A porch swing is traditionally a wooden bench large enough for two adults that is attached by a chain or a rope to the inside roof of a covered porch. However, over the years it has evolved into a more versatile piece of furniture.
Although the term "porch swing" seems to indicate that a porch is an integral component, this is not true. In addition to being attached to the beams of a covered porch, as an alternative, the bench portion of a bench swing can be attached by a rope or a chain to a free standing frame. In this way a porch swing can be placed in a yard if a porch is not an option. In this arrangement there is sometimes a canopy attached to the top of the stand to provide shade or protection from light rain in the same way that a porch would. Even if a porch is available, sometimes the ambiance and/or solitude that a yard placement affords is more desirable than a more traditional porch location.
When used on a porch, a porch swing is usually installed on the front porch of a house rather than the rear. This is mostly because the type of porch needed for a porch swing is usually located on the front of the house. The porch needs to be long enough to accommodate the two person bench. The porch also has to be wide enough to accommodate a reasonable amount of motion, although a porch swing does not generally swing very far forward or backward.
Porch swings come in a variety of styles. A very rustic version of a wood porch swing consists of logs from a tree that are 2 to 3 inches (5.1 to 7.6 cm) in diameter that serve as the frame. The seat and the back of the swing may be either narrow wood slats or can be logs that have been cut in half lengthwise forming a flat surface. In addition to being made of wood, a porch swing can be made of real or synthetic wicker. A free-standing porch swing is sometimes constructed of light aluminum with seat and back support cushions for comfort.
Aside from being an attractive piece of usable furniture, the slow rhythmic swinging motion of the porch swing can be very relaxing. They are conducive to self reflection, pleasant conversation and sometimes romance.