Originally Published on October 6, 2022. Last Updated on August 8, 2023.
A cool glass of lemonade, the smell of fresh-cut grass, the sound of rustling leaves: Some things imbue an instant sense of nostalgia in those who love spending time outside. But swaying on a porch swing? That tops the list.
Front porches—and the iconic front porch swing—have a longstanding history in American culture and architecture. While other outdoor living spaces, such as private patios and balconies, have gained in popularity over the past several decades, the porch swing’s versatility has earned it the title of “the seat you can enjoy anywhere” (as long as there’s a structure to support it). Whether you’re waving to the neighbors from the porch or enjoying a glass of wine out back, an outdoor swing is a cozy perch for well-deserved R&R at home.
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Is a Swing Right for You?
Find the Right Materials for Your Porch Swing
Choose the Correct Size Swing
Decide the Best Swing Style
Choose the Right Color For Your Porch Swing
What Are the Perks of a Porch Swing?
Step 1: Is a Swing Right for You?
Thanks to their gentle swaying motion, swings are prime real estate for enjoying your morning coffee or tea. And they’re the perfect place for snuggling at sunset or watching the stars during summer nights. So, if you have the budget and a place to put one, a porch swing is a sound investment.
But there are a few considerations to make before you buy, from the practical (think materials, measurements, and installation) to the actual style and add-on accessories. Deciding what’s most important to you is a good place to begin, and from there you can further whittle down the types of porch swings you’re looking for.
Points to Consider
Durability: How well will the materials hold up when exposed to the elements?
Maintenance: Are the materials easy to keep clean and pristine?
Appearance: How will the material look over time?
Design: Does the swing work well with the current style of your outdoor space?
Comfort: Is the swing designed with contoured seats or cushions?
Weight: How easy is it to move or install the furniture, and can it withstand strong wind gusts?
Price: How much value (i.e., frequency and years of use) will you get from the swing?
Size: How many people do you want to accommodate?
Structural support: Do you have the ceiling joists or architectural beams required for proper installation? If not, do you have a flat surface that can be used for a freestanding swing?
Step 2: Find the Right Materials for Your Porch Swing
The material you choose for your patio swing will ultimately determine its durability and longevity. If your space is subject to inclement weather or if you have kids and pets, look for resilient and low-maintenance options. If your porch is well protected and you don’t mind a refinishing project every year or so, less durable materials could work and may fit your style, space, or budget better. Here are some common options:
- Aluminum & steel: Durable and resistant to rust, an aluminum or steel frame is a solid choice for outdoor furniture. These metals can be left outside year-round but may get uncomfortably hot on warm, sunny days. Some designs are constructed of lightweight hollow tubing, which makes installation easy but leaves your outdoor porch swing vulnerable to strong wind gusts.
- Wrought iron: A traditional choice for patio furniture, wrought iron is beloved for its elegant appearance. This material is susceptible to rust, so it will require a good deal of maintenance. Wrought iron porch swings are also heavy, which could make installation challenging.
- Softwood: Some outdoor seating is made of western red cedar, pine, or other softwoods, which are abundant and typically inexpensive. They don’t tend to weather well and will need to be restained or revarnished on a semi-regular basis. It’s recommended to cover them during inclement weather or when not in use.
- Hardwood: Solid hardwood, like teak, oak, and acacia, is a better choice than softwood for well-crafted, enduring outdoor furniture. While relatively resilient to the elements, your wood porch swing must be regularly maintained and covered to look its best.
- Wicker: Wicker furniture refers to the weaving process, not a single material. Natural materials like willow, bamboo, and rattan are popular choices, but they don’t bode well in inclement weather. Resin wicker, also known as all-weather wicker, is superior for outdoor applications. Keep in mind that the weave results in deep grooves, which can be hard to clean.
- High-density polyethylene (HDPE) lumber: Ultradurable, versatile, and low-maintenance, we believe HDPE is the best material for outdoor seating. It’s fadeproof, weather-resistant, and easy to clean. This hefty lumber can be more expensive than other materials, but many believe the durability, longevity, and sustainability offset the overall cost.
Step 3: Choose the Correct Size Swing
Porch swings range in both width and depth. When deciding what will work best for you, consider these three key factors: the square footage of your space, the number of people you want to accommodate, and plans for use. To truly determine the best fit, you’ll want to grab your measuring tape.
Width: Smaller seats typically range between 2–4 feet long, making them comfortable enough for 1–2 adults. If you entertain often, have many family members, or prefer to lay down while reading, look for a large seat that’s 5–7 feet long.
Depth: Referring to the distance between the front and back of the seat, swing depth varies greatly (approximately 18–36 inches). What you choose should be determined by your desired comfort levels, available space, and family members’ heights. The deeper the seat, the better for taller folks and nap-taking.
Step 4: Decide the Best Swing Style
Now that you’ve narrowed down the best materials and size for your space, it’s time to talk swing styles.
Quintessential porch swing designs with bench-style seating, slatted backs, and armrests at both sides.
Similar to traditional styles but with extra seat depth and comfortable cushions for all-day hangs.
With even more space to stretch out than deep seating, these are the ultimate lounge or snuggle spot.
Designed with the wide armrests, comfy contoured seat, and a waterfall front Adirondacks are known for.
Step 5: Choose the Right Color For Your Porch Swing
Once you’ve checked off all the other steps, you can decide the hue of your new swing. Here are some popular color choices:
What Are the Perks of a Porch Swing?
How do I measure for a porch swing?
The golden rule is to have 3–4 feet of clearance to both the front and back, allowing for the full range of motion. Keep 12–14 inches of open space on either side to prevent the swing from bumping into other furniture.
How high should a porch swing be off of the ground?
A good starting point is to situate the bottom of the swing 17 inches off the ground or porch floor. This allows most guests to comfortably rest their feet on the ground. If you have tall family members, 18–24 inches is the standard range for hanging heights.