Our porch is rotting. The posts that hold up the roof have dry rot at the bottom. The stair treads are rotting and the paint is peeling again on the railings. The rotted wood definitely has to be replaced and we've decided to upgrade to composite so we don't have to worry about it again.
Since the posts hold up the roof, the job is beyond our capabilities. We've hired a professional contractor to do everything, hopefully starting in mid-July. We probably could have done the stairs ourselves, but composite is weaker than wood and requires additional support so we wanted to make sure it's done right. The whole idea is that we don't want to have to worry about the porch again for a looooooooong time.
I've never been in love with the colonial style of the decorative posts, and decorative posts are a lot more expensive (especially in composite). From the street face-on, the decorative posts are blocked by the gutters anyways - so we decided to go with a basic square post. I like clean simple lines, it will be classic and unfussy.
When we were looking at replacing the stairs, we actually looked into moving them to the front of the porch, but it would be a lot more expensive to do it - not only is it a lot more work, suddenly we're not dealing with a repair job, we'll need new footings and full building permits with multiple inspections and all that jazz. Not worth it... unless our contractor uncovers a disaster under the stairs and we have to redo the whole thing anyway.
The main reason we wanted to move the stairs - other than cosmetic reasons - was that in the winter time when snow melts off the roof it drips onto the stairs, pools there and then refreezes into a sheet of ice. It's so dangerous that our stairs become impassible and unusable for 3 months out of the year. Our contractor came up with a good solution - when he lays the composite stair treads and risers, he's going to put in gaps between the boards that will allow water to drain. It will be a slightly more informal look, but it will prevent the water from pooling and should make a big difference. It will also help that we can shovel and salt the stairs without worrying about damaging the paint - composite stairs won't peel.
The work should hopefully start mid-July, when our contractor finishes his current job. It's one of those unglamorous but necessary projects - painful to spend the money but we have no choice. At least after this I won't have to repaint the porch steps all the time.