they fall into dis­re­pair. That’s when it be­comes clear just how es­sen­tial they are to ap­pear­ance and safety. A stoop with miss­ing or bro­ken steps is not only a haz­ard, but also af­fects curb ap­peal.

RIGHT In lo­cales like Nan­tucket and Charleston, where houses were built right on pub­lic side­walks, turn­ing the stoop so that it opens to the side is an el­e­gant so­lu­tion, per­mit­ting a land­ing wider than the door. ABOVE A sin­gle step would have suf­ficed—but this low, wel­com­ing stoop be­comes an Arts & Crafts-pe­riod porch with the ad­di­tion of built-in benches and an arched trel­lis. The benches of­fer a place to sit or set pack­ages, and bench sides also func­tion as handrails.

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