Given that we don’t spend a lot of time in our front yard, it was not a huge priority on our upgrade list when we first moved into our house. However, as we made more improvements inside, we became more bothered by the shabby exterior; we felt like it gave the impression that we didn’t care about our house (obvious lie)! We finally decided to move on enhancing our curb appeal because, after three harsh New England winters, our wooden steps were literally about to fall off our house.
We priced out several different options: pressure treated wood, composite wood (Trex), Polyurethane (Frypon), and stonework. From the start, we were leaning away from natural wood; we assumed (correctly) that this would be the cheapest option but would require upkeep (painting) and eventually it would have to be replaced again. We also assumed that composite wood or a synthetic material would be a reasonable middle price-point for us, and that masonry/stonework would be out of reach. To our surprise, the quote for the Frypon porch was nearly $20,000 (almost as much as our kitchen renovation), whereas the stonework was about half that amount. Of course, there was quite a bit of variability in the estimates from the two masons we contacted. We chose Atlantic Masonry and we highly recommend them.
Although it took a couple weeks for them to get started, these guys were here from 7am to 5pm over the course of a week. To best match the foundation of our house, along with the retaining wall, we went with Boston Blend for the stone veneer on our stairs. Granite was used for the steps and we chose complimentary paving stones from Genest. The one issue with the construction process was that Atlantic Masonry, while able to provide the wrought iron railing, could not help us with porch columns. Installing the columns was such a small job, we couldn’t really find a contractor to do it for us. So, Jason did it himself (with my help and close supervision, of course). We used our car jack (for changing a tire) to raise up the porch dormer that was being supported by one of the old wooden columns; then we slid the new, fiberglass ones in place. I’m making it sound easy, but it was really challenging – I almost lost a finger (no, Jason, I’m not being dramatic).
Another issue with the exterior of our house is that our gray siding is really faded. Instead of choosing to replace all the siding, we decided to paint our shutters a bright coral and to paint our doors a glossy black. For a fleeting moment, we contemplated doing this work ourselves and then promptly hired a handyman. To complete the look, Jason replaced our ancient screen door with a new Anderson storm door; they advertise easy installation in as little as 45-minutes and I’m here to tell you that this time estimate is a complete lie. Finally, we got some sweet new shrubs and a flagpole.