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Concrete Porch Revamp: Money Saving Tips

Concrete Porch Revamp: Money Saving Tips

Are you looking for ideas to update your concrete stairs and porch? Continue reading Concrete Porch Revamp: Money Saving Tips to see how we saved money during the exterior remodel.

While working on the inside of the house for the first couple years, we were constantly listing things we needed to or wanted to do outside.

Our small front porch was high on our list. It mostly consists of the staircase and a postage stamp size landing.

It was in such a sorry state. No amount of potted flowers or hanging baskets could disguise it.

Every day we walked up and down the sad stairs, hoping that they would last a bit longer until we could focus on replacing them.

Lots of projects in the renovation process we did ourselves and some things we hired out.

Our fireplace renovation is a combination of work hired and DIY. Installing mosaic tile floors is one of the more tedious do-it-yourself projects my husband completed on his own. Our IKEA Pax built-in closets are a smaller DIY project that make a huge impact.

When it came time to fix our front steps and porch entry, we opted to hire someone to do the concrete stairs.

Concrete porch when we purchased our home.

exterior porch before home remodel

There are actually two sets of stairs that lead to our house. One set leads from the sidewalk to the front yard area and is in decent shape. The second set leads up to our front door and were in terrible shape. The bottom stair was crumbling around the base of the rail, to the point where the rail was shaky. Yikes!

The top of the stairs had to have a large mat on it to prevent slipping during the rainy months, which is nine months of the year! When we moved in I tried to remove the huge ugly mat, only to discover the concrete was chipping really badly and the surface was too slippery.

Our porch before the remodel.

crumbling concrete staircase
In this photo you can really see how bad the bottom stair was!

You can see above that we had started some exterior home improvements, like painting and removing the old security door.

To spread out our costs, we chose to fix the set of stairs on the porch first and worry about the other set later. After this decision we asked ourselves- what are other ways to save money during a concrete porch remodel?

Concrete Porch Revamp: Money Saving Tips

1. Divide a project into phases if possible.

demolished concrete porch and stairs

Like I mentioned above, we opted to do one set of stairs instead of both at the same time. This was also practical because at the time, heading up the stairs was our only way to enter our house.

Dividing even smaller projects can help your budget and sanity.

2. Find clever ways to reuse construction debris to save on dump fees.

Front porch remodel

Once again our contractor came up with a great cost savings idea. He suggested to fill the porch with the demolished bits of the old porch.

Other ideas to use demolished concrete is to create a wall or step stones. This reused concrete wall is so nice looking. I show more examples of reused concrete walls and step stones here.

stair step formation

This is a better view of how the broken concrete fills the shape of our stairway.

whiskey bottle from prohibtion era
Prohibition era whiskey bottle found under our stairs.

Interesting side note, the contractor said on other projects with homes of similar age, he found various items under porches. The largest he ever uncovered was an old cast iron tub! Luckily, we didn’t have any surprises during demolition except for some interesting old bottles.

‘Turns out this little unassuming bottle has a very interesting history! A quick Google search reveals that this whiskey bottle is actually medicinal alcohol that was prescribed during Prohibition. History buffs will find this article about that time period a fascinating read.’Turns out this little unassuming bottle has a very interesting history! A quick Google search reveals that this whiskey bottle is actually medicinal alcohol that was prescribed during Prohibition. History buffs will find this article with more details about the distillery responsible for manufacturing the whiskey a fascinating read.

3. If you are hiring out, ask your contractor for any budget ideas.

Concrete Porch Revamp: Money Saving Tips

The contractor we used to to rebuild our stairs helped to come up with a solution where he used cinder blocks to frame the outer sides of the porch and stairs. This was cheaper than pouring all new concrete.

4. Do some of the work if you can.

concrete spread over cinder blocks

My husband decided to skim coat over the cinder blocks and paint the wall himself.

The coat of concrete helps give the appearance of a solid concrete wall.

He also decided to lay the tile in the porchette area instead of paying to have it done.

Off the main porch is our small covered entryway. I have seen spaces like this called a “porchette” or “alcove”. If anyone knows of a different term, please let me know! According to old photo records of our house, the little porchette area had been modified by the previous owners. They changed what had been an archway to a rectangular doorway and added a security screen door (shown in the second photo of the post). This made the space dark, and from the outside it looked really uninviting. We took the security door off pretty soon after moving in. We had hoped to recreate the arch before having the house painted, but ran out of time.

In this small space there were square shaped tiles that had been painted a brick red color. The red paint was chipping as were some of the terra cotta tiles themselves. Under the chipped paint you could see the original colors like greens and teals. I tried my hardest to rescue these tiles, to save something original to the house, but the work was beyond my skill set. Hiring someone to restore the tiles would have been pretty cost prohibitive. Ultimately, we decided the mister would lay new tile.

4. Paint is your friend.

Concrete Porch Revamp: Money Saving Tips

The metal stair rail we have was in great condition, just had some chipped paint. We saved the rail and the crew painted it. One surprise cost was the rail had to be retrofitted by a welder because the new stairs were deeper in order to comply with current code. It wasn’t totally terrible though and we saved time not looking for a new rail. We also saved on dump fee.

Concrete Porch Revamp: Money Saving Tips

Concrete Porch  and stairs remodel

Hurray for no more large, ugly, mat!

Concrete Porch Revamp: Money Saving Tips

Hurray for safe, solid, sturdy steps and a secure hand rail!

Concrete Porch Revamp: Money Saving Tips

Thanks for reading!

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