Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Our 1st Cherry House DIY adventure

Our home was built in 1893 and has experienced many changes throughout the years. We were told by a local that the front porch steps had been replaced at least a dozen times in its history. Despite the efforts of previous owners, the Cherry House needed new steps before the home was purchased according to the home inspector. Since we were already living in the home, we were in a wonderful position to re-do the steps ourselves, and save the sellers a lot of money and time! We asked them if we could take on the project. We received their blessing, and began  destruction...I mean construction..lol :)

Front porch before

 We started by finding out what codes we needed to adhere to, for our area and drew up plans. We wanted to change the shape of the stairs, and allow access from not just the front walkway, but from the sides as well. We made a list of all supplies needed, borrowed a few tools from friends, and made the trip to the hardware store. We purchased pressure treated wood lengths and 3 1/2 inch deck screws to complete most of the construction project. We also added a few 4x4 post and lag bolts for additional strength where we felt was needed. Our goal is for the stairs to last a good 10 years or so!

We ripped out the old stairs which were pretty fragile and easy to take out. (One of the reasons the home inspector said they needed replaced).

Next came framing. The most important part of building new stairs is to follow your plan exactly. Measure, measure and remeasure before cutting the wood so you do not waste any material. Each cut must be precise so the stairs are sturdy, safe and look professionally done. Building the frame took a lot of time and hard work but was well worth it in the end.                                  


A few days later, it was time to cut more wood and add the actual steps.

As any homeowner knows, there is always a 'hiccup' in DIY plans. We always set a little of our  budget aside when doing a project just incase it cost more than planned. Our hiccup for this project ended up being our porch railings. Upon closer inspection, we found termite damage and had to replace them also. After some more planning and another trip to the hardware store, we constructed the railings with pressure treated 2x4's and spindles.

Always be sure to follow your local building codes for safety.

During the construction, we also decided to sand the original porch down to bare wood and resurface it. It turns out over 100 years of paint is very difficult to take off. It took a good week of sanding and scrubbing to remove the thick layers of paint.

Once all the grunt work was done, we painted the railings a nice crisp white to match the house. Then we painted the front screen doors, cherry red, for high impact curb appeal.

The porch and stairs still need stained, we were told to let the wood 'sit' and stain them in a few months for best results. I will post pictures for you as soon as we finish the staining. Lastly, we added a few decor items. Now we have a new, and improved front porch we love.

It even got the approval of the home inspector! YAY! Our very first MAJOR home improvement project went pretty well, don't you think?  :)

Join us again soon at The Cherry House Life for more DIY adventures!


  1. LOVE your house and those steps are amazing! When I move will you come help me! So nice to meet you!

    1. Thanks so much, I love hearing feedback :) Very nice to meet you too! :)

  2. Hello!
    Beautiful work! Can you give me any tips on how you painted the spindles? I have 62 - 3" spindles to paint and everyone is telling me it will be a nightmare! They are not attached to the rails yet. Thanks!