Moisture Intrusion Can Rot Your Porch From the Roof Down

AFTER: Shown here with its porch fully restored, using waterproof columns and roof material, the home’s appearance satisfies POA replacement requirements.

After the porch ceiling was removed, trapped rainwater cascaded down, and significant concealed damage was revealed.

Although an inadequate roof proved to be the source of the problem, signs of moisture intrusion on the porch ceiling were relatively minor.

Builders and homeowners know that moisture damage is the enemy of all structures, in that it will rot all wooden components, causing decay and in the process making a property even more susceptible to termite damage. As a result, over the past decade many wooden components and features, such as porch ceilings and exterior trim, have been replaced and/or covered during construction with moisture-proof materials such as vinyl. However, homeowners must beware: unless there is proper protection from moisture intrusion, vinyl can simply mask the process of decay. Worst of all, frequently an entire structure will experience significant detrioration before evidence of decay becomes apparent.

This was the case with the handsome brick home pictured here. The Owners had noticed that during storms the porch ceiling appeared to leak, and the porch columns, made of wood, were showing signs of deterioration. However, as is apparent in the photo above, the porch ceiling showed only minor signs of decay. The Owners’ original request was to replace the wooden columns with columns made of a waterproof material, and to replace the porch roof, which they rightly suspected was the source of the problem. The original builder had specified a roof of rubber membrane, which, although a popular feature ten years ago, has since proven to be a problem in many residential applications.

A new roof, made of Duradek®, a walkable and waterproof material intended for use in residential as well as commercial applications; and two new waterproof, polymer columns (PolyClassic® by Turncraft®), were recommended by HSH and approved by the Owners. Both matched the original design of the house and met the Property Owners Association’s standards for replacement. HSH, after helping the Owners secure the requisite POA approval, carefully removed the rotten ceiling and other structural members (revealing the extent of the water damage, which was significant) and ultimately replaced the entirety of the existing porch structure. Only then was it safe for a new roof to be applied by our roofing subcontractor. After the roof installation was complete, HSH completed the painting; installed a new vinyl-clad railing system on top of the roof; and re-installed the iron stair rail. Our “After” photo shows the house after the porch replacement, with the structure of the porch fully restored and protected against future problems, and the appearance of the home virtually identical to the original.

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