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.