Why would anyone attempt a DIY front porch rebuild?
- Couldn’t get a quote, everyone was too busy to return my call
- I already had all the materials and tools, aside from mortar
- Opportunity to learn how to set stone/brick
Would I do it again? Probably. Eventually we’d like to have a stamped concrete walkway to the deck poured this summer and would like this short walk to the front porch to match. I’m trying REALLY hard not to put in 60ft of block paver walkway myself.
There wasn’t a brick under the porch that hadn’t crumbled. In contrast, the ones on the house are still solid. Weird.
I was curious about how easy the brick would come out, on a gloomy weekend having nothing better to do, I found out.
Of course the answer was pretty easy with the right tools. The sledge was hard to use without hitting the handle against the concrete overhang. Hammer and chisel worked fine, but the air chisel really made quick work of it. I found a second layer of brick behind the first. While incredibly curious what was behind the second layer, I managed to leave it alone and not make more work for myself.
We had our chimney rebuilt a few years ago and had a decent pile of leftover stone stacked in the garage. I’ll eventually find something else to hold down the section of garage floor where these were sitting. I didn’t do the chimney work myself, setting heavy blocks two stories up doesn’t seem like the right place to learn masonry….kinda need them to stay put! But under a porch….not too much can go wrong there.
I broke up the step and walkway with the sledge (hulk angry!) and finished removing the brick.
Grinding away the gross
Before making everything under the porch look nice I had to get rid of the fake tile on top.
Rebuild it better, stronger….faster?
Mixing up mortar was just like mixing mortar for tile. I started around the side to get some practice with setting the stones before attempting to place the “show pieces”.
Plop down the walkway
I found some fairly inexpensive block pavers at home depot that matched the color of the house well enough.
Finally on to the step. I had just enough stone left to get the height needed.
Setting the step wasn’t too bad, took a while to get the mortar thickness just right so everything was level. I set the blocks and came back after lunch to find a frog had already taken up residence inside the step. I promptly evicted him before finishing it off.
Check it off the list….next!!!
References and Tools
Most of these links are to Amazon, this is for your reference only, I’m not suggesting the tools there are the right one. I tend to purchase my tools from the local hardware store, I like to compare and hold them before I decide which one to get.
- Sledge Hammer
- Hammer and Masonry Chisel
- Air Chisel
- Angle grinder with a turbo cup for grinding
- Dust collector for the angle grinder – this was hanging on the rack next to the turbo cup so I gave it a whirl. It was worth every penny. The amount of dust collected with the shop vac using this shroud was amazing and I wasn’t working in a could.
- Small Hand Trowel – I used a cheaper version of something like this purchased at the local hardware store.
- Tuck Pointing Tools – I borrowed one of these and these from a neighbor but found using my hands to be faster. If I were doing all bricks aiming for consistent gaps and appearance, these would have been a necessity.
- Heavy Duty Nitrile Work Gloves – As mentioned, I ended up using my hands rather than the trowel or tuck pointing tools. You need to have gloves on if you’re going to do this, all mortar/cement/grout contains additives that, when mixed with water can cause chemical burns. I’ve had this a couple times, not too severe but enough that I couldn’t unlock my phone with my finger print for several days.
- Mortar – I purchased 2 bags of dry premix mortar. I mixed it in a 5 gallon bucket using a the hand trowel adding small amounts of water at a time aiming for a peanut butter consistency when it’s fully mixed. After mixing I let it sit for 5 minutes or so before using, I’m not sure where we heard you’re supposed to do that but it seemed to help with the workability compared to a freshly mixed batch.
- Chisel Cutting Stone – A video demonstration by a pro. This is essentially the method I used to fit the blocks and the pavers. Mark a line all the way around and whack it with the chisel along the line. You want to make it all the way around once with ‘medium’ blows before you really hit it so that it hopefully breaks where you want it to. I had to adjust a few after it split.