You can’t authoritatively say you have enjoyed life if you have not swung on a porch swing. Yes, few things can compare to the pleasures of nesting on your porch swing, with a good glass of wine in hand. But amid the reports of whiplashes, falls, and frightening brain injuries associated with porch swings, you should be curious if porch swings are safe. 

Porch swings are safe if properly hung on your porch and best practices are observed when using them. First, your porch must support the load on the swing. This involves finding the right joists, choosing suitable equipment and hardware, and getting the hanger measurements and swing space right. Lastly, porch swings not hung too high are safer. 

How does porch support affect safety?

A bulk of the hazards linked with porch swings result from the porch lacking adequate structural support for the swing. 

Your porch needs suitable joists to hold a swing; if not, it would break off. Depending on the swing size, you could need larger joists or more joists. To hold a swing that can carry two adults, your porch needs three 2 x 4 joists. 

This is the equivalent of double 2 x 6 joists or just one 2 x 8 joists. 

Note that every porch swing has its maximum weight capacity, although increasing the chain size could also ramp up the weight capacity. 

Which hardware is safest for your porch swing? 

A porch swing is only as safe as the quality of hardware and equipment used in its design. This means you need to get the right type of ropes, chains, and connectors that are sustainably resilient against weather elements.

For a safe porch swing, your equipment must have a minimum 500lbs working load rating. Ropes and chains are the two most prevalent materials used in holding up porch swings.  

Your type of swing and style choice would determine which you go with. Given their enhanced resilience and longevity, steel chains are preferred. 

Your swing needs two solid chains to be safely anchored to your porch. One chain is short and the other long, with each situated at either end of the porch swing.

Homeowners keen on enhancing their outdoor space (specifically adding a rustic feel) may go with rope. More than the beauty, the rope must be strong enough to hold the swing. It is safer to go for polyester ropes, given their superior strength and durability. 

Nylon ropes are suitable, too, coming with enhanced elasticity and load absorption capacity. Whatever rope you choose, the thicker it is, the safer your porch is. Ideally, your rope should never be thinner than 3/4 inches. 

Which dimensions are safest for spacing your swing?

Your hanger dimensions and swing space influence the safety of your porch swing. For the front and backspacing, 3 feet clearance would suffice. A minimum spacing of 14 inches is needed at both sides of your porch swing for a safe user experience. 

A safe porch swing needs the weight to be evenly distributed. If such even distribution isn’t achieved, the chains will rub against the porch swings, raising the accident risks.

To evenly spread the weight, your eye bolts and hooks need to be installed at least 2 inches wider than your porch swing’s length. 

Which joists are safest for a porch swing?

Finding the right joint is arguably the most critical aspect of swing safety. Traditionally, porches – just like your patio roofs – come with horizontal joists.

These joists provide structural support for your ceiling. Now, you can readily tell the depth and befittingness of your joist for your porch swing if your porch ceiling is unfinished.

But if it is unfinished, it is essential to remove some paneling on your porch ceiling to ascertain the joist depth and how strongly it can hold your swing. 

A 4×4 beam (equivalently 2 x 8 joists) is best suited for hanging your porch swing from one joist. 

Having smaller joists or wrongly situated joists don’t mean you can’t safely hang your porch swing. Such handicap can be corrected by installing an additional support mechanism, preferably a 4×4 beam. 

What height is safe to hang your porch swing?

People commonly say porch swings are more enjoyable when significantly elevated from the ground. This is considering the enhanced swing and weightlessness you feel.

Nonetheless, it is safer to keep your porch swing as close to ground level as possible. Specially select a destination with a level surface and an area free of clutter.

A ground clearance (from the floor to the base of your swing) of 17 inches is the safest. 

How to test the safety of your porch swing after installation

After fully installing your porch swing, you should test it to ascertain the user experience and how safe it would be resting on it.

First, check out how it moves when pushed. It should freely move backward and forward if you did the installation correctly. It shouldn’t be too taut.

A prominent error at the end of the installation is the unevenness of the sides. Many homeowners report that one side feels a bit relatively inclined to the other. The quickest fix to this is adjusting the chain location till you attain balance on both ends.  

Let us assume the porch swing’s left side is higher than the right. Then, you need to reduce how long the chain (joining the swing screws) is on that right side. Another option is simply increasing the chain length on the left.

Are wooden porch swings safe?

Wooden porch swings are preferred for the classy touch it gives your space. Wooden porch swings are safe, but you must also bear in mind their propensity to splintering. 

The good news is that you can reduce the risk of your wooden porch breaking and you dangerously falling if you invest in top-grade wooden porch swings.

When making your pick, go with recognized manufacturers and reliable labels. It is safer if you go for wood produced with plantation-cultivated trees, given their superior grade.

The safety of your wooden porch swing also depends on the suitability of the wood material you pick to the prevailing atmospheric conditions. 

Teak and western red cedar are the best wood types to use if keen on the safety and durability of your wooden porch swing. 

Western red cedar has impressive resistance to moisture, decay, and rot. It is less likely to deteriorate from pest attack considering that its natural aroma (which is very amiable, by the way) deters pests and insects.

Teak is another top-grade material that makes your wooden porch swings safer. More than its charming look, teak also boasts remarkable resilience to rot, insect attack, and moisture due to the lovable quantities of natural oils it produces.

A wooden porch made from teak typically has enhanced weight capacity, making it more reliable for sitting. 

Are metal porch swings safe?

Similar to the wooden variants, metal porch swings are safe provided the right materials are used. Porch swings made from cast aluminum and wrought are the most reliable in the metal category.

Compared to the typical aluminum furniture, cast aluminum has a superior look. Porch swings made from cast aluminum are commendably resistant to corrosion. They are robust and yet lightweight.  

But then bear in mind that aluminum porch swings are not ideal if you live in windy climes. Given aluminum’s lightness and malleability, your aluminum would be more susceptible to scratches and dents, harming its longevity.

Metal porch swings made from wrought iron are also excellent choices if we focus on safety and durability. Wrought iron is exceptionally resilient to wear and tear. Also, it is almost indifferent to temperature. Meaning it wouldn’t lose its structural integrity even in hot or cold climes.

Are porch swings safe for kids?

Porch swing accidents are prevalent in kids. It is not uncommon for your kids to be bumped by the hard edges. If you want your kids to enjoy your porch swing too, then you better not make it too tall for them to access.

When your kid is getting used to your swings during the early phases, it is safer to be around them. Make sure to establish firm regulations for safe usage.

Your kid should know it is prohibited to run and jump right into your porch swing. Such exuberance is not uncommon in kids, remember. Also, never let your kids lie on the porch swing on their belly. This makes them more vulnerable to injuries.

How to avoid porch swing hazards?

What if I told you 90% of hazards associated with porch swings can be eliminated with due diligence?

Yes, keenness on your part can dramatically make your porch swing safer. Such due diligence starts from you choosing the suitable materials to periodically investigating your porch swing for deterioration. 

Commonly, in a bid to save, many homeowners compromise on quality, going for cheaper materials. Unfortunately, they shoot up the risks of accidents for whoever uses the porch swing.

Also, bear in mind that porches are not a forever acquisition. It is natural for your porch swing to deteriorate with time. Such degradation in structural integrity comes with increased hazard risk. 

This means you must keenly inspect your porch swing periodically for signs of cracks, corrosion, bending. Additionally, extend your inspection to the hardware. 

Do you notice any deformation from the hooks, chains, and links? Do you notice the hangers beginning to wear? Also, is the porch swing seat becoming looser? 

Yes, and some renovation or overhaul of your porch swing is urgently needed. 

Maintaining your porch swing to keep it safer

Maintaining your porch swing goes a long way in keeping it safer to use (in terms of reducing deterioration) and elongating its lifespan. If you have a wooden porch swing, you need to reduce moisture and water spillage on it. 

Periodically clean and oil your wood porch swing. A mild dish detergent is suitable for cleaning it. Spraying your wood porch swing with pest repellants is also recommended.

The same cleanup maintenance regimen applies to metal porch swings. For this category, always lubricate the swing and the metallic hardware for smooth operation and reducing corrosion. Re-painting with clear metal varnish works also helps.

Resources

https://americanswing.com/safety-information/
https://backyardsidekick.com/are-swing-sets-dangerous-how-to-keep-them-safe/
https://discountplaygroundsupply.com/blog/6-safety-tips-for-setting-up-swing-sets/
https://homex.com/ask/how-much-weight-can-a-porch-swing-hold
https://lollyjane.com/tips-hang-porch-swing/