Porch Deck and Patio

Porch, Deck + Patio

Outdoor Projects

Hanging a Porch Swing

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Your porch swing should be a place to relax, and one of the keys to a hanging porch swing is proper installation. Cutting corners could ultimately cause you to come crashing down (literally). By equipping yourself with the right hardware, measuring correctly and following the proper installation steps you will reward yourself with countless seasons of carefree swinging.

Before You Get Started

Make sure your ceiling framing is strong enough to support your porch swing. 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, provided all joists are adequately supported at both ends for load-bearing application. Follow all installation instructions provided by your swing’s manufacturer, as applicable. 

Choosing the Right Hardware + Equipment

Anchoring hardware and chains, ropes and connectors, such as S-hooks, must be suitable for outdoor exposure and offer a working load rating of 500 pounds or more. 

Hanger Kits

You can buy porch swing hanger kits that include fancy swivel-type hanger mounts and heavy-duty springs for smoother swinging. The hanger mounts install with lag screws. 

Eye Bolts, Screw Eyes or Hooks

If you don’t use a hanger kit, use heavy-duty screw eyes, screw hooks or eye bolts, each of which has an enclosed ring or hook on one end where you can attach your rope or chain. Screw-in anchors are easier to use when you’re anchoring directly into joists. If you’re anchoring to a beam or 4 x 4 blocking installed between joists, you have the option of using machine bolts, which go all the way through the support member and are anchored on the top side with a washer and nut. 

Screw or bolt diameter should be at least 1/2 inch, and screws should have a threaded shank that’s at least 4 inches long.

Whichever you choose, make sure all your hardware is galvanized or stainless steel for corrosion-resistance.

Chains + Ropes

New swings usually come with hanging chains or ropes, but if you need to buy them, make sure they’re rated for at least 500 pounds of working load. Chains need to be galvanized or stainless steel. Ropes should be marine-grade braided nylon or polyester to stand up to outdoor exposure, and they’ll last longer and swing better if you add an S-hook or quick link between the hanging hook/eye and the rope.

How to Install a Hanging Porch Swing

STEP 1: Determine Swing Space + Hanger Measurements

Swing Space

You should have at least 48 inches of space behind the swing. For side clearance, give yourself at least 14 to 16 inches on either side of the swing.

Hanger Distance

The hooks, screws eyes or eye bolts should be installed 2 to 4 inches wider than the swing’s length — i.e., for a 48-inch swing, space the hangers 50 to 52 inches apart. This ensures even weight distribution and prevents the chains from rubbing against the swing.

STEP 2: Locate the Joists

Size is Key

Porch and patio roof structures typically include horizontal joists that support the ceiling finish. Joists are often 2 x 6 or larger lumber, but they can be as small as 2 x 4. If you have access to your porch structure through the attic, note the joist size and general placement. A 2 x 4 joist is 3-1/2 inches tall; 2 x 6 is 5-1/2 inches; 2 x 8 is 7-1/4 inches. Without attic access, remove a piece of trim in the ceiling or cut a small hole to measure the joist depth. To hang a swing from a single joist or beam, it should be a 2 x 8 joist or 4 x 4 beam.

Finding the Joists

Locate the joists from the underside of the ceiling with a stud finder, then 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.

Solving Joist Problems

Don't panic if your joists aren’t big enough, or if they don’t happen to fall where you need them— we've got you covered. You can:

1. Install short beams (4 x 4's work well) across the tops of multiple joists: Cut two 4 x 4 beams so they’re long enough to span across three or more joists (running perpendicular to the 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 driven at an angle through each side of the beam and into the top edge of the joist.

2. Install lumber blocking (4 x 4's, 2 x 6's or larger lumber) between two adjacent joists, using joist hangers, so the blocking is flush with the bottoms of the joists.

Mark the locations for the swing anchors onto one joist, and use a framing square to transfer the marks to the neighboring joist (blocking runs perpendicular to the joists). Install joist hangers on the inside faces of the joists (the hangers will face each other), as directed by the hanger manufacturer; most are nailed to the joists with special 1 ½-inch hanger nails or screws. Position the hangers so the blocking will be flush with the top of the ceiling finish and centered over the swing anchor locations.

Cut two pieces of blocking to fit snugly between the joists, and fit them down into the hangers. Fasten the blocking to the hangers with hanger nails or screws.

Adding beams or blocking requires attic access, or you can cut a single hole in the ceiling finish that’s large enough to work through, then patch the hole when you’re done.

STEP 3: Install Hangers

To Install a Screw Eye or Hook

Drill a pilot hole directly into the center of the joist or beam. Thread in the screw by hand as far as possible, then use a large wrench or pliers to turn the screw until the threads are fully embedded in the lumber. You can also insert a tool handle into the eye or hook and use it as a lever to twist the screw.

To Install a Hanger Kit with Lag Screws

Hanger kits with swivel mounts are designed to mount to a joist or beam running parallel to the length of the swing. Position each mount over the center of the joist or beam, and mark through the predrilled holes for the lag screws. Remove the mount and drill a pilot hole for each screw, using a bit that’s the same size as the screw’s shank (not the threads). Install the mount with 3-inch lag screws, tightening the screws with a socket wrench or impact wrench.

STEP 4: Hang the Swing

There's more than one way to string a swing – a lot more – but these methods are among the simplest and will work for most swing designs. If you have a new swing, follow the manufacturer’s instructions for hanging it, using the provided chains or rope.

To Hang a Swing with Chains

Hanging with chains requires two chains – one long and one short – for each end of the swing.

1. Secure one end of each long chain to the front mounting point of the swing, using the appropriate hardware (if your swing has no hardware, use an eye bolt).

2. Secure each short chain to the rear of the seat. Connect the short chain to the long chain on each side, about 2 or 3 feet above the seat (this is variable as desired), using small S-hooks or quick links.

3. With a helper or two, hook the long chains onto the hangers in the ceiling (or other support). The short chains pull backward on the long chains, causing the seat to tilt back for comfort.

4. Adjust the tilt and the seat height as desired by hooking onto different links.

To Hang a Swing with Rope

Swings can hang from a single rope on each side.

1. Bend each rope in half and tie a simple overhand knot, using the doubled-up rope, 2 inches from the bend, to create a 2-inch-long loop. Hook each loop over the screw hook in the ceiling (or other support). If you have a screw eye or eye bolt, add an S-hook or quick link between the eye and the rope loop.

2. Prop up the swing on some cardboard boxes so it’s level and at the desired height.

3. Thread the front half of each rope through the front mounting point on the swing and secure it underneath with a basic overhand knot. Make sure the knot is big enough so that it won’t slip through when there’s weight on the swing.

4. Remove the boxes and tie off the rear halves of the rope to the rear mounts on the swing, tilting the swing back at the desired angle.

5. Test the swing and adjust the knots as needed, then trim the excess from the bottom ends of the ropes.