Install Column Wraps for a Stylish Front Porch
PVC Column wraps and a matching balustrade system create a stylish porch with great curb appeal.
Most homeowners dream of relaxing on their front porch and watching the world go by. Tina and Brett Mealer had the same dream, so they decided to transform their ho-hum, bare-basics porch into a showpiece.
“We had some ugly wooden posts holding up the porch overhang, and the kids kept jumping off the porch area,” says Tina Mealer, a resident of Wauseon, Ohio. “We wanted to create more of an enclosure that we could all share together plus add ‘curb appeal’ to our home.”
The Mealers got their dream porch when local contractor Steve Roth installed PVC Column Wraps from Fypon to surround the wooden posts and added balustrade systems to enclose the entire porch area. Made of synthetic materials, the low-maintenance porch pieces resist warping, all forms of insects, decay and rot.
“The column wraps went up easily,” says Roth. “Each one comes in a kit and includes a semi-assembled, two-piece wrap with the cap, base, installation cleats and caulk adhesive. The external cleats make installation a breeze by making them easy to reach and providing flexibility in positioning. I had each column wrap up in under 15 minutes.”
Working with PVC Column Wraps
Fypon PVC Column Wraps are non-structural and must be installed around a previously installed structural post. The post provides the load-bearing component of the column, and the load-bearing capacity is determined by the strength of the post. Note: Do not use untreated lumber for the structural posts.
The bottom of the post should be mounted to a wooden deck or concrete porch floor using a code-approved method and post anchor. The top of the post should be mounted to the beam using an approved post-to-beam mounting bracket.
Cellular PVC becomes more brittle in colder temperatures, making it more susceptible to damage, so the material should be warmed to 50-55 degrees before installing. To do so, just move the pieces into a heated space and allow time for the material to warm up. If you are unable to warm the columns before installation, you should pre-drill the nail or screw holes to avoid fractures.
Cellular PVC can be cut with conventional carpentry tools. Small pneumatic finish nailers and staplers can be used to fasten the column wrap. However, large framing nailers are not suitable because the drivers can fracture the PVC material. Coarse thread, galvanized or stainless steel drywall screws are suitable fasteners. Be sure to drill pilot holes for screws longer than 1-5/8 inch.
Installing the Column Wrap Kits
The Fypon column wraps are sold in complete kits. Each kit contains two L-shaped PVC column halves, two L-shaped cap halves, two L-shaped base halves, four L-shaped external installation cleats, and one tube of Siroflex Duo-Sil Adhesive Caulk.
Begin the installation by dry-fitting the column wrap in position over the structural support post. Make sure the column base does not overhang the deck or porch. Note: Always check with local safety codes for any regional requirements.
Measure the support post to determine the length of the column wrap. Use a square to mark cut lines along the wrap half. Cut each wrap half to length with a circular saw or jigsaw.
Cut the column wraps to size with a circ saw or jigsaw. The wraps are mounted to the floor with L-shaped cleats.
Next, use the screws provided with the kit to attach the L-shaped external installation cleat to the outside bottom of the column wrap. The cleat designates the bottom of the column. Then dry-fit the two halves together over the support post. Fypon provides arrows inside the column wrap to ensure the miters match up correctly.
For this particular porch project, the Mealers wanted a matching balustrade railing system. If installing railing, then pressure-treated blocking must be installed at the height where the railing will be attached to provide solid support for the railing and fasteners. The thickness of the blocking must span the entire space between the post and inside surface of the column wrap. Additionally, the mounting screws must be long enough to go through the blocking into the support post. However, if no balustrade system will be installed, you can skip the blocking.
Use a chalk line to guide the installation when installing multiple wraps in a row.