Innovation – What We’ve Done & What’s to Come

When I started The Porch Company 25 years ago, I did not have the skills, the experience, or the education to start a construction company.  I did have passion and a mind that likes to figure things out.  Today, my very favorite part of our work is being asked to do something we’ve never done before – and figuring out how to do it.  In some respects, my lack of formal training allowed me to think more creatively.  I was often asking, “Why can’t we do that?”  And when no acceptable answer was heard, we did it!

Our Porch Store is a result of creating unique solutions to our client’s requests.  “I’d like a railing that no one else has that is soft and has lots of curves.”  The Cathedral Scroll panel was born.   “I love all those bed swings but they are just really uncomfortable to sit in.”  And our adjustable bed swing became a product. “You just can’t buy a decent screen door.” Ahh, but we can make one! And so now you can.

Let me give you some recent examples of our creative problem solving solutions…and a teaser of what we are working on.

Hermitage Sleeve and Cap Kit

Primed and ready for paint!

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Every railing company provides sleeves and caps to fit over a 4×4 post.  And they come in a few colors, so I hope you like white, bronze or black.  And the caps are, well, functional if not really pretty.  So what if you don’t want one of the colors provided?  What if you don’t want your cap to look like it came out of a mold?

Our Hermitage sleeve & cap kits looks like painted wood.  Because we fabricate our caps using the same cutters and tools for woodworking, of course our caps look like wood! And our sleeves fit over a 6×6 posts and therefore are larger and more stately than the conventional sleeve.  But most importantly, our sleeve & cap can be painted to your choice of color!  If your trim is a creamy warm white, a bright white railing will just not do!  And what if 10 years from now you change your trim color.  No problem!  Just paint the sleeves to match.  Just because we liked the avocado refrigerator in the 50’s doesn’t mean we will like them today.  The same might go for our trim color.

Raised Panel Screen Door

A raised panel door has been a symbol of craftsmanship since Roman times.  Most of our front doors incorporate raised panels.  A client recently asked us to make a screen door using a raised panel for the lower section.  And I thought, why have we not done this before?  Why isn’t anyone building raised panel screened doors?  And it hit me- because you have to have  a thick door to have room for the raised panel.  And most screen doors are just too skinny!  Our doors are 1 ¾” thick, the same thickness used for your front door. So yes! We can make a raised panel screen door when other cannot.  And we did.  And it is beautiful. And it is now available on our store.

A Hollow Mantel that Hides Wires for your Electronics

Picture a beautiful stone fireplace with a stout, rugged timber mantel, with all kinds of wires and TV components sitting on top climbing up to the TV above.  Oh!  We can’t have that.  So what shall we do?  Let’s take that timber and hollow it out.  Let’s make room for the cable box, the outlet, the cable connection and hide it inside the mantel.  Then with a simple chase behind the stone, those wires will run to the TV without ever being seen!  YES!  That’s how we build our timber mantels.

An Infrared Heater on the Porch

No, we didn’t invent the infrared heater! However, we take credit for recommending it to our clients and for using it as an innovation in porch design. Customers asking how to extend the porch season prompted us to research the issue. We realized that any heat source that tries to heat the air will fail on a porch.  There is just too much air to heat!  Even a gas ventless fireplace, which when used inside will have you opening your exterior doors within 15 minutes, will not do much on a porch. Ultimately we found that the Solaira infrared heaters offer the perfect solution. The Solaira’s infrared technology sends out waves that warm any object on which they shine, and the warming effect is instantaneous. We frequently install a Solaira heater or two on porches we build, and our clients are always appreciative. These heaters are electric and do not require special venting.

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Low Maintenance Railings that Look Like Wood

But, there is nothing like the look of beautifully aged wood.  Have you seen a 100 year old wooden floor uncovered and re-finished?  Is that not the most beautiful thing in the world? The hues, the patina, the richness of old cared for wood.  Now – if we can get that look on low maintenance materials, we’d have something!

I recently got back from a trip to Rome where I took these photos of these beautiful, wooden doors.

Nearly every door seemed to tell a story through the colors and textures of the wood.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

So we have been hard at work. Would you believe me if I told you these sample boards are stained PVC??

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We are working on PVC sleeves, caps, panels and handrails that have the look of fine, old wood.  And I think we’ll achieve it this year. Here’s a picture of an early attempt. We will continue to test and improve this product until it’s just right.

Whether you purchase products through our Porch Store, or you have The Porch Company design and build your porch, you’re likely to benefit from our innovations. We listen to what our clients want, and when they ask for something we haven’t heard of before, we take that to heart and try to figure it out. Whether it requires research or the mechanics of trial and error, the needs of our clients drive our search for new and better ways to design and build. When we find a solution for one customer that can benefit a wider audience, everybody wins!

If you live in the Nashville area, give us a call for a free design consultation at 615-663-2886. If you live outside the Nashville area, take a look at all of the great porch components available on our e-commerce store. We look forward to doing business with you.

 

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