If you want to hold a porch swing from a single joist or beam, you need to use a 2x8. If you’re going to do it from a 2x6, you will have the weight dispersed over two joists. Always use stainless steel materials to hang the swing from the porch.
I’ve made some mistakes hanging porch swings. My wife will never let me forget her and my son falling to the ground in a porch swing I’d hung years ago. You need to get this right and know without question that the swing is going to hold.
Know The Size Of Joist You Are Working With
A joist is a horizontal structure used to frame open spaces. When joists are part of a floor framing system, they provide stiffness to the subfloor sheathing. Ceiling joists provide that same sturdiness above.
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Joists can be made of plain wood, engineered wood, or steel. Each one has different advantages and disadvantages. Wooden joists are the most common type that you will find in houses.
Wood joists are usually 2x6 or 2x8. Some porches use beams instead of joists. However, you can also hang a porch swing from a beam, so don’t worry.
Is Your Structure Strong Enough?
One important thing to consider is whether your joist is strong enough to hold a swing. If you want to install a two-person swing, you can do it with a single 2x8 joist. However, if you have a 2x6 joist, you’ll need two joists to hold the same two-person swing.
You can only hang porch swings on a joist. So, if you do not have a joist, you should avoid using porch swings and choose one that comes with a frame.
You should consider the size of your family and whether you host many social events. If you have a larger family or throw many parties, a two-person swing might not be enough.
How to Install a Porch Swing
Before you start installing your porch swing, you should make sure that you have the necessary materials and space for the job.
Get the Right Hardware for the Job
To be able to hold your porch swing, you’ll need either chains or rope. Which one you choose depends on the look you’ve chosen for your porch. You should take a look at your house’s exterior appearance and other porch furniture to see which one better fits the aesthetic.
You will also need connectors that will resist outdoor exposure and the swing’s weight, and the ones that will use it.
Steel Chains or Rope
You can hang porch swings with steel chains or rope. They are both great options and have similar resistance, but the most used are the steel chains. They have more durability than ropes if they are made with stainless steel.
Ropes can also be a good option, but this will depend on your porch’s decoration and your swing’s weight.
Hanger kits are the mechanisms used to hold the swing. By installing them, you’ll only need to hang the swing.
Although you can buy all of the pieces separately, it’s easier to get one of these hanger kits like this Heavy Duty Swing Hanger kit (link to Amazon). It includes bolts, springs, and everything needed to securely mount your swing to the ceiling joist.
Eyebolts or Hooks
If you do not want to use hanger kits, you can opt for eye bolts or hooks. Eyebolts are bolts with a loop at one end that allows you to hang ropes or chains.
Make sure to choose an eyebolt with a large enough loop for the width of your chain or rope but here’s the main kicker – the bolt must be long enough to go through the width of the joist.
This eyebolt is 1/2″ by 8″ and might be a good option for 2x6 joists:
- 1/2″ x 8″ Eye Bolt in Zinc (link to Amazon)
One problem you may run into is that the ceiling joists do not line up perfectly with where the bolts need to be to hang the swing. I ran into this in my home and here’s what I ended up doing.
If you look carefully at this picture, you will see a 2X6 cross-braced between the ceiling joists under the two 2x4 studs. I screwed that 2x6 to each ceiling joist and then screwed the 2x4 studs to both the joists and the cross-brace.
I then drilled a hole through the height of the cross brace and the 2x4 and ran a 9-inch eye-bolt through the whole thing.
The only way that swing is coming down is if it takes half of the ceiling with it.
Keep in mind that using eye-bolts requires access to the attic so that you can tighten the bolt from the top. If you do not have attic access, you are better off with the hanging kit that I linked to that uses screw-in eye bolts.
How High Should a Porch Swing Be From the Ground?
There is a standard of comfort for hanging swings, usually between 17 to 19 inches (43 to 48cm). Also, allow 3 to 4 feet (90cm-1m)of space at the front and back. Allow at least 2 feet (69 cm) of space on either side.
Leaving space will prevent the porch swing from colliding with other objects or scraping the ground.
Find the Joists
To locate your joists, you will have to remove some of the ceiling’s trim and paneling. Choose the place you want your swing to hang from before performing any other step.
Next, measure the depth of each joist to decide whether you’ll need to add additional structural wood or not.
- A 2x8 joist is seven and ¼ inches tall (18.4 cm)
- A 2x6 joist is five and ½ inches tall (13.9 cm)
Once measured, you can drill a hole on the joist you want to use. Do the drilling on each side of the joist if you are going to use a hanger kit.
Steps to Hang Your Porch Swing
The classic swing structure comes with two main chains pre-installed and hooks or hangers. If that is the case, install the ceiling hooks to your joists and attach the swing chains.
If yours did not come with a pre-installed hook and chains, you would have to install them yourself.
To properly install your porch swing, you can follow these steps:
- Install the hangers. The ceiling hooks need to be placed 2 to 4 inches (5 to 10 cm) wider than the swing’s width. By doing this, you will avoid the swing’s chains rubbing against each other. Secure the hangers to the structure before attaching the swing to it.
- Attach the swing chains. secure each end of the long chains to the front mounting point, then attach the shorter chains to the swing
- Hang the swing. Hook the long chains to the hangers, and make sure they are correctly secured.
If you want a visual guide of every step you need to follow to install your porch swing, you can watch this video:
Note: Most porch swings can hold up to 550lb (250 kg). Avoid putting more weight on your porch swing if you don’t want any accidents.
Choosing the Best Porch Swing for You
You can find porches made of wicker, metal, and wood, and they can come in a diverse variety of colors. Most porch swings are 4 or 5 feet (1-1.5m) in width.
So, make sure you choose a comfortable one that perfectly fits your outdoor decoration. The following options may be good options (links to Amazon):
- Wooden Curved Porch Swing With Metal Chains
- Jack-Post Jennings Traditional Porch Swing of 4 feet (1.2 Meters)
- Metal 2 Person Hanging Porch Swing
Is There an Alternative if I Don’t Have a Porch?
The answer is yes. If you want a swing but you do not have a porch, you can invest in one that comes with a free-standing frame. If you do so, you won’t need to hang it from anywhere, and you’ll be able to place your swing wherever you’d like.
If you want to get a porch swing that does not require hanging, you can check out these options (links to Amazon):
Overall, you can hang a porch swing from a 2x6 joist if the swing is for two people. However, you will have better results if you have access to a 2x8 joist.
Always remember to use the right materials to install your porch swing. If you are going to use a hanger kit or eyebolts, choose stainless steel.
Finally, porch swings are a great addition to your outdoor experience, so be careful to choose the right one for you. Go for comfort rather than looks. However, many options have a mix of both, so there’s no need to compromise.