For many families, the front porch is an extension of home -- a place to welcome guests or gather on summer evenings. Wood and concrete are the most common materials for porches, and both have their merits. Drive through your neighborhood to find examples of porches you like before you talk to a contractor.
The cost for a wood porch versus a concrete porch is often about the same, although prices may vary depending on your geographical area, as well as the size and height of the porch. The cost of wood is often lower in a heavily timbered area than it would be in the desert or on the plains. High porches require backfilled and compacted soil when made from concrete, increasing the cost. Special features, such as stamped concrete, also increase the cost.
Take into account the maintenance differences between wood and concrete porches. Wood porches must be resealed or painted, often annually, and may rot or develop splinters if neglected. Leaves and debris can collect in the crevices under wood porches, reducing drainage, or animals may build nests there. Wood porches also become very slick in wet or snowy conditions. Concrete, in general, requires only an occasional cleaning with a deck brush and a garden hose. Concrete can crack, though, especially if you live in an area with periods of freezing and thawing during the winter.
Perhaps the most important factor for most people in choosing between a concrete or wood porch is how the porch looks. A wood porch is charming on a Craftsman bungalow or Victorian home but would seem out of place on a modern suburban home. Whichever material you choose should blend seamlessly with your home, as well as the surrounding neighborhood.
When deciding between a concrete and wood porch, use the same material that was originally used to maintain historical integrity, according to the District of Columbia Historic Preservation Guidelines. If the home has been renovated, determine what the original material was. In general, homes built before 1940 had wood porches. Homes built in the post-World War II era often had concrete porches. Check with your homeowner's association before altering porch materials or building a new porch. Many communities have regulations, in addition to those required for historical buildings.
- Photo Credit Comstock Images/Comstock/Getty Images