Summer seems more like the season to sit outside and sip iced tea rather than think about the winter ice. However, it is the best season to prepare your home for the snow and ice to come once winter rolls around. In fact, a proactive assessment of your home’s porches can help prevent adding another number to the National Safety Council’s (NSC) statistic that estimates 300,000 serious injuries and 20,000 deaths result from slips and falls in the United States each year. In fact, falls are one of the leading causes of unintentional injuries in the United States, accounting for approximately 8.9 million visits to the emergency department annually (NSC Injury Facts 2011).
While porches are the perfect outdoor escape in the summer, they are also the first line of safety in the winter and provide the protection you need to safely begin any excursions outside your home. In addition to protection from slips and falls, thoughtfully designed porches also add curb appeal to your home while paying homage to an iconic American tradition— the grand front porch. In this two-part series WarmlyYours looks at key design features and benefits of porches.
Well-designed porches 1) create easier accessibility, 2) increase curb appeal, and 3) enhance your family’s safety, which we’ll look at in part two of this blog. It all starts with a thoughtful, great design that enables safety features such as deicing.
SUCCESSFUL PORCH DESIGN: 3 KEY CONSIDERATIONS
“A porch…serves as a transition point between the inside of a house and the great outdoors. It can give you shelter without forcing you inside. It can create distance where you want some—from a busy street, for example. And it can function beautifully as an outdoor room,” writes James M. Crisp in “Porch Appeal.”
He gives multiple suggestions for great porch design if you are remodeling an existing porch, adding a porch to your home, or incorporating a porch into new home design.
Appropriate scale is critical.
“A porch should never do battle with a house. It should be visually subservient to the main structure and not overpower it,” he shares. Also, your design should create balance with proper proportions.
“Vertical components should always appear appropriate to horizons. Posts, for example, should look substantial enough to be carrying the roof. Sometimes, this means making posts larger than what is structurally required,” Crisp suggests.
Proper sizing changes everything.
Crisp recommends designing porches to be at least nine feet deep. “Some say that six feet is adequate, but I like nine feet because it gives you enough room for large chairs and even a small dining table and chairs, while leaving room to pass. I know there isn't always space for such a deep porch, but another option is creating a bump out on a corner that can work as a larger, more comfortable gathering point,” Crisp describes.
When considering sizing, ask yourself this simple question, “How will my porch be used,” advises Jeannie Matteucci in “Porch Planning: Things to Consider.”
“The answer to this question helps determine how deep and long your porch should be. A porch with a small cafe table and two chairs has different size requirements than a porch made for dining and entertaining. You need to include room for circulation; think of a porch as a small-scale house with a foundation, roof, and walls,” Matteucci details.
Eight feet wide is the minimum functional porch depth bluntly states GMF+ASSOCIATES architects in a Houzz listing of great porch design. “If a porch is less than eight feet wide it is just decoration, like fake shutters,” the company shares.
Note: This comment is in reference to just one stunning porch of many featured in the Houzz collection of “How to Build a Front Porch.” You’ll find plenty of inspiration scrolling through the picturesque options. Better Homes and Gardens also presents porch design ideas here.
With all the design options, don’t get overwhelmed. “Approach your porch designs as if you were building for yourself or your family, and you're likely to get it right,” encourages Bobby Parks, owner of Peachtree Decks and Porches in Alpharetta, Ga.
Customization is key to successfully combine safety and design.
Ultimately, porches are as individual as their homeowners, which can cause problems if using pre-packed deicing systems to add winter safety, combatting the formation of ice on the porch roof. But unlike pre-packaged deicing systems, WarmlyYours provides not only the deicing cable, but also a range of control options, accessories, and the expert advice needed to customize a roof and gutter system for any porch design. (It also can be used to protect your entire roof, melting snow and ice and channeling water safely away before it can cause unsafe walking conditions and well as damage to your home.)
Earlier this year WarmlyYours expanded its Ice Shield Roof and Gutter Deicing System offerings to make it even easier to create custom solutions that fit your unique porch designs.
“WarmlyYours will work with you to create a tailor-made solution, helping you determine the right amount of cable to cover the areas that need deicing and which one of our four control solutions best fits your needs,” shared Greg Jazwinski, WarmlyYours’ Director of Sales—USA, in the press release announcing the expansion.
With the flexible deicing options from WarmlyYours, you are free to design to best porch for your family and your location, which is another great tip from Crisp—design your porch with the view in mind.
“The location of your porch may be predestined by your site—or your desire to look out onto your street—but if there is a choice, it is always best to focus on a view. Remember, the porch is a place where you can connect to your surroundings. If no view is readily available, creative landscaping or a strong focal point, be it an arbor, tree or garden bed, can be just as effective,” he suggests.
With all flexible deicing systems, it is easy to add safety to your porch and combat winter ice without compromising the design that best fits your family and the location.
Enhance the benefits year round with safety in the winter and a nice view in the summer to enjoy sipping iced tea (which is the only kind of ice you should have on your porch) and enjoying quality time together.
Next up? Look for the top three benefits a well-designed porch provides for a home in part two of this blog.
What’s most important to you in the design of a porch for your home? Share your design ideas or experiences with us on the WarmlyYours Facebook page or tweet us at @WarmlyYours.