Old House Journal - - Restore -

Balustrade­d porches ap­pear on house styles from Queen Anne to Colo­nial Re­vival. A sort of early deck, th­ese un­cov­ered struc­tures tend to de­te­ri­o­rate much faster than other parts of the porch. For that rea­son, Andy Cur­tis of Full Circa re-cre­ates each el­e­ment of the balustrade in solid PVC, a ma­te­rial that has been rec­og­nized for years by the Na­tional Park Ser­vice as an ap­pro­pri­ate re­place­ment for wood in such si­t­u­a­tions. First, Cur­tis does some de­tec­tive work to iden­tify the scale and shape of miss­ing pedestals, balus­ters, and rail­ings. Old photos are ideal, but when none ex­ists, he can of­ten in­ter­pret the right size and shape from a ghosted shadow found on the struc­ture. He also looks for the orig­i­nal place­ment of pedestals at ex­posed cor­ners. (To prep the roof, its deck must be flashed or counter-flashed at points where pedestals will rest.) The orig­i­nals usu­ally lined up di­rectly over columns be­low—an ex­ten­sion of those es­sen­tial sup­ports. “The ev­i­dence shows that the old builders were do­ing things bet­ter than mod­ern prac­tice.”

FROM LEFT TO RIGHT A balustrade porch deck was torn off and com­pletely re­built. • Be­cause they are so ex­posed, dec­o­ra­tive brack­ets are carved from solid PVC, then painted. • The un­usual, two-di­men­sional balus­ter de­sign on this 1907 Ore­gon house is orig­i­nal to the turn-of-the-cen­tury porch; the pat­tern was found ghosted at a cor­ner pedestal.

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