A Post About a Post

This summer has been insanely busy. It seemed like every weekend we had to an event to go to, or plans on Saturday doing something fun with my two daughters. Not to mention, my boyfriend (Chris) races dirt track cars as a hobby, so almost every Friday and Sunday night we were booked with that. We also had a TON of rainfall this summer, so it didn’t leave a lot of time to work on anything around the house besides the weekly lawn mowing, tending to our garden that did (surprisingly) well this summer, or cleaning and organizing the garage and basement after Chris officially moved in (yay!).

All excuses aside, I was way overdue for a home improvement project. Seriously, it was making me crabby. And Chris must have noticed, because on Labor Day he finally told me to go to Home Depot and get supplies to start my next project already. I’d been talking forever about wanting to replace our out-dated, rusted and peeling wrought-iron post from the 1950s with a modern-looking, white post.

 Ugh.

The only thing I wasn’t sure of was exactly how I was going to accomplish it. I had been scrounging the internet for weeks to get inspo, but nothing was jumping out at me. I’m also not a very skilled woodworker (I have Ana White envy, fo sho), and so I was super nervous if I could pull this off. But since my crabby ass was being pushed out of the house by Chris, it was time to figure it out. So armed with my measurements and a very loose idea of a supply list, I made my way to my happy place Home Depot.

Since I didn’t have a good idea of how I was even going to start, I asked a lot of questions at Home Depot. I usually luck out and get really helpful advice from the people that work there, especially in the lumber department. I explained to one guy working there what I was trying to accomplish, showed him some pictures to give him a rough idea of what I was looking to do, and he helped me pick out enough stuff to get started.

My first trip Home Depot shopping list (if you say you only go to Home Depot once when working on a project, you’re a big fat liar):

  • 4 in. x 4 in. x 8 ft. Pressure-Treated Pine post
  • 2 in. x 2 in. x 8 ft. Pressure-Treated Pine lumber (x2)
  • Simpson Strong-Tie Retrofit ZMAX Galvanized Steel Post Base (x2)
  • Simpson Strong-Tie ZMAX Galvanized Half Base
  • Tapcon ¼ in. x 1 ¾ in. Phillips Concrete Anchor Screws  8pk.
  • Tapcon 3/16 in. 3 ½ in. Carbide Drill Bit (specifically for drilling into concrete)

Everything ran me about $42 before tax, which wasn’t too bad. But keep in mind; this wasn’t my entire supply list. Since I didn’t know how wide my post was going to be, I held off getting the finishing plywood for the outside of my post. I also already had wood screws at home, so I didn’t need to purchase those. After Home Depot, I stopped by my parents’ house to grab my dad’s impact drill and chop saw, and went back home (in a much better mood) to get started.

First things first, we needed to remove the existing post. This turned out to be harder than I thought, since it was rusted and wedged in pretty good between the porch and roof overhang. It took us Chris about 45 minutes to finally knock it out. (Tip: always have someone strong to help you out, especially if you are only 5’3”like me lol).

We almost took out one of the front windows, and Chris might have smashed his foot a little bit, but it was out!

Next was determining where the new post was going to go. I knew I wanted the new finished post to be between 8-10” wide, so I marked out on the concrete where the 4×4 post should go to give it enough room. I used the chop saw to cut the post to the length I needed, and wedged it in place. Once I had the post level, I marked where it would line up on the roof overhang, and mounted the galvanized half base to the underside of my roof overhang (we had to move the post out of the way to do this, and then wedge it back into place). I screwed the top of the post into the half base.

After that, we got to work drilling the holes in the concrete for the post bases and concrete anchor screws. We used the impact drill for this, since drilling into concrete isn’t easy, and could burn out the motor on just a regular power drill. My dad’s impact drill is pretty old and wasn’t the best quality (see duct tape holding the battery together), so it took a while for us to drill the holes since we had to stop to charge the battery every two holes. While Chris was busy with that, I got to work chopping up my 2×2 pieces of lumber to frame around my anchor post. Yay teamwork!

This part I kind of struggled on, if I’m completely honest. I wanted to frame out the center post so that it would be width that I wanted, but I also wanted it to be sturdy enough so that I could anchor the finished plywood to the outside easily. After a lot measuring and rearranging pieces of wood (and wasting/cutting pieces wrong), I finally got it figured out.

*Side note: Because I’m dumb and didn’t measure first I didn’t realize 4×4 and 2×2 doesn’t actually mean those things, and the measurements are actually less (4×4 post is actually 3.5”x3.5” and the 2×2 is 1.25”x1.25”, in case you didn’t know like me). So when I started cutting my 2×2 pieces I ended up cutting them too short, and had to recut them, so I used 3 pieces of 2inx2inx8ft lumber, when it only should have taken 2 pieces.

Once I realized my stupid measuring mistake, I finally figured out how to cut the pieces properly. Here’s a handy cross-section I made that makes more sense than me trying to explain it:

I marked on the 4×4 post every 10″ where I would put the supports (for a total of 8) and drilled one on to see how it looked. (Tip: pilot your screw hole on the 4×4 and the ends of the 2×2’s first with a slightly smaller drill bit to make the screw go in much easier, and then you won’t take a chance on splitting wood. It takes a little longer to assemble, but it’s worth it!)

It wasn’t perfect looking (again, disclaimer: I’m not Ana White), but it worked and was sturdy! Once Chris finished up with the concrete anchors, I got all the other framing done. Chris had to do the very top one because I wasn’t tall enough to reach it on my own. It looked like this once we had finished:

Ugly AF, right? Luckily it wouldn’t stay that way.

Once we had it all framed up, it was time for Home Depot run number three! (Confession, Chris had to run to Home Depot after my first run to get smaller Tapcon concrete anchor screws. My dad’s drill just wasn’t giving the oomph we needed to drill deep enough, so he got shorter screws, I listed the screws he got and we ultimately used in my first supply list instead of the original longer ones I had gotten.)

Second Home Depot shopping list:

  • DAP Natural Plastic Wood Latex Wood Filler (32 oz.) I got the bigger container so I could smooth out my corners on my finished post.
  • 19/32 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. BC Sanded Pine Plywood
  • BEHR Premium Plus 1-Qt. Ultra Pure White Semi-Gloss Enamel Exterior Paint
  • The Hillman Group 5 in. Elevated Nickel House Numbers (x4)
  • Sand paper

This trip ran me about $70, but I splurged for nicer finished plywood so I wouldn’t have to do a lot of sanding. I also got new house numbers, so without those, the total cost would have been about $50. I have Home Depot cut the plywood down to the sizes I needed since I don’t feel comfortable with a circular saw quite yet. After Home Depot, we swung by my parents’ house again so I could borrow my dad’s nail gun. Not gonna lie, it’s so nice that my dad has all the tools and lets me borrow them 🙂

We got home, lined up the plywood planks and nailed them in. This part went really quick and really looked nice!

I sanded the edges a little to get them smoother, and used plastic putty to fill in the nail holes and any small gaps. Then I went over it once more with the sandpaper when it was dry to smooth out the wood filler. Next, I made a template for the house numbers, since the package didn’t come with a template for drilling. I didn’t want to be messing around with drilling holes after painting the post. I laid out the numbers on a long piece of paper, measured enough space in between each number and marked where the holes would need to go. Then, I taped the template to the post and drilled the holes. Super quick and easy!

Note: Well deserved glass of wine to the left.

After that was done, I put tape around the post on the concrete and the metal part of the overhang. Time for paint! It took me about two coats to get a nice even layer of paint. I used a roller and then cut in at the top and bottom with a paint brush.

Once it was dry, I stuck the house numbers in (and removed my old numbers from the side of the house) and ta-da! It was finished.

I plan on adding trim to the top and the bottom of the post for more a finished look, but for now, I’m super happy with how it turned out, and really proud of myself and Chris for pulling this off! It ended up being easier than I thought it was going to be once I got started, even with the few small hiccups we had. I would recommend though if you don’t add trim to your post, to add an exterior caulk to the top and bottom of the post where it meets your roof and the porch, just so water doesn’t seep in and damage your wood!

Now that this projects done, time to start planning the next one… 😉

————

Here’s the full list of everything you’ll need if you want to tackle on a project similar to this:

Tools you’ll need:

  • Chop Saw (or circular saw if you prefer/are more skilled at using a power saw than me)
  • Impact drill (if you are drilling into concrete, otherwise a regular drill will work fine for wooden porches/decks)
  • Power drill (with drill bits)
  • Miter saw for trim (if you aren’t using a chop saw)
  • Level
  • Ruler/Tape Measure
  • Nail Gun
  • Caulk Gun

Full supply list:

  • 4 in. x 4 in. x 8 ft. Pressure-Treated Pine post
  • 2 in. x 2 in. x 8 ft. Pressure-Treated Pine lumber (x2)
  • Simpson Strong-Tie Retrofit ZMAX Galvanized Steel Post Base (x2)
  • Simpson Strong-Tie ZMAX Galvanized Half Base
  • Tapcon ¼ in. x 1 ¾ in. Phillips Concrete Anchor Screws  8pk.
  • Tapcon 3/16 in. 3 ½ in. Carbide Drill Bit
  • Wood Screws (3 in. and 1 ¾ in.)
  • DAP Natural Plastic Wood Latex Wood Filler
  • Putty knife
  • 19/32 in. x 4 ft. x 8 ft. BC Sanded Pine Plywood
  • BEHR Premium Plus 1-Qt. Ultra Pure White Semi-Gloss Enamel Exterior Paint
  • The Hillman Group 5 in. Elevated Nickel House Numbers (x4)
  • Sand paper
  • Finishing nails (for the nail gun)
  • Painter’s tape
  • Paint brush/paint roller and tray
  • Exterior caulk (paintable)
  • House numbers (optional)

 

Got any tips or suggestions on how to make this project better? Leave your ideas in the comments below! Thanks for reading!

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