Porch Roof Framing

Porch roof framing for our diy house building project was done in one day. From anchoring porch posts to calculating cutting angles for hip rafters, planning and staging material paid off.

Whether you are protecting your straw bale walls and adobe plaster from rain and sun or just want the shade of a covered deck for relaxing outside, a wrap around porch is great.

Here in the high desert, the rule of thumb for building with natural materials is “big hat” and “big boots”. In other words, protect your straw bale and adobe walls from rain and sun by having a stem wall to keep the bales well above grade and a good overhang to protect the walls from both sun and rain.

Our straw bale home has an eight foot wrap around porch to give us the protection from the elements that we need here in the desert and give us great outside living space. There is always one side of the house that is sheltered from sun, rain, and wind. Living where we do, the views are great in any direction


Porch Roof Framing: Porch Post Footings

We built our stem wall on weekends during our final year of teaching. During this process, we laid out and poured our porch post footings and installed cleats to anchor our porch posts.

Porch anchors were set in concrete blocks. The forms for the blocks were simple plywood boxes one foot square and one foot deep. Take care to lay out and align anchors as shown for appearance and strength.

Pour footings and insert anchors with a tight chalk line in place to establish uniformity in alignment and height of anchors.

A chalk line and a 100’ tape help set the line and intervals for the footings and, with only the block stem wall in place, triangulation of the footings was straightforward.

With careful measurement, we laid out a rectangle that precisely matched our house footings in proportion. Taking care with our layout measurements meant easy and accurate installation of the porch framing.


Porch Roof Framing: Post Installation

Our porch posts were actually peeled logs, sold as being six inches diameter, but fluctuating an inch or so in diameter and tapering for about eight inches to six inches or a bit less. This is a typical situation when not using milled material.

Originally these posts were intended to be vigas or rustic exposed ceiling beams. We enjoy the rusticity of peeled logs on our porch and, with some extra work, they served us well and give us the “cabin” look that we like. We had to shave a few of them with a hatchet to fit into our anchors, but that’s just part of building with this material.

The two key measurements of setiing porch posts are vertical plumb (to maintain beam alignment) and elevation. Once the lag bolts are inserted in the base of the post, a brace should be attached (see pic) to insure that the post is plumb during beam installation.

The tops must be sawed level to make a level porch roof. When we had our posts anchored and plumb, we snapped a chalk line and cut the tops to level.

Obviously, you can use dimension lumber for your porch posts. We chose a 6” post simply for aesthetics and scale. A larger house/porch could look good with a larger post.


Porch Roof Framing: Porch Roof Beams

To tie the frame of the porch together, we used 4” x 8” beams. At each of the four corner posts, we chiseled out a lap joint and tied the joint to the top of the post with an 8” countersunk lag screw in the center of the joint and simpson steel strapping on the outside.

Where the beams met on the intermediate posts, we predrilled and toe nailed 8” lag screws into the top of the post. We then tied the joint together with a T-brace inside and steel strapping on the outside of the joint.

To further stabilize the posts and joints, we screwed simple 3” stake stock cut to 45 degree angles as a Y bracket. Not only did they help stabilize the entire porch system, they were aesthetically pleasing.


Porch Roof Framing: Porch Rafters

Our porch rafters were all dimension lumber, 2” x 6” fir. The hip rafters were cut from 2” x 6” x 12’ stock and, of course, the hip jacks were cut from 2” x 6”s as well.

The common rafters were attached to the bond beam with steel hangers and attached to the post beam with hurricane straps. A specialized corner hanger was used to connect the hip rafter to the bond beam and, again, hurricane straps tied it to the corner of the beam. Hip jacks were simply nailed to the hip rafter and nearest common rafter.

All the rafters were cut on site using a compound chop saw. Unless you are particularly skilled at making compound miter cuts, I suggest some trial cuts when setting up for cutting the hip jacks. I found those cuts the most difficult to set up in the entire building project.


Porch Roof Framing: Fascia Board

Fascia is at once both cosmetic and practical. The fascia boards provide additional protection from inclement weather and offer a finished look to the roof.

Before attaching our fascia, we marked the ends of the rafters for cuts that would permit a couple inches of overhang by our roof steel panels. Snapping a chalk line the length of the roof and marking a cut line on each rafter from the chalk mark with an adjustable square ensured a good fascia installation.

After marking our cut lines, we sawed off the butts of the porch rafters and were ready for fastening fascia.

Our fascia is simply 1” x 6” softwood from our local building supply company. We attached the boards to the butt ends of the rafters with our nail gun. We applied multiple coats of linseed oil to the fascia as it is so vulnerable to weathering. We’re now ready for sheathing, roofing paper, edging, and steel.


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