Have you ever found yourself pushing a child (preferably your own) on a swing set at the park and thinking “Shoulda been me”? Of course you have! Life as a human being can be exhausting, and who among us hasn’t earned the right to swing in the breeze like a carefree bird? Alas, children are far too weak to push their parents on a swing – one of their many shortcomings – so, enter the Porch Swing!
Porch swings are lovely. They’re both aesthetically pleasing, and cheap therapy to relieve your tensions. But! They can also be expensive, which is why we opted for the DIY route for our latest porch addition.
Allow me to describe life Pre-Porch Swing: Dull. Barren. A bottomless chasm filled with yearning (for a Porch Swing, natch).
So we set about to acquire one. After a bit of cursory research, I found a number of options that I liked, but I didn’t love the prices! There are plenty of “southern/country/farmhouse” type porch swings that you can buy online, but I wanted something a bit more modern to contrast our older home. Here’s what I found:
The good news is, if you take a closer look at the design, it’s not particularly complicated to build, nor do you need a pile of expensive tools, materials or time to get this done. We built a version of this (it’s got a shallower seat to fit our space, otherwise similar), for about $200 in lumber. Add another $150 for the cushions and ~$120 in hardware, and you’re swinging pretty (pun intended) for under $500.
Read on if you’d like to tackle this project:
Here’s a list of what you’ll need. There are a number of ways to hang a porch swing – just make sure you check the weight rating of whatever hardware you purchase. You need to account for the weight of the swing (say, 150lbs) and the weight of its occupants!
- 2x 4×8 Sheet of 1/2″ G1S (Good One Side) Plywood
- 6x Pine 2×4’s
- 1x Pine 1×1
- 4x 5/8″ x 6″ EyeBolts
- 16x 5/8″ Washers
- 4x 5/8″ Nuts
- 8x 5/8 x 6″ Lag Screws
- 2″ Finish Nails
- Kreg HD Pocket-Hole Screws
- 3/4″ Manila Hemp Rope (We used ~48 feet worth)
- 4x Heavy-Duty Swing Hangers
- 4x Heavy-Duty Carabiners
- Silicon Caulk
- Cushions (we used 3x 20×20″ square cushions)
- Circular Saw (or Table Saw if you have one)
- Cordless Drill or Impact Driver
- Finish Nailer, or Hammer
- Mitre Saw (optional)
- 5/8″, or adjustable wrench
- Kreg Jig HD
- Kreg Corner Clamp (optional)
- Stud Finder (if you have a covered porch ceiling)
- Bar Clamps x2
Before You Get Started
A quick explanation on how we arrived at the dimensions of our porch swing: the size depends on the space in which you’re placing the swing, but it also depends on what type of cushions you’d like to use. There is, of course, the option to design the swing at any given size, but you end up having to create your own cushions, or pay somebody else to do so. This adds time and expense. We opted to find/purchase our cushions first, and designed the seat depth and width to match.
When figuring out your dimensions, keep in mind the placement dictates ~2 feet clearance in front and back of the swing for proper movement. Below is a cut list for our swing, for reference:
- Seat box frame: 2×4 lumber – 67″ length x2, 18″ cross-braces x4
- Seat back frame: 2×4 lumber – 67″ length x2, 15″ cross-braces x4
- Seat base 1/2″ plywood: 67×21″
- Seat back 1/2″ plywood: 67×18″
- Back of seat 1/2″ plywood: 67×22″
- Armrest pillars: 1×1 lumber – 15.5″ x2 (top of armrests), 11″ x2 (pillars)
Let’s start with the seat base.
Using your Kreg Jig HD, create two pocket holes in the inside corners and at the end of each cross-brace.
Assemble together using pocket-hole screws.
Next, we create a similar frame for the seat back. To allow the 2×4’s to adhere to one another smoothly at the rear of the seat base, we placed single pocket holes on the edge-side of the lumber:
…and assembled the thinner frame this way:
This also helps the swing appear less bulky, a bit more svelte.
Line up the seat back with the seat frame, and drill 4 5/8″ holes through the centre of the seat frame’s rear face, and through the seat back’s frame at the
same position. Use two washers, a nut and your lag bolts to attach the two frames together.
Next, drill four holes for your eyebolts. You’ll be using these as connection points to attach your rope or chain to mount the swing to the ceiling. Note the placement of these in the picture below:
Thread the eyebolt through these holes using two washers and a nut.
One quick note about the placement of these eyebolts: We originally placed these at the corners of the seat base, just as they on our inspiration photo at the top of this post. We know this might be a bit of a risk because the depth of our swing is quite a bit shallower. After we finished constructing this, we found it didn’t hang properly, so we kept the eyebolt near the front of the seat, and relocated the one near the back of the seat base to midway up the seat back frame. Live and learn!
Measure your seat frame and cut a piece of plywood to fit flush to the edges. Attach using finish nails.. make sure they’re slightly recessed, you don’t want these ripping your cushions! This is easily accomplished with a finish nailer, or you can use a nailset. (You can also use screws if you like, you’ll just need patch/sand/paint the area afterwards if you’re after a seamless finish).
Repeat the steps above to cover the seat back frame’s face and rear with plywood.
Now, for the armrests. I recommend placing your cushions on the seat and sitting down to get a sense of a comfortable armrest height – this is sort of an individual thing. For reference, ours are 12″ tall.
Cut your 1×1 lumber to suit your preferred arm rest height and seat depth. Use your Kreg Jig to add a single pocket hole at the inside corner, and another where it attaches to the seat base and seat back (so, 3 total, math wizards!).
And, we’re done! Add silicon caulk at the seams, pocket holes, and wherever you’ve used finish nails or screws. Sand and paint!
Mounting the Porch Swing
There are a number of different ways to mount a porch swing. For a simple method, see this link.
Rather than install eye bolts into our ceiling joists, we opted to install heavy-duty swing hangers. These are rather for over 1000 lbs each, and I suppose I felt a bit more confident with this hardware. We simply knotted the rope at the bottom and threaded up and through the eye bolts.
Many porch swings only have two points of attachment to the ceiling; this design uses four ropes, which involves a bit more levelling and fine-tuning to get the swing to sit correctly. We had to adjust the ropes at each corner a few times before it felt just right. As for the seat height, we mounted ours so it floated about 18 inches off the ground.
Sitting (and Swinging) Pretty!
Behold, the new porch oasis!
It’s only been up for a few weeks, but we’ve thoroughly enjoyed sipping coffees on the porch swing on a lazy Sunday morning, or a nice glass of red wine by the fire after sundown. I may be a little biased, but a porch swing seems like a solid investment from where I’m sitting!
Interested in more DIY tutorials, check out the DIY Ruler Growth Chart or for a DIY on a smaller scale this inexpensive DIY Wooden Bead Garland will do the trick. We all need some sort of outdoor relaxation space – is this a project you’re tempted to tackle? Let me know in the comments below!