1. Adding architectural pizzazz
Sweeten your porch’s appearance with a wide variety of architectural trim pieces in weather-resistant wood or low-maintenance synthetics (PVC or polyurethane). They’re readily available at home improvement centers.
Most porch trim pieces install with nails or screws and require basic tools and moderate do-it-yourself skills. Or, hire a handyman for a few hours at $30-$60 an hour.
- Add decorative brackets (starting at $20 each) where support posts meet the ceiling.
- Span the space above porch stairs with a fancy fretwork spandrel ($200 for 6 feet).
- Shapely corbels ($30 and up) lend charm under the eaves.
2. Painting the floor
You’re walking on sunshine when you splash color on a porch floor. Use good-quality exterior paint made for porch floors ($30-$45 per gallon) and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines for prepping the surface so the paint won’t peel.
Image: Grace Designs
If the old paint dates prior to 1978, find out if the paint is lead-based. If necessary, remove lead paint.
Once the basecoat dries, you can add a painted design, such as a faux rug, using stencils. Or outline your motif with quick-release painter’s tape to ensure crisp edges.
3. Fanning a breeze
Stir up your own cooling breezes by adding a ceiling fan to your porch. Be sure to select a ceiling fan model designed for outdoor use ($75-$250).
Wiring a fan is a task you can do yourself in less than an hour if there’s an existing electrical box and you have the right electrical tools. Or, hire an electrician ($75-$200) to wire the fan.
4. Creating privacy
If your exposed porch leaves you feeling like a goldfish in a bowl, add home privacy using one or more of these makeover strategies:
Louvered shutters: Tall louvered panels, or shutters, filter light while allowing breezes to blow freely across your porch. Select shutters in wood, vinyl, or PVC; prices start at about $50 for a 12-by-64-inch shutter.
Install one or more shutters floor-to-ceiling or just above the rail to create a private spot on the porch. You’ll need an afternoon to install shutters, typically by securing wood cleats to the floor and fascia and fastening the shutters to the cleats with screws.
Outdoor fabric: Add a little romance, color, and pattern to your porch with fabric panels that draw closed for privacy. Weather-resistant curtain panels with grommet tops come in a variety of lengths, and start at about $60 per panel.
You’ll need a few hours to install a rod ($50 for a wrought-iron rod that extends to 130 inches) and hang the panels. Or, buy weather-resistant fabric (starting at about $10 per yard) and make your own panels.
Image: Lauren Zuzic
Lattice: Like shutters, lattice panels allow filtered light and breezes onto your porch, while obscuring the view. You can install several panels in an afternoon using standard tools and fasteners. A 4-by-8-foot wood lathe lattice panel costs about $20. Decoratively patterned lattice PVC panels start at about $30. Visit a home center to find prebuilt wood or PVC privacy panels with custom looks, starting at about $200.
Plants: For botanical beauty, add a lush, living privacy screen. Trail flowering vines, such as fast-growing morning glory ($2 for a seed packet) or clematis ($15), up lattice panels; or plant tall but narrow-spreading evergreen, such as Thuja Green Giant ($100 for an 11-foot tree), beside the porch.
You can also use tall container plants on the porch and move them around where needed. Bamboo (about $40 for a 3-gallon container) grows quickly and provides leafy, light-filtering beauty.
5. Screening it in
Ban buzzing pests from your porch haven with screens. Use porch railings as the frame for supporting screens and staple screens in place. Use thin lathe strips or molding to cover staples and the screen edge.
Or, build frames using ¾-inch-thick, pressure-treated lumber. You can build a 6-by-6-foot frame for less than $15. Stretch the screen across each frame and staple it in place. A 100-foot roll of 4-foot-wide patio screen starts at about $55.
Mosquito curtains are another option that you can install yourself on a sliding track in 5 or 6 hours. Floor-to-ceiling curtains (less than 10 feet tall), which cover a 25-foot wide span, plus the track and hardware, cost about $475.