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“Hey Vern, 

A few years back, my wife and I purchased a home from a historic neighborhood. 

We spent the first couple of years working on the interior, but now that’s finished, we’d like to start looking at some exterior improvements- like adding a deck. 

What options do we have for our home? We’d love to add a front build, but don’t know what a historic home can support- and if it’s even allowed in our neighborhood. 


Henry from Tamaqua, PA” 


I appreciate all the work that’s been happening right here in Schuylkill County to preserve history through the restoration of historic homes. 

Just a couple weeks ago, we looked at five historic homes in the area and what features added to their durability and longevity throughout the years. 

One of the houses we talked about is the Burd Patterson home. The home was constructed in 1830, but in 1900 a Queen Anne style porch was built onto the home. Good news: that porch is still standing strong to this day.

Porch on Burd Patterson house

The Burd Patterson house is proof that a new exterior structure can look great on a historic home. And although the regulations can vary with each neighborhood, most historic homes are perfect candidates for a new deck or porch build. 

The biggest concern homeowners have when adding a new deck (especially in older homes) is if their home is structurally sound enough for the new build. 

Stability should always be a top priority for any new installation.

However, decks actually don’t place as much weight on your home as you might think. This means that almost every home has the structural stability needed to support it. 

In order to understand weight distribution- let’s look at the two different styles of deck installation.

Freestanding Vs Attached Decks 

Deck on a Historic Home

When you think of a new deck, you probably picture it attached to the house. This is a common installation method but it’s not the only option. 

Freestanding decks are becoming more popular. This style of deck removes all the weight from the house, and instead depends on additional beams for support. 

Here’s a great example of the difference between the two installation methods: 

Diagram of a deck

Instead of depending on the house for support, the extra weight is instead held up by a support beam. 

Freestanding decks can be more expensive than attached decks because of the extra cost of materials needed for support. 

So why choose free standing over attached? 

A few reasons: 

    • Easier installation process 
    • A ledger can’t be attached to some facades (brick veneer and stucco)
    • Less weight on the home 

A freestanding deck is almost always the best choice for a historic home. Does that mean you can’t do an attached deck? Not necessarily- but a professional with historic remodel work under their belt will be able to let you know your best options.

Requirements in Historic Districts

Did you know that most historic districts won’t allow you to build a deck to your home if the materials don’t match your home? 

Henry, you asked about adding a front build to your home. Though the rules and regulations are different in every neighborhood, most historic districts allow the installation as long as the materials are matched to your home. 

The two most common deck materials are composite and pressure treated. 

When it comes to historic home decks, composite is almost always the better fit. This material has:

    • Durability- designed to withstand rainy weather 
    • Lower maintenance
    • Range of styles made to match any home’s material 

If you’d like more information on composite vs pressure treated, you can read up on it here. 

I especially recommend composite right now. With lumber prices at an all time high, composite allows you to have the style of wood- and the cost difference between the two isn’t as dynamic as it once was.

Look at this deck for example:

Composite wood styled deck

It looks exactly like a wooden deck, but it’s actually made with composite! And wood isn’t the only style it’s designed to mimic. This versatile material is perfect for matching any historic homes. 

Matching materials isn’t the only regulation required in historic districts. The good news? You don’t have to handle them alone. 

Here at Martin, we want the installation process to be as easy for you as can be. That means we take care of everything- even the permits. 

Getting Started on Your New Deck 

Ready to make a plan so we can get your deck build on our fall schedule? I’d love to meet with you. I’m always happy to talk decks and building- especially in historic homes. 

Give us a call at 570-345-0436 to get on the schedule.

Until next time,