Replace a Patio Support Column or Beam

Replace a Porch Post

All of our homes components age with time. Unfortunately, many need major repairs to correct the wrath Father Time. One of these repairs will likely be a front porch column or pool patio post. Many homes have steel posts holding a roof above. The steel is generally set in a concrete foundation. While the combination of steel and concrete is an amazing feature in today's architecture, not so much if the steel is exposed to oxygen. Its a forgone conclusion that the steel will ultimately begin to rust and a need to replace a support column

Replacing a broken, rusted or otherwise damaged column is not as easy a job as you might think. But don’t worry, we’ve been replacing support columns for decades.

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Replace a Porch Column

replace a porch column

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Fabricating a New Load Bearing Column

Selecting the right material for a replacement column is critical. Wood is inexpensive, but wood always develops splits and can even warp. The real problem with wood is its strength. A 4" x 4" SYP timber will support about 450 lbs. A 3" x 3" x 1/4" steel column will support about 20,000 lbs. Big difference right? 

So steel is a good choice because of its strength. And while steel can be painted to prevent rusting, the base of a steel support column is bolted to or sunken in concrete. Over time this steel touching the concrete will rust. Rusting steel makes a really big mess and we discourage the use of steel for replacement columns.

To overcome the rust issue of steel we can hot dip galvanize the new steel columns. Galvanization is the process of coating the steel with zinc and zinc does not rust. So, we make the columns as usual and send them out to be "dipped". Here the posts are sunk in a 450 degree molten bath of zinc. As a result the steel comes back with a silver luster, resistant to rust but otherwise, unchanged.

Aluminum is also a good material choice. Aluminum is light weight, very strong and it does not split warp or rust. Aluminum however is not quit as strong as steel. So a replacement aluminum column will be thicker than a steel counter part. A typical aluminum column will be 4" x 4" x 1/2".

Permitting new Support Columns

These repairs are structural and replacement requires a permit. Many years ago we could obtain a permit and simply state - "replace the existing". But that wont cut it anymore. In order to obtain a permit you needed engineering. Engineered plans will look something like this

Column Engineered Plans

column repair

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It will take a week or two for us to send our request and receive site specific engineered plans from our design professional. We then send them with a permit application to your building department. It can take between two to six weeks to obtain the needed permit. The good news is that we can replace your columns as soon as we apply for the permit. We just have to leave the bolts exposed for an inspection when the permit is finally obtained.

Installing New Patio Columns


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