DIY Arbor Swing: How to Install Arbor Swing Beams

We’re sharing step by step as we build a DIY arbor swing in a beautiful backyard! This is Step 8: how to install the swing beams. This arbor swing uses 2×8 rafter style beams instead of thicker square traditional beams. Read on to learn why!

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DIY Arbor Swing Beams

As I mentioned in the last segment about the wood beam supports, I designed this arbor swing to match more a traditional pergola design than the thicker design of the rough cedar pergola I built. This design doesn’t need to be over-engineered, and the 2×8 swing beams get the job done. 2×8 redwood lumber is also pretty commonly available, saving time and money over custom ordering a special thick swing beam.

For a children’s swing set or a larger application like a fire pit pergola for swings, a thicker beam is a must. But for this 2-person arbor swing, the 2×8 beam is sufficient to hold the weight. Porch swings like this arbor will hold are designed to hold more weight via porch swing hanger hardware, and 2-seater bench swings also experience less range of movement than a children’s belt swing or trapeze bars, so the swing beam requirements are different.

Free-standing swing beams for swing sets often use A-frame brackets like these to make the swing frame easy to put together. Swing set brackets typically require a 4×6 swing beam, which can be attached to a playhouse, play tower, or monkey bars for added strength. These brackets often come in kits with hardware components such as rebar stakes to anchor the swingset to the ground as well.

How To Install 2x8 Swing Beam Rafters On A DIY Swing Arbor, Remodelaholic

Since these swing arbor 8×8 posts are plastisol dipped and set deep into the ground in concrete footings for a sturdier base, there will be no issues with stability no matter how many kids want to climb on the porch swing. The set of 4 redwood swing beam rafters will last well in the weather and provide the security needed to swing safely for many years — all while looking sharp, too!

Because of the setup of this project, I installed 2 arbor rafter beams on one side, then trimmed the posts to the correct height, carefully with a chainsaw. (Read my tips for chainsaw safety here.) Then I could finish installing the other 2 arbor rafter beams on the other end of the wood support beams.

How to Install 2×8 Swing Beams / Arbor Rafters

After the swing beam / arbor rafters are cut to size (with the rafter tails cut beautifully!), here’s how to install the arbor swing beams:

  1. Place one rafter beam across the wood support beams, next to the post. Measure to center the rafter beam, and check that it’s level.
  2. Predrill 4 holes to attach the rafter beam to the post, then drive in the 6-inch lag screws.
  3. Measure and mark the mid-point between that rafter and the end of the wood support beam.
  4. Place the rafter beam at that location, check for square and level, and attach the rafter to the support beam with 1 or 2 3-inch screws at each end, drilled in at an angle (which can be called “toenailed”).
  5. Repeat for the 2 swing beam rafters on the opposite side of the post and support beam.

Now I hear your worry: are a couple of screws strong enough to hold those outer 2 swing beam rafters in place? On their own, maybe not — but that’s why we’re installing the top lattice purlins next for added support! (And later I’ll also install the second set of wood support beams for added stability.)

Stay tuned and subscribe to see how I install the top cross-rafter purlins, stain the posts, and add a paverstone patio – right up until the finished project reveal!

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How To Install A Swing Beam For A Freestanding Porch Swing Arbor, Remodelaholic
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I am the husband of the amazing Cassity of Remodelaholic. I love to problem solve and to design and build things inside and outside the house to make life better. I am a professional Landscape Architect by trade and love the outdoors.

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Lorene has been behind the scenes here at Remodelaholic for more than a decade! She believes that planning projects and actually completing them are two different hobbies, but that doesn't stop her from planning at least a dozen projects at any given time. She spends her free time creating memories with her husband and 5 kids, traveling as far as she can afford, and partaking of books in any form available.

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