They say an ounce of prevention is greater than a pound of cure. We must have been sick the day they taught that lesson.
While we’re usually fairly careful planners, we were so blinded by DIY porch plans and nail polish-colored paint that we didn’t actually locate the studs in our porch ceiling before we built this sucker. (We had every intention to do so, we just didn’t. Rather, we crossed our fingers and hoped for the best – since surely there are a studs that’ll work somehow!) But since you can’t safely hang a porch swing without studs, Kim and I spent the better part of America’s birthday performing ceiling surgery.
The initial plan was to locate the studs with our pair of stud-finders, drill in the hooks and be done with it. Unfortunately, the aluminum roof fascia and the 1/4″ plywood ceiling underneath it rendered our stud-finders useless. We half-heartedly drilled a few pilot holes where we thought the studs should be, but were left disgruntled and confused. Below, we had already begun pulling down the porch roof in frustration:
This revealed the (non-structural) plywood underneath and allowed the stud-finder to get a good reading. This also confirmed that the studs were a maze of bad spacing and poor placements. We continued by pulling down two of the ceiling panels and were (extremely!) careful as to not destroy them since we planned on reusing them later. Once those were out of our way, I used a combination of a cordless circular saw and a multi-tool with a wood cutting blade to remove a large rectangular part of the plywood.
And (of course!) this confirmed that the studs were poorly placed, and we would need some additional bracing. There’s a 24″+ gap between the front of the house and the first stud, and there’s no stud at all perpendicular with the house on the left side, which we’d need to mount the swing. Otherwise, you can imagine that our 5′ swing would be pushed all the way to the right, which would look ridiculous. The good news is that there were a few more stud-ly options to choose from on the right:
Looking into the roof, it turned out the studs were actually pretty far apart (as opposed to typical interior studs that would be spaced 16″ on center):
Had we used the angled corner stud as one of our support beams, we would have ended up juuust too close to the front porch railing. There was, however that almost perfectly placed stud running perpendicular to the front of the house (on the right), but it needed to come out an extra 2″ or so to keep the swing a safe distance from the porch railing, which should be at a minimum of 2′. To remedy this, we cut down an additional 2×4 to the same length and married it from both sides to the existing stud. A right-angle drill came in incredibly handy in this tight space!
For the end of the swing that completely lacked a stud, we used two joist hangers and cut the another new 2×4 to length so that it fit perpendicular to the existing structure.
Below, you’ll see how it looks when fastened securely in place at the same distance from the porch railing as our new “married” stud on the opposite side.
Now, we have studs spaced apart properly for what we need, and at the right depth from the porch railing! In our case, these newly added studs are 31″ from the railing, while also giving us plenty of wiggle room from side to side to situate our swing. As we do, I tested approximate strength by hanging off of each new stud. Vargo tough!
After the studs were in place, we took some careful measurements with a carpenter’s square and made some light pencil marks along the side of the house for reference. We then fastened the plywood “skin” back in place.
When it came time to bring it all together, we wanted our swing to be a safe distance away from the railing (once installed, our swing is a 2′ distance), and we secured the lag hooks an extra 2″ or so wider than the width of our swing to avoid scratching the fresh paint job. Ours are 64″ apart for a 60″ wide swing: On a side note, you can see a couple of those extra holes during our initial “investigation-gone-wrong”!
The verdict? Strong enough for a CC! (Actually, it’s probably strong enough for 10 CCs and 10 Jacks!)
Everything went back together pretty seamlessly overall, however, it’s far from perfect. (Perfect from far!) Overall, we ended up with a very sturdy swing attached to a slightly (aesthetically) imperfect ceiling. No worries though. It’s only a band-aid until we can replace the entire ceiling with stained tongue and groove next summer. I mean, we can dream, can’t we?