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Front Porch Ideas That Don’t Use Wood

Tips and Tools
Jul 9, 2021
5 min read
  • Decking

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Disruptions in the supply chain and high demand for home renovations have caused lumber prices to skyrocket over the past year. The increased cost of traditional wooden decking comes at a time when Canadians are looking to expand their home’s capacity for outdoor entertaining by exploring ideas for front porch extensions and outdoor living areas. 

Traditional ideas for extending a narrow front porch simply don’t work when a two-by-four is harder to come by than Tuscan marble, and is nearly as expensive. Front porch renovations will require flexibility in material choice and a good deal of ingenuity this season. Great outcomes for a front-of-house remodel are still achievable. Despite the limitations of the lumber market, the curb appeal of a modernized front porch will pay for itself by adding resale value to your home. 

Remember: most front porch renovations will require a permit and the services of a professional contractor. Talk to your landscaping contractor about exploring the lumber alternatives described below during your upcoming deck renovation. 

Composite decking

Constructed from a durable blend of wood fibres and plastic, composite decking costs between $9 and $16 per square foot. If your front porch decorating ideas this summer involve hanging plants and small gatherings, the water resistance, no-slip surface, and easy cleanup of composite decking is for you. 

Pros

This decking is low-maintenance and made to last. Composite planks will retain their solid appearance and strength despite sun, wind, rain, and snow. Resistant to rot and UV rays alike, a deck made from composite materials will outlast the asphalt shingles on your roof. Because these decks are designed to repel both dirt and water, clean-up is as simple as turning on the hose. They are also less slippery in the winter than decks made from lumber. 

Cons

While composite decking is durable, its colour will still fade over time. This can contribute to an artificial look that some homeowners find off-putting. Waste disposal and recycling do become a concern in your deck construction when using this material. Like lumber, composite planks must be cut to size—unlike lumber, the shavings can’t go into the compost pile after construction. The good news is that most composite decking is recyclable. You or your contractor should arrange for the collection of scraps and spare materials, preferably with a recycling company, after your project is complete. 

Sound initial construction of a composite deck is of utmost importance; improperly installed joists can lead to a sagging deck. Work with a qualified contractor when installing composite decking to ensure both good waste disposal practices and solid joist work. 

Stone decks 

Stone decks are the preferred choice for homeowners seeking a natural aesthetic. Stone tiling will run you $15 to $50 per square foot, depending on the type of materials used. A qualified masonry contractor will provide the necessary skill and expertise for a successful installation. 

Pros

Homeowners looking for front patio ideas will love the understated, modern look of stone tiling. This weather-resilient decking option can be installed over existing materials, giving your front porch a whole new look or simply adding character with a decorative border. 

With occasional maintenance, stone or brick tiling can last a lifetime. A good stone porch is scratch-proof, stain-proof, and heat-resistant.

Cons

Stone tiles are heavy. Even though they can be placed over an existing porch, your current wood-based structure may not provide the support necessary. If you are looking for ideas to renovate your narrow front porch, stone may be suited to your needs—you will require a less extensive support system for a stone porch that does not extend far beyond your home’s foundation. 

In addition, a fully stone patio may cost up to $15,000. An alternative solution is composite decking designed to resemble stone tiling, which will help you attain your desired aesthetic without breaking the bank, although it can fade in the sun. 

Vinyl (PVC) decking

Using high-density plastic is a cost-effective alternative to lumber for renovating your front porch. At $7-$15 per square foot, it is one of the cheapest materials to install. While some homeowners may object to the artificiality of vinyl decking, preferring to jump into the booming lumber market or invest in stone decking instead, many home renovators are embracing the low price, sleek look, and resilience of vinyl. 

Pros

Like composite decking, vinyl offers a variety of colours and styles to realize your front porch decorating ideas this summer. The versatility of vinyl is matched by its resistance to scratches and inclement weather. If you are looking for front porch remodeling ideas on a smaller budget, vinyl is the best material to use during your upcoming renovation. As an added bonus, PVC decking is quick to install and can sometimes be completed without professional assistance. 

Cons

Vinyl is not an eco-friendly construction material, as the waste materials cannot be recycled. It’s all about trade-offs: stone or aluminum are better for the environment, but they are more expensive and require a professional contractor’s services for installation. 

Aluminum decking

Aluminum is a true workhorse, resistant to wear and tear beyond any of the materials listed above. The installation will cost $12-$15 per square foot. As with stone, successful installation of aluminum decking will require the expertise and skill of a professional contractor. 

Pros

Aluminum is rust-free, rot-free, and lightweight. Along with high weather resistance, aluminum gets top marks for sustainability. Install an aluminum porch as part of your eco-friendly front porch design. 

Cons

Walking on an aluminum porch is not a quiet activity. The noise level isn’t the only drawback of aluminum: colour choices are limited, and the aesthetic is unappealing to those who prefer a natural look. However, cream-coloured aluminum porches are available. These porches do not appear as industrial as unfinished aluminum, and the colour pairs well with bamboo furniture. The noise level of an aluminum porch is also decreased when it is installed on a closed porch

How do you modernize a front porch?

Modern front porches facilitate small gatherings while utilizing alternatives to wood as a building material. Adding on extensions for hosting dinner parties or installing a front patio with intricate masonry will deliver a significant return on your investment, both in terms of resale value and outdoor entertainment space. 

What about ideas for decorating your front porch on a smaller budget? If a full renovation is not in the cards, consider sprucing up your porch with patio furniture and potted plants. Talk to your local plant nursery about flowers and bushes known to attract your favourite birds and butterflies. Make your front porch a small gathering destination by adding a barbecue, table, and chairs. 

Get creative with your front porch decorating ideas this summer—no matter what happens with the lumber market! 

Realize your modern front porch ideas: submit your project and receive quotes from vetted, qualified contractors today.

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