10 Things We Learned from Building a DIY Porch Swing Bed

When I was a kid, our house had a porch swing and it was one of my favorite things. We spent hours on that swing being rocked to sleep by my dad, swinging with friends, and sharing secrets on warm summer nights in the midwest. I have very fond memories of it, with the exception of the one time my dad was rocking my little brother, Ben, to sleep and as he carefully came back inside a bat flew in too. There was an evening of screaming and running from end to end of the house chasing a bat with a broomstick for what seemed like hours. In the end, no one slept much.

diy porch swing bed everything you need to know

We have a covered porch area much like we did when I was a kid, and when I saw the plans from Plank and Pillow for an easy-to-follow DIY porch swing bed, I knew I wanted one! I had purchased outdoor furniture for the back patio about 11 years ago for $10 and had grown tired of it. I was able to sell it on Facebook Marketplace {check this post for more tips for selling your items}for $150, so we used some of the profit on the lumber because, hello, wood is expensive right now! 

porch before and after

Keep reading for 10 things we learned from building a DIY porch swing bed and how we made it our own.

diy porch swing bed

10 Things We Learned from Building a DIY Porch Swing Bed

I'm going to start by saying that my husband is a mechanical engineer. Everything he does is often OVER engineered so some of the extra steps we took on the DIY plans were for extra support that will make zero difference in your life. 

There were changes made and I wanted to make sure we pointed them out to let you know how we used the free DIY plans from Plank and Pillow for the Porch Swing Bed and made it our own.


1. Add Angled Brackets on the Frame

Step 1 of the plan calls from slats, it does not call for angled brackets. However, adding angled brackets on the corners of the frame will keep it from racking. 

{I circled one of the angled boards so you can see an example}

racking frame porch swing

Authors note: racking is the term my husband used. I have zero idea what it actually means. I looked it up: Racking is the term used for when buildings tilt as their structural components are forced out of plumb. This is most commonly caused by wind forces exerting horizontal pressure, but it can also be caused by seismic stressthermal expansion or contraction, and so on.

This is obviously something an engineer who has too much experience in design says. This is how I'd describe it:

When things are parallel there's nothing that stops them from shifting and from the whole frame moving together, so these stiffen the frame up to make it more secure.

2. Make the Plan Your Own

We liked the look of this plan, but the placement of the ropes from this plan. We were able to combine the two. We did this by using 2x4's on all of the frame parts. The plan calls for 2x3's but if you use the 2x4's on the whole frame, you can then bolt the mounting board that holds the rope that will allow you to combine the two plans to give you the look of our porch swing.

porch swing plans

back board on porch swing

We also added a top board on the back of the plan. {see the image above} The pillows seem to rest better without falling over the back and if you want to lean back on the swing you are more secure. Instead of following step 3 fully, there was an additional rail with a 45-degree mitered angle that was used instead of notching the board they had in the plan. This was probably easier though it cost a bit more because of the additional piece of lumber. 

There was no change needed for the side board lengths.

Step 4 calls for just one parallel support board, which would probably be totally fine. However, remember the comment I made earlier about over-engineering things? This was one way to add even more strength to the swing. You can see the extra board in the picture below.

porch swing bed

3. Change Out the Trim

There was trim on the side edges in the design plan, but we were able to add an overhang of 3/4" chamfer that ended up looking better visually. This was totally just personal preference. 

porch swing chamfer edge

Authors note: I also had to google what chamfer was. When I saw it, I knew immediately what it was, but I am no carpenter so this is not a word in my daily vocabulary. Now it is. And now you know what it is too. You're welcome.


4. Save Some Money on Wood

The plans call for clear pine boards. Wood is expensive, we used knotty pine because we were going to paint it the same color as our trim. Clear Pine boards would have looked nice stained, but I like the look of it painted and how it stands out and matches our trim. Plus, it helped save a bit of money on the wood.

5. Pick the Right Rope

We used 1" diameter manila rope. It looks so much nicer than the 3/4" rope {which, when asked, I'm told "looks skinny and gross"}, anything bigger would have been hard to tie, but 1" rope looks solid. Brown manilla rope If you are buying rope at the store, buy more than you think you will need. We had 50 feet and it worked out with about a foot and a half of extra leftover. So just barely.

6. Determining the Placement is Key

Our ceiling support joists weren't where we needed them. This was a BIG hang-up for the construction of this project because it required a little bit of a workaround. 

We ended up cutting 2x6's and stained them the same color as the porch ceiling. We used lag screws to attach them to the ceiling joists. Then the eye hooks could be placed wherever we needed them. 

hang porch swing ceiling joists

If we are honest, looking at the free plans for the rope swing we used for inspiration, the hubs isn't feeling good about how the swing they crafted {and probably has made the husband and wife duo at Plank and Pillow a pretty penny} hangs. His words are "that probably swings like crap." My words, visually it's beautiful. We do realize they had to work around the ceiling fans, so they worked with what they had, but smoke and mirrors friends. Sometimes what you see doesn't always work the way you think it will. Our swing swings and it swings well. So placement is key.

If your ropes aren't straight, your rope will make you swing at an angle. You want the ropes to be parallel to each other. Our porch swing bed swings level to the ground. Because we put the ceiling support beam up we were able to put the eye hooks directly above the holes in the swing which allows the ropes to be vertical and the swing glides level.

porch swing bed

Side note: during construction we used a brad nailer and glue on the whole construction as suggested, however, we used screws on the bottom rope support {remember this is the combination of this plan and this plan} to make it more secure {ie over-engineering at it's finest again!}.


7. Tips for Tying the Ropes for Your Porch Swing Bed

When tying the ropes, tie a knot in one end and pull it tight up and over don't just hang it down both sides and try to tie a knot. It won't be tight. You want to pull the rope as tight as you can and tie it. We did as suggested and placed the swing on Home Depot buckets to hold it up and even as tight as it was, the swing will still sag. 

8. Whip Your Rope

You'll need to tape the rope before you cut it. Put tape on two sides and then cut in between the tape because the manila rope will just unravel. 

Manilla rope needs to be whipped. You can't melt the natural fibers the way you can with nylon. We used twine for whipping and a youtube tutorial. 

9. Secure Your Rope

Zip ties help the rope stay in place by the eye hook until the rope wears in a groove that will help it stay in place. Otherwise, the rope will keep slipping and the swing might end up not level. The zip ties keep the rope sitting in place until you get the wear in the right spot.

10. The Final Details

This porch swing bed uses a twin mattress. I found mine at a garage sale for $10 and was told it was the top bunk mattress on a rarely used bed. Felt like a score to me! Having a thick mattress makes a big difference visually, so go as thick as you can, or add a foam pad on top or both. 

I used this cotton mattress cover {instead of the one Plank and Pillow suggests buying for $150+} for $20 on Amazon. I thought I'd initially use a fitted sheet, but finding one that zips around your mattress makes this looks more put together I think. 

There are a LOT of pillows, and they add up, so keep your eyes open for pillows on sale. I was able to get the eight pillows you see on the porch swing for about $110 total. I got some at TJ Maxx and a few at Joann's. 

**Pro-tip, don't forget to shop the seasonal decor sales at your local craft store. I got 70% off the rug and a few of the pillows because they were part of the spring decor line at Joann's. Neutral is neutral, and it's always a good deal regardless of season.

We are loving our backyard porch swing bed this summer. I'd love to hear any questions you have. Maybe we can answer them. Feel free to reach out on social media @msrachelteodoro or shoot me an email rachel@rachelteodoro.com.

Are you thinking of making your own DIY porch swing bed?

disclaimer: this post may have affiliate links. By clicking on them and purchasing through them, I may receive a small commission. These small purchases help me to continue to keep writing content and creating at Rachel Teodoro. Thank you!

No comments

Powered by Blogger.