Over the last year we’ve shared dozens of examples of how to use the Simpson Strong-Tie® Outdoor Accents® line of decorative hardware for adding strength and style to your new do-it-yourself projects. Have you considered using Outdoor Accents to enhance existing structures or backyard furniture? We’ve been waiting for such a project to come along, so when Pneumatic Addict’s Elisha Albretsen told us she wanted to use Outdoor Accents to redo her porch, it was an easy sell. Over two days, the DIYer swapped out her ugly support straps for our sleek strap ties and washers. The end result is night and day. See how she did it below, and check out her blog for more projects.
In the three years since we’ve moved in we’ve done a lot of work to the inside of our house. We completely remodeled the kitchen and both bathrooms, and upgraded most of the rest. The exterior, however, was for a long time another story.
I added shutters and built a few planter boxes, but otherwise ignored the outside of my home. Finally, I decided, it’s time to address the curb appeal.
The worst-looking features on the front of our house were definitely the wood posts and beams. I never liked that they were painted the exact same color as the stucco and, after years of neglect, they were starting to peel and flake.
Our house, although only about 14 years old, was made by a tract-home builder inexpensively. Not much attention was paid to detail. For example, to reinforce the joints where the posts meet the beams the builder added strap ties. While very strong, they aren’t the best-looking connectors.
We have an awesomely large front porch. It’s one of my favorite features of the house. When the weather is nice, I love spending the evening sitting on the swing. Such a generous space deserved a makeover.
Recently, I rolled up my sleeves and gave my front porch its long-needed upgrade.
Step 1: Inspect
My first step was to inspect the beams and column posts. There’s no point in making the space look pretty if it’s ready to fall down. The wood parts of the porch needed a new paint job, but were in otherwise good shape and still structurally sound.
My husband is a structural engineer, so I also had him take a look at the changes I wanted to make and confirm that I was conforming to local building standards.
Step 2: Clean and Remove Debris
Next, I removed any dirt and flaking paint from the wood surface using an electric power washer.
Step 3: Remove Old Hardware
After allowing the wood to dry overnight I used a hammer and cat’s paw to remove the old strap ties.
This was definitely the most time consuming and least enjoyable part of the makeover, but it was necessary. Since the straps are structural connectors and actually help hold the porch together I only removed every other strap before moving onto the next step.
Step 4: Paint
I used a brush and extra-thick nap roller to apply two thick coats of an exterior acrylic paint. I wanted to mimic the look of stained wood, so I went with a dark brown color.
Step 5: Adding New Hardware
The biggest style upgrade came from the gorgeous new black powder-coated hardware I used, all from the Outdoor Accents® line by Simpson Strong-Tie.
In addition to straps, hangers, angles and plates; the Outdoor Accents line includes some clever fastener options.
Instead of nails or bolts, I chose to use 3 1/2″ structural wood screws and hex-head washers. I LOVE this combo! The screws are self-tapping, which means no predrilling is required. When combined with hex-head washers, they look like a large, chunky bolts, but are SO MUCH easier to install.
Both sides of the post-beam joints received a new, heavy-duty APL6 strap tie.
To make sure the connections between the posts and beams were always secured, I alternated removing the old strap ties and installing the new APL6s.
After just two days of work, the front of my house was completely transformed!
The best part of using Outdoor Accents® connectors — not only are they beautiful, but they’re actually even stronger than the old straps!
The Outdoor Accents® line is structural as well as decorative. That means my posts and beams were embellished and reinforced at the same time.
The black powder-coated hardware makes for a great contrast with the wood and matches my black porch swing. Even though this project was pretty straightforward it isn’t something I’d want to do regularly. I love knowing I’ll never have to repaint the stylish and durable APL6 straps.
Painting the exposed wood structure and swapping out structural hardware sounds intimidating but it wasn’t hard at all! This is a project I think most DIYers could tackle over a weekend. It would make an easy upgrade for a pergola or deck space as well.
One last look at the “before” and “after”:
A little paint and new connectors can make a huge impact! I still have some additional changes I want to make, but I can honestly say our house’s exterior is looking much better these days!