Course Title: Preserving the Integrity of the American Front Porch
Course Number: AIACESPORCH
For centuries the American Front Porch has greeted guests, provided comfortable space for family gatherings and have added an element of warmth and sophistication to our living space. Since 2004 the demand for these type spaces have been on the rise. in 2013 the USA Census Bureau reported at 76% of all new family homes had a porch vs an uncovered deck.2015 NAHB study lists the FRONT PORCH the most desirable exterior architectural feature on a new single family home (See Article here). With this increase in demand comes significant challenges for designers, contractors and property owners. Toping the list of challenges that face exterior living space, is the materials used for the flooring.
Many porch floors and exterior living spaces flooring have survived since the early to mid-1800’s. After replacing it with fir, pine or mahogany, replacement seems to start happening within 2 to three years on a small number of boards and a complete replacement within 4 to 6 years. Many property owners face cupping, buckling and checking before the final coat of paint or stain is added on the original installation. This causes us to question, why did the original porch, from the late 1800’s, on this house last for well over 100 years?
The answer to this question is simple: wood is no longer grown for 150 to 200 years before being cut down and turn into flooring boards. Old growth timber practices are not sustainable. Quick growth timber practices yield low density materials that just cannot survive in a horizontal heavy use environment like a porch. For the purpose of education and preservation, we have created Preserving the Integrity of the American Front Porch AIA/CES course.
As the demand for porches increase on new homes, commercial property, historic restoration and the conversion from a deck to a porch to extend seasonal use increases, education on material selection and specification will become more critical for architect and designers.
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