This is a Hammer

Mom’s Porch Swing Showing Its Age

Q: My mother’s house has an old wooden swing on the front porch that we enjoyed as kids. But it doesn’t look very safe anymore – the wood seems to be rotting, the paint has mostly peeled off, and it doesn’t swing straight. Is it worth convincing her to replace it? – David H., via email

A: That depends on a couple of factors, besides convincing your mom to let you replace it. One, is there enough interest among the family to continue to have a porch swing? And two, is the porch structurally sound enough to safely put up a new swing?

The reason I ask is that older homes, while probably pretty sturdy, may have developed hidden problems structurally. Porches usually are built outside any load-bearing points and so don’t present a threat to the house itself, but they are sometimes built with less-durable materials and therefore deteriorate faster. There’s nothing more embarrassing than putting up a sturdy, heavy porch swing only to have to anchor bolts tear out of a rotting beam, dumping out the swing’s occupants.

Have a construction professional who specializes in outside attachments like decks and porches inspect and evaluate the condition of the porch. Tell him your plans to replace the swing and ask about the best places from which to anchor it.

Another option: If the porch doesn’t check out, or if you or your mom simply don’t want a swing on the porch, try a freestanding swing in the yard. Again, look for a sturdy, durable model with good supports that will stand up to outdoor weather for several years.

HOME TIP: Want to paint a wooden porch swing? Be sure to use exterior grade paint or paint specially formulated for outdoor porches.

Send your questions or comments to, or write This Is a Hammer, c/o King Features Weekly Service, P.O. Box 536475, Orlando, FL 32853-6475.© 2014 King Features Synd., Inc.

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