Northern Virginia Porch & Exterior Planning

June 10, 2019

Planning to add or remodel your Northern Virginia exterior space can be a daunting task, with the options seeming limitless. Knowing the size limitations and recommendations for your space can save your budget and timelines a lot of headache in the planning process. 

Check out our new blog this week featuring the best way to plan your Northern Virginia porch or exterior remodel! 



1. How Wide Should My Porch Be? 

The overall width of a porch varies depending on the scale of the house, the budget and the porch’s intended use. One goal should always be to maintain a clear and open area that helps to frame and highlight the entrance to the home. Keep in mind that decorative railing adds cost when building a new porch. Depending on the materials and scope of work, the expense of custom carpentry should be considered when designing your porch. One way to plan the width of your porch is to think of it as a living room, in that if your living room is too long, you may have people feeling left out of the conversation if the porch is too long. 



home-design (2)


2. How Deep Should My Porch Be? 

When considering porch depth, 6 ft. is a desirable depth but 8 ft. is ideal. Many homes are built with shallower depths. A 4-ft. depth behind the column, allows simple wooden rocking chairs and potted plants to face the street with just enough room to pass. To make shallower depths work, use smaller-scale furniture and fixtures that allow circulation and work with the architecture. 




3. Is a Railing Required?

By most building codes, porches that are 30 inches or more above the ground require a guardrail, also called a railing. Even if the drop is less than 30 inches, it may be desirable to have a railing depending on the design and how you use the space. 

The height of the guardrail is now required to be 42 inches in many areas. It was 36 inches on single-family houses for many years, so your existing railing may be 36 inches. You will need to meet the higher dimensions only if you are building new or replacing the one you have, with a permit. Another regulation for required guardrails is that a 4 inch sphere must not be able to pass through any opening in the railing, for safety reasons. 


home-design (1)
Image via Everything Home

4. Choosing the Right Materials

Small details can be important to the final appearance of a porch. The detail should be in scale to the house and the porch itself. The floor of a porch looks different with wide-plank wood decking than with concrete or tile. Ceilings can be finished in beadboard, and beadboard comes in numerous sizes. The board can be as narrow as 2 in. and as wide as 8 in., with the bead detail also varying. 

The architecture of the main structure should dictate the type and detail of the columns. The railing can also vary greatly and be of several different types of material. Wood is just one, but you will find wrought iron, cable and steel, depending on the architecture.


home-design (3)
Image via Crisp Architects



If you live in the Northern Virginia area and you’re interested in a free estimate, or would like to know how Lensis Builders, Inc. can make your home even better, give us a call at 703-367-8999 or fill out a short contact form. If you’re looking for inspiration for your next project, visit our Pinterest page.

Remodeling eBook Information