One of the biggest problems with hanging a porch swing is finding a place on the porch with adequate space. The swing needs a large amount of clearance in front of and behind, it. The experts at This Old House Magazine suggest at least 4 feet of clearance for the swing's arc. The space below a porch swing, (about 1 1/2 feet off the ground is ideal) also must remain clear for a sitter's legs to hang freely. Space issues mean that a narrow porch may not have enough space for a large porch swing, and even a wider porch may need existing furniture moved out of the way to accommodate the swing.
Securing the Hangers
The porch swing must hang secure enough to hold several hundred pounds or the weight of several adults and the books, pets or children they may carry on the swing. Finding a joist that can anchor the hangers and support the weight of the swing and its load is a problem on some porches. The website Front Porch Ideas and More suggests locating a joist that is at least 2x6 inches in size and predrilling holes for the eye screws that serve as hangers. On porches with a finished ceiling that obscures the joists, accessing the joists is a major undertaking that involves cutting into the ceiling and replacing or patching it once the swing's hangers and chains are in place.
Comfort and Noise
With the swing in position, there are sometimes problems with fine tuning it. These may include getting the swing comfortable to sitters. Hard wooden or metal bench swings may need pillows or a padded seat cover to provide comfort for any length of time. Some swings may also have a jerky, uneven motion. Adding comfort springs is one way to help reduce discomfort but adds cost and leads to a more complex installation process.
Noise is another potential problem as a porch swing's chains, hangers and springs age. Metal rubbing against metal can cause a shrill squeaking that oil or grease may help to alleviate for a time.
Hanging a porch swing is a labor-intensive process, and homeowners without several strong family members or helpers may need to hire a professional. Besides climbing to the roof of the porch to install the hangers, someone will actually have to lift the swing assembly into place to attach it to the chains, which means lifting the heavy, bulky swing and holding it in position long enough for someone else to affix the hardware. The entire process leaves workers in danger of falls or injury from dropping the swing on exposed feet or hands.