How to Install a Swing Set

Child on a swing
  • 3-10 hours
  • Intermediate
  • 200-2,000
What You'll Need
Purchased swing set (metal or wood)
Basic tools (wrenches, hammer, etc.)
Sand, mulch or wood chips
What You'll Need
Purchased swing set (metal or wood)
Basic tools (wrenches, hammer, etc.)
Sand, mulch or wood chips

A swing set is a great solution for getting your kids off their video games and outside playing. However, for some, buying and installing a swing set can be something of a daunting task, as there are many things to consider. Does your backyard have enough room?

Should you purchase a metal swing set or a wooden swing set? What happens if your kids fall off? What additional pieces (if any) should you purchase besides the basic swings? What tools are needed and how difficult is construction? All of these questions are considered below in this basic tutorial on how to install your new swing set.

Step 1 - Prepare Your Yard

You first need to consider where this swing set is going to be, and how much room the kids are going to need in order to play on it without hurting themselves. Obviously, it’s probably a bad idea to place it under a low hanging tree, or right next to your cement patio. At the very least, you’ll want a solid 10 open feet in front of and behind the swings, with extra space for other obstacles (if your swing set has them).

Choose a space where the ground is level, and of course remove any rocks or other debris that may harm your children if they fall. As an added measure, it’s a good idea to lay down something softer than the ground for your kids to land on, such as sand, mulch or wood chips.

Step 2 - Purchase Your Swing Set


Your two biggest considerations are buying a wood or metal swing set, and what additional features you want it to have. Metal may be a bad choice if you live in hotter climates, as it heats up much more easily. Wood, however, is more susceptible to inevitable wear and tear, and as the years pass you’ll have to keep an eye out for damaged wood. As far as features go, ask your kids what they really want, but think about the things you don’t feel comfortable with them playing on.

Step 3 - Take Stock Of Your Swing Set

Once you have the swing set, pull out all the pieces and try to lay them out roughly how they’ll be fitting together, to be sure you have what you need. Be careful not to lose the smaller pieces, like the nuts and bolts.

After that, carefully read the directions from start to finish to be sure there are no surprises.

Step 4 - Start With the Uprights

Instructions will vary from set to set, but you’ll typically want to start with the uprights or legs of your swing set, bolting them together in pairs so you have two acute (smaller than 90 degrees) angles. Usually, there will be two braces, one for each pair, that will connect the two uprights about halfway down. Go ahead and bolt those on.

Step 5 - The Crosspiece

Install the crosspiece (usually the longest piece of wood or metal). It will attach to the uprights at their top, where the two legs meet. Once the crosspiece is bolted on, stand up your swing set.

Step 6 - The Swings

swing set

Pull out your ladder to attach the chains for your swings to the crosspiece. How they attach will vary from swing set to swing set. If you don’t have a ladder, you can probably attach the swings while the swing set is still laying down.

WARNING: Use caution when getting on a ladder to install something. Make sure the area is clear of anything dangerous you might fall onto, check the ladder for anything you might slip on, and set it in the right position. If you can, have a friend hold the ladder as you climb onto it.

Obviously, things get more complicated when you add on more than swings, but these basic steps will help you set up a basic swing set!