How to Hang It

When positioning a porch swing, allow for at least a 4-foot arc for the swing to move through. As for height off the floor, use 17 inches as a starting point, and adjust from there. Hanging chains can be stainless or galvanized steel; if you prefer the look of rope, make sure it is marine-grade braided nylon or polyester, and check it regularly for signs of wear.

“The biggest thing in installing a porch swing is to make sure it goes into something structural,” says TOH general contractor Tom Silva. In Seaside, Florida, where many of the porches feature exposed beams and joists, and most of the cottages were built in the past 15 years, town carpenter Jim Eichberger uses stainless steel screw-eyes with a 4-inch shaft as hanging hardware. He first drills a pilot hole slightly smaller than the shaft, then twists the screw-eye into place as far as it will go, using a screwdriver wedged through the eye for the final tightening.

Tom Silva is more accustomed to working on the porches of older homes, where the condition of joists is often hidden by a finished wood ceiling. Rather than remove a section of the ceiling and have to replace the whole thing later, he prefers to cut a 3-by-3-foot hole in the porch roof and patch it when he's done. From the roof, he predrills holes through the joists, then inserts 6-inch machine-threaded eyebolts through the ceiling and joists, securing them with nuts. (A threaded connector and nut can be used to lengthen a 6-inch eyebolt, if needed.) If the joists aren't located exactly in line with where you want to put your swing, Tom advises hanging a timber between two joists, then putting the eyebolt through the timber and securing the nut. Where a swing is to be installed parallel to a single joist and older, full-dimension lumber isn't in place, the joist should be sistered.

“It's definitely more of a pain to do it this way,” says Tom — and likely to take the project out of the hands of most do-it-yourselfers. “But it's the safest, strongest approach. I wouldn't feel comfortable any other way.”
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