Experiments were conducted in a wave flume to study the differences between harmonic evolution of monochromatic waves as they propagate over a submerged impermeable or porous step under non-breaking conditions. Results are used as a preliminary analysis to establish some engineering design criteria on harmonic generation on submerged porous structures. The root-mean-squared wave height evolution is also studied and compared to linear models as a first approximation. It is shown that porous structure increases the effective relative depth and decreases the relative wave height, resulting in a lower Ursell number and a lower chance to generate harmonics. The effective water depth over a step as defined in the paper, provides information to evaluate the potential harmonic generation.