Tuesday, May 1, 2007

Conquering Columns

Well last night and today I managed to install 4 of the 5 new porch columns... and boy what a difference! The old ones look like sticks compared to the new beefy 10in. diameter bad boys in their place now. The scale of the porch just looks "right" now since this size is what was originally used when the house was built.

Lifting to remove first column

First step in the process was starting with the corner column and getting a good height measurement from the cement cap to the header. Once this was found I had to transcribe this to the new column since these are standard 6 ft. high and need to be cut down to roughly 5 ft. for my application. A neat trick I've learned to make a good cutting line is taking a piece of paper (I used tar paper) and wrapping it around the column matching up the edges, trace... instant accurate cut mark. These are fiberglass, so I bought an all purpose blade for my skill saw. Once cut I cleaned up and evened out the edge and was ready to be installed.

First column replaced

A couple 3x4's screwed together and a 20 ton bottle jack on a steel plate did the lifting work. About 1/4in. was all I needed to cut the few finish nails tacking the top in place and removing the old column. Then the new unit was placed, aligned the bottom to the old paint marks from the original (long gone), inserted a piece of pre-cut galvanized flashing over the top cap, and brought the header down on the new column. The cutting ended up being the hardest part!

Pretty bad, eh?!

Once the old column was removed, I could get a good look at the condition of the rotted base - NOT GOOD. It was damaged more than I had thought and glad I'm doing this now rather than finding my porch roof on my porch floor..... no joke, I've seen it happen around the corner from my old house! I hit one corner of the base block with a hammer and it crumbled right off - yikes.

Second column replaced

SO today I did three more and would have done the last, but one was sent wrong. I received a decorative split column made to go around a steel column - that should have been a solid. After talking to Pacific Columns it looks like I'll have a replacement within a week and they said keep the wrong one. It wasn't their fault since these were shipped from a third party....

The "no room for screw-ups" stage

The last one on the corner (the other rotted one) I think is may be at a critical stage. When jacking the next one in series at the steps, this appears to have shifted some weight on the bad column. When I finished I noticed it seems a bit crooked when it wasn't before and the column shaft appears to be sinking into it's own base on one side. I took a pencil and poked it around the side that appeared intact - went right through! I went placed a jack here until the last column gets here..... just in case.

Three done - two to go
(it got too dark to take a pic of four installed)


doughallnh said...


I just caught up on the past 3-4 weeks of your posts. You make all that really hard work seem so easy and so much fun!

Doug Hall

mike & rachel said...

Most of the time it is "fun" and even more so rewarding. Of course there are some days where the body and wallet are crying for mercy!!