The Sleeping Porch – Demo

Finally, we are moving forward on one of our big summer projects, and this week was all about demo. When we bought BHH, we knew that repairing the sleeping porch was going to be a necessary project, but it was quite far down on the list. Finally, this DIY job bubbled up to the top of our to-do list, and I sat down to nail out the details and get to work.

For reference, the sleeping porch is located directly off the master bedroom, right above ye ol’ Model-T garage. Decidedly, this is a project of form vs. function since currently, this little porch is uninhabitable on the inside too.

The sleeping porch, located on the south side of the house, takes a beating from the sun. The cedar shingles were curled, faded and worn.

Before the painters come in August, we needed to address the issue of the shingles that were well beyond the salvageable stage.  They were in such disrepair that I was able to pull most of them off by hand. I used a regular hammer to pull out the nails that were left behind.

A Surprise

Right away, I uncovered a surprise. Well, I suppose it is a surprise for all of you. I had an inkling about what I might find under that rotten mess.

Do you see what I see?

I am not talking about the unpainted shingles directly below the green ones, although they are certainly a beautiful sight.

I found THIS (Yes, I am shouting):

Those are original cedar shake shingles! (Say that five times fast.)

I kept telling myself; There‘s no way the original shingles will be in good condition on this entire structure. No way. 


So wrong.

So very wrong.

I honestly had to sit down for a few minutes and let this new information soak in. I made a silly ten-second video for my Instagram Story. (Side note: This weird face was the best of the three options that YouTube gave me for a thumbnail for this video. I think I have a face made for podcasting.)


Despite the good fortune of finding near-perfect cedar siding, I did uncover some problems. The most serious issues were on the sides of the sleeping porch, and they were related to drainage…again.

Last year, at our request, the painters put good over bad on the visible side of the sleeping porch.

Way back when the workers put the second and third layers of shingles on the house, they placed them flush with the roof line. Then, they spread a thick layer of roof tar into the crevice. Over the years, there was probably a leak or two, and someone slathered more roof tar in that area each time. It was a temporary solution to a permanent problem.

At some point, the front of the porch must have leaked because there is a weird flashing situation going on there, and the roof feels a little spongy under the shingle roll. (shingle paper? What is that product called that comes in a roll and has the surface of shingles?)

The good news is that there is flashing. I was afraid there was none. The first layer of shingles was dry. However, the second was very spongy and damp.

I found evidence of a lot of previous insect activity.

Fortunately, the layer of original shingles was bone dry.

The Dilemma

So, now I was at a crossroads. As a person with the heart of a preservationist,  I wanted to expose the original shingles and call it a day. I had to take a few days to think things through. I pictured the entire house completely stripped down to the original shingles. A superficial peek under the rest of the shingles on the house showed evidence of more than one layer.

Beautiful, right?

I ruminated on a few key points:

  • The square footage of shingles on the sleeping porch is less than 120 square feet.
  • We are 2/3 of the way through painting the entire exterior of BHH. It has cost a small fortune, spread out over three years.
  • There is no guarantee that the rest of the house has perfect original shingles underneath the existing newer ones.
  • The current newer shingles are in near-perfect condition.
  • An old house project, no matter how innocuous it seems, always leads to a bigger and more costly situation.
  • Again, the square footage of shingles on the sleeping porch is less than 120 square feet.

The Inevitable Conclusion

No matter how I try to justify it, uncovering the entire house is just not going to happen. I have to move forward with my original plan of putting new shingles on the sleeping porch. However, to soothe myself, I have decided to simply cover the original shingles up again rather than remove them. The wall behind them is dry and stable. Everything is structurally sound. Someday, when the whole house needs to be repainted, or the current shingles start to fail, we can revisit the idea of bringing BHH back to its original state. Until then, the sleeping porch exterior will be protected with Hardie Siding Shingles, and I will smile to myself each time I think about what is underneath them.

Next week, I will talk about why we chose Hardie Siding Shingles and the ordering process. Also, I will address how we intend to work with the current flashing situation and roof issues. Even with this hiccup, It feels so good to move forward with one of the “biggies” on our summer to-do list.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *