How to Hang a Chair From the Ceiling Securely and Safely
Add the element of movement to your seating space by following this tutorial for installing a hanging chair indoors.
Hanging chairs are a staple of retro and modern interior design aesthetics and common on traditional porches. They often add a welcome sense of novelty, motion, and fun to an otherwise ordinary space. Contrary to what you may expect, properly installing an indoor swing chair or hanging hammock chair isn’t a terribly expensive or time-consuming process.
However, if you don’t take the time to follow the proper steps on how to hang a chair from the ceiling, you may find yourself with a sore bottom, a damaged ceiling, and drywall dust covering everything nearby. The last thing you want is to create a hole in your ceiling and a new thing to fix. Thankfully, you don’t need an extensive set of tools or expertise to install a hanging swing chair.
Working Time: 15 to 30 minutes
Total Time: 45 minutes to 1 hour
Skill Level: Beginner
Estimated Cost: $30 to $100
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BEFORE YOU BEGIN
First, check whether you have access to a stable ceiling joist. (Ceiling joists are the horizontal equivalent of wall studs.) There’s no reliable method for installing an indoor hanging chair, outdoor swinging hammock chair, or porch swing that doesn’t require anchoring the hanging hardware to a ceiling joist. Most ceiling joists are 2×6-inch boards, but this can vary depending on where and when a house was built. If your hanging chair is intended for adults or older children, you’ll need a 2×6 or larger joist to fasten into. A 2×4 ceiling joist could theoretically support a chair for a child weighing under 50 pounds, but taking that risk is not recommended.
Finding the exact dimensions of your joist isn’t always easy. One of the most reliable ways is to look in an unfinished space like the attic or basement, and measure the exposed joists. Alternatively, if you have access to the house plans, consult those. If you don’t have access to either, the best plan of action aside from using a trusty stud finder is to drill a discreet hole in the area you intend to install the chair; then stick a handy carpenter’s inspection camera (aka borescope) like this highly rated option available at Amazon—a favorite in our researched buyer’s guide—through to get a view inside the ceiling to check the joist size and placement. Once you confirm there’s a sturdy joist to screw into, you’re ready to get started.
Most hanging chairs include installation hardware, but if yours doesn’t, you’ll need an eye hook rated for at least 350 pounds with a shank at least 4 inches long. (For angled ceilings, use a shoulder eye bolt instead.) Most swing chairs also include rope or galvanized chain from which to hang the chair. Should yours lack one, or you just want to take the project to the next level, consider a durable indoor/outdoor rope such as heavy-duty manila rope or marine-grade braids of synthetic materials like nylon. In all cases, make sure your suspension method of choice can support at least 350 lbs. As always, refer to any provided manufacturer instructions and follow those instead where the below steps may deviate.
STEP 1: Find and mark the joist you want to hang the chair from.
Locating the ceiling joist that the hanging chair will fasten to is crucial to the seat’s structural integrity, as well as to how the end result will look. Turn your stud finder on and press it gently to the ceiling to find joists. Slowly move it across the ceiling, and each time it indicates a joist’s presence, make a small mark with a pencil. Once you’ve located a few joists, take a step back and consider where and how you want the chair to hang.
The top of a hanging chair is usually between 3 and 4 feet from a standard ceiling height, and the bottom is normally about 18 to 24 inches off of the floor or ground. There should also be at least 14 inches of space between a hanging chair and any walls. While deciding on location, also account for other elements of the space. Are there any windows or pieces of freestanding furniture near where your chair will hang?
Once you select the joist(s) that will anchor the chair, erase the light pencil marks you made elsewhere on the ceiling.
STEP 2: Mark the pilot holes.
With the joist(s) located, use the stud finder and pencil to find the edges of each joist. You can find the center of a joist by measuring the distance between its marked edges and dividing it by two.
If you have wide joists, such as those sometimes found in old houses, and don’t wish to use the center of the joist, you can mark pilot holes anywhere that provides at least ¾ inch of space between the bolt and joist edge.
STEP 3: Drill pilot holes for the hanging hardware.
It’s time to drill pilot holes. Choose a bit narrower than the width of the screw eye (eye bolt) shank, then center the drill bit on the marked hole(s).
Ideally, fasteners should be between 3 to 4 inches long, and corresponding pilot holes should be ½ inch shallower than the fasteners’ length. When using 4-inch bolts, meanwhile, make 3½-inch pilot holes.
STEP 4: Install the hanging hardware.
After drilling a pilot hole or two into joist(s), you can begin installing the actual hanging hardware. Take your time on this step, making sure that your hardware is tightly secured to the ceiling joist(s) before hanging the chair.
When installing a hanging chair on a slanted or angled ceiling joist, use a shouldered eye bolt capable of supporting the necessary weight, at an angle, without shearing.
To install the bolts, simply place them in the pilot hole and screw them into place with a screwdriver or drill. One pro trick you can use is sticking a second eye bolt into the drill chuck, hooking it through a partially fastened eye bolt, and then slowly using the drill to generate opposing force to tightly screw it into place.
STEP 5: Measure and attach the chain or rope.
Pre-measuring the rope or chain you use will save you time and effort when you’re ready to finally put the hanging chair swing together. Remember that the bottom of your swinging chair should be between 18 to 24 inches off the ground, but feel free to adjust the height for comfort. Just be sure to account for the height of the chair itself when measuring the rope or chain’s length.
After measuring and cutting the rope or chain to length, attach it to the screw eye in the ceiling joist with included hardware or carabiners, or by tying a double bowline knot.
STEP 6: Hang the chair.
Similar to Step 5, there are a variety of ways to attach your chair to the rope or chain. However, whatever method you used to attach the rope or chain to the hanging hardware will likely be used for attaching the chair to the rope or chain. Superseding any instructions here, follow the hanging chair and/or hardware’s manufacturer instructions to the letter.
Make sure that any knots or carabiners are secure and check that all the connections are tight and secure before putting any weight on the chair. If you use rope, slowly place something that weighs about 25 to 100 pounds on the chair to ensure that all the knots are set and strong.
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This method for hanging chairs from the ceiling is a staple of professional contractors and builders, but it doesn’t require professional skills in most cases. As long as they’re careful during installation, DIYers of any skill level can safely tackle this project.
After installing a hanging chair, you can progress onto DIY porch swing plans or even tire swings, which need to handle the weight of the person on the swing as it’s compounded by the swing’s movement. All in all, installing a hanging chair at home is a great way to add interest to your space while learning new skills, and it’s satisfying to confidently relax on furniture that you installed yourself.