Are you thinking about adding a swing set to your backyard? Or maybe you already have one, but it’s got a few aging parts.
WillyGoat is your hub for everything you need to create a fantastic backyard playground.
We’ve got you covered when it comes to all the best playground staples — including swing sets.
Whether you’re just getting started with a new set or performing maintenance on the one you’ve got, it’s essential to understand the basics of swing set hardware.
Swings are not too complicated. They don’t have dozens of confusing components and maintenance isn’t too demanding.
Therefore, there’s no reason not to become a swing set savant.
First up, let’s take a look at general wear and tear.
Swing Set Wear and Tear
Swing sets operate on moving parts. In other words, they will inevitably wear down over time. They’re also located outdoors, exposed to the elements. Rain, snow, and sunshine all take their toll over the years.
And of course, there’s the wear and tear that comes with heavy use.
Hopefully, your playground area sees heavy traffic. Good hard fun is the goal, right? That just means you’ve got to stay on top of maintenance and keep an eye on aging parts.
And that provides an excellent place to begin — let’s begin with a quick primer on the parts that make up a swing set.
What Parts Are Involved in Swing Set Hardware?
If you’re just getting started, we recommend looking through our Ultimate Guide to Swing Set Parts.
Here’s what a swing set consists of:
- Posts and brackets connected by a top beam to make up the set’s structure
- Chains and shackles that suspend the swing seats from the top beam
- Swing seats
To install, repair, or maintain your swing set, there are a few pieces of hardware to become familiar with.
Swing set hardware includes the various moving parts in your swing set along with the tools required for repairs.
To help get you up to speed, here’s your comprehensive list of swing set hardware.
Swing hangers fasten around the top bar and hold the chains that hang the seats. You’ll need two of these for each seat — one for each chain on either side of the seat.
Your swing hangers are made from metal and they’re exposed to the elements. They also undergo a great deal of friction when the swing is in use.
So, you’ll want to keep an eye on these parts to keep track of their condition.
When a hanger is at the end of its use, it can easily be replaced.
Be sure to check your swing set specifications to find the diameter of your top beam. You’ll need to order the hanger in a size that fits that diameter.
Swing Set Shackles
The piece connecting the chain to the hanger is typically an S hook. An S hook is (surprise!) shaped like the letter S. This design allows for the top half of the hook to hang on a bar, leaving the bottom half free to hang something else.
During installation or part replacement, the S hook needs to be manipulated to close around its connection points. This will keep the swing set secure.
However, a piece known as a D hook shackle makes a great alternative to working with an S hook. You have the option of switching from S hooks to shackles when replacing the hardware on your swing set.
Shackles are highly durable, giving them a long lifespan.
You may also find a hanger to be easier to install than an S hook. So, when caring for your backyard play area, hangers are a practical choice.
S Hook Pliers
If you’re working with S hooks, you need the ability to crimp them. Crimping refers to joining two pieces together by deforming one or both of them.
Crimping the S hook secures its connections to the swing hangers and the chain.
Since manipulating metal isn’t easy, you’ll need a unique tool for the job.
That’s where S hook pliers come in. This specialized tool is designed specifically for working with S hooks.
A good craftsman has the right tools for the job. So, be sure to have your S hook pliers on hand before performing installation or maintenance work on your swing set.
Additional Accessories for Swing Sets
In addition to the hardware and tools discussed above, any part of your swing set might eventually wear down and need replacing.
Here are a few more swing set items that can be purchased separately as replacement parts:
- Coated swing chain — the part that connects the frame to the seat
- Rubber playground mats — these are placed under the seats to protect the ground cover and prevent erosion
- Seats — these include classic belt seats, tire swing seats, or Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) heavy-duty accessible seats
Hardware for Tire Swings
If you’ve chosen a tire swing, then your arrangement will be a bit different. Typically, several chains around the tire seat will connect at or below the top beam.
Remember — the connection point for a tire swing chain needs to be strong. The seat may hold several riders at once, all supported by a single connection to the top beam.
A tire swing also requires a different sort of movement: the swing should move in all directions, rather than just front and back like a standard swing.
To meet all of these needs, use a heavy-duty tire swivel. That way, you’ll have a classic backyard playground feature, but with top of the line durability and safety.
Building the Perfect Backyard Swing Set
We got started by telling you that swing sets aren’t too complicated and expertise is well within your reach. We hope that after learning about the different swing set components, you now agree.
Whether you’re just getting started or taking care of your existing playground — we’ve got you covered.