A porch swing is a place to relax, read a book, and recharge your batteries after a busy day or week. A crucial part to consider when buying a porch swing is installation. A shady installation could ultimately cause you to crash down when you least expect it.
By equipping yourself with appropriate hardware, correct measurements, and following the step by step instructions in this article, you will be having countless safe seasons of weightless swinging.
Table of Contents
- Before You Get Started
- Choose the Right Hardware and Equipment
- How to Hang a Porch Swing
- How to Hang a Porch Swing With Chains
- How to Hang a Porch Swing With a Rope
Before You Get Started
Ensure your ceiling frame is sturdy enough to support a porch swing. A two-person swing can be supported by a three 2 x 4 joists, two 2 x 6 joists, or a single 2 x 8 joist, provided all joists are primed at both ends for load-bearing applications.
Follow the installation instructions provided by the porch swing’s manufacturer.
Choose the Right Hardware and Equipment
Your chosen anchoring hardware, ropes, chains, and connectors, such as S-hooks, should be solid enough to withstand outdoor exposure, as well as have a carrying capacity of 500 pounds or more.
1. Hanger Kits
There are many hanger kits available on the market, and you can opt for the one that includes a fancy swivel-type hanger mounts, which also features heavy-duty springs for smoother swinging.
You will need lag screws to install the hanger mounts.
2. Eye Bolts, Screw Eyes or Hooks
An alternative to using a hanger kit is the heavy-duty screw eyes, eye bolts, or screw hooks. They all have a hook or enclosed ring on one end where chain or rope can be attached. It is easier to use screw-in anchors when you are anchoring directly into joists.
If you will be anchoring to a beam or to a 4 x 4 blocking installed between joists, use machine bolts, which screw all the way through the support member while anchoring on the top side with a nut and washer.
The bolt or screw diameter should be at least 1/2 inch. All screws should have a threaded shank measuring at least 4 inches long.
Whatever you decide to use, ensure all hardware is stainless steel or any other material that is rust-resistant.
3. Chains + Ropes
Most new porch swings come with hanging ropes or chains, but if for whatever reasons you need to buy them, ensure you get one rated for at least 500 pounds carrying capacity. If it is a chain, it should be stainless steel or galvanized.
Ropes should be marine-grade polyester or braided nylon to withstand outdoor use. They will last longer and swing smoother if you add a quick link or S-hook between the eye/hook and the rope.
How to Hang a Porch Swing
Step 1: Determine the Hanger Distance and Swing Space
Make provision for at least 48 inches of space behind the swing. You should have at least 14 to 16 inches on both sides of the swing for side clearance.
The eye bolts, screws eyes, or hooks should be installed 2 to 4 inches wider than your swing’s length. For instance, for a 50-inch swing, space the hangers 52 to 54 inches apart. This will aid uniform weight distribution and also prevent the chains from rubbing against the swing when in motion.
Step 2: Locate The Joists
Sizing is Important
Patio and porch roof structures usually come with horizontal joists that support the ceiling finish. These joists are often 2x6 or larger lumber, but they can also be as small as 2x4. If you can access your porch structure through the attic, ascertain the joist size and general placement. A 2x8 is 7-1/4 inches tall; 2x6 is 5-1/2 inches; 2x4 joists are 3-1/2 inches.
If you cannot access to the attic, cut a small hole, or remove a piece of trim in the ceiling to measure the joist depth. To hang your porch swing from a beam or single joist, it should be a 4x4 beam, or a 2x8 joist.
How to Locate the Joists
You can find the joists from the underside of the ceiling by using a stud finder. Confirm the locations by drilling small holes on each side of the joist. It is advisable to make a mark at both sides of the joists, to make it easier to find the center for installing the anchor.
Common Joist Problems
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Worried your joists are not big enough? Or that they are located where you do not need them? Don’t worry, you can do any of the following:
1. Install short beams.
A 4 x 4 will work well across the tops of multiple joists. You need two 4 x 4 beams, cut them such that they are long enough to run perpendicularly across three or more joists. Set the beams on top of the joist, in a way that it centers over one of the anchor locations.
Use a 3-inch screwdriver to fasten the beams to each joist into the top edge of the joist, and an angle through each side of the beam.
2. You can also install lumber blocking using 4 x 4’s, 2 x 6’s or any larger lumber.
Install the lumber between two joists that are adjacent with joist hangers, such that the blocking is lined with the bottom part of the joists. Make a mark on the locations for the anchors on one joist, using a framing square, and transfer the marks to the adjacent joist.
Install the joist hangers on the inside faces of the joists facing each other, as directed by the hanger manufacturer. Many joist hangers are nailed using a 1 ½-inch screw or hanger nails. You need to position the hangers in a way that the blocking will be finely flush with the top of the ceiling finish as well as centered over the swing anchor locations.
Cut two blockings to fit snugly between the joists, fit them down into the hangers. Use screws or hanger nails to fasten the blockings to the hangers.
To add blocking or beams, you need attic access, or you can simply cut a large enough hole in the ceiling finish to work through. The hole should be patched when you are done.
Step 3: Install Hangers
How to Install a Hook or Screw Eye
Drill a hole directly into the center of the beam or joist. Use your hands to thread in the screw as far as possible, then finish the screwing by using pliers or large wrench, ensure the threads are fully embedded in the lumber.
How to Install Your Hanger Kit With Lag Screws
Most hanger kits with swivels are designed to be mounted to a beam or joist running parallel to the length of the swing.
Each mount should be positioned over the center of the beam or joist, using a bit having the same size as the screw’s shank.
Install the mount with 3-inch lag screws, and tighten the screws with an impact wrench or socket wrench.
Step 4: Hang the Swing
There are many ways to hang a porch swing, but the steps above are among the easiest and simplest and work for most swing designs.
If you’ve just purchased a porch swing, follow the recommended hanging instructions provided by the manufacturers, using the provided rope or chains.