I'm thinking about building a back porch but I've never had experience with such a big project. I'm finding plenty of books and documents on how to build a deck but very few about building a porch. Is a porch just a deck with a roof or is there more to it?

3 Answers 3


It depends. (Notice how many of our answers begin like that?)

A deck is a structure, usually attached to a building, that supports people and furniture in a somewhat open area. As some comments point out, because deck flooring is exposed to weather, there are generally drainage gaps in the floor.

A porch is generally a deck-like space with a roof, attached to a building. As also stated, porches often have tight floors since little water/snow lands on them to need drainage.

But there are numerous variations on porches, and these have a significant bearing on their construction.

Weight - The foundation of the porch structure needs to be able to support the roof and a possible snow load (depending on your location) and wind shear force (again depending on your location).

Drainage - Unless the porch is fully enclosed with walls and windows (at which point it is approaching an unheated room), you need some drainage to allow rain or snow that comes in form the sides to exit. This has a bearing on how you structure the edges of the roof and the edges of the deck. You may need gutters, weep holes or other moisture diverters.

Sides - These may be fully open, railed, screened, partially walled or even windowed-in. All of these factors have bearing on the construction details, the weight bearing system and the drainage.

Lighting - You need to consider whether you need additional lighting if a roof is added. Decks generally have only peripheral lighting, but porches often have ceiling lighting as well.

Ventilation - A porch may need additional circulation and fans are often used, not usually found on decks.

Codes - There may be different permits and regulations depending on whether the structure is considered a deck or porch. You need to check with your local building authority.

  • This is a great answer. To expand a bit on one part, in most places a low deck can be built without permits (though it typically still must conform to code), and building departments may provide standard designs for decks in general. Because porches are rarer, they are going to require more design work and take longer to permit. Having said that, my wife and I did a big (9'x24') second floor covered porch a year or so ago, and we love it. Jan 6, 2014 at 4:37
  • @EricGunnerson In my town, anything with a footprint bigger than 100 sq. ft. requires a permit, even if it does not have a permanent foundation.
    – bib
    Jan 6, 2014 at 13:55

Sort of.

A porch is directly connected to a building, almost always outside a doorway and at interior floor height. It is covered. The porch floor is usually concrete, brick, or other rock, but it could be wood.

From Wikipedia:

There are various styles of porches, all of which depend on the architectural tradition of its location. All porches will allow for sufficient space for a person to comfortably pause before entering or after exiting the building. However, they may be larger. Verandahs, for example, are usually quite large and may encompass the entire façade as well as the sides of a structure.

  • By porch floor do you mean what's underneath the decking of the porch?
    – Jeff Wu
    Jan 2, 2014 at 6:14
  • 1
    Deck flooring often has spaces between the planks for water to drain, and small things, such as engagement rings, to fall through. Porch floor planking is usually set tightly edge against edge, tongue and groove style Jan 2, 2014 at 13:37
  • @JeffWu: No. "Floor" means the material you walk on. Inside a house, it might be carpet, linoleum, or hardwood. Additional layers below flooring are padding and underlayment (for carpet) or moisture barrier for hardwood. Under those is subfloor. Decking is the "floor" of a deck.
    – wallyk
    Jan 3, 2014 at 0:04
  • So to scope creep this question a bit: can I just build a deck and then put a roof on it? or do I need to build a porch with a completely different approach?
    – Jeff Wu
    Jan 3, 2014 at 23:08
  • @JeffWu: You can do anything you want, especially if you like it. If you are concerned about resale value or curb appeal, look at other houses in the area to see what they did. Porch design varies considerably between different regions of the world.
    – wallyk
    Jan 4, 2014 at 0:39

in my opinion its as folks here have said,they are basically the same thing with a roof but with a little bit different approach on the design on the flooring also yea may have a different approach with zoning details too.a tent is still a tent if its made from blue plastic or canvas,when inviting folks to come and sit on the deck and have a BBQ they may have a chat with yea if you have to open windows to let the smoke out of (the porch)just saying.

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