There's nothing quite as relaxing as sipping your morning coffee from the comfort of a porch swing. A swing makes a lovely addition to a covered porch and will increase the curb appeal of your home. Hanging a porch swing isn't difficult, but it must be attached to something sturdy. This guide will show you how to hang a porch swing.
Confirm Structural Support
Before you purchase a swing, you'll need to make sure you can safely hang it on your porch. Only a joist can safely hold the weight of a swing with people on it. A typical two-person swing can be supported by a single 2 x 8 joist, two 2 x 6 joists or three 2 x 4 joists. The joists must be adequately supported at both ends for load-bearing applications.
Choosing a Porch Swing
Porch swings are available in different materials, styles, sizes and colors. They are typically made out of wicker, metal or wood. Select one that matches the style of your home.
For the most part, swings are around 4-or 5-feet long. Seat depth varies widely, usually ranging from 18-to 36-inches deep. The back of the seat varies in style as well. It may be squared off or curved and constructed with horizontal or vertical slats. Make sure you test drive your porch swing to make sure it's comfortable for you before you purchase it.
Choosing the Right Hardware and Equipment
In order to hang your porch swing, you will need chains or ropes and hardware and connectors that are suitable for outdoor exposure and have a working load rating of 500 pounds or more.
Steel Chains or Rope
Porch swings are held up by either steel chains or rope. New swings usually come with hanging chains or ropes. Pick the one that matches the style of your swing the best. Steel chains tend to be the more popular option due to their durability. However, for a rustic-style hanging porch swing, you can use marine-grade braided nylon rope or polyester rope. If using rope, it needs to be a minimum of 3/4-inch thick.
Hanging a porch swing with chains requires two chains—one long and one short—for each end of the swing. If using rope, swings can hang from a single rope on each side.
Hanger kits are available that include swivel-type hanger mounts and heavy-duty springs for smoother swinging. The hanger mounts are installed with lag screws.
Eye Bolts, Screw Eyes or Hooks
If you prefer not to use a hanger kit, use heavy-duty galvanized or stainless-steel screw eyes, screw hooks or eye bolts with an enclosed ring or hook on one end so you can attach your rope or chain. The screw or bolt diameter needs to be at least 1/2-inch and screws should have a threaded shank that’s at least 4 inches long.
Determine Swing Space and Hanger Measurements
You need at least 48 inches of space behind the swing and 14 to 16inches of side clearance on either side of the swing. The hooks, screws eyes or eye bolts need to be installed 2-to 4-inches wider than the swing’s length to ensure even weight distribution and prevent the chains from rubbing against the swing. Also, the swing should hang about 17 to 19 inches above the floor.
Find the Joists
Porch and patio roofs typically have horizontal joists that support the ceiling. It's easier to determine the joist depth on unfinished ceilings. If you have a finished ceiling, you will need to remove some of the trim or paneling on the ceiling to determine the joist depth. To hang a swing from a single joist or beam, it needs to be a 2 x 8 joist or 4 x 4 beam.
Once you've determined that the joists are thick enough to safely hold your porch swing, locate the joists from the underside of the ceiling with a stud finder. Confirm each location by drilling small holes at each side of the joist. Make a mark at both side edges of the joist so you can find its center for installing the anchor.
If the joists aren’t big enough or they don’t fall where you want them to, you can install 4 x 4’s to support your swing. Cut two 4 x 4 beams so they’re long enough to span across (running perpendicular to the joists) three or more joists. Set each beam on top of the joists so it is centered over one of the swing anchor locations. Fasten the beams to each joist with 3-inch screws.
Install the Hangers
Mark the measurements before drilling. The ceiling hooks need to be 2 to 4 inches wider than the width of the swing. This will help distribute the weight evenly and keeps the chains from rubbing against the swing. Pre-drill a hole smaller than the eyebolt through the joist. Slide a 6-inch machine-threaded eyebolt up through the porch ceiling and twist it in. Once it pops through the other side of the joist, secure it with a flat washer, lock washer and nut.
Hang the Swing
Many swings come with hooks already pre-installed and with the chains already attached. All you need to do is adjust the back tilt of the swing before you hang it. Swings can also be suspended from either two or four hooks in the ceiling. The classic setup has two chains hanging from the ceiling that each split into two separate chains that are attached to the swing itself.
If your swing did not come with chains or hooks pre-installed, you will need to install them. Where the hooks go will depend on the design of the swing. If your swing comes with chains/ropes attached, hook the chains onto the hangers in the ceiling and you are done.
For a Chain
- Secure one end of each long chain to the front mounting point of the swing with a quick link.
- Secure each short chain to the rear of the seat with a quick link.
- Connect the short chain to the long chain on each side—about 2 or 3 feet above the seat using small S-hooks.
- With the aid of a helper, hook the long chains onto the hangers in the ceiling with a quick link. The short chains pull backward on the long chains, causing the seat to tilt back for comfort.
- Adjust the tilt and the seat height as desired by hooking onto different links.
For a Rope
- Fold each rope in half and tie a simple overhand knot.
- Create a 2-inch long loop 2-inches from the bend.
- Hook each loop over the screw hook in the ceiling or use an S-hook between the eye and the rope loop if you have a screw eye or eye bolt.
- Prop up the swing on a box to get it level and at the desired height.
- Thread the front half of each rope through the front mounting point on the swing and secure it underneath with an overhand knot (make sure the knot is big enough so that it won’t slip through.)
- Remove the box and tie off the rear halves of the rope to the rear mounts on the swing, tilting the swing back at the desired angle.
- Test the swing and adjust the knots as needed.
- Trim the excess from the bottom ends of the ropes.
Just because you don’t have a covered porch doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy a swing. There are several options available for swings that come suspended in their own frames, or with an arched or flat-topped arbor from which to hang them.
Adding a porch swing to your home will give you a nice place to relax and enjoy the outdoors. Shop The Home Depot for porch swings with a canopy, hanger kits and everything you need to hang a porch swing. The Home Depot is your DIY headquarters. Looking for a product to complete your project? We have options to deliver online orders when and where you need them.