How to Revitalize a Vintage Porch Swing

Everyone in the family enjoys spending time on a vintage porch swing. If yours requires a facelift- for looks, or for safety - revitalize it. Follow these directions to re-create your porch swing as the focal point of your outdoor living space.

Step 1- Examine your Porch Swing to Assess its Current Condition

If your wooden porch swing is hanging, get assistance to remove it from the s-hooks attached to the support beam, and set it down on the porch. Remove all cushions and canopies, and reveal all parts of the frame; seating and hardware. Check the wood frame, seat slats, backrest, arms and joints for splinters, cracks, ragged paint and loose parts. Inspect metal fasteners, chain brackets, and chains for signs of corrosion, wear, stripped screw threads, worn sockets, and loose bolts and nuts. Have two people pull and push on the backrest in opposite directions to check its stability. Do the same stress test with the arms of the porch swing. If the structure of the porch swing and its hardware is sound, then work on updating its appearance.

Step 2- Clean and Refinish the Wood Elements of the Porch Swing

Strip off layers of paint to the bare wood, then examine the wood for dry rot and other weaknesses. Replace any slats, frame pieces or trim that is in poor condition. Decide whether you want to paint or stain it, and go ahead with this process. After reviving its color, coat it with varnish or polyurethane for greater resistance to wet weather.

Step 3- Test the Support Hardware on the Porch Swing

If your outdoor porch swing has been exposed to the elements for more than 15 years, replace the chain brackets and support chains, even if they look serviceable. The safety of the porch swings passengers is paramount.  If the porch swing has been up for less than 5 years, rehang it and test the support chains by seating people whose total weight comes to about 500 pounds. If it survives the weight test, invite your kids under age 12 to give it a jump test, under close supervision. This will demonstrate whether the frame and support hardware can withstand sudden changes in weight and pressure. When it passes both tests, you can safely rehang the porch swing with the existing hardware.

Step 4- Finish the Facelift

Don't put those tired, old cushions back on your refreshed porch swing. Get your family's input on design and colors for new cushions and a canopy in modern weatherproof fabrics. Make a personalized cushion for each family member. Leave them on the porch swing, or in a big basket inside the front door. Consider one more change - vote on moving the porch swing off the porch onto freestanding supports, or hanging it from a suitably sturdy tree on the property.